Philippines’ MJ Lastimosa in Top 6 bettors pick to win 63rd Miss Universe crown; Colombia, USA, Venezuela, India, Spain lead poll

Before midnight on Sunday, January 25, 2015 (Monday morning in Manila) the new Miss Universe replacing Gabriela Isler of Venezuela would have been named.

The Miss Universe Pageant is always a big event for bettors, gamblers and oddmakers.

MJ Lastimosa MU swimsuit2Miss Philippines Mary Jean Lastimosa

In this 63rd edition of the most prestigious beauty contest, Miss Colombia, Miss USA, Miss Venezuela, Miss India, Miss Spain and Miss Philippines are consistently the top picks to win the coveted Nexus crown among the 88 contestants.

NicerOdds (http://www.nicerodds.co.uk/miss-universe), which claims to have the best offer to placing bets in the current Miss Universe contest held in Doral, Florida as they cover the top betting sites online to guide gamblers, have come up with the top picks with corresponding Highest Odds and Lowest Odds numbers.

MU 2014 Miss Colombia Paulina VegaMiss Colombia Paulina Vega

Miss Colombia leads, followed by Miss USA, then Miss Venezuela, Miss India, Miss Spain and Miss Philippines.

Miss France, Miss Costa Rica, Miss Mexico and Miss Russia make up the rest of the Top 10. MU 2014 Miss USAMiss USA Nia Sanchez

Placing 11th to 20th are delegates from Brazil, St. Lucia, Angola, Australia, Indonesia, Guyana, Ukraine, Haiti, Kosovo and Puerto Rico.

MU 2014 Miss SpainMiss Spain Desiree Cordero Ferrer

After the preliminaries on January 22nd though, where the candidates paraded in their National Costume, Swimsuit and Long Gown, MsUniversePageant Hotspot (http://www.msuniversepageant.org/miss-universe-2014-preliminary-competition-top-15-performers/) came up with the Top 15 performers and ranked #1 is Miss Philippines Mary Jean Lastimosa.

MU 2014 Miss India gown1Miss India Noyonita Lodh

“Her performance in the preliminary competition was sublime. It goes to show that she really is more than prepared for the deathmatch. We’re not digging the style of her gown as it didn’t accentuate her figure, but sure did in the swimsuit round! She’s our top bet in swimsuit. Whew! Her body figure is what we are envious of,” says the blurb why the Filipina beauty tops  them all.

MU 2014 Miss ArgentinaMiss Argentina Valentina Ferrer

Ranked #2 is Miss Argentina Valentina Ferrer.

Miss Jamaica Kaci Fennell is ranked #3, followed by Miss Mexico Josselyn Garciglia at #4 and Miss Colombia Paulina Vega at #5.

MU 2014 Miss VenezuelaMiss Venezuela Migbelis Castellanos

Sixth is Miss Ukraine Diana Harkusha, Miss USA Nia Sanchez at #7, Miss Costa Rica Karina Ramos at #8, and Miss Guyana Niketa Barker and Miss Russia Yulia Alipova at #9 and #10 respectively.

The rest of the Top 15 are Miss Dominican Republic Kimberly Castillo, Miss Ecuador Alejandra Argudo, Miss Spain Desiree Cordero Ferrer, Miss Indonesia Elvira Devinamira and Miss Kenya Gaylyne Ayugi.

Choosing Miss Universe 2014 are judges Filipino boxing sensation Manny Pacquiao, musician Emilio Estefan, model-actor William Levy, NFL great DeSean Jackson, skateboarder and reality TV star Rob Dyrdek, baseball pitcher Giancarlo Cruz-Michael Stanton, fashion journalist Louise Roe, British author and movie and TV personality Lisa Vanderpump, fashion designer-actress Kristin Cavallari and Marie-Claire creative director Nina Garcia.

MU 2014 Miss MexicoMiss Mexico Josselyn Garciglia

Meanwhile, Miss Universe Philippines 2013 and 3rd Runner-Up Ariella Arida serves as the correspondent for On The Scene, a web series on the Miss Universe YouTube channel, taking fans to behind-the-scenes as the 88 contestants prepare for exclusive events leading up to the big night including Preliminary Competition, National Costume Show and Contestant Rehearsals on the official Miss Universe channel www.youtube.com/missuniverse.

