There are pageant watchers who may think their bets were more deserving to win the Miss Universe Philippines 2022 title. But the half-Italian, half-Filipina Silvia Celeste Cortesi was undoubtedly the beauty tilt’s runaway winner.
Besides winning the top crown, the 24-year-old stunner snagged a slew of special awards including the coveted Best in Swimsuit and Miss Photogenic titles. She was picked Frontrow Best Arrival Look, too, Miss Avana, Miss Aqua Boracay, and she also got to take home a La Mer en Majeste crown worth almost P6 million.
Miss Bohol Pauline Cucharo Amelinckx did have an impactful answer in the Q&A round. Some argue it would be great to see Miss Makati Michelle Dee’s distinctly Pinay beauty on the global stage. But it’s clear too that Celeste embodies the total package of a Miss Universe. Consider the sentiments on Twitter.
Celeste was “so radiant, regal and effortlessly beautiful” says @maleedus about the newly crowed Miss Universe Philippines.
@umhanrivera agrees it was a well-deserved win. “Ok mga accla, our 5th crown is waving!!!” he tweets.
“Humanda na ang mga latinas at manlalamon ng buo ang PH this year,” says @kennetkennet.
@biancucai, who’s been following this year’s pageant, says Celeste has been slaying it since Day 1. “If only she was given the opportunity to answer a question with depth, then her light must have come through.”
@jedDerick thinks the Filipina-Italian beauty was absolutely stunning during the evening gown and swimsuit competitions and that she gave a heartfelt answer during the Q&A round. For these reasons, he’s certain we’ll have a fighting chance at winning the Miss Universe crown this year.
Meanwhile, @gigavion says Celeste may not be the most eloquent from the bunch, “but she speaks so genuinely.”
To the question “If you could stop time for a day, how would you spend it?” Celeste’s answer was she would spend it with family. “Especially my mother,” she said. Her family is in Italy and it’s been two years since she’s seen them after coming to the Philippines by herself. “If I had a chance to spend one day, I would definitely be with my mom, and I would just tell her how much I love her and I miss her.”
From Earth to Universe
Celeste (pronounced Che-leste) has been a familiar face in the local pageant scene for a while now. The five-foot-eight stunner was only 20 years old when she joined the Miss Earth Philippines in 2018. Representing the Filipinos in Rome, she was the first contestant from Filipino communities abroad to win the title.
In an interview with digital creator and beauty pageant enthusiast Luis Portelles last March, Celeste admitted she had a difficult time being a Miss Earth Philippines candidate. The Euro-Pinay beauty was criticized a lot because of her English and Filipino. “It was a struggle for me because it was my first time in the Philippines,” Celeste said in her distinct Italian accent. She had to learn English on her own (she had no teacher) and familiarize herself with Filipino culture.
Celeste intended to stay in the Philippines for a month tops. She was homesick and missed her family terribly. But fate had other plans. Because of her 2018 Miss Earth Philippines victory, she had to be based in the country longer to prepare for the international tilt.
But Celeste would fail to bring home the Miss Earth 2018 crown, and it upset her having given all she had for the competition. She placed in the Top 8 but the crown went to Vietnamese model Nguyễn Phương Khánh in the end. “I really felt like I disappointed not only my country, but also my family and myself,” she shared with Portelles, “even though I gave my best.”
Looking back at that experience today, the lady thinks she didn’t win the Miss Earth title simply because it just wasn’t her time yet. She was not prepared for the responsibilities that came with the crown. Last Saturday, however, a new Celeste would face the SM MOA Arena crowd. Her smoldering presence, beauty, and confidence stood out. Her sincerity and authenticity shone through.
How did the past four years transform her?
It gave her the time and opportunity to discover and embrace her Filipina roots. “I just fell in love with everything (here)—the people, the environment—all of it,” she told The Qrown Philippines, a YouTube Channel dedicated to beauty queens. She was able to establish her modeling career and got into real estate.
Life in the Philippines has been a journey towards growth and self-discovery. Living away from her family allowed her to appreciate even more the efforts of her Filipina mother who single-handedly raised her and her sister. The beauty titlist has made it her mission to give back to her mom and give her the best life she deserves. She has learned to be independent, determined and strong.
Celeste promised herself she would only join a beauty contest again when she feels ready to take on the responsibility that comes with a title. She spent the last few months undergoing training—not only on pasarela (pageant walk) and Q&As, but also on styling, public speaking and answering interviews. “I really want to be ready 100 percent,” she told The Qrown.
Over the last two years, she usually alloted her mornings for pageant training and workouts. Come afternoon, she attended to her real estate clients and her studies.
“Last time, when people saw me, I wasn’t even sure of who I am,” she also told The Qrown. “But now that I have lived in the Philippines for almost five years, I know who I am. I really know my core values, so this is what I want to bring to MUP.”
Pressure is a tool
In an interview with TV Patrol, Celeste admitted she felt pressured to join MUP, but that pressure also motivated her to give her best that night.
“You can never be sure that you’re gonna win. But you can give your best to win, right? Whenever I was going onstage, I was just praying so much,” she shared during the press conference that followed the big pageant night. “I really prayed a lot for this crown and I’m so happy right now that I have it on my head.”
She said she felt honored to be given a second chance to represent the Philippines in an international pageant—and in the Miss Universe stage no less. Her elegance and grace definitely shone through during the April 30 ceremonies. She returned to the beauty pageant game sure that she was stronger and better prepared.
Through the years, Celeste learned how important it is to embrace her true self. “When I lived in Italy, I was always discriminated because I am [a] Filipina, and here in the Philippines, I am discriminated because I am [an] Italian. I kinda feel like I don’t belong anywhere,” she shared to Portelles in March. “But it comes to a point where you [realize that you] have to embrace yourself as a whole—that you are half-Italian and half-Filipina. And those two cultures coexist together in you. That’s what make you beautiful and unique at the end of the day.”