(STAR) FUNFARE By Ricardo F. Lo (Phtoto - Kuh Ledesma as judge during the 1991 Miss Universe Pageant in Las Vegas. Below: Our bet Shamcey Supsup in the 2011 pageant, airing today on ABS-CBN from Sao Paulo, Brazil.)

Been there, done that.

Perhaps like the three other Filipinos who have sat as judges in the Miss Universe pageant, Kuh Ledesma will surely have that deja vu feeling when she watches today’s telecast of this year’s pageant (starting at 9:30 this morning on ABS-CBN Channel 2, with a replay on Velvet Channel tonight at 7 and 10).

Kuh was judge in 1991 when Alu Gonzalez, Kuh’s lookalike who replaced Anjanette Abayari who was dethroned due to a technicality, competed in Las Vegas. Mexico’s Lupita Jones won (current title-holder is also from Mexico, Ximena Navarrete). The three other Filipino judges were Gen. Carlos P. Romulo, Josie Cruz-Natori and Bulletin publisher Emilio Yap (in 1994 when the pageant was held here for the second time, won by India’s Sushmita Sen.)

The fifth is Lea Salonga who flew from the US East Coast (where she did a concert with Jim Brickman) to Sao Paulo, Brazil for today’s grand finals, with our bet Shamcey Supsup predicted to, keep our collective fingers crossed, be the country’s third Miss U title after “a 38-year drought” (as “beauty-watcher” Gerry Diaz of BDO aptly puts it). Lest I sound like a broken record, the first Filipina to win Miss U was Gloria Diaz in 1969, followed by Margie Moran in 1973. The closest that the Philippines got to winning again was in 1999 when Miriam Quiambao, who stood up with graceful dignity after an onstage fall, finished first runner-up to Miss Botswana.

In an interview yesterday, Funfare asked Kuh the three questions, the answers to which Miss U watchers must be eager to know as they sit down before their TV sets to witness unblinking the 60th edition of what is considered to be the universe’s most prestigious beauty search.

As you watch the Miss U pageant today, what memories will it bring back to you? Do you think Shamcey has a chance?

“I will reminisce on the highly professional and very well-organized ceremony. The judges are also asked not to talk to each other. From what I have heard about Shamcey, I believe that she is not only beautiful, she’s also intelligent. She has a huge chance. Let’s pray that she makes it.”

The Miss Universe Organization has its own set of criteria. Personally, what did you look for in a Miss Universe?

“I personally wanted the winner to be well-rounded, not just beautiful but someone who is genuinely gracious and who loves to be with people…who has a heart for humanitarian endeavors. Someone who is also well-versed in world issues.”

Should a judge play favorites and favor a contestant simply because she is a kababayan?

“I don’t feel right to favor a kababayan because if she wins and she’s not ready and not qualified to do as expected of a Miss Universe, it would not be good for our country and also not fair to the most deserving.”

Kuh is right. As we always say in any contest, whether about beauty or whatever, may the best man/woman win.

Is Shamcey the best of the 80-plus equally gorgeous girls she’s competing with?

We will know in a little while.

Michael marries for second time

BREAKING NEWS: Michael de Mesa married his long-time girlfriend, a beautiful dancer named Julie, at simple rites a few days ago in L.A. where he has been based for years now. Julie followed Michael there last year. The last time I saw them together was last June when they attended the blessing of The Belo Medical Clinic outlet in Glendale, California.

Michael de Mesa and then girlfriend Julie during the blessing of the Belo Medical Clinic in Glendale, California: For him, marriage is more exciting the second time around It was Gina Alajar, Michael’s ex-wife, who relayed the good news to Funfare.

The ex-couple’s son Ryan flew to L.A. for the occasion. Their other son, AJ, is based in Las Vegas.

In an interview with Funfare last year when he came home for the wedding of Ryan, Michael said that he’s happy where he is, earning a decent living by renting out ambulances for the company he’s working for. Actor Carlo Muñoz has the same work.

“I get acting offers every now and then,” said Michael, mostly made-by-Pinoy-artists indies that is.

Asked if she was happy for Michael, Gina said, “Yes, I am. I just don’t know if he is.”

But Gina said that she’s not ready to take a similar plunge.

“I don’t even have a boyfriend yet,” she laughed.

What’s up?

• Could it be true that the new girlfriend of Edu Manzano is a flight stewardess? No wonder he seems to be forever, hmmm, flying high.

• Tony Borowiak of All For One kept his promise to PAL flight stewardess Zelda Cabitac-Tan when the group did a concert last week at the Araneta Coliseum. On the flight from L.A., Zelda was a member of the Business Class crew and she said that Tony and the other boys, including members of Color Me Badd, were very nice. Tony promised to Zelda that he would greet her if she went to the concert and he did right after the opening number. Like all PAL flight attendants, pursers and pilots, Zelda is a delight to fly with.

• Readers lawyer Antonio Sanchez, Junne Morales, Jane Haguisan and Bing A. Miranda, among others, guessed it right that the five classic lines from Hollywood movies in Funfare’s So Who Said What Again (in Hollywood, This Time) story last Sept. 9 were delivered by Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca. I stand corrected by the four readers: Yes, the five classic dialogues that ended the story were from Gone With The Wind and not Casablanca.

• From reader Levi Castillo, retired Nestlé executive, texted to Funfare through Quinito Henson: Muhammad Ali did appear in a movie, his own biopic The Greatest with the theme song The Greatest Love Of All, the George Benson version (not Whitney Houston’s).

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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