Jul 19, 2007

Glory forever

IT WAS only like yesterday when Gloria Diaz (Gloria Maria Aspillera Diaz) put the entire nation into a “state of jubilation,” when as an 18-year-old sophomore of Saint Scholastica’s College, she was crowned Miss Universe, the first ever Filipino woman to win the title in July 19, 1969—two days before astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin and Michael Collins landed on the moon.
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That same week, then United States President Richard Nixon was quoted as saying: “When America conquered the moon, the Philippines conquered the universe!”

All these things happened 37 years ago—and life has never been the same again for Gloria ever since! Recalling that “glorious day” still makes her feel if not triumphant, more important.

Believe it or not, she was once called the “ugliest duckling” in their family. Moreover, she considers herself as the least talented among her 12 siblings who can either dance, paint, or cook. The beauty title somehow modified her outlook as the “least talented, but the luckiest.”

Luck, according to her, played an important part to her victory. “There were many ladies who were more beautiful… but in the end, it all boils down to the judges’ preferences. It’s [just] being at the right place, [at the] right time, and [with the] right set of judges,” she said.

If she didn’t become Miss Universe, she wouldn’t have all the good things she has attained in life now. She wouldn’t have been given the opportunity by producers and directors to do lead roles, like her launching movie, Pinakamagandang Hayop sa Balat ng Lupa. “People would have easily forgotten me [if I wasn’t a Miss Universe].”

Diaz is now a well-respected actress in film and television. She already realized her “ultimate dream” of receiving an acting award in 1998, when she won as Best Supporting Actress for the film José Rizal where she played the role of Teodora Alonzo, the mother of our national hero. Just recently, she was honored as Famas Best Supporting Actress in her role as a spinster adoptive mother in the movie Nasaan Ka Man.

She’s been in show biz for 31 years now and she attributes her longevity to discipline, determination, hard work and being happy with what she’s doing.

Though she’s separated from her husband, businessman and former Makati Councilor Bong Daza, both are still good friends. She’s a mother of three—22-year-old Rafael, 19-year-old Isabelle and 16-year-old Ava.

At 56, she has maintained her ravishing looks by sleeping six to seven hours a day. She plays tennis every day to maintain her svelte figure.

Despite all the “troubles”—like her love affairs which became tabloid fodders—and obstacles she went through—such as the death of her youngest sister Rio due to colon cancer three years ago—all of us witnessed the resilience of her beauty and the calmness of her spirit.

She keeps on conveying to us the message that beauty is more than skin-deep. It’s like a gem that values inner strength and great wisdom that goes with age.

Though the universe is like a big spectacle of life for her—full of colors, surprises and challenges that are yet to be discovered and defeated—one thing is sure: Gloria Diaz will forever be a winner!
Giovanni Paolo J. Yazon
Manila Standard Today

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