For today’s Throwback, I thought of bringing you back to the night the very first Miss International was crowned last August 12, 1960 in Long Beach, CA. Of course, I wasn’t born at the time yet. But I can still remember reading about this long-forgotten but supremely interesting detail that led to the victory of Colombia’s Maria Stella Márquez Zawadzky.
According to the account, the Top 5 Finalists were announced and they were Maria Stella Márquez Zawadzky of Colombia, Joyce Kay of England, Sigridur Geirsdottir of Iceland, Iona Pinto of India and Charlene Lundberg of the USA. At that point, it was getting more and more clear that the Colombian, Icelandic and Indian bets were neck-and-neck in competition. But just before the judges started with the final voting, Miss Iceland was already out of the picture and the title was a toss between Misses Colombia and India.
To help in the ranking, something peculiar happened. The five ladies were asked to stand in front of the judges for an extra ten (10) minutes – quite an eternity of waiting or a test of patience, if you will. It was during this period that Maria Stella Márquez Zawadzky defeated her eventual 1st Runner-up Iona Pinto by a slim margin. Just half a point.
And you know what made the Indian lose? She stopped smiling during the ten (10) minutes of extra standing. Stella kept on with the happy face. This was revealed to Iona by one of the judges – Vincent Trotta – during a post-pageant reception.
Quite a unique way of breaking the deadlock, huh?
If not for the constant smile and effervescent presence of Miss Colombia, she would’ve lost the Miss International 1960 title to Miss India.
Of course, we all know that Maria Stella Márquez Zawadzky is the beloved Madame Stella Márquez de Araneta who founded Bb. Pilipinas Charities, Inc. and has spearheaded the search for the country’s loveliest Filipina Beauty Queens since 1964 up to the present.
From the time she decided to settle down and marry Filipino businessman Jorge Araneta, Madame Stella moved to the Philippines where she has been living ever since. She might be Colombian by birth, but her heart definitely belongs to the country which has adopted her with open arms.
And since Miss International fever is currently on, this TBT on her is just what the Pageant Blogger ordered. 😉