Last year, it was Miss Universe Philippines 2012 and 1st Runner-Up Janine Tugonon who did the task. The previous year it was Miss Universe Philippines 2011 and 3rd Runner-Up Shamcey Supsup.

This is also the fifth time that a Filipino, in the person of Manny Pacquiao, sits as judge in the Miss Universe.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Carlos P. Romulo was the first Filipino to sit as judge in the prestigious contest when it was held in Manila in 1974 won by Miss Spain Amparo Munoz.

In 1989, fashion designer Josie Cruz Natori was one of the judges who chose Angela Visser of Holland as Miss Universe in Cancun, Mexico.

Then in 1991, singer Kuh Ledesma sat in the panel in Las Vegas, Nevada that chose Miss Mexico Lupita Jones as the new Miss Universe.

Manny-PacquiaoManny Pacquiao: 5th Filipino Miss Universe judge

In 2011, Broadway star Lea Salonga flew to Sao Paulo, Brazil to judge the contestants with Miss Angola Leila Lopes winning the crown. Lea later said in an interview that she had Miss Philippines Shamcey Supsup ranked #2 in her sheet. Shamcey placed 3rd Runner-Up.

Related articles in this blog:

Still High on the Coronation of MJ Lastimosa, Miss Philippines Universe 2014…

Move over, pretenders to the throne! The Queen of Philippine Beauty Pageantry Blogging is always around to give us the best insights and plenty of never-seen-before photos–the iconic 1985 Bb. Pilipinas Universe Joyce Ann Burton-Titular!

Adventures of a Beauty Queen

MJ Lastimosa full of joy as she is crowned after her third attempt at winning! Crowning her is last year's MUP Ariella Arida. On the left is reigning Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler MJ Lastimosa full of joy as she is crowned after her third attempt at winning! Crowning her is last year’s MUP Ariella Arida. On the left is reigning Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler

It’s been 6 days since MJ Lastimosa became our newest Miss Philippines Universe as I write, and I’m still feeling the thrill! So here’s a post of my best photos of her taken on the night she was crowned. Enjoy!

MJ Lastimosa has dangerous curves that need warning signs... MJ Lastimosa has dangerous curves that need warning signs…

“Mom, I hope MJ wins!”

About 22 hours before this North Cotabato/Davao beauty was crowned, I was chatting with my daughter Diandra on Skype. Diandra has ALWAYS been a major major fan of MJ. When MJ lost in 2012, my baby girl and I were so upset. Anyway, I was telling my daughter about how gorgeous the girls were this year and she said, “Mom, I hope…

View original post 1,943 more words

Philippines sure to sustain winning streak, maintain powerhouse position with newly-crowned queens

Last year’s feat was amazing for Filipino beauties. The Philippines is, so far, the only country that placed in all major contests worldwide winning three crowns in a single year.

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2014 Binibinis (from left): 2nd Runner-Up Hannah Ruth Sison, Bb. Pilipinas Tourism Queen International Parul Shah, Bb. Pilipinas Intercontinental Kris Tiffany Janson, Miss Universe Philippines Mary Jean Lastimosa, Bb. Pilipinas International Mary Anne Bianca Guidotti, Bb. Pilipinas Supranational Yvethe Marie Santiago and 1st Runner-Up Laura Victoria Lehmann

Mutya Johanna Datul bagged the Miss Supranational crown, the first for the country and for Asia, early in September in Belarus.

Megan Young clinched the Miss World title held in Indonesia, the first for the Philippines in the pageant’s 63-year history, later on the same month.

Ariella Arida placed 3rd Runner-Up in the Miss Universe held in Russia in October, the fourth consecutive year the Philippines landed in Top 5.

Angelee Delos Reyes was in Top 8 in the Miss Earth held in the Philippines in November.

Until the holding of Miss International in Japan in December, the #1 beauty powerhouse position was being contested between the Philippines and Venezuela, as its delegates were proclaimed Miss Universe and Miss Earth.

But with Bea Rose Santiago’s win, clinching the fifth Miss International crown for the Philippines, there’s no doubt that, indeed, Filipinas are collectively the most beautiful and talented women in the whole world.

