MJ Lastimosa speaks up on gown controversy

Chuck Smith - The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines - “Kung ano man yung nangyari, I embrace it. I embrace the whole journey. I have no regrets.”
Thus said Mary Jean Lastimosa in an interview with Philstar.com and other entertainment reporters during her homecoming press conference on Thursday.
The 27-year-old beauty queen just arrived in the country after competing in the 63rd Miss Universe pageant in Miami, Florida last Sunday. She landed in the top 10 of the competition but failed to the enter the finals.
The Miss Universe crown eventually went to Miss Colombia, Paulina Vega.
Mary Jean Lastimosa with the Binibining Pilipinas 2014 beauty queens during her homecoming pres conference (Philstar.com/Jonathan Asuncion)
While netizens lauded Mary Jean’s performance in the pageant, many criticized the national costume and evening gown outfits she wore during the competition. Some even blamed the said dresses for her loss in the beauty contest. 
A number of netizens also criticized Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc. (BPCI) Chair Stella Marquez-Araneta’s decision to hire a Colombian to create the said outfits for Mary Jean instead of getting a Filipino designer. 
But the beauty queen from North Cotabato remains positive about her Miss Universe experience despite the debacle.
“Ang akin lang d’yan, ako, I love the Filipino designers - Cary Santiago, Leo Almodal, lahat sila. I really believe that we have the best talents here in our country,” Mary Jean said when asked if there’s truth to the rumor that she would have preferred to use a gown she has chosen for herself for the competition.
Reports surfaced that she was choosing between a white gown by Colombian designer Alfredo Barazza and a red gown by Filipino designer Leo Almodal to wear for the pageant. She eventually used the Barazza gown.
But Mary Jean said she treats her stint as the representative of the country to the Miss Universe pageant as a job - and Stella Marquez-Araneta and the BPCI as her boss. 
She explained, “But then again, I applied for this competition. I applied for the job and they got me for this job. And I have a boss. And we should always remember that the competition is franchise-owned.” 
“So whoever is the owner, in whatever way they want to run the business, it’s their call. And I’m just here to follow what is given to me.”
As for the national costume she wore during the Miss Universe pre-pageant, Mary Jean said it did not affect her standing in the competition.
“As far as I know, the national costume is not part of the judging. It’s just a special event, it’s a special activity where the nations can showcase the best of their country. I don’t think it affected the scores,” she said.

Mary Jean Lastimosa with the contestants of the Binibining Pilipinas 2015 pageant (Philstar.com/Jonathan Asuncion)
Mary Jean believes she can “rock” whatever outfit is given to her. 
“Kahit anong ibigay nila sa akin, I’m gonna rock it. I’m confidently beautiful. And I know whatever I wear, I’m gonna look beautiful on that stage. Yun lang ang laging iniisip ko,” she said.
She also said, referring to the various stories that came out about her during the Miss Universe pageant: “Siguro, feeling ko the pageant fans are very excited and very enthusiastic. So siguro lahat ng mga pangyayari, may story na.”
In the end, Mary Jean believes she has given her best in the Miss Universe pageant. 
“Kasi third time ko ito, e,” she said, referring to the number of times she joined the local Binibining Pilipinas pageant. 
Mary Jean added: “I went this far, so sino ba ako to complain. I’m just really thankful and grateful that I’ve been given this chance to be there and to represent this country.” 

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