beauty pageants

Philippines’ Maria Luisa Varela wins Miss Planet International

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Philippines’ Maria Luisa Varela wins Miss Planet International 

Miss Planet International's Instagram

Varela, who replaced Herlene Budol as the country's representative, is the first Filipina beauty queen to win the pageant

MANILA, Philippines – Maria Luisa Varela of the Philippines was crowned Miss Planet International on Sunday, January 29, at the coronation night held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. 

Varela succeeded Monique Best of South Africa, who was crowned in 2019, to become the Philippines’ first representative to win the pageant. 

The rest of her court are as follows: 

  • 1st runner-up: Jemima Mandemwa (Zimbabwe)
  • 2nd runner-up: Ona Aya (Japan)
  • 3rd runner-up: Tiffany Ha (Vietnam)
  • 4th runner-up: Katarina Juselius (Finland)
  • 5th runner-up: Alina Safronova (Latvia)

Varela, a 26-year-old entrepreneur, was announced on January 20 as the Philippines’ official representative in the competition, replacing original delegate, Binibining Pilipinas 2022 1st runner-up Herlene Budol. The announcement also included the appointment of Michael “Miki” Antonio as the national director. 

Miss Planet International, which was originally set for November 2022 in Uganda, was met with controversy last year when several delegates, including Budol, withdrew their participation from the pageant, calling it a “scam.” The organizer then announced that they were postponing the pageant to January 2023 because they “failed to comply and meet the requirements” to continue the competition. –

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