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2013 Filipina titleholders: Miss International Bea Rose Santiago, Miss World Megan Young, Miss Supranational Mutya Johanna Datul and Miss Tourism International 2013/14 Angeli Dione Gomez

In between the major contests, Annalie Forbes placed 3rd Runner-Up in the first Miss Grand International held in Thailand which was won by Miss Puerto Rico. Koreen Medina placed 3rd Runner-Up in the Miss Intercontinental pageant held in Germany, won by Miss Russia.

Ending 2013 and starting 2014 was the win of Angeli Dione Gomez in the Miss Tourism International contest held in Malaysia on New Year’s Eve. She succeeded Rizzini Alexis Gomez. It was a back-to-back win for the Philippines in the 17-year-old pageant rooted in the neighboring Southeast Asian country.

(See related story in this blog–Beauty powerhouse Philippines ends 2013 with a big bang, starts 2014 with aplomb https://arloc888.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/beauty-powerhouse-philippines-ends-2013-with-a-big-bang-starts-2014-with-aplomb/)

The challenge for the Philippines this year is how to sustain its winning streak. Not only Filipinos had been anxious who’s going to represent the country in various contests, but the focus of beauty aficionados around the globe turned to the country for the holding of Binibining Pilipinas 2014.

Will the Misses Philippines this year be as good as the Misses Philippines last year?

They are, based on the results:

Miss Philippines Universe is Mary Jean Lastimosa (#25). Her third try for a crown finally paid off and it’s the prime title.

Bb. Pilipinas International is Mary Anne Bianca Guidotti (#22).

Bb. Pilipinas Intercontinental, making history as the first to wear the crown, as BPCI got the franchise of Miss Intercontinental this year, is Kris Tiffany Janson (#13).

Bb. Pilipinas Supranational is Yvethe Marie Santiago (#35).

Bb. Pilipinas Tourism Queen International is Parul Shah (#4).

Ending up as First Runner-Up and Second Runner-Up respectively are Laura Victoria Lehmann (#11) and Hannah Ruth Sison (#27).

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MJ Lastimosa being crowned by Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler and Miss Universe 2013 3rd Runner-Up Ariella Arida

The winners were chosen by a panel of judges that include Miss Universe Organization President Paula Shugart, Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler, Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, broadcast journalist Korina Sanchez, ABS-CBN executive Cory Vidanes and Miss International 1979 Melanie Marquez among others, in a glittering ceremony at the Araneta Coliseum on March 30.

(Watch the crowning moment of the new Filipina queens here: http://youtu.be/uVIIVyca8mQ)

From hundreds of applicants, 40 were chosen as official candidates. Then they were narrowed to Top 15.

Rounding up the semi-finalists circle were Julian Aurine Flores (#1), Joanna Angelica Romero (#3), Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach (#8), Emma Mary Tiglao (#14), Zahara Mae Soriano (#16), Mae Liezel Ramos (#19), Kenneth Santiago (#20) and Nichole Marie Manalo (#23).

Special Awardees: Best in National Costume – Kris Tiffany Janson; Best in Talent – Gabrielle Erika Tilokani; Miss Friendship – Racquel Kabigting; Manila Bulletin Readers’ Choice – Ladylyn Riva; Miss Avon – Yvethe Marie Santiago; Miss Photogenic – Kris Tiffany Janson; Best in Swimsuit – Mary Jean Lastimosa; Best in Long Gown – Mary Anne Bianca Guidotti; She’s So Jag Award – Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach; Miss Philippine Airlines Award – Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach; Miss Cream Silk Award – Yvethe Marie Santiago.

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The iconic poster of this year’s Grand Coronation Night

Hosting the affair were Xian Lim and Anne Curtis, anchored by Miss Universe 2010 4th Runner-Up Venus Raj, Miss Universe 2011 3rd Runner-Up Shamcey Supsup and Miss Universe 2012 1st Runner-Up Janine Tugonon.

It was Gabriela Isler herself who asked MJ in the Q & A:

“For you, what is the greatest advantage of being a woman?”

Her answer, “The advantage of a woman is being able to compose ourselves, just like here… we’re standing in front of thousands of people, but we try to compose ourselves. Tonight, thousands of people are standing here celebrating the beauty of a woman – and that is the advantage of being a woman.”

