Miss International 2013: ‘There is Hope’

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013


BEA Rose Santiago of the Philippines won the Miss International crown last night, after vowing to sustain “the spirit of sympathy and hope” that she saw in the global response to help typhoon Yolanda’s survivors.

The 23-year-old student from Masbate bested more than 60 other candidates in the finals of the 53rd Miss International pageant, held in Tokyo, Japan.

Her win caps a triumphant year for Filipina beauty queens, coming less than three months after Megan Young won the country’s first Miss World title and a little over a month after Ariella Arida placed third runner-up in the Miss Universe pageant.

Santiago is the fifth Filipina to win the Miss International crown. Previous winners are Precious Lara Quigaman (2005), Melanie Marquez (1979), Aurora Pijuan (1970) and Gemma Cruz (1964).

A report from ABS-CBN news.com identified Santiago’s runners-up last night as Nathalie den Dekker of the Netherlands, Casey Radley of New Zealand, Cindy Aguilar of Colombia and Brigitta Otvos of Hungary.

The same report said that for their final competition, the five finalists were asked to give a 30-second speech on what they would do if they won the crown.

This was Santiago’s answer:

“The whole world saw how my country suffered. One by one, other countries helped. I would like to thank those who helped my country in our darkest hours. You have opened my heart and eyes on what we can do to help each other.”

“If I become Miss International, I would uphold international camaraderie. I will work to sustain the spirit of sympathy and spirit of hope. As long as we work together, there is hope.”

Typhoon Yolanda has killed at least 6,069 persons and injured 27,665 others. As of last night, 1,779 remained missing, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported. The typhoon also displaced some four million individuals (about 890,000 families) and either damaged or destroyed more than 1.14 million homes in several regions.

Beauty pageants have always been popular in the Philippines, but this year, the wins have become reasons to celebrate in the wake of massive calamities: an M7.2 earthquake last Oct. 15 and typhoon Yolanda last Nov. 8.

Young, for instance, has spent much of the first two months of her reign raising funds for Yolanda’s survivors and has visited the worst-hit communities, including Tacloban City, as a volunteer for the Red Cross.

Two weeks before the pageant night in Japan, Santiago reported in one of her social media accounts that her participation in a relief distribution trip in Roxas City was her “best experience as a Bb. Pilipinas”, even if it meant not being able to sleep for two days.

“I will never forget and will forever treasure this experience. It opened our hearts and minds.”

About two hours after winning, Santiago posted a photo of her new crown, sash and plaque on Instagram last night, with this caption: “Still shockeddddd!”

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 18, 2013.

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