Some Filipino pageant fans claimed that the 71st edition of Miss Universe wanted to emphasize advocacies after the competition concluded on Sunday.
R’Bonney Gabriel of the United States, a half-Filipina, bested 83 candidates in the prestigious beauty pageant and won the elusive crown.
She is the first candidate to wear the new Mouawad’s “Force of Good” crown unveiled under the new Miss Universe Organization (MUO) leadership headed by Anne Jakrajutatip.
READ: Who is Miss Universe 2022 Filipino-American Miss USA R’Bonney Gabriel?
Meanwhile, Celeste Cortesi of the Philippines failed to make it to the Top 16 semifinals despite being considered a frontrunner in some pageant communities.
She was bested by R’Bonney, a 28-year-old Houston native who impressed audiences with her winning answer in the final Question & Answer portion for the Top 3.
The American bet highlighted her advocacy for sustainable fashion and her 13-year experience in the fashion industry, where she said she has been using fashion as “a force for good” by using recycled materials in her works.
R’Bonney’s victory caused some Pinoys to claim that the new MUO leadership appeared to bring more emphasis toward the delegates’ advocacies.
“I think this year’s edition is heavy on advocacy. Miss Universe is exciting for this very reason, they don’t stick with the same pattern every year,” Miss Universe 2014 semifinalist MJ Lastimosa tweeted.
“But seriously, I guess the new era of MU is not only just about self-transformation [and] personal growth. Dapat may relevant advocacy for community transformation na dala-dala ang kandidata. Literal na queen of and for the people,” pediatrician JM Dangane wrote.
“I think the preliminary selection committee now focused more on advocacy [and] interview,” another Twitter user claimed.
“Mukhang ‘Miss Advocacy’ na ang direction ng Miss Universe. Gulagurin na lahat ng NGOs [non-government organizations],” election lawyer Emil Marañon commented.
Observers believed that Celeste did not do well in the closed-door interview, which comprised 60% of the preliminary rounds score.
Some dubbed her the “El Tocuyo” awardee or someone considered a frontrunner by pageant communities but failed to make the cut in the end.
The members of Miss Universe 2022’s selection committee were Miss Universe 2010 Ximena Navarrette, Miss Universe 1998 Wendy Fitzwilliams, book author Emily Austin, artiste Big Freedia, supermodel Mara Martin, entrepreneur Olivia Quido, media personality Myrka Dellanos, and Roku executive Sweta Patel.
MUO on its website describes itself as an entity creating and providing “a safe space for women to share their stories and drive impact.”
“The Miss Universe Organization provides women who participate in this international platform with the tools to affect positive change personally, professionally, and philanthropically serving as inspirational leaders and role models to their communities and fans around the world,” its description reads.
MUO said that it exists “to advocate for a future forged by women with courage to push the limits of what’s possible, who are curious in the discovery, and the audacity to do it again.”
Its new owner, Anne, described this year’s pageant season as the “new era of the global women’s empowerment platform.”
“From now on, it’s gonna be run by women, owned by a transwoman for all women around the world to celebrate the power of feminism, diverse cultures, social inclusion, gender equality, creativity, a force for good and the beauty of humanity,” she said in a speech on Sunday.
“This stage called Miss Universe competition, we can elevate our women to feel strong enough, good enough, qualified enough and never be objectified again,” Anne added.