BALANGA CITY—A flower-bedecked float surprised residents here and from other Bataan towns on Saturday when they realized it bore Miss Universe 1st runner-up Janine Tugonon, a native of this capital city.
The 5-foot-8-tall beauty made an unscheduled visit to the province, and residents of Hermosa, Orani, Samal, Abucay, Pilar, Orion and Balanga learned about her homecoming from local radio stations.
Families ran out of their homes or peeked through their windows as soon as they saw the float drive through North Diversion Road to see up close the 23-year-old pharmacy graduate who almost won the Miss Universe crown last month in the United States.
The float made a five-minute stop in every town center it traversed to engage well-wishers and swooning fans.
One girl exclaimed: “She’s really beautiful no matter from what angle you look at her.”
At the Bataan provincial capitol, Rep. Albert Garcia and Balanga City Mayor Joet Garcia welcomed Tugonon to the province on behalf of Bataan Gov. Enrique Garcia Jr., who was not around.
Provincial government employees turned up to congratulate Tugonon, who responded by expressing her gratitude to her province mates for the support they gave her.
She was born and spent her high school here and her elementary grades in Orion.
Officials here said Tugonon was a source of pride and inspiration for Bataan. Board member Aris Gaza read aloud a provincial board resolution that commended Tugonon’s success at the Miss Universe pageant.
She was handed a bouquet by the employees, who mobbed her for souvenir pictures.