MANILA – Pre-pageant activities for Miss Grand International 2019 have kicked off in Venezuela, but the Philippines’ representative to the pageant, Samantha Lo, is nowhere to be found.
So where is she?
Pageant fans and members of the media have been asking this question to Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc., the organization that sent Lo to compete in Miss Grand International 2019, but it has yet to release a statement as of writing.
The Bb. Pilipinas queens are also noticeably mum about the issue during the sendoff ceremony for Miss International 2019 representative Bea Patricia Magtanong on Wednesday.
Lo left Manila last October 9, posing with the Philippine flag at the airport shortly before her departure.
“See you soon, Venezuela,” she said in an Instagram post.
She has not posted anything on Instagram since, prompting speculations that the beauty queen returned to the Philippines after having problems with her flight, visa, or passport.
‘WAITING FOR HER TO ARRIVE’
On Wednesday, Venezuelan jeweler George Wittels took to Instagram Stories to answer questions about Lo’s absence in the Miss Grand International 2019 pre-pageant activities.
Wittels, who is a crown maker in this year’s pageant, said in his verified Instagram account that the Miss Grand International Organization “is waiting for her to arrive.”
He noted that Lo was able to reach Paris, France but missed her flight to Venezuela.
Citing a “passport issue,” Wittels said the Filipina beauty queen had to return to Manila “because she could not stay more than 48 hours at Paris airport and didn’t find a connection to Venezuela.”
“Mr. Nawat (Nawat Itsaragrisil, president of Miss Grand International) said it last night, but she (Lo) has to hurry to try and get a new ticket in the next hours so it doesn’t become too late for her to come,” he said.
“Mr. Nawat did [give a statement] last night during the transmission of the crown show. He explained what I have said here and that they are still waiting for her. I really hope she arrives as Philippines is such an important beauty powerhouse today, that it’s important to have it (the country) in any beauty contest,” he added.
Miss Grand International released a video of its welcome dinner and fashion show on its Facebook page on Thursday, confirming Wittels’ statement that the pageant’s president has spoken about Lo’s absence.
In the video, Itsaragrisil said only 59 candidates have so far arrived in Venezuela, and he is hoping that Lo will “arrive very soon.”
“Normally we have 80, 85, 88 countries coming to join. But this year, so many countries think Venezuela is not safe now. So they tried to come but maybe [their] family advised, the government advised that it’s not safe [here]. I tried to tell them exactly why I am here… But we only have 60 countries. I have to give you a big hand, all of you,” he said, addressing this year’s batch of beauty queens.
Itsaragrisil quickly added: “Now we have 59, absolutely 59 [candidates]. We still have one pending country, Philippines. She’s still on the way, quite a long time. I expect she will arrive very soon. If she is watching us tonight, [I want her to] take care of herself and prepare herself very well [for the competition].”
Skip to the 23:00 mark in the video below to watch the Miss Grand International president talk about Lo’s absence:
The Philippines has yet to win a Miss Grand International crown. Last year’s representative, Eva Patalinjug, failed to make it to the Top 20.