How Pia’s town ‘lost’ visit | Inquirer News

How Pia’s town ‘lost’ visit

Miss Universe was victim of miscommunication
/ 03:44 AM January 25, 2016

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—The itinerary of Miss Universe 2015 Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach which does not include this city, her hometown, has stirred controversy here.

The brouhaha stems from accusations made by the city’s second district Rep. Rufus Rodriguez that the city government, through the City Tourism Council (CTC), wanted Wurtzbach’s homecoming postponed.

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But a member of the CTC countered that it was not the city government’s fault that Wurtzbach won’t be coming to this city while she is in the country this week.

Contrary to what was reported by local news outlets, the CTC did not ask Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc. (BPCI) to let Wurtzbach skip the city on Jan. 29, as it had requested the BPCI to set the visit in April, said Gean Cesar, a member of the council and the head of the CTC committee on Wurtzbach’s homecoming.

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The BPCI is a nonstock, nonprofit organization that is behind the Binibining Pilipinas beauty contest.

Cesar was singled out by Rodriguez as the one who supposedly asked the Binibining Pilipinas organizers to defer Wurtzbach’s hometown visit to April in an online news report.

Wurtzbach, who calls Cagayan de Oro her second home, arrived in the Philippines on Saturday.

A press release posted on the Binibining Pilipinas website did not include Cagayan de Oro in her official itinerary.

Cesar, however, did confirm that she got in touch with Gines Enriquez, who works under BPCI chair Stella Araneta, and that it was Enriquez who suggested April as the viable time for Wurtzbach’s visit to the city.

Part of the conversation was the suggestion that April be the homecoming month since the beauty queen was tied up with her Manila homecoming commitments. There was no mention of Jan. 29, Cesar said of her chat with Enriquez on Facebook earlier this month.

Upon the advice of Enriquez, Cesar sent him an e-mail on Jan. 12 addressed to Araneta inquiring about Wurtzbach’s scheduled return to the country after winning the beauty pageant, but she said there was no reply from Enriquez until now.

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In the request, Cesar asked Araneta if the city could formally welcome Wurtzbach in April. There was no mention of any postponement in the e-mail, however.

Big celebration

“In line with this, we wish to inquire about any possibility for Cagayan de Oro to host a Miss Universe homecoming for Miss [Wurtzbach] in April 2016 during her next visit to the Philippines,” read part of Cesar’s e-mail to Araneta.

Among the activities the CTC proposed to BPCI to formally welcome Wurtzbach were a homecoming parade, unveiling of a Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach marker, declaration of Dec. 21 as Miss Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach Day (pending executive order from Mayor Oscar Moreno) and a Miss Universe thanksgiving dinner.

“With your indulgence, we are hoping your office can provide us details on how we can go about it and our obligation as the hosting partner,” the e-mail added.

The following day, Jan. 13, Cesar was told the Facebook fan page of lawmaker Rodriguez had announced a homecoming of Wurtzbach on Jan. 29.

Incidentally, an article written by Lifestyle editor Thelma Sioson San Juan published on that day in the Lifestyle section of this paper also made mention of Wurtzbach’s Jan. 29 visit to the city.

Capping Wurtzbach’s homecoming is her return on Friday to Cagayan de Oro City, where she grew up. She was born in Germany where her German father and Filipino mother initially settled, read a portion of the article.

With Rodriguez’s pronouncement, Cesar said the CTC met with Moreno to update him on developments.

“He [Moreno] clearly instructed us to do whatever we can but making sure that we are in close coordination with [BPCI] and be realistic with our activities related to the homecoming as Jan. 29 was barely two weeks away,” she said, referring to the meeting with Moreno after Rodriguez made the announcement.

Cesar sent another e-mail of clarification to BPCI asking if Wurtzbach was really coming to the city on the 29th, but Enriquez texted her that Cagayan de Oro was not on the beauty queen’s itinerary for this visit.

“Mr. Enriquez told me [through] text on Jan. 18 that there is no approved [Cagayan de Oro] homecoming for Pia for the 29th,” she said.

She added: “But because it was not an official statement by [Araneta] and Congressman Rodriguez did not announce that Pia was no longer coming, the City Tourism Council in a special meeting met again and discussed possible activities and preparations in case Pia’s Jan. 29 homecoming would happen.”

Cesar said the CTC would like to be prepared in case Wurtzbach’s schedule would allow her to make a stop in the city.

Eileen San Juan, a CTC official, said the committee was hoping that Wurtzbach could come home on Jan. 29, although Enriquez’s replies to Cesar’s query through Facebook and text message had indicated otherwise.

Another activity that the CTC has organized to welcome Wurtzbach, whether she is coming to the city or not, is a photo exhibit in a mall here documenting her achievements from winning the Binibining Pilipinas to being crowned Miss Universe 2015. The exhibit of photos taken by Jory Rivera will run from Jan. 23 to 30.

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