Dark horse beauties eclipse fan favorites in Miss Universe PH interview challenge

Mario Dumaual, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 29 2021 12:12 PM

MANILA - Several dark horse candidates of the Miss Universe Philippines (MUP) 2021 made it to the Top 7 list of the pageant’s latest interview challenge this weekend, edging out the usual top favorites of pageant veterans and celebrities in its previous challenges.

The MUP organization released its list hours after the interview challenge ended Saturday night. 

Architecture graduate Victoria Vincent of Cavite emerged as the number one choice in the challenge where over 40 contenders were asked within two and a half minutes to describe themselves and answer three questions including a common question: “How has the COVID-19 affected you?”

Parañaque's Maria Ingrid Teresita Santamaria and San Juan City's Rousanne Marie Bernos clinched the second and third spots, respectively. 

Also making it to the Top 7 list were Makati's Isabelle de los Santos, Bukidnon's Megan Julia Roa Digal, Cebu City's Beatrice Luigi Gomez, and Marinduque's Simone Nadine Bornilla.

Voltaire Tayag, MUP director of communications, told ABS-CBN News the list is a “great equalizer” in the pageant’s series of challenges previously dominated by the likes of fan favorites Maureen Wroblewitz, Kisses Delavin, Steffi Rose Aberasturi, Katrina Dimaranan and Leren Mae Bautista. 

Tayag conducted the interview challenge with panelist judges that included among others pageant officials Shamcey Supsup, Albert Andrada; directors and events organizers Jackie Aquino, Robbie Carmona; and Resorts World executive and host Joee Guilas. 

Vincent related how she left the comfort and safety of her home base in New Zealand to pursue her Miss Universe dream in the 
challenge that was streamed on Empire Philippines’ YouTube channel on Saturday.

Of Filipino and Spanish Irish stock, Vincent is also listed in the MUP files as having completed a double master’s degree in Architecture and Heritage Conservation at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. 

Though not in the Top 7, other beauties made a splash in the interview challenge including Christelle Abello of Aklan, who related her longing for her parents based in Japan and making a sacrifice in leaving her job in California to join the pageant; Angela Okol of Siargao, who confessed to struggling to body image issues and overcoming the loneliness of the pandemic through social media; and Janela Cuaton of Albay, who narrated her healing from chicken pox last year and why she wants to be reincarnated as the national hero, Jose Rizal. 

After the results of the interview challenge, only 30 candidates will get the chance to compete on stage for the MUP 2021 crown.

According to organizers, the finalists will be composed of 27 delegates selected by judges, and three contestants with the highest number of votes on the MUP app. Voting will end at 11:59 p.m. on August 31.

The winner of this year's pageant, to be crowned mid-September, will represent the country in the 70th Miss Universe, which is set in Israel in December. 

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