On September 28, 1995, the island of Palau celebrated its first anniversary of independence. A beauty pageant was held as part of the festivities, and Hila Asanuma, a former Pacific Union College student, won the competition and was crowned Miss Palau.
Asanuma, one of ten contestants, took part in the pageant's five areas of competition. First was the talent contest, where Asanuma performed a Tahitian dance. Then, contestants were judged in traditional attire, swimsuit, and evening gown competitions. After these proceedings, five of the competitors were selected to proceed to the final pageant area, where they each answered one question. Asanuma won with her response to a question about women's roles in the 90's. As the winner, she was awarded a $1000 cash prize, two round trip tickets to Bali, $500 in spending money for Koror Wholesalers, and various other gifts.
Asanuma is currently busy with the duties that accompany her year-long title. As Miss Palau, Asanuma says she is a "role model to the youth." She has made many appearances at elementary schools and high schools in Palau, speaking out against drugs and encouraging students to stay in school. Asanuma is also eligible, with her title, to compete in the Miss Universe pageant, but she has opted not to. Instead, she plans to return to PUC in the near future to pursue a degree in early childhood education.