Sorely missed in the winners’ circle is Pia Wurtzbach, who was last year’s First Runner-Up. But as MJ showed, there’s always a third chance. Next year, Pia might be Miss Universe Philippines or Bb. Pilipinas International or any of the three other crowns.

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The Gold Queens (50th year of BBP) from left: Pia Wurtzbach, Cindy Miranda, Ariella Arida, Bea Santiago and Mutya Datul

As former Bb. Pilipinas Universe and blogger (Adventures of a Beauty Queen http://adventuresofabeautyqueen.com/) Joyce Burton-Titular said:

“Remember, that a pageant will NEVER define who you are, unless you allow it to. So if you lose, do not call yourself a loser. You are not! At the same time, losing SHOULD make you feel bad, it SHOULD make you go down on your knees and cry. And yet like a good soldier, learn how to carry your battle scars with pride!

“And please, don’t deny yourself a time to mourn. Mourning is part of the healing process. But get back up and find the path that God has set out for you. Whether it be to join again or to move on to something new. Just move!”

Good luck, ladies, continue carrying the banner for the Philippines and womanhood!

 

Sash factor strengthens Koreen Medina’s bid for Miss Intercontinental 2013 crown

Mutya ng Pilipinas-Asia Pacific 2013 Koreen Medina is in Germany competing in the Miss Intercontinental 2013 Pageant. Reports say she’s one of  the favorites to win the crown.

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On her own, the 18-year-old beauty from Quezon City can give any of the contestants a run for their money–she has one of the loveliest faces especially when she smiles, she may not be very tall but at 5’7″ she’s taller than the average girl, she’s smart, confident and talented.

As representative of Asia’s beauty powerhouse, wearing the Philippines sash is an added factor to her quest for the country’s and Southeast Asia’s first win in the pageant that started in Aruba in 1973 as a teen beauty competition. So far, the Philippines’ highest placement in the Panama-based contest has been 2nd runner-up, with 5 semi-finalists.

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The remarkable feat of the Philippines in beauty pageants this year–Miss World Megan Young, Miss Supranational Mutya Johanna Datul, Miss Universe 3rd Runner-Up Ariella Arida, Miss Grand International 3rd Runner-Up Ali Forbes and Miss Earth Top 8 Angelee delos Reyes–is matched by Venezuela in the persons of Miss Universe Gabriela Isler and Miss Earth Alyz Henrich.

However, Venezuela did not get to the finals in the Miss World, Miss Supranational and Miss Grand International. This makes the Philippines still the Best Performing Country, adding to the four consecutive years Top 5 placements in the Miss Universe.

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As pointed out by adventuresofabeautyqueen blogger Joyce Burton Titular (herself a former Miss Philippines), the downside to Koreen’s candidacy is her youthful look.

Confirmed as the youngest candidate among the 61 candidates, Joyce suggested that Koreen has to groom and style herself to look a little bit older, which she has followed from Day 1, judging from the photos posted on the official web site of Miss Intercontinental 2013, on Missosology, Beauty Pageant Grand Slam and her Facebook fan page.

“I am the youngest contestant but I know a lot of things and I have this conviction and fighting spirit. I can do more and improve more!” ABQ quoted her as saying.

Koreen acts and sings.She’s Coca-Cola Music Talent Search 2011 Grand Champion and the Grand Winner of 2012 My Girl on ABS-CBN.

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Will Miss Intercontinental 2012 Daniela Chalbaud of Venezuela bequeath the crown to Koreen? That will be known on December 14, Saturday at the Maritim Hotel in Magdeburg, East Germany.

Details of the contest at http://missintercontinental.de/contest/.

The week that was: Tragedy and Inspiration

The strongest typhoon that ever made a landfall in recorded history hit Central Visayas in the Philippines on November 8. The massive destruction was not known until the day after as it was still ramming everything in its path the following day.

So strong was the natural calamity that whole communities, towns and cities had only rubbles visible with many dead bodies littering the streets when the catastrophe subsided. A few structures were spared by the 305-kilometer-per-hour super typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) but walls or roofs were either partially damaged or partly blown by the gusty wind.

