Decades after bringing home the Ms. Universe crown, Margie Moran-Floirendo continues to be an inspiration to women all over.
WWe've all heard how, as a 19-year-old, Margie Moran-Floirendo brought glory to the country by bagging the crown in the Ms. Universe pageant in 1973. She admits that winning the pageant has opened many doors for her; she helped boost Davao's tourism industry, opened and managed a resort, produced documentaries and TV shows that highlighted the beauty of Mindanao, and worked to promote peace through the “Tabang Mindanaw's Relief Operations” for evacuees and victims of armed conflict in Mindanao.
Years after her reign has ended, and long after she has passed on her crown, she is now deeply immersed in community work that involves some of her passions. Being a ballerina before she joined the pageant that dramatically changed her life, Margie now pursues her love of the art as the president of Ballet Philippines. Having lived in Davao for a big part of her life, Margie is one of the founders of the Mindanao Women's Commission where she works with women, creating opportunities for them, teaching them livelihood projects and honing them into entrepreneurs. She is also an active member in Habitat for Humanity. With the many projects and causes she is involved in, Margie is a fine example of someone who sets her mind to a goal and aims to achieve it, inspiring women of all ages to be anything they want to be.
So many things have happened since you were crowned Ms. Universe. Can you tell us something about your journey?
All these just came my way. If it was something I was interested in, I always put emphasis on what is in it for others. Even in the movies I've done, in the documentaries I've done, it always leads to social change. It's because my interest is always community work.
What inspires you to do all that you did?
It depends on what I'm doing because I'm doing so many things. Let's say in the ballet, what inspires me are how good the dancers are, how I am also able to inspire them, how I'm able to influence them to achieve excellence in their dance and become the best they can be. I find fulfillment in being able to give that opportunity to them. And everything I do is for the glory of our Lord. It's really a mission. I find that I'm luckier, more fortunate when I make other people have more opportunities to be what they can be.
Being a public personality, what lessons did you hope to share with women?
That we can be anything we want to be as long as we have a vision for ourselves. [I want to teach them] to take opportunities as they come their way. I just do what I can and my message to women is that whatever they do, whether it's for their family or for other people, it's always really for the betterment of society.
Were there certain public perceptions that you had to deal with?
People up to this day look at me and introduce me as Ms. Universe, even if I am so much older already. I take it as an opportunity, I'm not ashamed of it at all, because it has brought me to different places and it has given me the power to be in the position of influence. And I think that's the most important thing that I have achieved—to be a person of influence. I've achieved credibility as well. It has given me success in everything I want to do.
You almost ran for public office in the last elections. Are you considering running again?
Oh, I don't know. I've always believed that if it's meant for you, it will happen because there is always a role that we play in society. And if it's for me, the doors will open. If it's not for me, the doors will not open. But regardless of whether I will run or not, I will continue to do the projects that may improve the lot of people.
Given all these things you have been doing, how did you manage your time between raising a family and nurturing your career?
My family is always a priority but my girls are now very independent; they live abroad. They went to boarding school at an early age so I was able to give priority to my career as well. I talk to them everyday so it's like they haven't left.
Having separated from your husband, how have you managed to remain friends?
It's also because of my children. We both love them very much so our bond is with our children. After a certain time, you get over all the difficulties and you make it a point not to engage in any difficulties and always make it easier. We even travel as a family up to now.
What are your tips in aging gracefully?
The most important are how healthy you are and how you look at yourself. I don't really look at myself [based on] how other people want to look at me. It's what makes me feel good that matters because that's what I exude. If I feel good about myself, if I am well-groomed and I am well-dressed, then I will exude this kind of personality. The other thing is also to have good skin. Make sure you have good skin because even when you get older you will always have that beautiful look.
Let's talk about your life in Davao. How was it like when you moved there years ago?
We moved there in 1985. I lived there for about 10 years or more. It was a big change [moving there] because at that time Davao was not as urbanized as it is now. It was very rural. I was very casual, I did a lot of things at home. I had a baby that was growing up so I was almost a full-time housewife but I was also very much engaged in the travel business. That was my work there.
What do you appreciate about living in Davao?
Its healthy air, and I have a house and a beautiful garden. But primarily I'm there because there's work to do.
You've raised your family in Davao. What makes Davao a good place to raise a family?
It's a good place to raise a family because it does not have the fast-paced urban temptations. Well, now we have malls. But when my kids were growing up, there were no malls. And it was just a good place to keep the family together.
What makes Davao different from other cities in the country?
The people in Davao are very cooperative; they're active. They're not complacent. You'll actually get people there to move. They're active in the community, in anything they do. There's always something going on. So whether it's in the arts or in the environment, it's not difficult to rally people to a cause. And the women there are also very active in peace and development.
How is the arts and culture scene in Davao?
You have to create the scene for arts and culture. We do not have a proper theater; hopefully, we will. But it's something we have to create. And there are local arts and culture and the culture in Davao is very rich. We have the indigenous people, we have the Islamic culture, and the culture of the Christians who have come from all over the Philippines. It's a melting pot of multicultural society and that's what makes it a very vibrant city as well.
What is the best thing about being in Davao?
Being in Pearl Farm Beach Resort and being in the plantations. It's where I want to be. It's like my second home.