Philippines is 1st runner up in Miss Universe 2012

MANILA, Philippines (2nd Update) - Miss USA Olivia Culpo took home the Miss Universe 2012 crown in a Christmas-themed pageant that took place at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Miss Philippines Janine Tugonon was 1st runner up, Venezuela was 2nd, Australia 3rd, and Brazil 4th.

This is the Philippines' best finish since Miriam Quiambao in 1999. It is also the 3rd consecutive year that a Filipina has made the Miss Universe Top 5. In 2010 Venus Raj was 4th runner up and in 2011 Shamcey Supsup was 3rd runner up. 

Responding to a question by Nigel Barker sent in via Twitter, Tugonon was asked, "As an international ambassador, do you believe that speaking English is a prerequisite to be Miss Universe?"

Her answer, "For me Miss Universe is not about being able to speak a specific language, it's about being able to influence and inspire other people. No matter what language you speak, as long as you have the heart and a strong mind, you can become Miss Universe."

Speaking to GMA 7's Mariz Umali after her win, Tugonon said in the moments leading up to the crowning moment, she offered this prayer, "Thy will be done." Speaking to the ABS-CBN News Channel she admitted wanting to win the title but was happy with the result, "Happy na ako doon. Malaking blessing na ito para sa Pilipinas." (I'm happy with that. It's already a major blessing for the Philippines.)

This is the 8th Miss Universe title for USA with wins in 1954, 1956, 1960, 1967, 1980, 1995, and 1997. The last winner for the USA was Hawaii's Brook Lee in 1997.

Miss USA 1st runner up Nana Meriwether of Maryland is expected to take over the duties and responsibilities of Miss USA 2012.

20-year-old Culpo hails from Rhode Island and was the first woman from her state to take the Miss USA title. As Miss Universe she will spend the next year speaking on behalf of causes such as HIV/AIDS prevention. 

The Top 10 in the order they were called were Australia, Russia, Brazil, France, Venezuela, USA, Hungary, South Africa, Mexico and Philippines. The top 16 included Turkey, Peru, Poland, Croatia, Kosovo and India.

The event was opened by Donald Trump dressed in a Santa suit, and hosted by Andy Cohen and Guliana Rancic, with backstage commentary provided by Jeannie Mai. 

Kosovo was voted Miss Photogenic, Guatemala was Miss Congeniality and China was Best in National Costume. - Rappler.com

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