PENDING Miss Venezuela 1977 Cristal
Cristal Montañéz is the former Miss Venezuela 1977. Cristal was honored to represent her country Venezuela in the Miss Universe pageant held in the Dominican Republic in 1977 and was thrilled for the opportunity to be an ambassador for Venezuela internationally. She loved sharing time with young women from 95 countries from around the world and meeting interesting personalities such as President Joaquin Balaguer, Diana Ross, and designer Roberto Cavalli, among others. Thanks to Facebook, some of these relationships are still going today!!

Cristal was an avid tennis player. During her reign as Miss Venezuela, while she enjoyed the media exposure her success in tennis brought, she found that the sport was considered an exclusively “elite” sport played mostly in private clubs around the country. There were very few tennis courts available in the public facilities in the rural areas. She recognized the opportunity to make a difference and committed to promoting tennis as a popular sport for the youth of Venezuela.

She initiated a campaign on a national level and in conjunction with the Venezuelan Tennis Federation officials and presented her proposal to the government’s Department of Youth (Ministro de la Juventud) to popularize the sport by building more public tennis courts and facilitating trainers to teach the basics rules of the sport and engage the youth as a way to develop their mind, physical condition and keep out of trouble. The next step was to request the support of the Department of Justice (Ministerio de Justicia) to help fund this initiative at a national level.

The campaign was a success thanks to her perseverance and the support of the organizations and government institutions that helped make her efforts to popularize tennis a reality. As a result, several tennis courts were built in public places, and young people had the opportunity to experience and play tennis.

Cristal dedicated some of her time to care for disabled senior citizen and children’s charities.

She became a volunteer member of the Comité de Damas Voluntarias del Patronato Nacional de Ancianos Inválidos (National Volunteer Women Committee for the Disabled Elderly). Every month, Cristal helped celebrate the birthdays of the senior citizens and invited local musicians to join the celebration and bring some happiness to her new elderly friends. She enjoyed listening to their stories. Sometimes, she was delighted, and at other times she was extremely saddened by the circumstances surrounding their lives since the majority of her new friends had no family to care for them. She especially remembers Carlotta, a beautiful 92 years old woman who used to be a ballet dancer and every month asked Cristal to take her home with her…

According to Cristal, one of the most treasured moments in her life was the day Simón Díaz -also know Tío Simón Díaz- Venezuela's most beloved and famous folk singer wrote the song “Cristal,” dedicated to her. This beautiful and folkloric merengue was chosen to be the theme for the first Venezuelan musical video production for the movie theaters sponsored by Old Parr to promote Venezuela and its music. With lyrics by Simón Díaz and interpretation by Gualberto Ibarreto, the majestic Parque Los Caobos in Caracas served as the background for this video. “Cristal” has been featured in several festivals and interpreted by many Venezuelan musicians including the flute version by Huascar Barradas, and the classical guitar version by Alirio Diaz, among others versions.

In November 2008, thirty-one years later, Cristal had the opportunity to accompany Simón Díaz, in Houston when the Board of Directors of the Grammy Latino organization presented Simon a Special Award by the Latin Recording Academy for his 50 years of professional achievements.

The song “Cristal” continues to be very popular, and many young girls in Venezuela were named Cristal, after her and the beautiful melody. Even recently, in September 2011, a young couple, Gonzalo and Indhira Vallejos, contacted Cristal to share their story. They have two wonderful sons, and after many years, God had blessed them with a new baby girl. They spent time searching for a name for their precious new baby among Venezuelan artists, former Miss Venezuela, and other personalities. Finally, inspired by Cristal’s humanitarian work and by Simon Diaz’s song they named their new baby girl Cristal Carolina.
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