MANILA, Philippines – Celeste Cortesi took home the title of Miss Universe Philippines 2022 during the pageant’s coronation night on Saturday, April 30.
The 24-year-old stunner from Pasay bested 31 other candidates to clinch her second crown from a national pageant.
Earth to Universe
Celeste first made her presence known in the local pageant scene through the Miss Earth Philippines 2018 competition.
She was the first representative from the Filipino community in Rome. The then 20-year-old beauty queen went home to the Philippines in 2018 to compete for Miss Earth Philippines. After winning the title, she represented the country in the Miss Earth pageant where she placed in the Top 8.
The Miss Universe Philippines 2022 competition served as Celeste’s pageant comeback after almost four years.
Her experience shone in Miss Universe Philippines’ preliminary activities: she topped the casting video challenge, and placed as runners-up in the headshot and swimsuit challenges, making her one of the early bets to make it to the pageant’s official candidates.
Celeste’s inclusion in the final top 32 candidates came as no surprise, and her performance continued to make her a stand-out.
On pageant night, Celeste breezed through the competition, winning a slew of special awards, including Ms. Photogenic and Best in Swimsuit. Her sincerity and wit shone in the question and answer portion, which ultimately led to her crowning moment.
In an interview after the pageant, Celeste called her win a testament to her hard work. “I am excited for what’s next. I can’t wait to start my training, I can’t wait to work with the organization. This is what I wanted for a long, long time,” she said.
With her recent feat, Celeste is now the third Filipina to win two major national crowns, as she’s the title holder for Miss Philippines Earth 2018 and Miss Universe Philippines 2022. She joins the ranks of Carlene Aguilar (Miss Philippines Earth 2001 and Miss World Philippines 2005) and Catriona Gray (Miss World Philippines 2016 and Miss Universe Philippines 2018).
Celeste’s close family ties
Celeste was born on December 15, 1997 to a Filipino mother and an Italian father. She grew up in Italy and moved to the Philippines to pursue pageantry. Throughout the competition, Celeste has been vocal about how she cares deeply for her family.
During the preliminary interviews, Celeste recalled how her dad used to read her and her sister poems that he wrote himself. “That’s kind of a story that really puts a smile on my face, because whenever I feel nervous, whenever I feel pressured, I always remember his poems, and always remember him telling it to me and my sister,” she said.
On coronation night, Celeste also talked about how her Italian and Filipino heritage makes her put greater value on her family. “If there is something that my mom always taught me, [it] is to be grateful for your family, for your loved ones, and the people around you. Because when you’re grateful and kind, people will also be kind and grateful for you,” she said.
Even her winning answer in the question and answer portion bared the strong bond she shared with her mom.
Celeste got the question: “If you could stop time for a day, how would you spend it?”
To which she responded, “If I could stop time, I would spend it with my family, especially my mother. It’s been two years since I haven’t spent time with my family because they live in Italy, and I came here in the Philippines just by myself. If I had a chance to spend one day, I would definitely be with my mom, and I would just tell her how much I love her and I miss her.”
Personal life and advocacies
When she’s not wearing her beauty queen cap, Celeste is busy working as a model and studying to become a real estate agent. Her hobbies include meditating, working out, spending time with her furbabies, and going to the beach.
A quick stroll on her Instagram page also shows that Celeste is in a happy relationship with Matthew Custodio.
With her platform as a beauty queen, Celeste wants to inspire other women to be informed. “I would tell young women to first of all, read. If you read, you will be able to be aware of what’s happening in your country and also all over the world. You have to remember that reading information is key and power,” she said during the preliminary interviews.
She also advocates for indigenous people in the Philippines who’ve gotten displaced from their lands because of modernization and development: “I would like to champion their cause by putting a spotlight on their situation. And also their unique and rich cultural heritage that makes the Philippines the most beautiful and unique place in the world.”
Celeste also emphasized how beauty pageants play an important role in difficult times. “A beauty queen is a symbol of hope for the people. Us beauty queens, we can use our platform to uplift other people, to influence, and inspire the people around us. It makes us very powerful and influential,” she said.
Celeste will be representing the Philippines in the Miss Universe 2022 pageant, in hopes of clinching the country’s fifth Miss Universe crown. – Rappler.com