Thursday, February 19, 2009

63. 1930, THE BATHING SUIT CONTROVERSY III: Thoughts & Aftermath

What about the four winners who did get to wear their bathing suits during that fateful final selection? Miss Philippines-elect Consuelo Acuña said, “I didn’t put on the required bathing suit, but wore an attire modified for the form. I won’t say my opinion about the bathing suit lest I offend my companions”.

Miss Luzon, Estrella Alvarez had a more difficult time: “I resisted wearing a bathing suit for as long as I could, then gave in when a respected member of the jury requested it as ‘urgent’. But I didn’t wear the ‘maillot’, but an old-fashioned type, with a folded skirt, and I didn’t remove my shoes and stockings. This case of the bathing suit has brought me a lot of trouble. A brother of mine has sent a telegram to the effect that he and my brothers and sisters would disown me as a member of our family if it is true that I presented myself in such a scandalous manner!”.


Miss Visayas, Luz Villaluna was more open-minded: “I am of advanced ideas and I believe in the progress and evolution of woman. Because of this, my friends call me a good sport. But what would you have me say? At that moment when, on the exigencies of the judges I had to wear a bathing suit, I started to dry like a child—I don’t know why! It was an emotion that came from the innermost self”.


The one with the most liberal attitude seemed to have been U.P. collegian Rosario Ruiz Zorilla, Miss Mindanao. “Campoamor, the Spanish writer, wisely said: ‘All depends on the color of the glass on looks through’. It is natural that people would invoke Philippine traditions in rejecting this novelty. Under the circumstances, however, I believe there is nothing wrong for it is all in the aesthetic sense. The sight of a nude sculpture or painting evokes an emotion of pure artistry”. It is interesting to note that Zorilla had no qualms about putting on a bathing suit; as a candidate of The Herald, she was photographed wearing one in the university pool.


Violeta Lopez came out of the contest and the furor of the bathing suit incident, a wiser, if not a more practical woman. To show that she bore no hard feelings, she and her father hosted a party for about 30 media people at the close of the Carnival season at Refugio Restaurant. She told the press, “I have never had a more enjoyable stay in Manila than this time, and all because I spent a great part of my time with the newspapermen of the city. They are truly the most amiable and hospitable people in the world”.

The Tribune, in an article entitled, “She Refuses to Wear a Bathing Suit and Loses A Crown”, was profuse with praise for its candidate: “Miss Violeta Lopez has shown by this exceptional act that she is still the daughter of these Sunkist Isles, the pride of a nation’s heart, strong in the inviolate modesty of maidenhood. All hail to Queen Violeta Lopez! Long may she reign and long may her act be cited as revealing that spirit of a true Filipino womanhood!”.

Eventually, Violeta Lopez would be elected queen of the grand Carnival in Jaro, Iloilo, which rivaled the pageantry of the national Carnival, as eyewitness reports noted. She would also put the bathing suit controversy behind her, returning to the Manila Carnival two years later, where this time, she would win the Miss Mindanao title in the court of the 1932 queen, Emma Zamora.

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