Annabelle McDonnell dug deep from her experience as an orphan to clinch first runner-up in the Miss Charm 2023 in Vietnam.
After acing the swimsuit and long gown competition, McDonnell also left a mark during the two question-and-answer portions of the pageant on Thursday night.
During the Top 6 Q&A round, the Philippines' bet was asked about her definition of Miss Charm and she opened up about growing up poor.
“Miss Charm looks beyond the difficulties in life and works hard to overcome them. I grew up being told that I would never amount to anything because I belong to a poor neighborhood, a poor family, that I have no parents, but I worked so hard for the last 7 years to become a Miss Philippines and you know for sure that I worked so hard to be your next Miss Charm 2023. Thank you so much. Mabuhay,” she said.
Her answer was enough for her to secure a spot in the Final 3 and moved closer to the title. In the final Q&A round, McDonnell explained the meaning of life and her reason for living.
Again, she talked about her journey as an orphan.
“The meaning of life is to be of help to one another. It is all about putting the community first before oneself. I've learned this growing up as an orphan and I certainly learned this more being with all Vietnamese people tonight. I think that the purpose of my life is to be of help for one another in the struggles of the youth, I see myself and I relate to them and I hope that with my success here tonight, they see themselves in me and they believe in themselves more because of me. Thank you so much,” the Pinay queen said.
McDonnell finished behind the eventual winner Luma Russo of Brazil. Olivia Tan of Indonesia placed 2nd runner-up.
McDonnell was selected as the country's representative after her first runner-up finish in the Miss Universe Philippines 2022 pageant, which was won by Celeste Cortesi.
The inaugural Miss Charm pageant was originally scheduled in 2019, but was postponed multiple times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As lockdown and travel restrictions eased, organizers finally managed to push through with the competition, gathering dozens of international beauties on one stage.