WHOEVER wins Miss Universe Philippines 2022 will be crowned in the presence of pageant royalty. Miss Universe titleholders Pia Wurtzbach (2015), Iris Mittenaere (2016) and Demi-Leigh Tebow (2017) will be hosting the coronation night. Catriona Gray (2018) was sent an invitation to attend while the reigning queen, Harnaaz Sandhu of India, will be a special guest. I hope the organization will also invite Gloria Diaz (1969) and Margarita Moran (1973).
The third coronation night of the local Miss Universe search will be held on April 30 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Bay City, Pasay City. Cebu City’s Beatrice Luigi Gomez, who finished at the Top 5 at Miss Universe 2021, will crown her successor.
The beautiful Belgian-Boholana Pauline Amelinckx, 26, enjoys an advantage over her rivals, as she placed third runner-up in Miss Universe Philippines 2020. Davao del Sur’s gorgeous Jedidah Korinihona, 25, born in the Solomon Islands, was Top 30 last year. Cebu Province’s stunning Lou Dominique Piczon, cracked the Top 16, and was named Best in National Costume and Best in Runway in 2020.
Experience in national pageantry also gives any phenomenal woman an edge. Aklan’s Jona Sweett, 26, was Top 10 at Miss World Philippines 2017, Miss Paraw Regatta 2015, and Miss Philippines Earth Eco-Tourism 2015. Baguio’s Ghenesis Latugat, 22, was Miss Cordillera Queen of Festivals 2016 and Miss Baguio 2021. Quezon Province’s Gracelle Nicole Distura, 22, was Binibining Bondoc Peninsula 2020 and fourth runner-up at Mutyang Quezon Turismo 2017.
My homegirl, Misamis Oriental’s Annabelle Mae McDonnell, 21, is the reigning Miss Kuyamis. Born in the United Kingdom but grew up in Iligan City, she was Miss Lanao del Norte 2019, Miss Iligan 2018, and 2019 Miss Millennial second runner-up. Lanky and awkward on the runway at the start of her pageant career, she was trained by a top Cagayan de Oro runway coach and blossomed to win the Frontrow Catwalk Queen this year.
Two women of international bearing and upbringing are making waves. Albay’s articulate Julia Eugénie Augustias Saubier, 27, a Binibining Pilipinas Miss Universe 2019 candidate, was born in Lyon, France. She graduated magna cum laude from New York University Abu Dhabi, took her Master’s Degree in Yenching Academy of Peking, and went to the Identity School of Acting in London.
Cebu City’s captivating Chantal Elise Legaspi Schmidt, 20, holds a Bilingual International Baccalaureate Diploma in German and English from the Cebu International School, and is currently taking up online classes for her law studies at a German university.
Three former national titleholders who had remarkable international campaigns are in strong contention. Pasay’s Silvia Celeste Cortesi, 24, was Miss Earth Philippines 2018 and placed Top 8 at the global finals. Taguig’s Maria Katrina Llegado, 24, was Reina Hispanoamericana Filipinas 2019.
And Makati’s Michelle Daniela Marquez Dee, 26, was Miss World Philippines 2019 and Top 12 at the world finals. That Dee is the daughter of the legendary Melanie Marquez makes her the “Girl to Beat” at this year’s most prestigious beauty pageant. It doesn’t mean, though, that she’s unbeatable.
Image credits: MISS UNIVERSE PHILIPPINES FACEBOOK