Lea Salonga: No shame in having an interpreter

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — There's no shame in having an interpreter, says former Miss Universe judge Lea Salonga.

"If you happen to be more proficient in Filipino than in English, you should be able to have the option to answer in that language," Lea Salonga told CNN Philippines' The Source in an interview aired Monday.

"For me it just seems that you are just giving another obstacle for these women to overcome to not allow her to speak in the language where she is not eloquent," said Salonga, an internationally acclaimed theater actress and singer who was one of the judges in Miss Universe 2011 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

When asked if speaking with the help of an interpreter was considered a disadvantage in the competition, Salonga said, "No, of course not."

"There are all these beautiful women from places like Brazil, from all over South America, where their primary language is either Spanish or Portuguese. You go to Africa, where they speak Afrikaans. You go to China, where it's Mandarin. What difference does it make?"

Salonga did not mention the Philippine bet to Miss Universe, Maxine Medina, who has admitted that the question and answer portion was her waterloo.

Medina made it to the Top 6 of the Miss Universe 2016 pageant on Monday.

During the question and answer segment, she was asked, "What is the most significant change you've seen in the world in the last 10 years?"

This was translated for Medina on the spot as: "Ano ang pinakamabuluhang naganap na pangyayaring nakita mo sa mundo sa loob ng sampung taon?"

Medina however, chose to respond in English: "The one event that I saw all the people bringing in one event like this, the Miss Universe. And it's something big to us that we are one. As one nation, we are all together."


Medina previously received criticism for her answers in interviews, with Miss Universe 1969 Gloria Diaz advising her to get an interpreter.

Salonga was a Miss Universe judge in 2011. She had asked then-Miss Angola Leila Lopes what body part she would change and why.

Lopes, who was one of the judges in the Miss Universe 2016 pageant, responded that she would not change any part of her body. She went on to win the crown.