The Philippines' Megan Young is Miss World 2013. Photo from the pageant's official Facebook page
MANILA (UPDATED) -- Megan Young was crowned Miss World 2013 on Saturday night in Bali, Indonesia, making history as the first-ever Filipino winner of the title since the Philippines' debut in the pageant in 1966.
The 23-year-old actress bested 126 other international candidates to become the successor of China's Wenxia Yu, who conferred the crown on Young at the pageant's culminating event held at Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center.
France's Marine Lorphelin finished second, while Ghana's Carranzar Shooter placed third. Completing the Top 6 were Spain's Elena Ibarbia, Brazil's Sancler Frantz, and Gibraltar's Maroua Kharbouch (People's Choice).
Hosted by English singer Myleene Klass and Mister World 2010 Kamal Ibrahim, the coronation night featured cultural numbers, as well as performances from British boyband Blue.
Young's win was bolstered by her strong showing in various pre-pageant challenges, including the Top Model competition, which she won; the Beach Fashion tilt, where she ranked fifth; and the Multimedia Contest, where she placed fourth.
The Kapamilya star was also one of the few candidates who had a solo spot in performing a dance from their respective countries. Young, for her number, showcased the Maranao dance Singkil.
Other preliminary competition winners recognized on Saturday were Netherlands' Jacqueline Steenbeek, for the Sports Challenge; Brazil's Frantz, Beach Fashion; India's Navneet Dhillon, Multimedia; and Nepal's Ishani Shrestha, Beauty with a Purpose.
Young also zoomed up in rankings after her performance in the Question & Answer portion, where all top six candidates were asked, "Why should you become Miss World?"
Thanking the Indonesian audience in their native language, Young, who wore a pink Francis Libiran gown, brought up the "core values" of Miss World and how she hopes to embody these "to help society."
Before giving her answer, Young also got to talk with Klass about the strong cheer for her from the audience. They were waiting for her profile reel to be set up -- it initially showed a different candidate -- when Young quipped, "I actually brought half of the Philippines here!"
The ABS-CBN actress' win in Miss World is preceded by similarly strong performances from Filipinas in the pageant. Gwendoline Ruais finished 1st runner-up, while Queneerich Rehman placed in the Top 15 in the 2011 and 2012 editions of the competition, respectively.
Other notable Filipinas in Miss World are Evangeline Pascual, who placed second in 1973; Ruffa Gutierrez, 2nd runner-up in 1993; and Carlene Aguilar, Top 15 in 2005.
Receiving her crown on Saturday, a tearful Young thanked her countrymen, exclaiming to the audience, "Salamat sa mga kababayan ko. Mahal na mahal ko kayo."
Trouble in Bali
This year's Miss World was marred with controversy since kicking off in Muslim-majority Indonesia early this month. Its opening in Bali on September 8 was met with protests from religious hardliners, who condemned the 63-year-old pageant as "pornography" and a "whore contest."
Acknowledging the "predominant culture" in the country, pageant organizers made a rare move by altering the outfit worn by candidates in the Beach Fashion competition. Instead of the usual bikini, contestants wore a one-piece bathing suit and a sarong.
"It's the first time in history in Miss World that that's ever happened, and it's exciting to be part of that mark," Young said before leaving for the pageant, referring to the contest tweak being motivated by cultural sensitivity.
Originally set in Java, which neighbors Jakarta, the coronation night was eventually moved to Bali as protests would not abate weeks later.
The venue on Saturday night was reportedly fortified with heavily armed police, sniffing dogs and water cannon, as there were fears extremist groups would disrupt the finals night. -- With a report from Agence France-Presse