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In Moscow, Russia on November 9, Miss Philippines Ariella Arida was competing with 85 other girls in the Miss Universe 2013 Pageant. Host Tony Roberts said that the show was dedicated to the Philippines and Vietnam (where Haiyan was headed to after Central Visayas).

Although Ariella did not get the crown, her third runner-up finish to Miss Venezuela Gabriela Isler was enough to give weary Filipinos pride and inspiration. Her placement in the Top 5 continued the streak started by Venus Raj in 2010 when she placed fourth runner-up, followed by Shamcey Supsup as third runner-up in 2011 and Janine Tugonon as first runner-up in 2012.

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The following day, Sunday, Nonito Donaire knocked out Vic Darchinyan on the ninth round of their 10-round featherweight non-title bout in Corpus  Christi, Texas. The win boosted the spirit of Filipinos not directly affected by the super typhoon but were sad and gloomy of what happened to their countrymen in the Visayas. Days earlier, Rubilen Amit was declared Women’s 10 Ball World Champion.

The photos, videos and stories of survival of Haiyan’s fury could melt anybody’s heart. This writer, for one, not only cried but wailed, every time a clip was shown on TV or a photo or video was posted on Facebook.

Where was God?

As more than 90% of Filipinos are Christians, the faithful asked, where was God during those times? Didn’t He hear the prayers? Didn’t He hear the pleas? Didn’t He see the agony of His people?

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte was reported to have said, teary-eyed, “I do not mean to be… God must have been somewhere else or he forgot that there is a planet called Earth.”

He returned to his city  Monday, November 11, after a quick visit to Tacloban, where he said dead bodies remain unattended on the city streets, four days after Haiyan battered the entire city and nearby places.

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Last month a 7.3 magnitude earthquake shook adjacent Bohol  island that destroyed centuries-old churches and many infrastructures. Even the world renowned Chocolate Hills were not spared.

Just as the Boholanos were trying to rebuild their lives, the Leytenos or Warays were afflicted far even greater. The havoc wrought by the super typhoon is even worse compared to the tsunami that hit Indonesia, Thailand and other countries in 2004. Metro Manila had its share of calamity this year when Typhoon Maring flooded the national capital region for three days last August.

Plagues like that of Egypt in Moses’ time?

This brings us to ask, is God giving the Philippines plagues like it was in Egypt during the time of Moses until the President (equivalent of Pharaoh) let go of the people from the bondage of corruption in government?

This is not an isolated thought because we can count the plagues that the Philippines had got inflicted with so far–plague of Martial Law and the Marcoses, Baguio and Dagupan earthquake, Mount Pinatubo eruption, the deadly typhoons (Uring, Ruping, Kadiang, Rosing, Loleng, Winnie, Reming, Frank, Pedring, Pepeng, Juan, Sendong, Pablo), the fish kill in Pangasinan and Batangas, the floods in Laguna and Cavite, the leptospirosis and dengue outbreaks, the war in Zamboanga, the deadly earthquake in Bohol and now super typhoon Yolanda.

President Aquino  has the power to free Filipinos from the bondage of corruption. People elected him because of the promise of renewed inspiration, hope and change. He may not be the most intelligent leader as he could not even grasp the real meaning of the people’s sentiments, but his candidacy was a blessing. Otherwise, plunder-convict Joseph Estrada could have regained the reins of government.

His election as President gave the nation a shimmering hope for the future. At last, here is an honest President with no extra espousal baggage. But into the middle of his term, his administration has been rocked by one scandal after another–not just the pork barrel issue but the funds readily available for his disposal, including allegation of bribery to make sure that Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona was impeached. Lest we forget, he has his kaibigan, kamag-aralan, kabarilan at kamag-anakan (friends, classmates/schoolmates, shooting buddies and relatives) just like the first Aquino presidency.

Bribery–done before, during or after (whether payback is made days, months or years later)–is corruption to the very core.

The pork barrel scam that got exposed by the Napoles whistleblowers was just the tip of the iceberg. The President wanted the Commission On Audit to report mainly for the period 2007-2009 so he could blame his predecessor as he had been doing right at the onset of the campaign up to this day. Maybe he thought he could fool the people into believing that corruption was only rampant during the time of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and he is treading the straight and narrow path of righteousness. But the COA reported that even until 2012 the scam continued.

