The Philippines' controversial representative to the 2008 Miss World beauty pageant, Janina San Miguel, has resigned, Binibining Pilipinas Charities, Inc. (BCPI) said late Monday.
San Miguel won the Binibining Pilipinas Ms. World despite having difficulty answering a judge's question in English.
"Binibining Pilipinas Charities, Inc. (BPCI) regrets to announce that Ms. Janina San Miguel has resigned as official representative to the 2008 Miss World beauty pageant," the firm said in a brief statement released by Belle Baldoza, public relations officer of the Araneta Group.
"The untimely demise of her grandfather, among other personal reasons, has caused her undue stress, thus hindering her from fulfilling her duties for the said title," the BPCI said.
During the contest, San Miguel said on national television: "Well, my family’s role for me is so important b’coz there was the wa- they’re, they was the one who’s… very… Hahahaha… Oh I’m so sorry, Ahhmm… My pamily… My family… Oh my god… I’m… Ok, I’m so sorry… I… I told you that I’m so confident… Eto, Ahhmm, Wait… Hahahaha, Ahmmm, Sorry guys because this was really my first pageant ever b’coz I’m only 17 years old and ahahaha I, I did not expect that I came from, I came from one of the tough 10. Hmmm, so… but I said dot my family is the most important persons in my life. Thank you."
San Miguel's answer was immediately uploaded on YouTube and she became an instant celebrity.
It led to a national debate on whether only Filipinos who can speak English well deserve to win beauty contests.
Some language experts praised her for being able to give an answer to the question, saying Filipinos should not be embarrassed if they don't speak a foreign language well. They noted that many beauty contestants of other nations often answer in broken English but they would not be criticized by their own countrymen.
They said San Miguel was like Filipino boxing champion Manny Pacquiao who is not embarrassed about speaking English despite his shortcomings on the language.
"In accordance with BPCI rules and regulations, 1st Runner-Up Danielle Castaño will replace Ms. San Miguel as the official Philippine representative to the Ms. World 2008 pageant," it added.
"BPCI wishes to express its gratitude to Ms. San Miguel for this act of graciousness and concern for the country. They also wish her well in her future endeavors," the company said.