Miss Universe-PH Ariella Arida leaves for Moscow
MANILA, Philippines - "I'm emotional. I feel like crying. I'm very excited."
Miss Universe-Philippines Ariella Arida walked into the VIP lounge of the NAIA Terminal 2 quietly, with a ready smile for the handful of media and pageant enthusiasts who were there to see her off to Russia.
It was a little over two hours before she was to leave on Monday, October 21, for the biggest adventure of her life on board PAL flight PR 306.
They, like the rest of Filipinos, have set their hopes high that the 24-year-old will be our 3rd Miss Universe, after Margie Moran in 1973 and Gloria Diaz in 1969. (We said "first Miss Universe" in an earlier version of the story. We regret the error. – Ed.)
Ara's calmness contrasted with the fire of her red dress. In one hand, she was clutching a long black coat, ready and excited to experience her first winter, like she told Rappler earlier in an exclusive shoot and interview.
In a short interview with journalists, a wave of emotion washed over the beauty queen's face. She was teary-eyed at some point, but she was able to hold herself together.
Here's how the exchange went (Ara answered in a mix of English and Filipino):
How she was feeling
Last night, I was so emotional, I don't know why. I started to check the pictures of my friends. I felt like I won't see them until next year, after I win (laughs)! I'm super excited.
How prepared she is
I have prepared my mindset, my mantra. It really works for me if I have a mindset and a mantra. During Bb Pilipinas, my mantra was, 'You are the most beautiful, you are the queen.' I'll do it again because it worked. I'm offering everything to God. It's all up to [Him].
Why she should win Miss Universe
I'm here to represent our country, to do our country proud. I want the whole world to know how a Filipina is raised with a good heart, with a great sense of patriotism, with a deep love for God.
Her edge over 86 other women
That I'm a Filipino is already an edge. I've gone through a lot of training that helped me become who I am today. I feel complete, and I already feel like I'm a winner. I've learned how to embrace my insecurities and my weaknesses; it was very hard to do that at the start.
Right now, I'm ready to face anything. I know I will meet many pretty girls there, but I won't feel insecure. I know in my heart I'm complete already. I'm a winner already.
What she's bringing as her lucky charm
I'm bringing pearl earrings that I will give to the other candidates as a sign of friendship. Prayers will always be my lucky charm. [The pearl earrings are] also a way for them to get to know our country.
Thoughts on recent calamities
I'm so proud of [the] Filipino spirit. In spite of the typhoons and earthquakes, the Filipino [resilience shines through]. We stay positive, we smile and we [still] have a sense of humor.
On the possibility of losing
[Miss Universe is] a contest. There will always be a winner, and only one can win. I'm ready, that's life. Maybe God has a better plan for me, but I don't entertain [the possibility of losing].
I can accept whatever happens to me, and I am sure, in the end, I won't regret anything, because I know I did my best.
Pressure of the Philippines' winning streak in beauty pageants this year
There's greater pressure, but also greater motivation. It's good that the pressure's there because I feel the challenge to do better. I'm thankful for our winning streak. We are becoming more known, and all the attention is on us.
Her fans and their support
I posted 'thank you' messages on all my fan pages and groups this morning. I was emotional that I had to cry. The support I am receiving is super overwhelming, especially from my Bb Pilipinas family, from Madame Stella. Before I headed here, I spoke with her on the phone.
I hope our countrymen won't tire of giving me their support. It's just the start of the real fight. I hope they will stay with me until the end of the competition. Of course, [please] don't forget to vote for me in the Miss Universe website. It's a great factor when [the Miss Universe Organization] sees that one is receiving a lot of support. Thank you so much.
Her parents' support (They are flying to Moscow on November 2.)
I'm so happy they'll be with me in Moscow. There are only a few Filipinos in Russia, and for my family to be there is a big factor for me to have more confidence. It will be my motivation. I heard it's not just my family who's going. On my fan page on Facebook, many have posted that they are going.
(Watch Ariel and Ethel Arida's message to Ara during her sendoff on October 17)
First thing she will do in Moscow
Look for the Miss Universe staff (laughs)! I've been out of the country, but this is my first Euro trip. [My friends] will receive a lot of selfies. They better be ready!
Using a translator
"I don't mind using a translator, but I know that when I get there, I can do it and I can deliver. I can express myself.
What she is excited about
The weather. I checked the weather last night, it was 2 degrees Celsius. By nighttime, it was 0 degrees Celsius. It [will be] my first time to experience a weather that cold. See, I have my coat already (laughs)! I'm excited to wear winter clothes.
Her birthday wish (She turns 25 on November 20.)
That I win the crown. That's my only wish.
The 62nd Miss Universe pageant is on November 9 [November 10 Philippine time] at Crocus City Hall in Moscow, Russia. It will be telecast live on ABS-CBN.