“I am immensely grateful to have had the chance to represent all Filipinos and all the sweet fans of pageantry around the world.”
Celeste Cortesi, the Philippines’ contender for the Miss Universe 2022, expressed this in an Instagram post where she announced that she has returned to the Philippines.
Celeste failed to advance to the semifinals of the 71st Miss Universe coronation night on January 15 (Manila time).
This outcome ended the Philippines’ 12-year streak of entering the semifinals of the most prestigious pageant in the world.
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Despite her early exit, Celeste still considered representing the Philippines as her “greatest honor.” She expressed this on Instagram on January 23.
“I’m finally back home. The entire year has been the most challenging, and yet most exciting time of my life. To represent my country, The Philippines, is my greatest honor,” Celeste said.
The 25-year-old model also uploaded a stunning artwork version of herself where she was wearing her “Darna” national costume.
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Filipino-American R’Bonney Gabriel, who represented the United States of America, was crowned as the 71st Miss Universe on that night.
R’Bonney succeeded Harnaaz Sandhu of India who snagged the major title in 2021.
In her post, Celeste recalled how her “burning passion” to know her Filipino identity and the Philippine culture gave her the courage to fly to the Philippines alone.
She and her sibling grew up with their mother in Parma, Italy. Their father passed away when they were younger.
“I’ve always had the burning passion for my country, I was always very curious about The Philippines with its Islands, People and Culture and I will continue the pursuit of my Filipina Identity. I challenged myself and stepped out of my comfort zone by flying here alone as a very young woman,” Celeste said.
“I’ve always known by heart that there are NO limits in what you can achieve as long as you are committed to the vision and your intentions are pure, as I have done by pushing myself beyond my limits in the services of my advocacies, training, and learning,” she added.
Despite not winning the Miss Universe crown, Celeste still expressed deep gratitude for the opportunity to represent the Filipinos to the rest of the world.
“I am discovering purposes that goes beyond my self ambitions and I am immensely grateful to have had the chance to represent all Filipinos and all the sweet fans of pageantry around the world,” she said.
Celeste further expressed deep gratitude to her team who she described as her “safe space.” She also thanked her family, loved ones and fans who supported her throughout her journey.
She ended her post with a heartfelt message to her late father who she called her “guardian angel.”
“To my father, you guided me up to this day, you still are and will always do. I feel your protection. If you are redirecting me to a different path, to what is truly meant for me, I trust you and I know I still am in the right place at the right time. Thank you, my guardian angel,” Celeste said.
Prior to Miss Universe, Celeste finished in the Top 8 of Miss Earth 2018.
She then joined MUP 2022 after being convinced by her close friend, Miss Universe Philippines 2020 Rabiya Mateo.
Celeste previously won the hearts of Filipino pageant fans for her performances during the preliminaries and the national costume show.