RACHEL Peters will represent the Philippines in the 2017 Miss Universe competition.
The Camarines Sur native was crowned Miss Universe Philippines 2017 at the 54th edition of the Binibining Pilipinas pageant held Sunday evening at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City.
Peters, who took up International Studies at the British School in Thailand and has a Bachelor of Business, Tourism and Events degree from La Trobe University in Australia, bested 39 other entrants to take home the coveted title.
Miss Universe Philippines 2016 Maxine Medina handed the crown to her successor.
Peters, 25, impressed the judges and pageant enthusiasts when she tackled unity, diversity and respect when asked about her message to leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
"I believe that one of the biggest problems that our country faces today is divisiveness in politics, in religion and also in culture. And I believe that is something the same across the world. That is something I want to address," Peters said.
The beauty queen added: "I believe that when people can learn to tolerate each other's differences and respect each other's opinions then we will just going to be a stronger nation and world."
Aside from the coveted Miss Universe Philippines crown, she also bagged special awards such as Best in Swimsuit, Face of Binibini, and JAG Denim Queen.
Mariel de Leon and Katarina Rodriguez were crowned as Bb. Pilipinas International 2017 and Bb. Pilipinas Intercontinental 2017, respectively.
De Leon, a daughter of seasoned actors Christopher de Leon and Sandy Andolong, was a crowd favorite during the competition.
The 23-year-old aspiring opera singer also won Best in Long Gown and was named Miss Cream Silk.
Rodriguez, on her part, also received loud cheers during the coronation night.
The 24-year-old beauty queen, who holds a double major in Business Management and Philosophy from De La Salle University, aced the interview round when asked to give her personal definition of a winner.
Her answer was, "My definition of a winner is somebody who understands that winning isn't just because of the reward. It is because of the responsibility that comes along when you win. What you do when you win and how to execute the job after you win. I think a winner is somebody who knows how to inspire others, who is kind, brave and so ever curious”.
Rodriguez is representing Davao City.
Other entrants who went home with their own titles are Chanel Olive Thomas (Bb. Pilipinas Supranational 2017), Elizabeth Clenci (Bb. Pilipinas Grand International 2017) and Nelda Ibe (Bb. Pilipinas Globe 2017).
Thomas, Clenci and Ibe will also compete in the international stage.
Meanwhile, Charmaine Elima and Kristel Guelos were named first and second runner-ups respectively. They were also joined by Jehza Huelar, Sirene Sutton, Christagale Borja, Marie Camille Manalo, Patricia Ortega, Larah Grace Lacap and Juliana Kapeundl in the Top 15.
The 2017 Binibining Pilipinas pageant was hosted by Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach and actor Xian Lim with Miss Universe 2010 4th runner-up Venus Raj. (SunStar Philippines)