Riza Santos could be establishing a record of sorts if she gets to nail the Miss Universe Canada 2013 title. Having represented Canada in two other major beauty pageants (Miss Earth 2006 and Miss World 2011), she might be looking at doing her third (and most important) crown.
Will this Fil-Canadian extend her luck to complete the troika of achievements? She’s now 26, and unless she still plans to compete in one of those Mrs. Globe or Mrs. World contests after getting married, this could be her last ace before finally reaching a state of rest. Read her full bio below:
Age: 26 | Height: 5’7″
Hometown: Calgary, AB
Riza Santos’ mission is to inspire and empower women to achieve their dreams. She strives to serve as an example for women to be influencers and leaders in all career fields while exemplifying compassion and servitude. Her unique combination of studying engineering, serving in the armed forces, succeeding as an international actress and talent, and volunteering in the community embody her life’s mission.
Riza was born in a rural Alberta town with a population of ten thousand people. As a teenager, she spent two years enrolled in the Canadian Forces Army Reserve with 15 Field Ambulance and completed her Basic Military Qualification and Soldier Qualification. Riza studied Mechanical Engineering at the Schulich School of Engineering. She received numerous scholarships, such as the Chinese Entrepreneurs Society of Canada Scholarship and the University of Calgary’s Science Excellence Award. She was also awarded both of the prestigious Byron J. Seaman scholarships through Provident Energy and Pembina Pipeline where she was hired as a contractor.
Riza’s interest to promote environmental awareness and sustainability led her to work in partnership with the Canadian International Development Agency [CIDA] and the Philippine Tourism Authority as an Ambassador of Goodwill. She has worked with CIDA both nationally and internationally through the PEARL II Project. While residing in the Philippines, Riza also became a popular actress for the ABS-CBN television network. She is most recognizable for her roles in many Philippine television shows and movies. Her leading lady role in the movie “Dobol Trobol” gave her the opportunity to work with legendary Philippine actors and earned her a best actress award nomination from the Film Academy of the Philippines (Luna Awards). Dobol Trobol was a blockbuster hit and ranked in the top three at the Philippine box-office for the year of 2008.
In addition, Riza was the official television host of the Asian Poker Tour, with tournaments in Manila and Macau, airing on the CS 9-Sports Channel and Solar Sports. She has graced magazine covers such as Gadgets, Action & Fitness, Total Woman, Women’s Journal, Speed, and MOD to name a few. She has also been an endorsement model for numerous campaigns across Canada and the Philippines. She is actively involved in the community and has volunteered with several organizations such as the Lions Club, as a track and field coach for Special Olympics Canada, and as an emergency ward volunteer and prevent alcohol risk-related trauma in youth program volunteer at Foothills Hospital. She has also represented Variety – the Children’s Charity and was instrumental in revitalizing tent 55, the Alberta Chapter.
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Languages spoken fluently (please include your native language if English is not your native language).
English and Tagalog (Filipino)
What are your interests and what do you enjoy doing the most?
I love to travel and learn about different cultures. I also have an appreciation for the fine arts and enjoy fashion design and sewing clothing.
List any special training you have had (music, art, drama, dance, etc.)
I have trained in musical theatre and opera at the North Conservatory of Music. I am also trained in jazz, hip-hop, salsa, and traditional Philippine dance. In addition, I have taken acting workshops through Canadian Casting and The Actors Foundry.
In what sports, if any, have you participated?
I have played competitive badminton, soccer, and track and field. My primary events were the 300 meter sprint, hurdles, long jump, high jump, and javelin.
Name one person, other than your parents, who has had the most influence on your life. Why?
Aside from my parents, my sister has had the strongest influence on my life. She embodies the balance of a strong woman who is both intelligent and compassionate. Not only is she a dedicated and loving wife and mother, she is also a professional engineer with a project management designation, a certified fitness instructor and a certified instructor with the Royal Conservatory of Music. She is my role model, best friend, and trusted support system.
What is your proudest personal accomplishment (other than participating in this pageant)?
In 2007-2008 I was introduced to the charity Bantay Bata 163 which protects children who are disadvantaged and at risk. Bantay Bata 163 actively combats child trafficking in the Philippines. I have been exposed to the hardships that these children must face on a daily basis and felt compelled to act on their behalf. I had the opportunity to compete on a television show to raise funds for the charity of my choice. After 84 days of live competition on national television, I came in second place and won one million pesos for Bantay Bata 163. I was so blessed to spend time at the Children’s Villages and witnessed first hand the healthcare, education, and psychological development support they were provided with.
What is the most interesting or unique thing that has ever happened to you and/or what is the most interesting thing about you?
The most interesting thing about me would be my participation with the Canadian Forces Army Reserve. I learned the military way of life, drill, military law, navigation, surviving in a field environment, and became proficient on the C7 service rifle, C9 and C6 machine guns and the SRAAW. I also recruited two current serving members who are now Corporals with 41 Combat Engineer Regiment.
What is your career ambition and what are you doing or plan to do to accomplish that goal?
My career ambition is to be an entrepreneur and operate my own engineering company. Given my experience working with the Canadian International Development Agency in environmentally friendly national and international projects, my intention is to become a recognized engineer who is mindful of the environment and our natural resources.
What would be your “dream job” in life?
My dream job in life would be to work in developing countries to design engineering infrastructure that will improve the quality of life for people in need. I would also like to develop a scholarship fund for deserving students who do not have the financial resources to pursue a post secondary education.
Are you currently a student?
No, I am not currently a student.
Are you currently employed?
If yes, what is your occupation?
I am a contractor for Pembina Pipeline. I am also represented by Sophia Models International and The Characters.
Describe where you were raised and what your childhood was like.
I was born in rural Alberta in a small town of ten thousand people. Growing up in a small town makes you really appreciate every single person in the community. I learned how impotant it is to help one another and that team work is critical to achieve anything.
List any interesting or unusual jobs you may have had.
The most unusual job I have ever had was when I had to do martial arts training for an HBO movie titled Water Wars. I was trained in knife throwing, escrema, and action stunts.
List any volunteering you have done.
I started volunteering at a young age and it has now become a regular and important part of my life. I have participated as a singer and master of ceremonies for numerous benefit concerts and charity events for the past fifteen years. My first public performance as a singer was to benefit the Philippine Cultural Centre Foundation. I have also been involved with the Visminsa Charities Foundation for over a decade. I have served with the Lions Club and Variety — The Children’s Charity. I have also volunteered with Foothills Hospital in the Emergency Ward and the Prevent Alcohol Risk Related Trauma in Youth Program. I was a track and field coach for Special Olympics Canada and modelled in various fashion shows to raise funds for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, The Safe Haven Foundation, and Special Olympics Canada.
What is your most unusual talent?
While serving in the Army, I realized that I am uniquely skilled at hitting the target precisely using the C7 service rifle.
Where is the most interesting place you have been to?
The most interesting place I have ever been to is the 2000 year old Banaue Rice Terraces in the Philippines. The terraces were built by hand and are fed by an ancient irrigation from the rainforests above.
What do you hope to be doing in ten years?
It was an honor for me to receive a certificate of achievement from the Canadian Engineering Memorial Foundation for being a woman in engineering, my leadership skills and outstanding community service. In ten years, I hope to be operating my own engineering company. As a woman, it is my desire to empower women in science, engineering, and technology fields.
Is there anything you would like to add that we haven’t asked?
Becoming the next Miss Universe Canada means much more than merely winning a crown. It would give me the opportunity to serve my country and empower women to achieve their dreams. Not everyone aspires to be a beauty queen, but everyone deserves to achieve their dream. As a woman who believes in a beautiful mind and spirit, I hope to encourage more young women to become the movers and shakers in any field of their choosing.