Call on PNoy a ‘major, major’ event for Venus Raj

Venus Raj with President AquinoFor Miss Universe 4th runner-up Ma. Venus Raj, her first encounter with President Benigno S. Aquino III is one ‘major major’ event she would never forget.

Stunning in her off white Philippine terno, the dusky 22-year-old considers meeting the President for the first time Wednesday as one big gift following her impressive showing in the yearly international beauty pageant.

“Of course, it’s an honor to be here at the Palace being congratulated by no less than the President of the Philippines,” she said after her brief courtesy call at the Ramos room of Malacanang.

The 5-foot-9 beauty was accompanied by her mother, Ester Payonito, Binibining Pilipinas Charities head Stella Marquez Araneta and Uniprom Director for Entertainment Sienna Maris Olaso.

Among those who welcomed Raj were Tourism Secretary Albert Lim, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Chief Secretary Ramon “Ricky” Carandang, and former Senator Mar Roxas.

In their one-on-one talk, President Aquino III thanked Raj for providing positive news about the Philippines when she competed in the Miss Universe pageant a day after the tragic hostage-taking at the Quirino Grandstand.

Raj said the President counseled her that “since I am now entering public life, I should be careful of the people surrounding me,” she quoted the President as saying.

The President, she said, confessed that he is just learning the difficulties of being in the highest position and having the “most public exposure.”

Raj, a journalist by profession used to lay out the reading materials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Region 5. She grew up in Bato, Bicol and is the youngest of five children. Their father, Architect Vincent Raj, lost touch with his family after the floods that hit India several years ago.

On the eve of the pageant, she recalled to reporters, “I have not read the papers. But a lot of my friends told me about the hostage taking. I really had no time to watch the television. But my counterparts were also asking me about the tragic incident here.”

Asked if she is considering show business, Raj said, “if there are offers, why not.”

She said she would be willing to help the government in promoting tourism in the Philippines. “If they will ask me, I will gladly help.”

Source: Presidential Communications Operations Office