Geraldine Edith "Pebbles" Villaruz Asis Story

Geraldine "Pebbles" Asis
Bb. Pilipinas - Universe 1987
Best in Evening Gown, Miss Sunsilk, 1987 (Bb. Pilipinas Pageant)
Semifinalist, 1987 (Miss Universe Pageant)

The Saga of Geraldine Edith "Pebbles" Villaruz Asis, Bb. Pilipinas Universe 1987 and the Circumstances Surrounding her Reign

"Pebbles," 23, a Goulee Gorospe entry, bagged the Bb. Pilipinas Universe title over 36 other delegates that year.

Pebbles' victory proved to be a surprise to many pageant watchers. After all, she was not the hot favorite that year. The press were placing their bets on actress Marissa Delgado’s daughter and Ronnie Ricketts girlfriend Avon Boyle Garcia of De la Salle University; actor E.R.Ejercito’s girlfriend Emma Rose Policarpio; and Renee Salud’s models Anna Margarita Pobre (Cavite-bred, 1986 Supermodel of the World Philippine finalist and a descendant of Emilio Aguinaldo and Cesar Virata) and Diwata Panahon (UST’s Miss Thomasian Pharmacy). Other favorites that year were Pampanga's Maria Lourdes Enriquez, UP Los Banos and Colegio de Sta. Rosa-bred Ma. Luisa Jimenez and UP Diliman's Rosabelle Adriano.

The public certainly undermined the provinciana from Roxas City, Capiz. It also didn't help that Pebbles resembled screen contravida Zeny Zabala and starlet Myra Manibog.

Pebbles actually came from a landed family. Her father was previously mayor of Roxas City. She is related to Capiz’s
distinguished families: Roxas, Villaruz, Ortiz and Viterbo. In fact, she and Miss Universe 1973 Margarita Moran are very distant relatives.

Pebbles majored in interior design at the College of Holy Spirit Manila. She had no plans of joining a beauty pageant. She was supposed to drop off some friends at the Manila Hotel. Manila Hotel had been screening Bb. Pilipinas hopefuls that particular day.

Pebbles was forcibly obliged to be screened by Madame Stella Marquez de Araneta and the Bb. Pilipinas Charities Inc. (BPCI)
Executive Committee. Because of her Eurasian features, she moved past the screening exercises and became an official candidate.

Come coronation night, The 37 official candidates initially sashayed onstage during their opening number wearing cocktail dresses designed by an up and coming 19-year old designer from Angelicum School: Peter Lim.

Halfway through, Emma Rose Policarpio bagged 3 special awards: Miss Creamsilk, Miss Talent and Miss Photogenic. Earlier, Emma Rose made a commotion during the parade of beauties by riding in her own float. Pebbles proved to be the evening’s dark horse by winning the Miss Sunsilk and Best in Evening Gown titles. Lourdes Enriquez bagged the Miss Close-up Smile title. Ma. Luisa Jimenez was Lux Lady.

As the evening moved to a close, Pebbles was chosen to represent the Philippines in the Miss Universe pageant in Singapore. Ma. Lourdes Enriquez was Bb. Pilipinas International. Ma. Luisa Jimenez was Bb. Pilipinas Maja. Avon Boyle Garcia became Bb. Pilipinas Tourism. Angela Larrazabal and Rosabelle Adriano were runners-up.

Locally, Pebbles was not expected to figure prominently in the Miss Universe pageant. But as soon as she landed in Singapore, she was hailed as a favorite together with Miss USA Michelle Royer, Miss New Zealand Ursula Kim Ryan, Colombia’s Patricia Lopez Ruiz (who eventually received the Miss Photogenic Prize) and Miss Venezuela Inez Maria Calero.

Best National Costume Awards were given to Jacqueline Ribeiro Meirelles of Brazil, Priyadarsjomo Pradhan of India and Sheree Ann Richards of Trinidad and Tobago. Tattiana Reues of Honduras bagged the Miss Congeniality title.

To the tune of "Let's Go Baby, Let's Go" Miss Universe 1986 Barbara Palacios Teyde of Venezuela led the delegates and guests in gracing the Miss Universe Pageant’s spectacular opening number in Singapore’s World Trade Center. The hosts were Bob Barker and Mary Fran.

