Coronation night dedicated to PH, Vietnam
Ariella Arida takes the stage in a yellow Alfredo Barazza dress at Crocus City Hall in Moscow, Russia during the Miss Universe preliminary competition. Darren Decker, REUTERS
MANILA (UPDATE 2) -- The Philippines' Ariella Arida on Sunday (Manila time) finished 3rd runner-up in Miss Universe 2013, a feat she dedicated to her countrymen who were devastated Friday by the world's most powerful typhoon this year.
Venezuela's Gabriela Isler won the title, besting 85 other candidates during the coronation night held at Crocus City Hall in Moscow, Russia, which hosted the 62-year-old pageant for the first time.
Said to have one billion viewers in over 190 countries, the event was announced in the opening minutes to be dedicated to the Philippines and Vietnam, neighboring countries in the path of destruction of super typhoon "Yolanda" (Haiyan).
Isler, a marketing graduate and professional model, was crowned by Miss Universe 2012 Olivia Culpo of the United States to become the new titleholder for one year.
The runners-up, in order, were Spain's Patricia Rodríguez, Ecuador's Constanza Báez, Arida, and Brazil's Jakelyne Oliveira.
The Philippines' bet was notably the only Asian in the Top 5.
Dubbed an early favorite leading up to the finals night, Arida earned a spot in the Top 16 after winning the official online polls. She then took the stage in a red bikini for the swimsuit portion, along with her fellow semifinalists.
Advancing into the Top 10, Arida proceeded to parade in a yellow Alfredo Barazza dress for the evening gown segment.
In the final round of the pageant, Arida was asked by judge Tara Lipinski: "What can be done about the lack of jobs for young people starting their careers around the world?"
The Filipina beauty answered: "For the people who have lack of jobs, I do believe that we people should invest in education and that is my primary advocacy, because we all know that if everyone of us is educated and well aware of what we are doing, we could land into jobs and we could land a good career in the future. Education is the primary source and ticket to a better future."
Isler, meanwhile, was asked by judge Steven Tyler: "What is your biggest fear and what is your plan to overcome it?"
She responded through an interpreter: "I believe that one may have a lot of fears but nonetheless, this is nothing negative. I believe that we should all overcome our fears, and this in turn, would make us much stronger. And thusly, we can become stronger persons. As soon as we overcome our fears and we're sure of ourselves, we can face any challenge."
Of the five finalists, Arida was the only candidate who answered in English and without an interpreter.
With her 3rd runner-up finish, Arida replicated the success of Shamcey Supsup, the Philippines' candidate in the 2011 pageant. Janine Tugonon and Venus Raj finished 1st runner-up in 2012 and 4th runner-up in 2010, respectively.
The Philippines is still hoping to produce its third Miss Universe winner after Gloria Diaz in 1969 and Margie Moran in 1973.
'For the Philippines'
A day before the coronation night on Sunday, Arida, through a video on the official page of Miss Universe on Facebook, addressed her fellow Filipinos amid the destruction brought by "Yolanda" in several parts of the Philippines.
Said to be the strongest typhoon in recorded history to make landfall, "Yolanda" wiped out entire structures and left at least 138 dead as of Saturday night, according to the local disaster management council, with hundreds more feared unaccounted for.
"This fight, I offer to you guys, to all my Filipino people," Arida said in the online video. "It's for the Philippines. Keep safe and keep on praying. Be strong."
Amid news of the widespread destruction, Filipino pageant fans kept hopes high for Arida to take home the crown. Leading up to the finals night, Arida was widely tipped to win the title after her string of special appearances in pre-pageant events.
Viewing parties were held at different venues, including a government-sponsored gathering in her home province and packed bars, despite the coronation night kicking off at 2 a.m. local time.
In Moscow, some 700 supporters carrying banners and Philippine flags were gathered by the Filipino Association in Russia at the Crocus City Hall. The strongest cheers were heard whenever Arida took the stage, ABS-CBN News' Dyan Castillejo reported Sunday from the venue.
The same zeal for international pageants was also evident early this year, particularly with the back-to-back wins of Filipinas Megan Young and Mutya Datul in Miss World and Miss Supranational, respectively.
The exclusive telecast of the 62nd Miss Universe pageant will air on ABS-CBN at 9 a.m. Sunday, with a late-night encore during Sunday's Best.