Crowd favorite, Mary Jean “MJ” Lastimosa was crowned as the Miss Philippines Universe 2014 Sunday night at the Araneta Colosseum in Cuba, Quezon City.
The 26-year-old from Tulunan, North Cotobato bested 39 other contestants during the Binibining Pilipinas coronation night, after trying her luck in the Binibining Pilipinas pageant for the third time.
MJ first joined the prestigious national pageant in 2011 where she placed 2nd runner-up, placing behind Shamcey Supsup, Dianne Necio, Isabella Manjon, and Janine Tugonon.
In 2012, she again competed at the Binibining Pilipinas 2012 pageant, where she landed amongst the 12 semi-finalists.
Not giving up on her dream of winning a crown, MJ Lastimosa again joined the pageant this year and finally won the Binibining Pilipinas Universe crown, and the ticket to represent Philippines in the Miss Universe pageant.
She was also adjudged as the Best in Swimsuit.
The pressure is on insert as she tries to equal or surpass the recent good standing of the Philippines in the Miss Universe competition: Maria Venus Raj was fourth runner-up in 2010, Shamcey Supsup was third runner-up in 2011, and Janune Tugonon was first-runner up in 2012.
In 2013, Ariella Arida was named third runner-up in the Miss Universe pageant, with Venezuela’s Gabriela Isler taking the crown.
Meanwhile, Mary Anne Guidotti, the Best in Long Gown, was named Bb. Pilipinas-International, Parul Shah was named Bb. Pilipias-Tourism, and Yvethe Marie Santiago as named Bb. Pilipinas-Supranational.
Bb. Pilipinas–Intercontinental, the fifth and newest title given at the Binibining Pilipinas pageant, was given to Kris Janson.
Laura Victoria Lehmann was proclaimed 1st runner-up, while Hannah Ruth Sison was adjudged 2nd runner-up.
The remaining candidates who placed among the top 15 semifinalists are Julian Aurine Flores, Joana Angelica Romero, Pia Wurtzbach, Nichole Manalo, Zahara Soriano, Emma Tiglao, Kenneth Santiago and Mae Liezel Ramos.
Last year, the country brought home three beauty pageant titles: Mutya Johanna Datul won Miss Supranational, Bea Rosa Santiago won Miss International, and Megan Young won Miss World.
Among the judges in this year’s Bb. Pilipinas include reigning Miss Universe titleholder Gabriela Isler, ABS-CBN channel head Cory Vidanes, news anchor Korina Sanchez, collegiate basketball player Jeron Teng, and senator Juan Edgardo Angara, among others.