From the video footages to the various production numbers, the cameras were zeroing in on Pebbles. In spite of her relatively low swimsuit scores (7.77), she seemed to be a shoo-in for the top 10.

"We have Miss Italy (Roberta Capua)….We have Miss Puerto Rico.(Laurie Tamara Simpson, who later became Miss International in Japan) ...and we have Miss Philippines," cried Bob Barker.

Pebbles was the third to be called among the semifinalists. The other semifinalists were Inez Maria Calero (Venezuela), Jessica Newton (Callao, Peru), Michelle Royer (Keller, Texas, USA), Marion Nicole Teo (A surprise entry, from the host country Singapore), Susanne Thoerngren (Sweden), Carmelita Ariza (Grand Turk Island, Turks and Caicos; her sister competed in the 1985 pageant in St. Louis, Missouri) and Cecilia Bolocco (Chile). Pebbles placed 5th in the preliminary competitions.

During the interview competition, Pebbles made quite an impression on host Bob Barker:

Barker: She is Geraldine Edith Asis, she is a college graduate, and what was your major in college?
Pebbles: I majored in interior design.
Barker: I see. Now I am pleased to learn that you watch “The Price is Right” in the Philippines.
Pebbles: Of course, that’s my favorite show! (audience giggles with her)
Barker: Here’s a candidate with good taste, ladies and gentlemen …You have family members living in the United States?
Pebbles: Yes, I do..
Barker: Where do they live?
Pebbles: In New York, Michigan, Florida, Everywhere! (audience laughs with her)
Barker: Have you visited these places?
Pebbles: If I’m going to be Miss Universe, that’s the first thing that I’m going to do. Go and visit them.
Barker: You haven’t been to the United States?
Pebbles: No, I haven’t.
Barker: But if you watch “The Price is Right” in the Philippines, there’s no reason for you to see the United States!
Pebbles: But I think it’s better if you see it live!
Barker: I think you are right! Thank you, Miss Philippines.

Although Pebbles was bubbly, her interview wasn’t strong enough to place her into the top 3. Chile was 1st, USA was 2nd and Italy was 3rd. Puerto Rico was surprisingly in 4th place followed by Venezuela. Pebbles was a close 6th.

After the swimsuit competition, it became apparent that Pebbles was slipping out of the winning circle. She, again, placed 6th. Chile was too strong after her interview. Again, she top the swimsuit parade. Italy was 2nd, USA dropped to 3rd, Puerto Rico placed 4th and Venezuela was again 5th.

To the tune of the haunting "Star Medley" and serenaded by the little sisters, Pebbles emerged relatively victorious during the evening gown competition. Wearing her prizewinning Bb. Pilipinas black gown (accentuated further with sequins, beads and rhinestones on the left hip/thigh area, designed and executed by Goulee Gorospe), Pebbles scored heavily by placing 4th. Chile, again, was 1st, Italy came in 2nd, USA placed 3rd. Puerto Rico dropped to 5th and Venezuela was 6th.

Looking back, Pebbles' interview scores caused her downfall during the final night. Chile's Cecilia Bolocco was crowned Miss Universe. Italy, USA, Venezuela and Puerto Rico were the runners-up.

Pebbles slipped back to Manila after her Singapore sojourn. Her fellow passengers, airport immigration and customs officers, and even kibitzers inquired: “How come you didn’t win?”

"I really tried my best," was Pebbles' immediate reply.

After the pageant, Pebbles did “Espadang Patpat” with Dolphy (where she reportedly received a whooping 100,000 Philippine Pesos - a hefty sum then for a first-time actress). She had personal endorsement and modeling contracts in Singapore, Hong Kong, Manila and the United States. She was a popular girl during her reign.

Pebbles' performance was a respectable finish for the Philippines in 1987. It will take 7 years for another Filipina to land in the top 10 of the world’s most prestigious beauty pageant.

J for the article
Twinkle2020 for the pictures


andi said...

She's my 1st cousin and I'm proud of her

"To God be the Glory".