An Asian domination has been unthinkable until the year 1988, when four of the top five finalists were Asian and Thailand bagged the Miss Universe 1988 crown.
Miss Universe has long been dominated by the blonde Europeans since the time of its inception. Later on, the Latinas perfected the formula in winning beauty pageants and have replaced the Europeans as dominant competitors in Miss Universe.
Asians had a hard time winning Miss Universe, albeit the fact that several countries like Japan, Thailand, the Philippines, Lebanon and Israel had already won the crown during the earlier decades. In fact, before 1988, Philippines has already two Miss Universe winners in 1969 and 1973.
Japan was the first country to win it in 1959 courtesy of Akiko Kojima. The latest prior to the historic 1988 edition was Rina Messinger of Israel in 1976.
The 1988 edition of Miss Universe was held in Taiwan, in an era when the one China policy has not yet prevented countries to send delegates to the island nation. During this year, preliminary judges favored fair skinned candidates, evidenced by the mix of Latinas, Europeans and four light-skinned Asians.
These four Asians were Porntip Nakhirunkanok of Thailand (who was crowned Miss Universe), Chang Yoon-Jung of Korea, Mizuho Sakaguchi of Japan and Pauline Yeung of Hong Kong. The four Asian delegates marched all the way to the Top 5, with the Mexican candidates as the only non-Asian.
Miss Universe 1988 is truly a historic edition, showcasing in the international stage the beauty and brilliance of Asian women.
Check out the announcement of the Top 10 finalists during the Miss Universe 1988 pageant: