It’s almost been a month since we’ve seen the five of them being awarded their crowns and sashes during the conclusion of this year’s Miss Universe Philippines pageant in Bohol. We’ve been amazed with their group photos which showed the entire universe just how beautiful modern Filipinas are both inside and out. Last week, we were awed and mesmerized when they presented themselves to the press for the very first time since their crowning as the queens of 2021. Pageant fans were happy seeing them standing side-by-side, happily supporting and exchanging good words for each other, as if they were not in a fierce competition just a month prior. Everything now paints an almost perfect picture of perfectly satisfied queens with the placements they got. But are they really?
How have the queens been—really—post pageant night?
Cebu Province’s undefeated queen, Steffi Rose Aberasturi, admits to hitting an emotional low after being named second runner-up.
“To be honest I was a little sad after the competition. The next day I woke up and I realized that I lost the competition. I wasn’t able to grab the Miss Universe crown. I cried a lot. I guess it’s ok to be sad and cry. It just goes to show how much I wanted to be the next Miss Universe.” More than having to deal with losing, she admits to being concerned with how she’ll face up with the reactions of her supporters in Cebu: “I was so scared to go back. Packing my bags I thought I was ok. I kept telling myself I’m all good. Pero when I was going back na to Cebu I cried again. I realized that I deserved much better than this. Seeing my parents, my family, yung mga team ko, for sure it’s really painful on my part. It’s still gonna be there.”
Such disappointment was also shared by Asia’s Next Top Model winner, Maureen Wroblewitz, when she was called first runner-up: “I must admit I was really disappointed. I was a bit upset. I’m not sure if you could see my expression, I wasn’t really happy when I got called as first runner up but everything happens for a reason. After that I was really crying and I said that I really have to heal from this.” Pangasinan’s bet for this year’s MUPH realizes exactly why she was initially not ready to accept a runner-up finish: “I think it’s because of the expectations that I’ve had because, you know, winning ASNTM, it would be nice to join another competition and win that again.”
Given her past pageant credentials, as well as the fact that this is her last year of eligibility for a crack at the Miss Universe crown, Taguig’s Katrina Dimaranan admits to being hurt by not ending up the top winner: “There were days talaga, after the pageant, where, randomly, I felt that I was ok. Then out of nowhere, I would just breakdown. It was something that I never felt before. It was a pain that I never felt before. I told my mom, “Ma, parang ngayon ko lang naranasan yung ganitong pain talaga.” Just thinking about it makes me emotional. I know I did my best naman.” This year’s Miss Universe Philippines-Tourism winner wished she could be rewarded more than what she eventually got for the risks she took: “I dropped everything in my life to really try to pursue this. Syempre just like anyone else, it was tough for me at first. I’m gonna be very honest, for some reason this journey was more meaningful to me.”
So how are these girls coping? What are their moving-on mechanisms to recover from this pageant episode? Aberasturi is said to be planning to spend some precious me-time in Siargao. Wroblewitz is planning to get busy with showbusiness. Dimaranan takes solace from the many fans she’s made during her quest for the MUPH crown: “It feels good to know that they are genuinely here for me and they accepted me for who I was in the entire pageant up until now. I think that helps in the healing process.” She tells them, tearfully: “My God, why am I crying? (Sobs) Thank you talaga. I would not be how I am if it wasn’t for you guys. I really appreciate all of you.”
For her part, Cavite’s Victoria Velasquez Vincent, who was crowned Miss Universe Philippines Charity is satisfied with how far she’s gone in the competition: “I am very content with myself after how the pageant went. I am very proud of myself for succeeding in the way that I did even though I didn’t win in my first and last pageant. I think I still did pretty well.” While getting her share of criticisms for passing up on an opportunity to represent New Zealand in the Miss Universe competition this year, having been born and raised there, she stands firm on the decision she made: “People just assume that I didn’t take it because I wanted to prove something. I’m so proud of being part New Zealander and I’m so proud of being raised in one of the most progressive countries in the world but, for me, I had to weigh down what my future holds here in the Philippines because I am not here temporarily, I’m here permanently. I want to make sure that this sash that I do have, I have to do it justice.”
Her victory in a highly-competitive year has not made the first few days of her reign easy for eventual winner Beatrice Luigi Gomez of Cebu City. While unanimously chosen by the judges as the coronation night’s clear winner, her come-from-behind victory has opened her up to the ire of non-believers and bashers, something that doesn’t seem to bother the queen: “I came into this competition, not having any intentions to offend anyone. If there are people I’ve offended, all I can say is: I just went out there and delivered my best. If the judges all think that I deserve to win the crown that night then so be it because I did my best. So did the other girls, but there only has to be one winner, and that’s me.”
Calm and composed, she has this to say to people who have been very critical of her on social media: “To all of the bashers, I’m very sorry, I haven’t read all of your comments yet because, it’s not that I avoided social media, but I haven’t really been into social media that much even before.” She adds: “you can continue to criticize me. I will take it positively and look into the silver lining of everything. If you think there are a lot of things I need to improve on, then I will reckon that.”
Moving forward, I know that pageant fans still haven’t seen the last from at least three of these queens, who may hit the pageant stage once again in about a year or two. As for the country’s hope in the 70th edition of the Miss Universe Pageant in Eilat, Israel this December, here’s a teaser to how Beatrice plans to play her game on the international stage: “The previous queens are very gigil in wanting to win the crown, I don’t want to be like that. I just want to be who I am in this competition. I don’t want this journey to change me. If there is any change that I will be going through, I want it to be a positive one. I will assure you though that I will be working hard to bring home that crown for the Philippines.”