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Cultural Center Of The Philippines' Margie Moran On Championing The Arts In The Country

With Ballet Philippines’ 50th year celebrations taking place, the Miss Universe 1973 titleholder and former BP president reflects on the journey it’s taken to get there

In 1973, a 19-year-old girl from Mandaluyong stood centerstage at the ruins of the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Greece and gracefully accepted the universe in her hands. She is the second Filipino to be crowned Miss Universe, only four years after the country’s first titleholder, Gloria Diaz. Since then, Margie Moran has become an icon of philanthropy, both globally and locally, bringing issues of peace and livelihood in Mindanao to the fore. Most recently, however, she has returned to her deepest, most ardent first love: culture and the arts.

In a dressing room on the grounds of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, which Margie calls home, she stands tall and proud in a black Michael Cinco number. Moments later, she will be photographed in the CCP’s Main Theater, the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo, along with Ballet Philippines’ current Artistic Director Alice Reyes and world-renowned fashion designer Michael Cinco. The material of the gown glistens and glitters as the lights hit her ethereal figure. Her beauty has scarcely faded even forty-five years later. 

Patrons of dance and theatergoers around the country will have Paris to thank for the glory of what Ballet Philippines has in store for its 50th year. The beauty queen and the couturier had met, and there was an instant connection between the two. “I met Michael in France two years ago,” she tells Metro.Style. “I was still President of Ballet Philippines at the time. I wanted to do something big for the 50th anniversary gala. I wanted to do something related to Swan Lake.”

As luck would have it, Michael also had Swan Lake in mind—the Tchaikovsky-composed ballet being one of the most beautiful ballets he’d ever seen. This mind-meld of sorts resulted in the 50th anniversary gala due to take place on September 29, where an entire collection by Michael will be showcased. “They’re works of arts,” she says of the designer’s creations. “That’s one of the reasons why I chose him. It’s combining dance, music, and fashion. He’s international and so is Ballet Philippines. I wanted to match BP with someone big enough or world-famous like Michael.”

True enough, Ballet Philippines recognizes only the best. From their 500-piece repertoire to their half-a-century’s worth of contributions, the company has made sure to become a bastion of excellence in the performing arts, particularly in dance. Last August 30, Margie set foot onstage once more, as she plays the role of Queen Mother. Many people tend to forget that the beauty queen is a ballet dancer herself, and just recently, she had reminisced a time before Miss Universe, and before Binibining Pilipinas even, when she was dancing at the Hilton alongside Ely Jacinto and Nonoy Froilan. “I could have been principal dancer, too, if I followed Nonoy and skipped Bb. Pilipinas,” she says. 

Her training in dance had taught her how to charm people and how to command attention where it’s most needed, and that, without a doubt, has helped her in her beauty pageant journey. But it’s also something that has continued to fuel her as a champion of the arts. Under her leadership, Ballet Philippines worked to become accredited in order to get more sponsors. Currently, as Chairperson of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, she is hoping to continue the development of the 16-hectare complex. 

Most of all, though, she would like to expose more families to what the Center can offer. “It’s our soul,” Margie says of the arts. “It’s good for mental health. I would like to expose younger kids to the music.” Through the CCP’s many programs for the youth, Margie hopes to accomplish that soon. For now, though, the biggest thing she’s preoccupied with is the anniversary that is unfolding. “It’s not just a fashion show. They will see something spectacular. It’s weaving the music and classical ballet and something contemporary as well.”

Classical and contemporary: two words that sum up the beauty queen, philanthropist, and art patron. She’s timeless, that’s for sure, and she exists so wonderfully and perfectly in the present, as she continues to make art and dance relevant to every Filipino, but most especially for the Filipino youth. The best thing about that is it’s also Ballet Philippines’ mission as well. 

Catch the replays of Margie Moran's Women of Style episode on September 26, 9 p.m. and September 28, 3:30 a.m., 7 a.m., 5:30 p.m., and 8:30 p.m.  

Photos courtesy of Women of Style