In 2013, the scam soiled his own hands with the exposé that he has had trillions of pesos at his disposal but the largesse may have ended in the personal funds or favored projects of his friends and associates in government.

He had to interrupt the TV viewing pleasure of Filipinos one evening and declared, “I am not a thief!” There he misread the pulse of the nation again. Just because he was labeled the Pork Barrel King did not mean he’s greedier than Tanda, Sexy and Pogi. It meant that lump sum funds readily available for his disposal is kingly in magnitude. And whatever term he’d call it, like DAP, it’s still pork barrel. Using it without Congress approval is against the Constitution and ground for impeachment.

His working habit puzzles the citizenry whom he calls his bosses. He’s not readily visible during times of calamities or tragedies, that people think he could be sleeping or busy tinkering his computer for whatever reason. Presidential inefficiency and immaturity showed early during the Luneta hostage crisis. It took time for his presence to be felt in Zamboanga. He did not visit the worst-stricken part of Bohol. To boost his image, Malacanang press said he slept in the tent, but later it was reported he stayed in the tent, alright, but actually spent the night in a resort.

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In Leyte, he was reported to have walked out from the disaster meeting, but presidential staff said he left for a short bathroom break. If the reason for his walkout was because he sterlingly declared Leyte was prepared for the disaster, yet it got ravaged by the super typhoon in unthinkable proportions, then he acted like a bratty little general, instead of a strong, determined leader.

Going back to the Egyptian plagues, is President Aquino waiting for the penultimate malady to strike before deciding to release the people from the bondage of corruption?

Ray of sunshine

Ariella arrived home Tuesday and she said she’s happy of her placement in the Miss Universe 2013 Pageant. In fact, her not winning the crown is a blessing in disguise as she can now help her countrymen get up from the disaster that plummeted the nation while she was away.

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Her placement (and that of Donaire’s win) was welcomed by Malacanang. Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said these two pieces of good news are a much-needed shot in the arm for Filipinos going through so much in the aftermath of the recent calamities.

“We appreciate the efforts to bring a little bit of a smile to the faces of countrymen who are going through so much in the aftermath of the typhoon,” she said.

As reported, Ariella and Nonito had dedicated their efforts to Filipinos affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda, with Donaire also dedicating his fight to the victims of  earthquake last month.

“I think any sort of positive news to us is very welcome at this point,” Valte said as she congratulated the two for bringing honor to the Philippines especially in these trying times.

Before she flew home, Ariella was interviewed on ABS-CBN’s “Umagang Kay Ganda” and said all she wanted was to be in the Top 5.

Sobrang happy ko po kasi sabi ko kay Lord, basta ilagay niya ako sa Top 5 tapos kahit saan na niya ako ilagay. Narinig niya ang prayers ko. ‘Yung panalo kong ito, kahit paano napa-smile ‘yung mga kababayan natin sa Pilipinas (I’m so happy because I asked the Lord to put me in the Top 5 then wherever he’d place me that would be enough. He heard my prayers. In this win,  I was, in my little way, able to bring smile to our countrymen in the Philippines),” she said.

Ariella also added that after Miss Venezuela was proclaimed Miss Universe, she could no longer get near the winner as fellow candidates and the press swarmed over the new queen. Olivia Culpo was just a couple of steps away from her and the immediate past Miss Universe hugged her and said she was rooting for her.

Missosology reported that Ariella stayed the longest after the coronation as she had to talk to and mingle with her fans and supporters. She added, she was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support by Filipinos in Moscow and  Russians saying, “For me you’re number one.”

Thank you, World

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As of this writing, donations and pledges from all over the globe have poured in for the victims of super typhoon Yolanda. Billions of dollars are needed to rehabilitate Tacloban City and other places affected by this tragedy.

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For this, Filipinos are thankful for their generosity, concern and sympathy.

Mabuhay kayo at maraming salamat!

(All photos in this article owned by organizations or persons who posted the same on the Web)

Miss Venezuela wins Miss U, Philippines proud of Ariella’s 3rd runner-up finish

Miss Venezuela Gabriela Isler was crowned Miss Universe 2013 last Saturday night in Moscow, Russia. She is the seventh Venezuelan Miss Universe. Declared first runner-up was Miss Spain Patricia Rodriguez; second runner-up was Miss Ecuador Constanza Baez; third runner-up was Miss Philippines Ariella Arida; and fourth runner-up was Miss Brazil Jakelyne Oliveira.

