PIA WURTZBACH | GLOWING FROM WITHIN
Having a desire is part of our natural path to becoming more. Becoming who we envision ourselves to be doesn’t necessarily mean we must plan everything; it’s also fun to allow the Universe to surprise us. Ever since she was a little girl, Pia Wurtzbach had the desire to become Miss Universe. In the Philippines, everyone watches the Binibining Pilipinas pageant contest and Miss Universe; the pageants represent the country’s love and pride for their beauty and culture.
“I remember that feeling when I was younger, watching Miss Universe at home with my mom, and then I would look at all these beautiful women and think to myself: ‘Wow, I want to be like her one day. Will I ever be like them?’” Pia, who eventually became Miss Universe 2015, reminisces.
Ms. Wurtzbach focused on her acting career and forgot about her dream for a little while until her manager asked: “Why don’t you join Binibining Pilipinas?”
That was the beginning of Pia’s journey not only to realize her childhood dream, but to embark on a trip of self-discovery and personal growth. She participated three times to finally win the crown of Binibining Pilipinas, which led her to represent her country in the Miss Universe 2015 pageant.
“I didn’t get the crown during my first and second try, but I learned to be more confident with myself, regardless if I win or not. I understand how some people might think that beauty pageants are superficial. But, in my experience, it really changed my life. I learned so much about myself. It’s more than just being beautiful outside, It’s about being beautiful on the inside as well.”
Growing up, Ms. Wurtzbach was an extremely shy girl. She recalls, “I was a little bit of a tomboy. I had the height and the looks, but I didn’t know how to use it. I had a lot of self-doubts. I experienced bullying also in school and I just felt like I didn’t really fit in.”
Indeed, we may look beautiful by any standard but feel the opposite inside, letting our innate state of joy dissipate. The glow of confidence comes from inside reflecting always out.
Pia remembers walking on stage with the Philippines sash and thinking: ‘I’ve never been more proud to be Filipino.’ “It’s a nice feeling to hear your fellow countrymen cheer for you because I felt like we were on a mission. It wasn’t just me performing on stage. It was also everyone else’s dream back home to get the crown again after 42 years. I felt like we were all joined together in hopes of me bringing pride to the country.”
The Ms. Universe crown gave Pia a voice for her thoughts and opportunities to do good. After she finished her coronation year, UNAIDS invited her to become the Goodwill Ambassador in Asia. Excited for this opportunity, Wurtzbach took on its responsibilities. So, what does she do?
“First and foremost bring awareness in the Philippines, and in some parts of Asia, because nobody talks about HIV there. It’s such a taboo topic, therefore, people just avoid it. I started talking about it more, encouraging people to get tested, so we got more accurate statistics in the Philippines.”
Pia’s mission brings her to speak in schools and at various conferences. She would have herself publicly tested as well, showing how easy, fast and pain-free it is. She aims to break the stereotypes of how and who could get HIV.
“Right now, in the Philippines, testing is free. We also try to raise funds for the treatment of those who are living with HIV already. There aren’t enough facilities, there aren’t enough clinics, there aren’t enough beds. For that, every year in the Philippines we organize a Charity Gala that is a big event where all ticket proceeds go to people living with HIV, their treatments, and the rehabilitation of the facilities. So, it’s a nice day to raise funds; everyone gets dressed up, has dinner and awards are given out to those who have made a big impact on helping and changing the community when it comes to taking care of each other and the people living with HIV. So it’s also a celebration night for anyone who’s a champion on this cause.”
Pia’s humanitarian contribution doesn’t stop here, she also partnered with Smile Train and other causes:
“What Smile Train does is not only do they do the surgery for children living with a cleft palate, but they also train the doctors on-site how to do it. Sometimes I get invited to work on other charities like Breast Cancer Awareness or the Heart Foundation. I don’t feel like I need to be exclusive to just one cause. If I believe that it will do good, I will always do it.”
Pia is back to acting and modeling now, though she is expanding her creative expression by hosting as well. She just finished hosting the reality dance competition World of Dance in the Tagalog language in the Philippines and she also has a travel show called Pia’s Postcards.
“I’m also working on a movie. It’s a dark comedy, and believe it or not, I play a crazy, insecure, obsessed girlfriend. I’m excited about that, I can’t wait to start filming.”
Her vision is expanding and with that her ability to see beyond what is happening right now. She wants to orchestrate her destiny to come back to the US, perhaps Los Angeles or New York. “I think it’s about time that Filipinos started making a mark abroad as well, on the international stage,” she says.
Her message to the world is: “You’re never going to be completely happy if you’re never content with anything you have. Because when we achieve a goal, we are already thinking about the next and the next. So enjoy the journey and ask yourself, ‘Am I happy now?’”
It’s natural to want more, but it’s also important to appreciate how far you have come and what you have.
“Everyone’s living so fast-paced. All the pressure of social media of doing more and more, you never have time to put all your gadgets down and look around you and appreciate what you have, because you’re so focused on impressing other people all the time. It’s important to say, ‘wait a minute. How about thinking about where I was last year? Or five years ago? Have I moved forward?’ If yes, that is enough reason to celebrate.”
To the statement, “You can be, do and have anything you want, “ from the teaching of Abraham-Hicks, Pia responds:
“Sometimes we get stuck in our own little world and we feel like that dream is never going to happen. I always believe that when you have a dream, you are already halfway there. There’s nothing worse than not having a dream, than not having a vision. So, we should always remind ourselves… and even I have to remind myself also, ‘Pia, you can actually do anything you want, you can be anything you want to be. Anything you want to be.’”
And you, what is your dream? Always remember… you are already halfway there.
project coordinator // Rose Newlands | photography // Valerie Burke | makeup artist// Janell White | nail artist // Jacky Pham | hair artist // Jhonatan Rendon | stylist // Merrit Rea | location // Dash Studios NY