By ANYA SANTOS
July 29, 2010, 9:08amWith less than a month to prepare for the Miss Universe beauty pageant happening on Aug. 24, the controversial candidate, Bb. Pilipinas-Universe Venus Raj is already scoring a small victory.
Already, the stunner is leading on the online ratings poll on the Miss Universe website. So far, Raj has bested Ms. Venezuela who sits at second place, Ms. Mexico at third, Ms. Colombia at fourth, Ms. Indonesia at fifth, and even Ms. USA, who is for now at sixth place.
Appearing on a news segment on “TV Patrol” on July 28, Raj says she is hoping to secure the real victory at the pageant, revealing that she was inspired to go for the highest accolade by none other than our very own seven-division boxing champion, Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao.
Like the incumbent congressman’s triumph at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, Raj hopes to score another major win for the Philippines in the same venue. And turning to Pacman for a boost in confidence, she went on a courtesy call to the People’s Champion and Saranggani Congressman to not only get a souvenir —signed boxing gloves, no less— but to ask for advice on how to conquer Las Vegas, and the world for that matter.
“Be confident in yourself,” the Pacman began. “Tapos, relax lang, magdasal sa Panginoon. Kung baga, isipin lang niya na nandito lang sa Pilipinas. Marami namang Pilipino dun eh. Maraming Pilipino sa Mandalay, na nagta-trabaho.”
Raj, meanwhile, could not hide her excitement upon meeting Pacquiao. “Kanina papunta pa lang dito, I [was] very, very excited. And now that I’m here, I feel so blessed. I’m feeling the good energy. Sana mag-transfer,” she laughs nervously.
A dream come true to bring honor and pride to her countrymen, Raj’s own journey to eventually represent our country in the long-running prestigious pageant began long before her controversial near-disqualification for “inconsistencies with her birth certificate.”
Sharing her thoughts on “TV Patrol,” Raj now recalls, “Bata pa ako pinapanood ko na ‘yung Ms. Universe beauty pageant. And parang iniisip ko, pano kaya makasali diyan? Parang ang tataas nilang tao siguro na sumasali diyan, baka ang yayaman nila.”
Wealth did not turn out to be the ticket, and today, Raj is only a few days away from flying off to the US to soon vie for the crown bestowed on Ms. Venezuela, Stefania Fernandez, in 2009. For now, though, Raj sends this message to her supporters online: “I’m very, very thankful sa lahat ng bumoboto.”
The Miss Universe 2010 pageant will be held live at the Mandalay Bay Events Center at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on August 23, 9pm (Eastern Time), on NBC and Telemundo. It will be aired here in Manila live early morning of Aug. 24.