MANILA -- Samantha Bernardo is one of the five candidates who had the rare opportunity to share a meal with Miss Grand International founder and president Nawat Itsaragrisil.
The dinner, held last March 16, served as a reward for the winners of the pageant's "Top 5 on Arrival" competition.
Aside from Bernardo, representatives from Indonesia, Myanmar, Ecuador, and Mexico also got to sit down with Itsaragrisil as well as reigning Miss Grand International Valentina Figuera of Venezuela.
They enjoyed dishes such as prawn spring rolls, hot and spicy soup with tofu, Chinese noodles, and jellyfish, among others.
"I know you will all support me in my journey. I hope we will get the first ever golden crown for the Philippines," Bernardo told the viewers of the livestream of the event on the Miss Grand International Facebook page.
Itsaragrisil, for his part, said that they are looking at Miss Grand International candidates based on who they are, saying it is not just about having the most number of fans and supporters.
He mentioned two main considerations: "beauty" and "ready to work."
"We're not concerned about others (factors) or anything... We're not concerned about fans or whatever. It's about who you are," he stressed. "If you are ready for it (reign), and your personality."
"You'll be going to so many places so you [should be able to] speak and meet everyone."
Aside from her second-place finish in Miss Grand International's "Top 5 on Arrival," Bernardo also received the second highest number of votes in the pageant's "How to Know You in One Minute" challenge, where she performed a Filipino folk dance; and "How to Eat Thai Food in 2 Minutes," where she enjoyed sampling pad Thai and roasted chicken with pandan rice.
The coronation night of Miss Grand International is set to be held in Bangkok, Thailand on March 27.
The Philippines has yet to win a Miss Grand International crown.