MANILA, Philippines -- Beauty queen Janine Tugonon is dedicating her Miss Universe 2012 first runner-up finish to God and her countrymen.
|Miss Philippines Janine Tugonon congratulates Miss USA Olivia Culpo after Culpo was named Miss Universe 2012. Photo by Joe Klamar, AFP
Tugonon credited her religious faith for her calm and confidence during the pageant's coronation night held Thursday morning (Manila time) at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.
"I'm here because He sent me here, so I have to walk for Him, I have to smile for Him, talk for Him, not for anybody else, not even for myself," Tugonon told ABS-CBN News' Dyan Castillejo in an exclusive interview shortly after the pageant night.
"Pag ganoon siguro 'yung nasa utak mo, ganoon na talaga 'yung kakalabasan," the Bataan beauty added.
In a decision met with dismay by Filipinos and even Tugonon's foreign supporters, the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) cum laude placed second to Miss USA Olivia Culpo, who was crowned Miss Universe on Thursday.
Many supporters of the Pinay couldn't help but compare her performance with that of Culpo in the question and answer portion, saying Tugonon easily gave the better answer.
Tugonon was given a Twitter question from judge, fashion photographer Nigel Barker: "As an international ambassador, do you believe that speaking English should be a prerequisite to being Miss Universe? Why or why not?"
The Filipina beauty answered: "For me, being Miss Universe is not just about knowing how to speak a specific language. It's being able to influence and inspire other people. As long as your heart wants to serve and you have a strong mind to show people, then you can be Miss Universe."
For her part, Miss USA was asked to name one thing she would never do again. "Picking on my siblings growing up," she replied.
Addressing the torrent of "protests" against the pageant's results on social media, Tugonon said: "Nakakatuwa na ganoon 'yung iniisip nila, nakakataba ng puso 'yung ganun. Pero ang akin lang, malaking blessing na 'to kay Lord eh, 'di ba. So let's be thankful, let's be happy."
"It's Christmas. It's not about me, it's not about us. Pasalamatan na lang natin Siya kung anong binigay niya sa atin. Malaking bagay na 'to sa Pilipinas," she added.