MANILA, Philippines -- Miss Universe 2012 first runner-up Janine Tugonon named four factors that contributed to Miss USA Olivia Culpo being crowned this year's titlist.
|Miss Philippines Janine Tugonon congratulates Miss USA Olivia Culpo after Culpo was named Miss Universe 2012. Photo by Joe Klamar, AFP
At the time the Bataan and Rhode Island beauties held hands awaiting the announcement of the 61st Miss Universe, Tugonon felt there was a "50-50" chance she'd bring home the Philippines' third crown from the international pageant.
"Pero inisip ko rin na pwede ring hindi talaga," Tugonon, 23, told ABS-CBN News' Dyan Castillejo in an exclusive interview shortly after the coronation night held Thursday morning (Manila time) at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.
The two-time Binibining Pilipinas contender -- she was runner-up to Shamcey Supsup (Miss Universe 2011 third runner-up) in last year's local competition -- enumerated four reasons why Culpo emerged winner.
Firstly, "Hindi naman pangit 'yung sagot ni USA, and very spontaneous."
In the question and answer portion, where the Top 5 picked at random questions from the judges, Culpo was asked to name one thing she would never do again. "Picking on my siblings growing up," she replied.
Tugonon also credited Culpo's being friendly as a factor in her win. "Alam ko rin 'yung personality niya, sobrang okay," the Filipina beauty said.
Leading up to the coronation night, the two appeared together on Las Vegas television as representatives of the 89 Miss Universe candidates to promote their charitable activities.
"Nakakausap ko siya, nakakasama ko siya sa ibang shoot, sobrang okay niya, kaya alam ko na na talagang papasok siya," the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) cum laude graduate added.
Another factor that contributed to Culpo's win, Tugonon said, is: "Kilala na rin siya ng Miss Universe organization." As Miss USA, Culpo was under the same group that organizes the yearly Miss Universe pageant.
Lastly, Tugonon pointed to the obvious: "Maganda pa siya."
Even before the pageant, Tugonon said Miss USA appeared to be an early favorite. Much like the Philippine representative, Culpo frequently appeared in promotional activities for the pageant.
"Alam ko talaga si USA, malakas siya nung [pre-pageant] process pa lang. Kasi kung ako, lagi niyo nakikita sa shoots and interviews, mas parati siya, siya 'yung mas busy sa 'kin," Tugonon said.
Despite finishing runner-up, Tugonon said she is already happy achieving this latest best finish of her country in Miss Universe in over a decade.
"Pero thankful na ako na nakarating doon, dahil kaunting Pinay rin lang naman ang nakakarating sa ganoon, sa last spot, so happy na," she said.
The Philippines' last best finish was the first runner-up win of Miriam Quiambao in 1999. Venus Raj and Shamcey Supsup finished fourth and third runner-up, respectively, in 2010 and 2011.
The country is still hoping to produce its third Miss Universe winner after Gloria Diaz in 1969 and Margie Moran in 1973.