Miss International 1964 Gemma Teresa Guerrero Cruz has already been featured, talked about and interviewed in many pageant sites, TV and broadsheet media. But there doesn’t seem to be enough when it comes to posting about the very first international pageant of a Filipina. Even if the achievement took place way before a big majority of people here (excluding your blogger who came to this earth a few days before the victory took place) were born.
While the win preceded my nearly-lifelong passion for pageants by five years, it still doesn’t take away the thrill of looking back from time to time. I will always love the fact that she was at her smartest and most elegant at the time, aside from being uniquely statuesque for an Asian candidate during the mid-60s. What’s more, I remember her delightful writer of a mother Chitang Guerrero Nakpil who chronicled the whole memorable stint in Long Beach as part of a long-forgotten locally-published book (by National Bookstore) about Filipino achievements abroad. (A personal copy of the same got lost during one of the great floods of the 70s when my first collection of pageant memorabilia got swept away from our Bulacan ancestral house).
At the moment, Gemma – who is a real-life descendant of our National Hero Dr. Jose Rizal – is connected with the Heritage Conservation Society as Chairperson and member of the Board of Trustees, while serving as Vice-Chairperson of the Manila Historical and Heritage Commission (MHHC). She also continues to be an Editorial Columnist of the Manila Bulletin.