Newly crowned Miss Earth 2017 Karen Ibasco on Monday shared her thoughts about her recent win amid criticism that she enjoyed a "home-court advantage."
In a lengthy post on Instagram, Ibasco said it has yet to sink in that she won the Miss Earth crown.
"It takes quite some time until it fully sinks in. Never in my wildest dreams have I ever thought I would represent the Philippines and win an international title in a prestigious pageant that upholds a relevant cause," she wrote.
She also expressed her joy at being the very first scientist to join the Miss Earth pageant and win the crown.
"I am honored and privileged to be the very first scientist to join and win in the whole history of Miss Earth as I shared my voice and represented the whole scientific community for the world to see and hear," Ibasco, who graduated with a degree in Applied Physics from the University of Santo Tomas, said.
Ibasco admitted that it was not easy to win in her own country, but the support from fellow Filipinos made it easier for her.
"It’s never easy to win the crown in your own country because you have to make double even triple efforts to show to everyone that you’re fighting the battle at your best just like everybody else but what made my journey extra special was the overwhelming support I got from my fellow Filipinos," she said.
"No amount of words will change the fact that the battle has already been won. I don’t take this crown for myself, it is for the whole Philippines. This battle was not mine alone but ours. I am proud in raising our flag for the whole world to witness," Ibasco added.
In an interview with entertainment website Pep, Ibasco admitted that her win can be considered a "home-court advantage."
"Well, it is truly a home-court advantage. But I am very grateful, no matter what people throw at you, you just have to put your head in the game, and always focus on what your goal is in this life," she said.
Ibasco was named Miss Earth 2017 in a coronation night held at the Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday night.
The last time the Philippines won Miss Earth was in 2015 when the country was represented by Angelia Ong. She succeeded another Filipina beauty queen, Jamie Herrel, who won the same title in 2014.
Aside from Ibasco, the other contestants making up her so-called elemental court are Australia’s Nina Robertson as Miss Earth Air 2017, Russia’s Lada Akimova as Miss Earth Fire 2017 and Colombia’s Juliana Franco as Miss Earth Water 2017.