​I have never seen Benigno Aquino III as our country’s president, for he was then a senator when we rode the same ferry from mainland Surigao to the island of Siargao. Nor have I seen, even from afar, any of our former presidents. 

What I find notable, though, is that I have, not just seen, but also met and talked to a president who I never imagined fleshing out like a dream come true right before my very eyes. She is Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization!

Prior to my departure to Manila on March 27, I expressed in a separate blog how excited I was to witness the Binibining Pilipinas 2014 Coronation Night, because both the reigning Miss Universe Gabriela Isler and the Miss Universe Organization president Paula Shugart would be in attendance as special guests. Little did I know that part of God’s plan for me was to actually be able to shake hands with the most awesome woman in the universe. Although getting up close and personal with her seemed precarious, considering the tight security, I didn’t arrive at the venue unprepared: I brought a copy or two of a blog I’d written about her and Gabriela, printed and laminated.

So when she was returning from an hour of closed-door deliberation together with the judges, I called her, waving my write-ups, “Hi, Paula! Let’s talk. I have something for you and Gabriela.” I handed her my presents, and then I overheard the gays around commenting on my gesture: “Aba, hindi siya masyadong prepared.” For the sake of my foreign readers, what they said, in jest, was: “Wow, he’s not that prepared.”

Paula was all smiles upon accepting the printouts. That, in all its simplicity and nothingness, could’ve been one of the sweetest things that she had ever received from a mere fan of such a great organization which she’s presiding. She said, glancing at my write-up and the byline, “Oh, thank you, Ariel. How sweet of you to do this for me and Gabriela. Thank you very much!” 

Up close and personal with the Miss Universe Organization president Paula Shugart and Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler

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