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Of the many predictions to make it to the Top 5, three made it–Miss Philippines, Miss Spain and Miss Venezuela. International Business Times missed on Miss Australia and Miss Russia to enter Top 16. Miss USA made the cut until Top 10. Very few placed their bet on Miss Ecuador to barge into the finals. Three of the touted Trump Card six candidates did not advance to the semi-finals–Miss Russia (as host country), Miss Italy (by virtue of swimsuit sponsor Yamamay being an Italian brand) and Miss Turkey (by virtue of hair sponsor CHI).

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The 86 candidates were judged during the preliminary competition on November 5 in three areas–swimsuit, evening gown and interview. Fifteen were chosen: Costa Rica, Ukraine, China, Ecuador, Great Britain, Indonesia, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Spain, USA, Nicaragua, Switzerland, India and Brazil. The 16th candidate was for winning the most Fan Votes online and it was Philippines.

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The 16 candidates then strutted in their swimsuit and 10 were chosen: Spain, Philippines, Great Britain, India, Brazil, USA, Ukraine, Ecuador, Venezuela and Dominican Republic. Five–Ecuador, Brazil, Spain, Philippines and Venezuela–advanced to the final question-and-answer portion, where only Miss Philippines did not engage the services of an interpreter to answer Tara Lipinski‘s question.

“What can be done about the lack of jobs for young people starting their careers around the world?” the Olympian and NBC host asked Ariella.

“For the people who have lack of jobs, I do believe that we people should invest in education and that is my primary advocacy, because we all know that if everyone of us is educated and well aware of what we are doing, we could land into jobs and we could land a good career in the future. Education is the primary source and ticket to a better future,” she said.

As the last finalist to be asked, Gabriela got Steven Tyler‘s question, “What is your biggest fear and what is your plan to overcome it?”

Through an interpreter, the beauteous Miss Venezuela answered:  “I believe that one may have a lot of fears, but nonetheless, this is nothing negative. I believe that we should all overcome our fears, and this in turn, would make us much stronger. And thus(ly), we can become stronger persons. As soon as we overcome our fears and we’re sure of ourselves, we can face any challenge.”

To some, the answer was not really an answer to the question, and many were surprised that after Miss Brazil was called as fourth runner-up, Miss Philippines was immediately called as third runner-up. Many believed that the crown was a toss between Miss Spain (who answered her question better) and Miss Philippines. But then, as the Miss Universe Organization is a business under the Trump conglomerate, along with Telemundo (what NBC is in Latin America), Mr. Trump preferred a Latin beauty to win and not an Asian or European (who already competed in the rival Miss World).

Ariella’s third runner-up finish continues the Top 5 streak of the Philippines in the Miss Universe the past four years–Venus Raj (4th runner-up) in 2010, Shamcey Supsup (3rd runner-up) in 2011 and Janine Tugonon (1st runner-up to USA’s Olivia Culpo) in 2012.

Janine, by the way, was online host for this year. Her “On The Scene With Janine” had her interviewing, annotating and following the contestants in the red carpet, during the evening gown competition and chatting with performers Panic! At The Disco. She did this year what Shamcey did last year.

For Filipinos and her fans and supporters all over the globe, third runner-up finish is not at all bad and they are proud of Ariella’s achievement in this year’s ultimate pageant of goddesses in the Universe.

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She has this posted in the Miss Philippines Universe Facebook page:

“I may not have brought home the crown, but I hope I have given my best to exceed my people’s expectations. The winning streak continued –2010, 2011, 2012, 2013.

And that makes us a powerhouse of beauty and intelligence in the entire universe. And you, my dear kababayans, are the true heroes of this pageant. Thank you for the love and support up to the last hurdle of my intense battle. It was a competition with discriminating judges with all their personal choices and that we have to accept. I have accepted my fate, I have given my best, and that makes me a beauty queen till the last day of my life.

Mabuhay ang lahing magaganda.
Mabuhay ang bansang PILIPINAS!”

–Ariella Arida, Miss Universe 2013 3rd Runner-Up

Photos from http://www.missuniverse.com