MANILA, Philippines - “I promise to be the best Miss World ever!”
Those were the first words uttered by an emotional Megan Young after she won the coveted blue crown at Miss World 2013 in Bali, Indonesia last Sept 28. It will be a tough job to try to outdo the 62 Miss World queens who came before her, but Megan seemed ready for her self-imposed challenge.
Being the first Filipina winner of the prestigious beauty title, she carries the nation along in her promise to be the best.
But who were the lovely Filipinas who came before Megan? Here’s a quick look at the history of the Philippines in Miss World.
1966 - Vivien Lee Austria
Although the Miss World organization is on its 63rd year, the Philippines made its debut in the pageant only 47 years ago. That was in 1966 when we sent a real-life princess to compete in London. Vivien Lee Austria, also known as Princess Emraida Kelly Kiram, was chosen by the College Editors Guild of the Philippines.
Maita [Margarita Favis Gomez] was the second Filipina to compete in Miss World. At the time of her reign, she was one of the top models in the Philippines. Her greater legacy came when she became a freedom fighter, joining the "underground movement" during the Marcos years. She was still active, serving as co-chair of Makabayan, a coalition group of progressive parties, when she passed on due to cardiac arrest on July 12, 2012.
1968 - Cecilia 'Pinky' Amabuyok
Pinky was the first Filipina to enter the runners-up circle at Miss World when she placed 5th over-all. One website reports that she created a sensation when she told reporters that she was a nun who ran away from the convent so she could be a beauty queen. According to that report, she admitted that she made it up.
1970 - Minerva 'Minnie' Cagatao
Minnie was a top model in her time and entered the Top 15 semi-finals.
1971 - Onelia Ison Jose
Onelia won the first ever Best National Costume award for the Philippines. Her prize money was reportedly £50.
1972 - Evangeline Reyes
Evangeline entered the Top 15 semi-finals in London. She was joined in the semi-finalist circle by a then-unknown Lynda Carter [USA] who went on to become TV’s famous “Wonder Woman.”
1973 - Evangeline Pascual
Just a shadow away from the crown, Vangie placed 1st runner-up, giving the Philippines its highest position since it first participated in Miss World 8 years before. When the winner, Marjorie Wallace of the USA, could not continue with her reign, the duties of Miss World that year were offered to Evangeline. She refused reportedly due to commitments in Manila.
Reports said the Miss World Organisation was so offended that it vowed to never let the Philippines win, ever. There could be some truth to the claim because it took 40 years from the time of Evangeline for the country to win the blue crown.
1976 - Josephine “Joy” Salazar Conde
Joy became the first Filipina to withdraw from an international beauty pageant. On the day of the finals, the Philippines sent an envoy with an official request for Joy to boycott the pageant because of "the presence of a white Miss South Africa." The move was in support of the country’s stand against South Africa’s apartheid or race policies.
In those days, South Africa sent one white and one black candidate to the pageant. The following day, Joy made it into the front page of UK newspapers, garnering more attention than the Miss World winner herself.
1977 - Ana Melissa 'Peachy' Ofilada Veneracion
Just like Joy Conde, Peachy was forced to withdraw because of South Africa’s dual presence in the pageant. What followed after turned into an urban legend:
In her anger, Peachy reportedly made a curse on the title saying that no Filipina would ever win it. She tried to shrug off the rumor but pageant fans continued to cling to the story, using it to explain why the blue crown was so elusive to the Philippines until the recent win of Megan Young.
The new story among pageant enthusiasts now is that Megan has "broken" the curse.
1978 - Louvette Monzon Hammond
Louvette marked the Philippines’ return to the Miss World pageant after a two-year boycott against apartheid. When South Africa withdrew from the pageant that year, the Philippines sent Louvette and she went on to win the very first Miss Talent for the Philippines.
1982 - Sarah Jane Coronel Areza
The Philippines was back on the radar after Sarah Jane entered the Top 15 semi-finals and won the special title of Continental Queen of Asia.
1986 - Sherry Rose Austria Byrne
Sherry matched the performance of Sarah Jane  by placing in the Top 15 semi-finals and winning the Continental Queen of Asia title.
