MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – It's finally happening! After two decades, the Miss Universe pageant will be held in the Philippines.
The announcement was made on Thursday, July 28, at a press conference in Makati City by Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo.
"I would like to inform everybody that the Miss Universe pageant will be on January 30, 2017 in the Philippines," said Teo. "The government is not going to spend any single centavo. It will be the private sector who would shoulder the expenses."
DOT: Miss Universe will be on Jan 30, 2017 here in the PH. Private sector will take care of expenses @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/Po9drErY1D — Chrisee V. Dela Paz (@chriseedelapaz) July 28, 2016
On July 27, President Rodrigo Duterte said that he would not spend government funds on hosting the Miss Universe pageant – leading some to believe that the plans to hold the pageant in the country would not push through.
At the press conference, it was mentioned that the funding would come from the private sector.
"Private sector will handle the expenses. The President's concern was the gastos (expenses). But when we assured him that there will be no funding from the government, he said, okay. 'This is already okay.'
"So we don't know where the news report came from that he did not like it. He never said that," Tourism Undersecretary Kat de Castro said on the sidelines of the press briefing.
De Castro said her department got in touch with Shawn McClain, the vice president of business development and marketing at the Miss Universe Organization, to iron out issues.
"They got in touch with me this morning. Shawn McClain, who is the VP at Miss U, was shocked when that article came out because everyone was already on board. The article says the president doesn't want it to happen," De Castro said.
Teo said she called Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to ask if her department could announce the news following some confusion surrounding Duterte's earlier statement, saying "I wouldn't want to spend on it."
"I told [Medialdea], 'Is it okay if we announce that the Miss Universe will be held in the Philippines?' and he said 'Yes,'" Teo said.
The country's tourism chief said that the department was initially waiting for an administrative order before making the announcement.
"We were planning to set up a press con for the announcement earlier, but I said let us just wait for the administrative order. But because of the news release, I said we should come out and announce," Teo told reporters.
"The administrative order will be signed before the end of the month," she added.
Okada, Sy among the sponsors
Teo said she assured the President that the government will not shoulder any of the expenses, which will amount to $11 million.
The tourism chief also confirmed that Japanese billionaire and Tiger Resort chief Kazuo Okada, as well as the country's richest man, Henry Sy, are among the sponsors.
President Duterte met with officials of Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment Incorporated led by Okada, executive assistant to the chairman Sumire Kamura, and chief operating officer Takahiro Usui at the Music Room in Malacañang Palace on July 18. Details of their conversation, however, were not disclosed.
The pageant was held in Manila for the first time in 1974, when Miss Universe 1973 Margarita Moran crowned Amparo Muñoz of Spain. In 1994, the pageant came back to the country where India's Sushmita Sen was crowned by Miss Universe 1993 Dayanara Torres.
In 2017, the reigning Miss Universe, the Philippines' own Pia Wurtzbach, will crown her successor. – with reports from Chrisee de la Paz and Pia Ranada / Rappler.com