‘Queen of the Pacific’ Nelia Sancho dies at 71

She would leave behind the prestige and celebrity status of a beauty queen when she went underground during Martial Law

September 2, 2022

Beauty queen-turned-rebel Nelia Sancho died at age 71 on 31 August, her daughter Anna confirmed to friends only on 2 September.

Sancho was one of Pitoy Moreno’s favorite fashion models in the late 1960s when the Philippine Tourism Authority tapped her as the country’s representative to the 1971 Queen of the Pacific beauty pageant in Melbourne, Australia.

She won the title and the Miss Photogenic award.

Two years earlier, Sancho was runner-up in Binibining Pilipinas, whose titleholder, Gloria Diaz, would win as Miss Universe.

Sancho co-founded the women’s group Gabriela.

 

But Sancho would leave behind the prestige and celebrity status of a beauty queen when she went underground during Martial Law.

She was imprisoned and, after being freed in the early ’80s, co-founded the women’s group Gabriela with fellow beauty queen/activist Maita Gomez.

Sancho ran for senator following the Edsa Revolution but lost. She continued her activism in progressive organizations advocating for women empowerment, nationalist development, and just compensation for Filipino Comfort Women of World War 2.


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