year-end stories

Pageant powerhouse: PH beauty queens dominate international pageants in 2021

Ysa Abad
Pageant powerhouse: PH beauty queens dominate international pageants in 2021
2021 is the year for Filipina beauty queens

MANILA, Philippines – After last year’s temporary halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the pageant scene bounced back this 2021 – with some international competitions (Miss Grand International and Miss Universe) even mounting two editions for this year alone.

Prior to the pandemic, the Philippines was already seen as a pageant powerhouse, having won several titles in what are considered to be the four major international pageants: Miss Universe, Miss World, Miss International, and Miss Earth.

But in 2021, the Philippines especially lived up to the title as its representatives delivered stellar performances in their respective international pageants, resulting in several crowns and podium finishes for the country.

Two titleholders in one week

Undeniably, one of the biggest highlights for the Philippine pageant scene this 2021 is the winning of two titles, Miss Intercontinental and Miss Globe, in a span of just seven days. 

Cinderella Faye Obeñita won the Philippines’ second Miss Intercontinental title during the coronation night in Egypt on October 29 (early October 30 in Manila). 

Cinderella, who was a wildcard candidate during the Binibining Pilipinas pageant before she was crowned Miss Intercontinental Philippines, bested more than 70 candidates. 

Exactly a week after Cinderella’s win, it was Maureen Montagne’s turn to bring home another title. Maureen was crowned Miss Globe 2021 during the pageant finals in Albania on November 5 (early November 6 in Manila). 

Aside from winning the coveted crown, Maureen also placed first runner-up in the People’s Choice, Miss Bikini, and Head to Head Challenge pre-pageant activities of the competition.

Maureen bested 50 other delegates to become the third Filipina to win the Miss Globe title. 

Philippines’ 12-year streak in Miss Universe pageant

One of the most highly-anticipated pageants for Filipino fans is the Miss Universe competition. And this year, there were two editions to make up for the postponement of the pageant in 2020. 

Rabiya Mateo represented the Philippines in the 69th edition of the Miss Universe pageant. The beauty queen from Iloilo ended her stint as part of the Top 21 during the May 16 (May 17 in Manila) coronation night in Florida, USA. 

Despite failing to win the crown, Rabiya extended the country’s semi-finals streak to 11 consecutive years. The streak started in 2010, when Venus Raj placed 4th runner-up. Since then, all of the country’s representatives have finished their Miss Universe stints as semi-finalists, including two crowns courtesy of Pia Wurtzbach in 2015 and Catriona Gray in 2018.

On December 12 (December 13 in Manila), Beatrice Luigi Gomez concluded her journey in the 70th edition of Miss Universe in Eilat, Israel as part of the Top 5. Beatrice’s placement was the farthest for the Philippines in three years, following Catriona’s win in 2018. 

This also continues the country’s semi-finals streak, extending it to 12 years. The full list of recent Miss Universe Philippines representatives and their placements is as follows: 

  • Miss Universe 2011 4th Runner-up, Venus Raj
  • Miss Universe 2011 3rd Runner-up, Shamcey Supsup
  • Miss Universe 2012 1st Runner-up, Janine Marie Tugonon
  • Miss Universe 2013 3rd Runner-up, Ariella Arida
  • Miss Universe 2014  Top 10, Mary Jean Lastimosa 
  • Miss Universe 2015, Pia Wurtzbach
  • Miss Universe 2016  Top 6,  Maxine Medina 
  • Miss Universe 2017  Top 10, Rachel Peters
  • Miss Universe 2018, Catriona Gray
  • Miss Universe 2019 Top 20, Gazini Ganados 
  • Miss Universe 2020 Top 21, Rabiya Mateo
  • Miss Universe 2021 Top 5, Beatrice Luigi Gomez

Both Rabiya and Beatrice are also the country’s first representatives under the Miss Universe Philippines organization, which is headed by Shamcey Supsup and beauty queen trainer Jonas Gaffud. Prior to the MUP organization, the country’s Miss Universe delegates were chosen from the Binibining Pilipinas pageant, which is headed by Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc.

