Stella Marquez as Miss International 1960 in this photo from the official Instagram of Miss International and Stella in the ’60s in this photo from her Instagram account. (Photos from Instagram via missinternationalofficial and stellamarquezaraneta) Did you know that the first-ever titleholder of the Miss International crown is a naturalized Filipina?
The social media accounts of the Japan-based beauty pageant on Wednesday shared a tribute to Stella Márquez-Araneta, who is also the founder of the Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc (BPCI). Stella won the Miss Colombia crown in 1959 as Stella Márquez Zawadski and was sent to represent her country in Miss Universe 1960, where she landed among the Top 15 finalists. She also represented the South American country in another competition, Miss International, and won its first-ever crown in 1960.
Reports note that she met Filipino business heir Jorge Araneta, who eventually inherited the Araneta Group, during her reign and then went on to marry him in Colombia. In 1964, Stella spearheaded the BPCI which launched the annual Binibining Pilipinas pageant that sends off Filipinas to major international competitions.
She is the current director for Miss International franchises in the Philippines under the Binibining Pilipinas organization.
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“Popularly known as Madame Stella Araneta after her marriage with Filipino business heir Jorge Araneta, Stella is the longest serving national director of Miss International,” the social media post of Miss International reads.
“Her living legacy includes five Miss International crowns for her adopted country, the Philippines, and was credited for sitting as a judge in the 2008 pageant, held in Macau. #ElegantBeauty #SeñoritaColombia #MissColombia,” it added.
One of the Miss International titleholders, actress-vlogger Kylie Versoza, expressed her amazement upon learning that its first-ever winner is a naturalized Filipina.
“Wow!!!” she commented in the Instagram post.
Kylie won the Miss International crown in 2016.
The country’s current representative in this year’s edition of the beauty pageant is Hannah Arnold of Masbate, who was crowned Binibining Pilipinas International 2021.