A STANDOUT in a row of beauties wearing glittery red gowns, a graduate of the University of the Philippines (UP) Cebu seized the crown from 11 other contenders for Miss Cebu 2015.

Wynonah Van Joy Buot, 20, a Mass Communication graduate of UP Cebu, “consistently impressed” the judges all throughout the competition, said one of the judges, Frederick Peralta.

Answering the final question—“If you could host Pope Francis to dinner, who would be your Cebuano guests and why?”—Buot said she would invite the students of Cebu.

“If I were to take Pope Francis for dinner in Cebu, I would bring with me the students of Cebu because our students are the hope of the future and our Pope Francis is the hope of our country (…) We can then talk about how we can strengthen, unify, and share love and respect, so that we can encourage our citizens to take part and make a change here in our society,” said Buot. A loud cheer from her supporters answered her back.

Buot was known in her college days as an advocate of student welfare and the environment, under the Union of Progressive Students organization.

Having received the crown, Buot said she will campaign for better awareness of environmental issues and disaster management, especially on the aspect of mobilizing people in disaster response.

Buot received the crown from UP Cebu Political Science major Cheriemel Diane Muego, who is now working as the assistant protocol officer of the Cebu City government and, until recently, was Cebu City mayor Michael Rama’s chief of staff.

“She’s prepared for this. She’s a honed candidate. She’s prepared for the crown. Her head is ready to get the crown,” Peralta said at the sidelines of the event.

Interviewed separately, Muego said she had Buot in mind as this year’s Miss Cebu, citing her confidence and intelligence.

“I am very happy that another UP student won. At one point, I knew she would get it.

She was very consistent from the pre-pageant night up to the pageant night. She won many awards. During the Q&A, she also performed very well. There’s no other way to get the crown,” Muego told Sun.Star Cebu.

Buot was also hailed last night as Miss Friendship, Miss Photogenic, Kapamilya Star of the Night, and Best in Evening Gown. During the pre-pageant last Saturday in the Ayala Center Cebu, Buot claimed the Best in Fun Wear as well as the Miss Ayala Fiesta Island awards.

As this year’s Miss Cebu, Buot will be representing Cebu in various local and international functions and will work with the Cebu City Tourism Commission for the success of Lakbay Lingaw, a new tourism campaign.

Among her prizes, Buot will get to travel for free to Las Vegas, Korea and Hong Kong. The Hong Kong trip will be shouldered by the Cebu City Tourism Foundation Inc.

Miss Cebu 2015 will also get P60,000.

First runner-up Maria Genefe Navilon, a graduating Mass Communication student of the University of San Jose-Recoletos, will also be awarded with a trip to Hong Kong by the Cebu City Tourism Foundation, along with P40,000 cash.

Aivy Mae Castro was second runner-up. Lucena Rose Magdadaro, third runner-up, and Domenic Reynes, fourth runner-up, completed this year’s court.

In answering the final question, almost all of the candidates said they would invite the street children to join dinner with Pope Francis, given the chance to do so.