For its 2021 edition, the MUP pageant also decided to make major changes in its format. The competition started with 100 delegates, who were then trimmed to 30 after a series of remote and virtual challenges. Only the Top 30 took part in the preliminary activities and the coronation night, wherein Beatrice was crowned the winner. 

The MGI golden crown remains elusive for PH

Among these international pageants, it’s only at the Miss Grand International competition that the Philippines hasn’t secured any win yet. 

Samantha Bernardo fell short in bagging the country’s first Miss Grand International title during the March 27 coronation night in Thailand. She finished as 1st runner-up behind the US’ Abenna Appiah.

Another Samantha, Samantha Panlilio, also vied for the elusive Miss Grand International crown during the pageant’s 2021 edition on December 4 in Thailand. However, she failed to make it to the pageant’s Top 20, which baffled pageant fans as Samantha made waves online for her performance in the preliminary activities.

Filipina beauties continue to reign in other international pageants

Despite the Miss Grand International setback, Filipina beauty queens still fared well in other pageants. 

Alexandra Faith Garcia was named Miss Aura International 2021 during the pageant’s coronation night in Turkey on October 3 (October 4 in Manila). Alexandra is the first Filipina beauty queen to join the pageant since its inception in 2006. She bested 29 other candidates to be the first to win the Miss Aura International title for the Philippines. 

On December 5 (December 6 in Manila), Samela Aubrey Godin was crowned Miss Culture International 2021 in South Africa during its finals night. She also won the Best in Swimsuit Award and the Best in National Costume Award for her Philippine Eagle-inspired outfit named after Pag-Asa, the first-ever Philippine Eagle bred and hatched in captivity. 

Meanwhile, Miriam Refuerzo Damoah was appointed as the new Miss Interglobal 2021 on December 10 after Thailand’s Nachita Jantana relinquished her title due to personal reasons. She originally placed as 1st runner-up during the pageant’s coronation ceremony on December 5.

Aside from these titleholders, several Filipina beauty queens also had podium finishes for their respective pageants. While they fell short in winning the crowns, their remarkable performances throughout the pageant also made the country proud. 

Kelley Day finished as 1st runner-up in the Miss Eco International 2020 pageant that happened in Egypt on April 4 (April 5 in Manila). She also won the Best National Costume at the preliminaries of the pageant. 

Tatyana Alexi Austria also placed 1st runner-up in the Miss Eco Teen International 2021 pageant in Egypt on December 20 (December 21 in Manila). 

Emmanuelle Vera was named third runner-up during the Reina Hispanoamericana 2021 competition in Bolivia on October 30 (October 31 in Manila). The Philippines has only won the Reina Hispanoamericana crown once, courtesy of Teresita Marquez in 2017.  

Naelah Alshorbaji finished as part of the Top 8 of the Miss Earth 2021 competition during the virtual coronation ceremony on November 21. 

Dindi Pajares also landed in the Top 12 of the Miss Supranational pageant during the coronation night in Poland on August 21 (August 22 in Manila). 

With these impressive track records for 2021, Filipino pageant fans are looking forward to what 2022 can bring. 

As early as now, there’s high hopes for Tracy Maureen Perez who’s set to vie for the Philippines’ second Miss World title. The coronation night was initially set on December 17, but was rescheduled to March 16, 2022 instead due to COVID-19 cases among contestants and staff. 

Prior to the postponement, Tracy was considered to be one of the frontrunners for the competition. She secured a spot in the Top 30 after winning the second round of the Head to Head fasttrack challenge, and was also included in the Top 5 for its Beauty with a Purpose video event. 

Among the four major beauty pageants, it’s only the Miss International competition that canceled its 2021 edition. Hannah Arnold, who won the Binibining Pilipinas 2021 pageant in July 2021, was set to represent the country.

The Philippines is home to six Miss International queens. Details about a new date for the competition has yet to be announced. – 

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