Ms USA Rima Fakih DISSED by Award-Winning Filipino Journalist

Was very surprised to come across this opinion piece in Inquirer’s Global Nation webpage. Award-winning Filipino Journalist Emil Guillermo wonders why the beautiful Ms USA Rima Fakih is getting so much attention while the intelligent Mona Pasquil, a Filipina American who is shining in Calfornia politics, is not.

While Emil Guillermo doesn’t directly compare the two ladies, he comes pretty close to it.

I’ve reprinted Emil Guillermo’s article in full; scroll down to read it and then tell me what you think. Is it fair? Or is it like wondering why apples are more popular than oranges?

Adventures of a Beauty Queen would like to know what you think…

Mona Pasquil

Ms USA 2010 Rima Fakih

CALIFORNIA, United States—Why is no one is clamoring about Mona Pasquil, the highest ranking American Filipino ever in the most Filipino state in the US? Mona is making news as she steps down from her interim appointment as California’s Lieutenant Governor and helps with the transition.

Meanwhile the world is going gaga over Rima Fakih, the Arab American from Dearborn, Michigan, and newly crowned Miss USA, though who knows for how long. Fakih’s propensity to strip in public may be too much for Donald Trump’s beauty contest.

Once again photos have come up in post-mortem of a Trump contestant’s extra-curriculars. It’s a pattern to be expected among these types of gals, and now the Donald may strip Miss Fakih of her new tiara. Instead, maybe he can put her on the next “Apprentice.” She’d be good for an episode on organizing a wet-T shirt contest.

I admit to being surprised at the reaction to Fakih’s victory. The Arab American community was filled with pride, as if to say, “She’s a bimbo, but she’s our bimbo!”

My immediate reaction was, “Where are the Arab American feminists out there when we really need them?” Fakih may seem like a liberated sort, shirking the burqa and showing off the goods. But is it progress shifting from one oppressor (the traditional Arab chauvinist) to the Western exploitation of Donald Trump?

False progress like fake boobs only goes so far.

We know pageants As you know, Filipinos are beauty pageant aficionados, and even taking Miss USA on its own terms, I was surprised by Fakih even being in the top 5. Take the “Question” session. All the questions seemed to have a current events bent. Fakih was no great intellect here. No quoting from the Koran or anything like that. Her question was on whether birth control should be covered by health insurance. Being the practical, western Arab American, what else could she say about birth control, the great enabler. She said, yes. It’s costly.

Winner, winner?

But there was Fakih (has a nice ring to it, no?) standing next to the other finalists—four blonde, toothy, leggy Amazons. It almost seemed like a set up for Trump. Not to besmirch the integrity of the beauty contest, but my guess is that Trump saw the possibility of a media circus in having an Arab girl win. That’s like having a guy with a Turban win a Nascar race. Woo-hoo, Allah! It’s just too surreal for a publicity-monger to pass up. At least for a while.

As I said she may be stripped of her title by the time you read this for being too western for clothes.

Real beauty? Mona Pasquil

As much as I was startled by Fakih, I was dazzled recently by Mona, who was the key honoree at a special Asian American Heritage Month celebration in San Jose last week hosted by community leader Ben Menor. I’ve known Mona and her parents for several years. As a political player, Mona’s no slouch, having served as political director for twice-elected Governor Gray Davis, then as western political director for Bill Clinton. As chief of staff to former Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi, the seas parted for Pasquil when Garamendi won a seat for Congress.

But would she run to keep her appointment? Mona told me she was asked, but she declined. “I would have had to raise the money in a short time,” she said, and with no campaign chest in the waiting, Mona did the prudent thing. She wouldn’t wage a one legged battle. She stepped aside, and let others, notably San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome step into the electoral picture.

But watch out for her. Mona assured me she will run when it’s right, and that time is coming soon.

Mona Pasquil. American Filipino. A political player. Now there’s a woman to celebrate.

Emil Guillermo is an award-winning, Harvard-educated veteran journalist and commentator. Follow him at or go to

Rima Fakih photo source: