Where the Miss Universe major global beauty pageant is concerned, the Philippines has been rather supremely blessed recently. After decades of thinking that the only Filipinas who might ever get to wear the prestigious crown would be Gloria Diaz and Margie Moran, the long drought was broken in 2015 with the eventful crowning of Pia Wurtzbach (after a mistaken winner’s announcement). Then in 2018, only three years later, the stars aligned again with the victory of Filipina-Australia Catriona Gray. It became a powerful hope that current Bb. Pilipinas-Universe Gazini Ganados might achieve a back-to-back triumph by “inheriting” the crown from Gray. It did not happen.
As CNN Philippines tells it, the Philippine campaign for an actual consecutive win at the Miss Universe beauty pageant did not pan out. In the 2019 edition of the competition, held at the Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, the current Miss Philippines Gazini Ganados, age 23, managed to advance to the Top 20 list of candidates, but did not go any further than that. As part of the bid to make the Top 10, the Top 20 contestants were given an opportunity to give brief personal statements. Ganados’ short speech highlighted her advocacy for better elderly care, dedicated to her maternal grandparents who raised her.
“I realized that there is a stigma between ageism, poverty, exclusivity, and invincibility,” spoke Gazini in her address. “It is rightful for us to remember that they were the ones who paved the way for us. We should reciprocate that love and no one should have to be left behind.” With her second-stage elimination, only Venezuela can hold the honor of a back-to-back Miss Universe title reign. But if it is any comfort, their candidate for this year, Thalia Olvino, did not make it past the Top 20 as well.
Following a Top 10 and Top 5 stage, the pageant ultimately proclaimed Miss South Africa Zozibini Tunzi, a 26-year-old advocate against gender-based violence, as Miss Universe 2019. She would receive from Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray the new pageant crown designed by Swiss-Emirati luxury jeweler Mouawad, called the “Power of Unity.” Coming up close behind Tunzi are First Runner-Up Miss Ouerto Rico (Madison Anderson) and Second Runner-Up Miss Mexico (Sophia Aragon). Colombia and Thailand would fill out the Top 5.
During her farewell walk as Miss Universe before crowning Tunzi, Catriona Gray gave a parting testimony to her activities during her reign, particularly her advocacy for more HIV/AIDS educational awareness in the Philippines. She also thanked her fellow Filipinos for supporting her through the year.
Image courtesy of ABS-CBN News