Last year, what had once been another long-running tradition in terms of Philippine representation in international beauty pageants was ended. Much like with Miss World Philippines at the beginning of the decade, the Miss Universe pageant took its franchise from the hands of Binibining Pilipinas and established its own standalone pageant, the Miss Universe Philippines, under the national directorship of a former Binibining Pilipinas – Universe (and Miss Universe 2011 3rd runner-up), Shamcey Supsup-Lee. The very first MUP pageant is scheduled for this coming May, but a beauty pageant veteran favored to return in that competition has decided to opt out.
The Philippine Star reports that Ahtisa Manalo, who had won Binibining Pilipinas – International back in 2018, has decided to not push through with her plans to try out for the inaugural Miss Universe Philippines competition. This was confirmed by Manalo in her Instagram account, sometime after her original decision to apply for the pageant. In her explanation, Ahtisa explained that there has been a rash of problems with her health lately and that the must focus on caring for herself first. She did ask her followers for their understanding regarding her abortive beauty pageant comeback.
“I was hoping that I’ll be able to join this year,” says Manalo. “But after considering the opinion of everyone important in my life, we decided it’d be best for me not to push through.” The one-time Binibining Pilipinas – International did express regret that she would not be in the best shape to try out for representing the country and giving international beauty queens the “fight” that Filipinos want to see. However Ahtisa is fully aware of the physical demands and stress that are expected of a pageant contestant and thus she does not want to risk her health recklessly.
Ahtisa Manalo has expressed in the past her desire to represent the Philippines for Miss Universe, and in December she posted a vague Instagram entry about her trying out for the competition, via Miss Universe Philippines which was newly organized around that month as well. Witnesses saw her on December 31, 2019 filing her MUP application at Empire Studios, like her 2018 Bb. Pilipinas batch-mate Michele Gumabao who was crowned representative for minor pageant Miss Globe and later won that competition’s crown that same year.
With regards to her Miss International campaign, Manalo made it as far as 1st runner up for Miss International 2018, held in Japan. For the moment she is not heavily pressured to gun for another chance at Miss Universe, seeing as this pageant accepts applicants 27 years old and below, while she is still 23.
Image from of ABS-CBN News