Rizzini: No, I never lost faith

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - It’s been a “beauty-full” year for the Philippines, packed with triumphs and trophies in international beauty contests.

Among the highlights of the country’s impressive 2012 record — the best year yet, according to pageant watchers — are Manhunt International 2012 winner June Macasaet, Mr. World 2012 first runner-up Andrew Wolff, Miss Earth first runner-up Stephany Stefanowitz, Miss Universe 2012 first runner-up Janine Tugonon.

Last but definitely not the least is Rizzini Alexis Gomez, who was crowned Miss Tourism International last New Year’s Eve at the Sunway Resort & Spa in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The 23-year-old registered nurse and cum laude graduate from Cebu bested 54 other ladies from the world over, with the Malaysian media describing Rizzini as “an obvious choice with her warm persona and her model-like looks.”

Other winners were Marieles Perez of Venezuela (runner-up and Miss Tourism Global), Monika Rodulovic of Australia (Miss Tourism Metropolitan International), Lourdes Rolon of Paraguay (Miss Tourism Cosmopolitian International) and Jun Yong Wan Jun of Malaysia (Dreamgirl of the Year).

Focused on promoting tourism, the yearly Miss Tourism International began in 1994 in Malaysia. Rizzini is the second Filipina to win the title in the pageant’s 16-year history, after Esperanza Manzano in 2000.

In a presscon yesterday at the Midas Hotel, Rizzini was asked how she was able to edge out other equally stunning ladies in the competition. “(Because of) my faith,” she said.

She maintained that she never expected her victory because she didn’t receive any special awards in the days leading to the coronation night.

But interestingly, her final question strangely reminded her of a question asked of her when she competed (and won) in the Aliwan Festival Queen in 2010. Asked to name her country’s best festival, she answered her hometown’s Sinulog Festival, happening every January and held in honor of Cebu’s patron Sto. Niño, because it symbolizes faith, heritage and unity. “I thought, ‘What a coincidence!’ Was this a sign?” she said.  

Among her prizes are a scholarship from Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, a cash prize, jewelry set and other gifts from sponsors. She is also expected to frequent Malaysia to fulfill other obligations as pageant winner.

2012 was a “whirlwind” of a year for Rizzini, whose quest for a national pageant title saw her trying her luck at the Bb. Pilipinas and Miss Philippines World pageants. While the former Miss Cebu failed to make the cut in both beauty contests, she pressed on and joined Mutya upon the encouragement of her father, former PBA player Roel Gomez, who advised his eldest and only daughter that if she really wants something, she has to pursue it until she gets it. (Her mom works as a nurse in the US.)

While she’s keeping her doors open to showbiz opportunities, among her top future plans are taking up masters in Nursing or finishing a law degree.

One thing is certain, she’s proud to be a beauty queen-nurse, telling Malaysian press in an interview: “There are similarities to being a beauty queen and a nurse. For both, you need to set a good example and be of service to people.”

Rizzini’s big win ushers in the 45th edition of the Mutya ng Pilipinas this 2013, according to the pageant org’s president Jacqueline Tan.

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