By now everyone in the Philippines knows, Venus Raj, the Filipina who recently placed 4th-runner up on Ms. Universe. Love her or hate her, she has definitely put the country back on the beauty pageant radar.
The Philippines has a long history of loving pageants. Beauty contests are everywhere. They're held in malls, in schools, and in provinces during the thanksgiving fiesta. We have pageants for women, for men, for kids, and for the gays. The infamous Imelda Marcos once fought her way into being crowned the Muse of Manila when she came in second for the Ms. Manila Pageant. Beauty is something Filipinos are eternally enthralled with. So I wanted to look back at the major major winners of the past.

A poster from the first national beauty pageant where President Manuel L. Quezon had to step in to to end the rivalry of two candidates. In the end, the crown of Ms. Philippines went to Ms. Anita Noble and  a special title "Ms. Pearl of the Orient Seas" went to Carmen Fargas.

Carnival Queen: 1925 Carmen Papa 
Manila Carnival Queens were the first national beauty pageants. This was a fabulous event held every year to celebrate Philippine American relations. Here, the 19- year old Filipina beauty, Carmen Papa is dressed in an Egyptian outfit. Apparently, there is a new theme every year.

Miss Philippines 1934: Clara Tan Kiang 
A half-Filipina half-Chinese beauty who garnered the support of the Chinese community in a contest that heavily favored Spanish mestizas. She studied in the University of the Philippines, pursued a career in law, and married at 40. A very modern beauty and a fashionista to boot!

Carnival Queen 1938: Guia Balmori
A stunner from Pangasinan. She was studying to be a secretary in UST when fame beckoned. The nuns from her school and her father believed pageants were ridiculous and discouraged her from joining, but she did and shocked everyone with a victory. She died fairly recent on December 12, 2006. Her husband who could not bear without her followed 5 days later.

Information about the beauties were gathered from, the site of Alex Castro, who managed to write about the winners from every year. Very thorough indeed. The sepia-toned photos are from the flickr photostream of San Miguel de Mayumo. Muchos gracias from all of us.