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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Pia Wurtzbach: 'I want to tell the story of Filipino diaspora' 

'I travel around the world meeting globally renowned Filipinos and interviewing them about how they made it,' the former Miss Universe tells us in Dubai

Pia Wurtzbach at the studio of Filipino Dubai-based designer Furne One - she picked up some of his designs today for when she hosts the Miss Philippines pageant in Manila next weekend. Antonie Robertson / The National
Pia Wurtzbach at the studio of Filipino Dubai-based designer Furne One - she picked up some of his designs today for when she hosts the Miss Philippines pageant in Manila next weekend. Antonie Robertson / The National

Former Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach touched down in Dubai on Thursday, and she picked up some gowns from Dubai-based Filipino designer Furne One. She plans to wear them when she hosts the Miss Philippines pageant in Manila next weekend.

The actress and model was in town to shoot for her travel show, Pia’s Postcards, which screens on ABS-CBN’s Channel 2 in The Philippines, and she caught up with Dubai-based Filipino designer Furne One as part of her shooting schedule.

“The show will be airing next month, and basically I travel around the world meeting globally renowned Filipinos and interviewing them about how they made it, what struggles they faced. There’s such a huge diaspora of Filipino workers around the world and I want to help tell their story.”

'Furne is the authority' says Pia

Dubai-based Furne One is just one of those workers, and the beauty queen admits she is pleased to have caught up with the notoriously media shy designer: “A lot of Filipinas are really into fashion, and there are so many noted Filipino designers around the world,” Wurtzbach says. “Here in Dubai, I would say Furne really is the authority, so I’m really pleased that I got to meet him and interview him, because he doesn’t allow a lot of people to interview him, so I’m really thankful for that.”

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Wurtzbach is equally pleased to have picked up some new items for her wardrobe while she was at One’s D3 studio: “He was also kind enough to lend me some gowns as I’m hosting the Miss Philippines pageant next weekend in Manila,” she says. “So it’s so timely that I’m here, I got to meet him, see the gowns - it all just came together.”

And now on to her films...

Next weekend looks set to be a busy one for Wurtzbach. Having passed on the Miss Universe crown in 2016, she has now returned to her first love of acting. Her last movie, the superhero yarn The Revenger Squad was the highest grossing movie at last September’s Metro Manila film festival, while her latest, My Perfect You, opens in the UAE and across the Middle East on Thursday March 29.

Wurtzbach says that she turned down a spot on the US version of Big Brother to shoot the film, and in an ironic turn of events, her place on Big Brother was taken by 2015’s Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez.

Gutierrez was famously, and erroneously, awarded the 2015 Miss Universe crown before the judges about-turned and realised that Wurtzbach was, in fact the winner in what could almost have been a trial run for the 2017 Moonlight/La La Land Oscars debacle.

Miss Colombia 2015, Ariadna Gutierrez, has her crown removed by Miss Universe 2014, Paulina Vega, and given to Miss Phillipines 2015, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach after a mix-up by the hosts. Ethan Miller / Getty Images / AFP
The moment Miss Colombia was accidentally crowned. AP

'The future is a big place'

Fortunately, Wurtzbach’s decision to eschew global reality TV in favour of Filipino cinema doesn’t seem to have done her too much harm. My Perfect You took 10M PhP (710,000Dh) on its opening night in The Philippines last Wednesday, and is now set for a global release through ABS-CBN.

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Wurtzbach hasn’t given up on the dream of global domination just yet, however: “I’ll focus on this (acting career in the Philippines) first,” the actress said. “I still feel like there are a few more things that I’d like to try here but I haven’t forgotten that other big dream that I have.”

Wurtzbach is currently managed by global entertainment giant IMG, of Dubai’s World of Adventures fame, and she says she’s open to any opportunities that may present: “If they think that it suits me I i will consider it. I’m just happy that they took me under their wing and that they think I was good enough. The future is a big place.”

*My Perfect You is in cinemas from Thursday March 29