Binibining Pilipinas Bea Rose Santiago was crowned 2013 Miss International in the beauty pageant held in Tokyo Tuesday night.
The Masbate-born international model bested 66 other contestants in the competition’s 53rd edition, held at Shinagawa Prince Hotel Hall in Tokyo.
In September, two Filipino beauties won honors for the country: Mutya Datul in the Miss Supranational contest in Belarus and Megan Young in the Miss World pageant in Indonesia.
The Philippines has been most successful in the Miss International beauty pageant in the major international competitions, winning five times.
Santiago’s victory came eight years after Precious Lara Quigaman scored the Philippines’ fourth victory in the Miss International pageant. Three other Filipino women had won the crown: Gemma Cruz (1964), Aurora Pijuan (1970) and Melanie Marquez (1979).
On the eve of the pageant, Santiago posted on her Twitter account (@bearose21): “Lord bless me! Give me confidence and strength for tomorrow. I want to give a Merry Christmas to the Philippines.”
During the final round of the competition, where the five finalists delivered their messages, Santiago said that if she became the next Miss International, she would “uphold international camaraderie and international sympathy. I will continue the message of hope. Whatever calamity may come to us, as long as we have each other, there will be hope.”
In her victory speech, Santiago thanked Bb. Pilipinas Charities Inc. (BPCI) chair Stella Marquez Araneta, the first Miss International winner, for training her.
Nathalie den Dekker of the Netherlands placed second, while Miss Friendship Casey Radley of New Zealand finished third in the Tokyo pageant.
Miss Colombia Lorena Hermida and Miss Hungary Brigitta Otvos were the other two finalists.
Santiago earned the right to represent the country in the global tilt when she won the Bb. Pilipinas-International crown in the 50th edition of the Binibing Pilipinas pageant in April. There, she was also proclaimed Bb. Avon.
Hirofumi Hashimoto, president of the International Cultural Association of Japan, which organizes the Miss International pageant, was one of the judges in the national contest. He also assisted in awarding Santiago her local title.
That competition also produced Datul, 2013 Miss Universe third runner-up Ariella Arida, and 2013 Miss Tourism Queen International semifinalist Cindy Miranda.
Santiago’s first foray into the local beauty pageant scene was in the 2011 Mutya ng Pilipinas contest, where she represented the Filipino community of Canada. She was proclaimed 2011 Mutya ng Pilipinas-Overseas Communities.
As an international ramp model, Santiago was a stranger in the pageant circuit. Beauty-queen maker and renowned fashion designer Renee Salud plucked her out of the fashion industry and encouraged her to give beauty tilts a shot.
Salud, who also discovered and mentored Marquez, said Santiago’s modeling background gave her an advantage in the Miss International the pageant.
“She’s already adept on the ramp, just like Melanie. You know what, she’s my second Melanie Marquez,” Salud told the Inquirer in a phone interview.
“I’m very happy because like Mutya Datul, Bea also came from Mutya ng Pilipinas, and the ladies who came from Mutya have been winning international competitions, like Koreen Medina who recently placed fourth in the 2013 Miss Intercontinental competition,” Salud said.
The fashion designer said Santiago tried to please everybody and never intended to cause any ill feelings from others.
“She always exerted effort to meet me, she never forgets,” Salud said.
For typhoon victims
Before she left for the competition, Santiago said she would offer her quest for the title to the survivors of Supertyphoon “Yolanda.”
She told the Inquirer that when she met some teachers who came from the areas devastated by the typhoon, she felt thrilled to bring them happiness with just her presence.
“They were smiling when they saw us. And a simple hug brought them joy. It just gave more sense to my fight for the Miss International crown. I’m going to get that crown for them, for all Filipinos, to give them a reason to be happy even if the situation they are in right now seems bleak,” she said.
Santiago is expected to return to the Philippines next week, after a series of commitments with the organizers in Japan.
Source : Philippine Daily Inquirer