1970 May 16
Exposition Hall Fairgrounds, Osaka
1 Philippines Aurora "Au-Au" McKenny Pijuan
2 Argentina Margarita Marta Briese
3 Australia Karen Patricia Papworth
4 Japan Toshie Suda
5 New Zealand Susan Frances Greaves
Aurora McKenny Pijuan (born 1949), of the Philippines, is the Miss International titleholder for the year 1970.
aurora pijuan with simonette berenguer de los reyes, the 1970 bbp-universe.
She comes from Bacolod and is a graduate of Saint Scholastica's College (batch 1967). A product of the 1970 Binibining Pilipinas beauty pageant, Aurora was sent to Osaka, Japan to compete, and eventually win, Miss International. Her victory meant that the Philippines is the first country to win the title twice.
She went on to marry golfer and basketball coach Tomas Manotoc in Dominican Republic. The couple has a son, now ABS-CBN sportscaster TJ, and a daughter named Mavis. The marriage ended in divorce and Tomas married Imee Marcos, daughter of then Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos.
She is currently an active member of the Gawad Kalinga movement in the rural areas of the Philippines.
Pijuan considers winning the Miss International pageant in 1970 her destiny. She was the second Filipina to win the title. The first Filipina to be crowned Miss International was Gemma Cruz-Araneta who won the title in 1964.
"I never followed beauty contests before nor after I won. I was never into it. But Iâ€™m not putting it down; just not my cup of tea. I would say I was pressured to join by people close to me, Tommy and Ben Farrales. In the end I told myself, what did I have to lose. So, I went through the exercise," honest Pijuan recalls.
An article in the papers tried to put the blame on Tommy Manotoc when Pijuan, a Math major at Maryknoll (now Miriam) College then, repeatedly turned down people egging her to join, stating he was a possessive and jealous boyfriend and that could be the reason the highly popular model of many known couturiers, was going against everyone's prodding. That irked Tommy and pushed her instead into joining. The rest is history.
Winning Bb. Pilipinas International was a surprise to me but winning the Miss International title was totally unexpected. This I believe is truly destiny!
On being alone
For Pijuan, if winning the title is a destiny, marriage was both a destiny and a choice. She eventually married basketball coach Tommy Manotoc who later on married then-presidential daughter Imee Marcos. The stories that made up that chapter in their lives are definitely good materials for the silver screen but Pijuan, the ever gentle and proper lady that she is, remains calm and accepting about life's twists and turns.
She even tells me that she has remained friends again with her ex-husband. They have two children ”TV host TJ Manotoc and former Pitoy Moreno model Mavis Manotoc-Fuentebella both of who have given her grandchildren. They are grown up and they have been living on their own. TJ married Rio Chipeco and has two children, Ian and Mikaela, while Mavis married Jim Fuentebella and have a son, Diego," a the proud lola relates.
After being a single parent for many years, she married Bob Cleveland, an American businessman. But finally she chose to be alone, a side very few people don't get to see nor understand.
"Alone, alone, yes, I love it. It's a choice, my choice, it's all a matter of being in sync with the universal design of things. I love being alone. I love solitude," she insists.
Reasons to hope
Always positive, Pijuan admits that there were also times in her life when she almost became hopeless and helpless. She speaks of hope for country.
"I complain, I vent. I get so frustrated with governance; not only this government but past governments too. I am an optimist by nature but I was on the verge of losing hope when all we get on a daily basis is a deluge of negatives stories. We have just been named 'the most corrupt country' and we are not enraged or ashamed! One day I told a friend, let's just do something on our own."
Then he said, like what? What can we do?
I don't know, I'll look for a poor family. I'll network with my friends. I will find out how I can help, Bahay? Pagkain? Livelihood?
As I was saying all these, he said that vision of yours is what Gawad Kalinga is doing.
That's when she started joining Gawad Kalinga (GK), which means, "to give care." It is a Philippine-based antipoverty movement launched in 2001 by the Couples for Christ, to care for poor Filipinos and survivors of natural disasters. GK has now evolved into a multi-sectoral partnership carrying the motto, "No More Slums." Together with its partners, Gawad Kalinga actively works in poverty-stricken areas to improve the quality of life of their residents and by providing decent homes and resources for the beneficiaries to become self-sufficient.
credits: [BALITA USA, Universal BC, Tony Paat]