Monday, August 8, 2011

*262. 1953 Mrs. Philippines: ESTRELLA OCAMPO LOPEZ of San Fernando

COVER GIRL. Estrella Ocampo Lopez of San Fernando, winner of the 1953 Mrs. Philippines quest launched by Weekly Woman's Magazine. She was crowned at the auditorium of the 1st Philippine International Fair, country's biggest post-war event in 1953.

The year 1953 began on an exciting note for the Philippines. On 1 February, the 1953 Philippines International Fair reeled off at the Luneta, a three-month celebration of 500 years of Philippine progress. The fair, a huge and daring enterprise never before attempted since the first Manila Carnival of 1908, was laid out at the Luneta featuring not only national government and provincial exhibits but also foreign pavilions.

Countries like Thailand, China Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Spain, Sweden, U.S. Korea, Italy, China and Belgium lent their participation. One highlight of the fair was the selection of the Miss Philippines who will serve as the welcome official of the fair. The 1st Miss Universe, Armi Kuusela, was invited to crown the eventual winner, Maria Cristina Galang of Tarlac.

The first international fair that sought to depict the Philippines as the “Gateway to the East” generated much interest and was covered extensively by media. One women’s magazine even dared to ride on the popularity of the Miss Philippines pageant by conducting its own beauty search, this time, for the fairest married Filipina of the land. The Weekly Women’s Magazine, a widely circulated female-oriented magazine invited its readers to send nominees to the said “WWM Mrs. Philippines Contest”, even as it issued a disclaimer reminding its readers that their contest should not be confused with the Miss Philippines search that was also being conducted at the same time.

Ballots were printed on the magazine worth 10 votes, which a reader could fill up with the name of her favored nominee and mailed back to the publication. The candidate receiving the most number of votes at the end of the contest—18 April 1953 to be exact—will be proclaimed as “Mrs. Philippines”.

The response to the contest was tremendous—after all, the grand prize was a modern house designed by Arch. Angel E. Nakpil, which was put on display at the International Fair. Hundreds of nominees from different provinces of the Philippines were received—including Pampanga, which had about 11 candidates by the end of the contest: Estrella Lopez, Carmen Alfonso, Teodora de Mesa, Providencia Ramos, Lucia Lavares, Gloria Mejia, Rosario Songco, Adoracion Nicolas, Marcelina Valencia, Julia Escobar and Vicenta Nicdao. Married women of all sorts—movie celebrities, former beauty queens, lawyers, teachers, housekeepers—made the final list of nominees.

When the first batch of votes were tallied, a Kapampangan matron from San Fernando surprised contest organizers by copping the top slot early in the contest. Mrs. Estrella Ocampo Lopez amassed 23,370 votes after the February tally, way ahead of second placer Lucia Garcia of Bacolod who had 14,120. Estrella was quickly hustled off to Manila so she could have her picture taken for the February 27 cover of the prestigious magazine. She solidified her lead after the May 20 counting, getting 113, 910 to Manila’s Nena Aragon who had 85, 820. Her campaign slowed down a bit after March—119,690 to Lucia Garcia, who regained her 2nd place position with 104, 690 total. Mrs. Lopez never surrendered her lead at the contest’s end in April, winning handily over such heavyweight candidates as former Miss Philippines 1937 Mrs. Chita Zaldarriaga Arnaiz, actresses Mrs. Tessie Quintana-Reyes and Mrs. Lilia Dizon-de Leon, society ladies Mrs. Purita Kalaw-Ledesma and Nora V. Daza and lawyer Corazon J. Agrava.

She not only won a house but also stainless kitchen tool set, a pressure cooker from Philippine Manufacturing Company, supplies of Palmolive soaps, Colgate toothpaste, a General Electric combination refrigerator-freezer, a terno from Madonna Fashion hop and a free hairdo from Realistic Beauty Salon—prizes that every accomplished missus would certainly love to have.

Mrs. Estrella Ocampo Lopez was officially crowned as the first ever “Mrs. Philippines” together with her court of honor—Mrs. Luzon, Mrs. Visayas and Mrs. Mindanao—at the Philippine International Fair Auditorium, the pride of Pampanga, and of the millions of happy Filipina homemakers all over the country.


Mong Santos said...

Hello Sir,

I've been a long time lurker of your blog & being a Kapampangan myself, I am fascinated with your articles giving me a relaxing time amidst a busy workload. Will have to backread your older post.

alex r. castro said...

Thanks for your kind words.:-)