What Pia Wurtzbach learned from ‘hawi’ incident with Ricky Lee at book launch

November 1, 2023 - 8:48 AM
Pia Wurtzbach
Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach in this photo from her Instagram on Oct. 22, 2023 (piawurtzbach/Instagram)

If there’s one thing Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach realized following the viral incident involving a security personnel and National Artist Ricky Lee during her book launch, it is this: there is a need to promote National Artists and introduce them to mainstream consciousness.

It was in September when the National Artist for Film and Broadcast Arts was pushed aside by a long-sleeved security personnel flanking the beauty queen as she attended the Manila International Book Fair in Pasay City.

At that time, Pia was walking to the stage for the launch of her first-ever fiction book, “Queen of the Universe: A Novel.”

A video showed Ricky shaking the hands of Pia, who continued to walk towards the stage. However, their contact was cut short when a security personnel pushed himself between the two, causing Ricky to let go of Pia’s hand.

Some spectators of the clip were not amused with how the respected screenwriter and author was treated, given his status as a National Artist.

RELATED: ‘The disrespect!’: Filipinos react after video shows National Artist Ricky Lee pushed aside at book fair

Ricky initially said that he was surprised to find out about the uproar, saying he wasn’t able to notice the whole incident.

However, he also agreed with online users who thought that the security personnel was a bit “rude.”

“Siguro ‘yung guwardiya could have been more gracious. Hindi ko iisipin ang sarili ko. Iisipin ko ‘yung ibang tao ‘yan. Hindi kinakailangan na senior or hindi kinakailangang National Artist,” Ricjy said to the Philippine Entertainment Portal before.

“Pero kung may taong nilapitan din ni Pia, kinamayan pa ni Pia, respetuhin niya [guard] ‘yung tao at si Pia, kasi kilala ni Pia. Pero hindi niya kailangang hawiin, kasi si Pia mismo ang lumapit at nakipag-usap. So, kawalang respeto ‘yon — hindi lang sa akin, kundi kay Pia. Hindi in-acknowledge ng guard na in-acknowledge ako ni Pia. I think medyo naging rude ‘yung guwardiya,” he added.

Pia eventually contacted Ricky and apologized, according to talk show host Boy Abunda.

A month after the incident, the beauty queen pushed for the further introduction of national artists to the mainstream to avoid such incidences.

“In relation to the guard involved in the incident, I believe he did that because he didn’t know [Sir Ricky]. The problem lies in the fact that not all of us know our national artists. So to introduce our national artists to the masses is the solution,” she was quoted as saying by CDN Life in an October 29 report.

“We need to tell them, ‘These are the people we have to show respect to, the people whose works we have to celebrate. This is them, from different fields of art,'” Pia added.

The Miss Universe titleholder admitted that she wouldn’t recognize some of the country’s national artists if she encountered them in public due to their lack of exposure.

“To be honest, I’m pretty sure there are more artists there who even I won’t be able to recognize when out in public,” she said.

“This could be an idea for influencers, celebrities, and even the media. Let’s give them a bit of [a] push. Let’s talk about them, include them in our posts and highlight their works, so that more people will know them,” Pia continued.

A National Artist is a Filipino citizen who has been given the rank and title of such in recognition of his or her significant contributions to the development of Philippine arts and letters.

The rank and title of National Artist is conferred by means of a Presidential Proclamation.

It recognizes an individual’s excellence in the fields of music, dance, theater, visual arts, literature, film and broadcast arts, and architecture or allied arts.

Ricky was conferred the Order of National Artist of the Philippines for Film and Broadcast Arts in 2022.