1992 - Marina Santos Benipayo
In a dramatic twist of contestants, Marina was sent to Miss World instead of the rightful winner, Marilen Espino, who could not compete due to sudden illness. Marina was the first representative under the Bb Pilipinas Charity Inc.
1993 - Sharmaine 'Ruffa' Rama Gutierrez
The Philippines placed 2nd runner-up. Actress Ruffa Gutierrez also won the Continental Queen of Asia and Oceania special title. The last time the Philippines entered the runners-up circle was 20 years before, with Evangeline Pascual.
1994 - Caroline 'Cara' Villarosa Subijano
Cara kept the Philippines on the Miss World map by making it into the Top 10 semi-finalists.
1996 - Daisy Garcia Reyes
Daisy almost did not get to fly to India to compete in Miss World that year. She was dethroned for a day but got her title back after explaining to Bb Pilipinas [the franchise-holder at the time] why she left for the US. She had committed to an engagement prior to her joining the pageant.
Daisy’s achievement in Miss World was winning the Miss Personality [Friendship] Award.
1999 - Lalaine Bognot Edson
It was a whirlwind year of sash-swapping. Lalaine was actually Miriam Quiambao’s replacement in Miss World. Miriam ended up replacing Bb Pilipinas Universe winner Janelle Delfin Bautista who could not continue her reign, reportedly due to citizenship issues.
2002 - Katherine Anne 'Kathy' Ramos Manalo
2002 was a rough year for Miss World which had to transfer the pageant, last minute, from Nigeria to London, after religious rioting that caused deaths. That year also marked the first time that text messaging was used to help judges determine the Top 20. Kathy made it into the Top 10.
2003 - Maria Rafael 'Mafae' Verdadero Yunon
Mafae competed in China and entered the Top 5 circle. She is the niece Desiree Verdadero who was 3rd runner-up in Miss Universe 1984.
2004 - Karla Rabanal Bautista
Duplicating Mafae’s performance, Karla entered the Magic 5. She also won the Continental Queen of Asia and Oceania special title.
2005 - Carlene Aguilar
Carlene went as far as the Top 15 semi-finals but was considered by pageant fans to be the girl to beat at the time and was #1 among the bookmakers and pageant websites.
2008 - Danielle Castano
Danielle entered the Top 10 of Miss World’s Beach Beauty event. She replaced controversial You Tube sensation Janina San Miguel who resigned from her Bb Pilipinas World title before she could finish her duties.
2011 - Gwendoline Ruais
It was a stunning year for the country! Filipina-French beauty Gwendoline Ruais finally matched Evangeline Pascual’s 1st runner-up win in 1973. Gwendoline also scored high in key challenge events: 2nd runner-up in the Top Model event, Top 5 of Beauty with a Purpose and Top 20 in the Beach Beauty contest. She also received the Queen of Asia and Oceania honors.
Gwendoline was the first Miss World Philippines under new franchise holder, Cory Quirino.
2012 - Queenierich Rehman
The Philippines continued to shine! Queenie placed Top 5 in the Talent Challenge event for her unique talent: beatboxing. Her performance attracted worldwide attention and was featured in the Huffington Post. She also reached the Top 15 semi-finals.
A day before coronation, Sept 27, controversy broke when it was announced by Cory Quirino that there was a "plot to destroy Megan’s chances at the crown." At the same time, a UK paper released an article claiming Megan had "topless" photos. The article was referring to her photo shoot with Rogue Magazine in March 2012.
On the same day of the controversies, Megan was declared winner in the Top Model Challenge event. She placed 4th in the Multimedia Challenge and 5th in Beach Fashion. These made her the best performing Philippine candidate ever in the challenge.
At the finals the following day, Megan consistently topped the leader board to win the Philippines’ first ever Miss World crown! She also received the Continental Queen of Beauty for Asia special title.
After 47 years of sending delegates to the Miss World, the Philippines finally captured the throne from a field of 127 candidates. If there really was a curse to begin with, then we have finally broken it by sending Megan Young!
Here are our stories on Megan's Miss World 2013 journey: