When Celeste Cortesi was crowned Miss Universe Philippines 2022 Saturday night, it was a result that lingered inside my head ever since the Top 50 Official Delegates were announced. I know that her beautiful face will never get lost in the competition regardless of who will fight against her till the end. In this case, Michelle Dee and Pauline Amelinckx completed the triumvirate where Katrina Llegado used to be a part of. Curiously last night, I was seated beside one of the Mamas from The Camp and observed the rollercoaster of his emotions through more than three hours of agonizingly waiting for the desired result to come his way. When Pasay was declared winner, he unleashed his joy like no other.
Michelle Dee had and continues to have the celebrity status that definitely helped in getting the hype from both pageant and entertainment media. She needed no meet-and-greets to elevate her social media status. She did not even use the Melanie Marquez card in the process. So the entire journey was one she successfully navigated as an Independent candidate. Never mind if the risks were high, being a former Miss World Philippines winner. She knew what she was getting herself into.
Pauline Amelinckx, on the other hand, was the one who had to go through soul-searching before finally giving the second joining a go. Hers was a different kind of risk, having been part of the inaugural edition last 2020 where she placed 3rd Runner-Up, or Ambassador of Tourism if you will. She needed to present a much improved version of herself – something that pageant fans and followers can give their thumbs up to or not. Fully aware of her strengths, she used the Top 5 Q&A to make a last-ditch effort to win over the judges and get the top crown. For a while, people inside the MOA Arena were convinced that she was able to eke out a victory with her answer. But then again, this is not a back-to-zero kind of judging. One excellent – albeit emotional – answer just didn’t cut it in the final deliberation.
Annabelle McDonnell exceeded my expectations. It’s no secret that I am close to Misamis Oriental – the province, not the candidate. For this reason alone, I had to pull back a little in promoting their candidate.
Actually, with or without my constant pushing, Belle already had her game plan in place. She knew how to stand out. She may not have the prettiest face, but whenever she speaks her mind out, people sit up and listen. In my eyes, she was like Julia Saubier lite but with a lot more drama.
Ma Katrina Llegado could have made Taguig City proud. But it just wasn’t meant to be. She has the face, the body and the aura that can stand up against the Latinas of Miss Universe. One colleague actually gave a very apt description of her – she is left-brained, very bright but not that articulate. I was surprised by the observation. But it all made sense to me after further reviewing all of Kat’s interviews and Q&A. Her opening one-liners right from the Preliminary Interviews to the Top 10 all the way to the Top 5 are now trademarks. She starts so well but stumbles somewhere and fails to put it all together. It’s in the whole nine yards of thought processing, I guess.
After the dust has settled, Celeste Cortesi of Pasay is our Miss Universe Philippines 2022 and representative to the 71st edition of Miss Universe which – according to rumors – is likely to be hosted in the Dominican Republic.
She is also the new Miss PLDT Home – a winner who is able to present her uniquely beautiful self through her strong and meaningful online connections that allow her to become empowered while exemplifying that she is a true queen with a charitable heart.
If you want to watch the entire show once again, below is the digital telecast presented by ABSCBN.