REINA NIEVES I. Only 14 years old when crowned Carnival Queen of Pangasinan, her beauty was knowned and admired even in Manila. Her granddaughter, Margarita Moran, followed in her footsteps by becoming Bb. Pilipinas 1973 and later, the biggest world crown of all--Miss Universe of 1973.
In 1919, there was a pall in the air with the world still plunged in a great war in Europe. In keeping with the atmpshere of the times, no national Carnival was held in Manila. But this was not the case in the provinces in which people felt far removed from the devastations of a world war. Provinces continued to hold petit fairs that livened domestic tourism, promoted trade and attracted visitors from across the country.
The Pangasinan Carnival of 1919, staged in Lingayen, was held in such a large scale that it drew almost as much buzz as those held in the capital city of Manila. And, adding much to the stature of the local exposition was the election of a carnival queen—the only provincial nobility whose fame extended to Manila and to other parts of the country: Queen Nieves Gonzales.
Nieves was born in 1905, to a ruling class family that owned large hacienda and land holdings in Rosales, Pangasinan. The concept of beauty pageants was not exactly new to the Gonzales family; Nieves’s first cousin, Augusto had married the 1916 Queen of the Manila Carnival, Manolita Barretto. So when the idea of becoming the Queen of the 1919 Pangasinan Carnival was brought to Nieves for consideration, she did not resist. At the tender age of 14, she accepted and embraced her new role as a paragon of Pangasinense pulchritude.
Immediately, photo postcards of Nieves found their way to Manila which were immediately snapped up by thousands of fans enamoured by her beauty. It was said that her photos even outsold those of previous Manila Carnival Queen winners, catapulting her to national attention.
A year after her reign, she became the young bride of Don Manuel Moran, who later became a Chief Justice and an Ambassador. From this union came a daughter Nenita, and a lawyer-son, Francis Moran, who, one day would wed Charo Roxas, who counts Pres. Manuel Roxas as one of her ascendants. Among their children was a daughter who would continue the tradition of beauty started by her grandmother, even taking it to an international level.
In 1973, this granddaughter, Maria Margarita Roxas Moran, captured the world’s most prestigious Miss Universe crown—our country’s 2nd – in a spectacular pageant held in Athens, Greece. She was also named Miss Photogenic in the same contest.