MANILA -- Judges and mentors of Miss Universe Philippines Maxine Medina all agree that she was "one of the prettiest" contestants the Philippines "has ever sent to Miss Universe and to any beauty pageant."
Despite this, the model and interior designer fell short on Monday, finishing in the Top 6.
"She's beautiful and she was very classy also, but even though she had the crowd supporting her, I think she was lacking something," Miss Universe 2011 and judge Leila Lopes told ABS-CBN News.
"I don't know what but there was something missing," Lopes said when pressed to give more details.
Margie Moran, Miss Universe 1973, said Medina "lacked confidence in answering and also understanding the question that was asked."
The question for the Filipina candidate was: What is the most significant change you've seen in the world in the last 10 years?
Medina answered: "In the last 10 years of being here in the world, I saw all the people bringing in one event like this in Miss Universe. It’s something big to us that we are one. As one nation, we are all together. Thank you. Maraming salamat po."
Moran said being the first contestant to be placed on the spotlight during the question-and-answer round may have "added to the stress and pressure" on Medina, who was often criticized for her allegedly poor English and communication skills.
"You could see that she was scared. You could feel it," Moran said.
Pageant trainer Jonas Gaffud, who mentored both Medina and Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach, said the supposed home-court advantage did not play well for Medina as the clamor for a back-to-back Miss Universe title win proved to be a burden for Medina.
"Ang sabi ni Maxine sa akin after, kung hindi lang sa Pilipinas (nangyari ang Miss Universe), mas kaya niya sigurong lumaban. Nahirapan talaga siya sa pressure," Gaffud said.
But Gaffud admitted that it was a "challenge" for Medina "to ace the Q and A."
"Ang usapan namin, kung may interpreter, kung ano mafi-feel mo, kung paano mo sagutin 'yung tanong, kung paano mo iintindihin, kung Tagalog man siya or English, yun ang pagkakaintindi mo dun ka sumagot," Gaffud said.
"Siguro hindi niya masyadong na-internalize 'yung tanong but at least hindi mali 'yung kanyang sagot," he added.
Miss Universe 1969 Gloria Diaz said Medina should not be criticized for the answer she gave.
"The question was very difficult. I thought to myself, what would I have said? Until now I cannot think (of an answer)," Diaz said.
"Like I've always said, winning Miss Universe doesn't make you the most beautiful. It doesn't mean you're the smartest. It just means you're the luckiest," Diaz added.