MANILA – Celeste Cortesi has returned to the Philippines after representing the country in the 71st Miss Universe pageant in New Orleans, Louisiana in the United States.
In her first post upon her arrival, the Filipina-Italian beauty queen said the past year has been the most challenging, and yet most exciting time of her life.
"To represent my country, The Philippines, is my greatest honor. I've always had the burning passion for my country, I was always very curious about the Philippines with its Islands, people, and culture, and I will continue the pursuit of my Filipina Identity," she said.
"I challenged myself and stepped out of my comfort zone by flying here alone as a very young woman. I've always known by heart that there are no limits in what you can achieve as long as you are committed to the vision and your intentions are pure, as I have done by pushing myself beyond my limits in the services of my advocacies, training, and learning," she added.
Cortesi said she is now discovering "purposes that go beyond her self-ambitions," adding that she is grateful for the chance to represent Filipinos and pageant fans around the world.
She also thanked her team, fans, family, and loved ones for their unwavering support throughout her Miss Universe journey despite the outcome.
The beauty queen also gave a special shoutout for her late father. "You guided me up to this day, you still are and will always do. I feel your protection. If you are redirecting me to a different path, to what is truly meant for me, I trust you and I know I still am in the right place at the right time. Thank you, my guardian angel," she said.
To end her post, Cortesi declared that she stands proud to be a Filipina.
The Philippine representative failed to make it to the Top 16 of the 71st Miss Universe, which was won by Filipino-American R'Bonney Gabriel of the United States.
Cortesi's loss came as a shock among fans and pageant enthusiasts as the Filipino-Italian beauty queen was widely tipped to do well in the pageant.
It also marked the end of the Philippines' semi-finals streak in Miss Universe, which started with Venus Raj in 2010 and was highlighted by the title wins of Pia Wurtzbach (2015) and Catriona Gray (2018).