Bea Rose Santiago of the Philippines walks on stage after being crowned Miss International 2013 in Tokyo on Tuesday. Representatives from 67 countries and regions from all over the world took part in the pageant. Photo by Yuya Shino, Reuters
MANILA - (UPDATED) The Philippines' Bea Rose Santiago was crowned Miss International 2013 on Tuesday, adding to the string of victories of fellow beauty queens in the country.
The four-hour finals night of the 53rd Miss International pageant was held at Shinagawa Prince Hotel Hall in Tokyo, Japan, gathering over 60 candidates from around the world.
Placing second to Santiago is Netherland's Nathalie den Dekker, followed by New Zealand's Casey Radley. Completing the Top 5 were Colombia's Cindy Aguilar and Hungary's Brigitta Otvos.
For the final round, the remaining five contestants each gave a 30-second speech on the subject, "What I will do if I am crowned Miss International."
"The whole world saw how my country suffered," Santiago said, referring to the devastation caused by super typhoon "Yolanda" in parts of central Philippines. "One by one, other countries helped. I would like to thank who helped my country in our darkest hours. You have opened my heart and eyes on what we can do to help each other."
"If I become Miss International, I would uphold international camaraderie. I will work to sustain the spirit of sympathy and spirit of hope. As long as we work together, there is hope."
One of the deadliest natural disasters to hit the Philippines, and said to be the most powerful typhoon to ever make landfall, "Yolanda" killed at least 6,000 and injured over 27,000 after it hit central Philippines on November 8.
At least 3.4 million families or 16 million individuals were affected by the typhoon, with 4 million people displaced.
Before leaving for the pageant two weeks ago, Santiago said she would dedicate her stint in Tokyo to the Filipinos who were affected by the typhoon. "For me, what they need the most now is probably happiness," she said at the time. "And if I win, if I make it, that will bring happiness to them, to make them more proud and happy this Christmas."
"Iyon ang gusto kong ipakita sa mga tao -- na the Philippines, no matter what happens to us, kahit na bagyo man tayo... I'm going to bring the storm in Japan, that's what I'm going to do," she said.
5 crowns from Miss Int'l
With Santiago's victory, the Philippines now boasts of five Miss International winners. Before the Masbate-born beauty, Filipinas who took home the title were Precious Lara Quigaman (2005), Melanie Marquez (1979), Aurora Pijuan (1970), Gemma Cruz (1965).
The country remains second to Venezuela, which has the most number of Miss International titles with six.
The Philippines is on a roll when it comes to beauty pageants this year, led by the country’s first ever Miss World win courtesy of Megan Young.
Ariella Arida finished third runner-up in the Miss Universe 2013 pageant, while Mutya Datul was crowned Miss Supranational.
On top of these, the Philippines also placed in several other pageants this year, such as Miss Grand International, Miss Intercontinental, Mr. International and Miss Teen Expoworld.
Santiago, who is the last Philippine delegate to compete in a major international pageant this year, earlier expressed confidence that the country has "saved the best for last."
"I want to give a merry Christmas to the Philippines. I want to close the pageant this year with a slam," said Santiago.