Filipino-Italian beauty queen Celeste Cortesi was crowned Miss Universe Philippines 2022 in a ceremony at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila on Saturday night.
Cortesi, 24, a representative for Pasay City, beat 31 other hopefuls and was given the crown, La Mer en Majeste, by Beatrice Luigi Gomez, who finished in the top five at the Miss Universe 2021 pageant.
The other contestants in this year’s top five were Katrina Llegado from Taguig, Annabelle McDonnell from Misamis Oriental, Pauline Amelinckx from Bohol and Michelle Dee from Makati.
The winner also bagged the Miss Photogenic and Best in Swimsuit awards during the ceremony, and was named Miss Aqua Boracay and Miss Avana in the preliminary competition.
The three-hour event, which was beamed to a global audience via various YouTube channels, was hosted by Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach, Miss Universe 2016 Iris Mittenaere and Miss Universe 2017 Demi Leigh nel-Peters Tebow.
Also present at the coronation was Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu, as well as Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray.
Who is Celeste Cortesi?
Cortesi was born on December 15, 1997, to a Filipino mother and Italian father, and was raised in Italy before moving to the Philippines five years ago to pursue a career in pageantry.
The professional model, who is training to become a property agent, also won the Miss Philippines Earth title in 2018. She went on to represent the country at Miss Earth, where she placed in the top eight finalists.
She is the third Filipina to win two major national crowns, joining Carlene Aguilar, who was named Miss Philippines Earth 2001 and Miss World Philippines 2005, and Gray, who was also Miss World Philippines 2016.
Miss Universe Philippines 2022 is Cortesi’s first pageant in almost four years.
Cortesi, whose hobbies include meditating, exercising and going to the beach, talked during the event about how important family is to her.
During the question and answer segment, Wurtzbach asked Cortesi: “If you could stop time for a day, how would you spend it?”
She answered: “If I could stop time, I will spend it with my family, especially my mother. It’s been two years since I didn’t see my family because they live in Italy and I came here in the Philippines just by myself. So if I had a chance to spend one day, I would definitely be with my mum. And will tell her how much I love her and miss her.”
She also said: “If there is something that my mum always taught me, it is to be grateful for your family, for your loved ones, and the people around you. Because when you’re grateful and kind, people will also be kind and grateful for you.”
In an Instagram post after the coronation, she wrote: “I was walking on that beautiful stage all I was thinking was my mum and dad. The strength I got from them is indescribable. I’ve worked so hard for this, I’ve prepared. And I let God do the rest in knowing that whatever is meant for me will never pass me by.”
‘Information is key and power’
Cortesi wants to use her platform as beauty queen to encourage other women to stay informed — “you have to remember that reading information is key and power” — and advocate for indigenous people in the Philippines who have been displaced from their land.
“I would like to champion their cause by putting a spotlight on their situation. And also their unique and rich cultural heritage that makes the Philippines the most beautiful and unique place in the world,” she said.
“A beauty queen is a symbol of hope for the people. Us beauty queens, we can use our platform to uplift other people, to influence, and inspire the people around us. It makes us very powerful and influential,” she said.
Miss Universe 2022 will take place in San Jose, California in December.