[PHOTO -1995 Mutya ng Pilipinas Maricel Morales: Romance didn’t blossom between her and P-Noy but his political savvy rubbed off on her]

MANILA, JUNE 19, 2012 (PHILSTAR) FUNFARE By Ricardo F. Lo - It’s Mutya season again, with the nationwide screenings for this year’s search now going on (starting on June 12 and 13 in Bacolod City last week).

An avid Mutya follower refreshes Funfare readers’ memory about one Mutya who won (well, almost!) the heart of Pres. Noynoy Aquino who was then Tarlac’s second district representative.

She’s none other than Maricel Morales, Mutya ng Pilipinas 1995, who ventured into showbiz after she relinquished her crown.

“It was 1998,” recalled the Mutya follower, “and Maricel was shooting the movie Talahib at Rosas 2 in Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac. Congressman Noynoy often visited Maricel on the set and they even went on dinner dates many times.”

According to Maricel, who finished a semi-finalist in the 1995 Miss Asia-Pacific International contest, P-Noy was “a real gentleman” who sent food to her house in Angeles City, Pampanga.

“However,” continued the Mutya follower, “even if they dated for more or less five months, nothing special blossomed between them. Maricel confessed that she was already in love with action star Ace Espinosa. At that time.”

Well, as showbiz watchers know, Maricel and Ace eventually got married, had two sons (AJ and Miccho), and after four years, she initiated a separation from Ace who in turn filed for the annulment of their marriage.

It’s possible that P-Noy’s savvy rubbed off on Maricel (who placed first runner-up in the 2000 Mrs. World Pageant) because she later ran for councilor in Angeles City and won.

“Maricel personifies the true Mutya ng Pilipinas,” said somebody behind the search. “She’s a woman of substance who is not afraid of challenges. She has a strong character.”

That’s exactly the kind of woman that this year’s search hopes to find, according to Funfare “beauty experts” Felix Manuel, Joey Cezeare, Gery Yumping and Francis Calubaquib.

Applicants must be 18 to 25 years old, at least 5’5” tall and a high school graduate, must possess beauty of face and figure, smart and witty, of Filipino ancestry, and with at least one grandparent in the paternal and maternal line possessing Filipino citizenship.

The 2011 Mutya ng Pilipinas winners (from left): Diana Sunshine Rademann, first runner-up; Vicki Marie Rushton, Mutya ng Pilipinas-Tourism; Felicia Baron, Mutya ng Pilipinas International; Bea Rose Santiago, Mutya ng Pilipinas-Overseas Communities; and Tifani Alexander Cinco Grimes, second runner-up

More screenings are scheduled today and tomorrow (June 17), 1 to 6 p.m. at Orchard Cebu Hotel in Mandaue City; June 23 at N Hotel in Kauswagan, Cagayan de Oro City; June 24 in Davao City; and on June 25, 1 to 7 p.m. at Sheridan Boutique Hotel in Oton, Iloilo City. (Manila screenings to be announced soon.)

(Note: For more details, call the Mutya ng Pilipinas Pageant secretariat at 0917-5260777.)

What’s up?

• Alice H. Reyes, founder and current president of the Aliw Awards Foundation, Inc., has announced that nominations for this year’s awards may be submitted to screening committee chairman Frank Rivera. Reyes said that the following category will be included: Best Production for Children Musical and Non-Musical. Covered are performances from Oct. 21, 2011 to Aug. 31, 2012. For particulars, call Frank Rivera at 0922-8923959.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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