In 1974, the Miss Universe competition was held for the first time in Asia. It was among a series of high-profile international events that allowed the Marcos administration to project an image of modernity and prosperity to the globe.

The Miss Universe stage displayed a mix of military might and multicultural color. Candidates were accompanied by honor guards from the Philippine Military Academy, as well as usherettes dressed in a white terno and sporting an Imeldific bouffant. The Bayanihan Dance Company danced the singkil, Pangkat Kawayan played an angklung medley, and the candidates sang the Ilocano folk song “Pamulinawen” (which also played in the end credits). The swimsuit competition was held at the Nayong Pilipino theme park. As part of the program’s intermissions, co-host Helen O’Connell told of how the Folk Arts Theater was completed in 70 days, and was inaugurated with a massive parade called “Kasaysayan ng Lahi (History of the Race)” before finally opening with the pageant on 21 July 1974. Spain’s Amparo Muñoz clinched the crown, and was granted use of a vacation beach house with a complete staff for the duration of her reign by the Philippine government. Mrs Marcos also gifted her a sculpture of Maria Clara made of 3,700 local shells.

1973 Miss Universe Margarita Moran went on to marry Tonyboy Floirendo. She has since been active in the cultural scene, most notably as president of CCP resident company Ballet Philippines, and as current chair of the Cultural Center of the Philippines. “I would otherwise never have reached the heights I was catapulted to had I not first become Miss Universe,” wrote Moran. “I have other roles now, but that one, the golden year of 1973, surely carved the path for the subsequent years that were to come, in various capacities, in service to my country and society in general.”