MANILA, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte welcomed Monday in Malacanang, the presidential palace, the 84 candidates of Miss Universe beauty pageant and hope them to share Philippine beautiful scenery, rich culture and history.
"I'd like to make an admission that never in my life I have been with a room full of beautiful women," Duterte said in a speech during the call, drawing applause from the audience. "This is either a privilege and an honor, and I hope that this days will never end."
Duterte hopes the beauty pageant could boost Philippine tourism as the contestants visited quite a lot of scenic spots in the Philippines and attracted worldwide spotlights in the last few months.
"I hope that the contestants had a wonderful time visiting place such as Vigan, Cebu, Baguio, Batangas, and Davao. It is truly a great honor for us to be sharing you your most beautiful destinations including the rich culture and history behind each of these gems," he said.
"I usually do not read my speeches. I am not up to it really but this time I must behave in my language, in the adjectives that I would be using to characterize or define your beauty, all of you," he said.
He told the contestants to make the pageant "an opportunity for you to represent your country, to promote your advocacies, and to advance women empowerment to a grater audience."
The Philippines is this year's host of the 65th Miss Universe pageant. The winner will be crowned on Jan. 30 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Last year, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach of the Philippines won the tile, making her the third Filipino woman to wear the Miss Universe crown.