MANILA, Philippines - Mary Jean Lastimosa is the Philippines' representative to this year's Miss Universe pageant.
The 26-year-old from Tulunan, North Cotabato bested 39 other contestants during the Binibining Pilipinas coronation night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on Sunday.
The pressure is on Mary Jean as she tries to equal or surpass the recent good standing of the Philippines in the Miss Universe competition: Maria Venus Raj was fourth runner-up in 2010, Shamcey Supsup was third runner-up in 2011, and Janine Tugonon was first-runner up in 2012.
In 2013, Ariella Arida was named third runner-up in the Miss Universe pageant, with Venezuela's Gabriela Isler taking the crown.
Meanwhile, Mary Anne Guidotti was named Bb. Pilipinas-International, Parul Shah was named Bb. Pilipias-Tourism, and Yvethe Marie Santiago was named Bb. Pilipinas-Supranational.
Bb. Pilipinas–Intercontinental, the fifth and newest title given at the Binibining Pilipinas pageant, was given to Kris Janson.
Expectations are high with this year's Binibining Pilipinas winners following the recent success of the Philippines in the international beauty pageant scene.
Last year, the country brought home three beauty pageant titles: Mutya Johanna Datul won Miss Supranational, Bea Rose Santiago won Miss International, and Megan Young won Miss World.
Among the judges in this year's Bb. Pilipinas include reigning Miss Universe titleholder Gabriela Isler, ABS-CBN channel head Cory Vidanes, news anchor Korina Sanchez, collegiate basketball player Jeron Teng, and senator Juan Edgardo Angara, among others.