MANILA (Updated 11:30 a.m.) -- The country's pride, Maria Venus Raj, 22, was declared the fourth runner-up in the recently concluded Ms. Universe 2010 at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, Tuesday (Philippine time).
Miss Mexico Jimena Navarrete was crowned the Miss Universe 2010 Tuesday, while Jamaica's Yendi Phillipps was the first runner-up. Jesita Campbell of Australia was declared second runner-up, and Anna Pslavska of Ukraine was the third runner-up.
Other awards were also handed to Miss Thailand Fonthip Watcharatrakul for National Costume Award and Miss Photogenic, and Miss Australia Campbell for Miss Congeniality.
Malacañang lauded the victory of Raj, saying her success was considered a "bright spot" after a gloomy hostage crisis in Quirino Granstand that claimed the lives of several Hong Kong nationals.
"Success of Venus Raj is a bright spot in an otherwise sad day for our country," Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Secretary Ricky Carandang said.
Venus competed with more than 80 stunning ladies and received overwhelming support not just from the Philippines but also from the Filipino community in Las Vegas.
To recall, the 22-year-old Bicolana was briefly dethroned after Binibining Pilipinas Charities Incorporated (BPCI) discovered inconsistencies with the information she disclosed to the organizers and the papers she submitted for the competition.
The decision of BPCI was later on retracted for "humanitarian reasons" and Venus was reinstalled as the Philippines' representative to Miss Universe after she also obtained her Philippine Passport.
Venus is dedicating her win not only to her family and the Filipino people but also for co-beauty queen, Melody Gersbach, who died Saturday morning in a road mishap in Camarines Sur.
She said Melody, also a Bicolana, pushed her to make it to the Miss Universe and was there during the controversy with her papers. (Glaiza Jarloc/Jill Beltran/Sunnex)