Analysis: Why Philippines' 11-year Miss Universe semi-finals streak no small feat

Earl D.C. Bracamonte - Philstar.com
Analysis: Why Philippines' 11-year Miss Universe semi-finals streak no small feat
Philippines' Miss Universe candidates placed in the semi-finals in the pageant's last 11 editions, from Venus Raj (2010) to Rabiya Mateo (2020)
Miss Universe Organization via Sights of Cy YouTube channel, screenshot

MANILA, Philippines — In the 69 editions of the annual Miss Universe pageant, since its inception in 1952, there were only four years - 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961 - that the Philippines did not send a representative.

But, mind you, there are two countries with perfect attendance in all editions: Canada and France. Germany would have joined these two countries, except that it did not field a candidate for the 2020 pageant.

It was only in 1964 that the Binibining Pilipinas crowned its first winner, the late Myrna Panlilio, great aunt of this year's Binibining Pilipinas candidate from Cavite, Samantha Panlilio.

Related: First Binibining Pilipinas winner's descendant eyed for Miss Grand International 2021

So the honors of placing in the semi-final round for the first time belongs to Miss Philippines 1954 Blessilda Ocampo, while the distinction of landing in the Top 5 for the first time is given to Lalaine Bennett for winning 3rd runner-up at Miss Universe 1963. Six years later, Gloria Diaz would win the country's first Miss Universe crown.

In Miss Universe's history, the year with the most participation was in the Bangkok competition of 2018, which was won by Philippines' Catriona Gray. On the other hand, the year with the most number of participants in the Miss World competition was the 2013 contest in Indonesia won by another Filipina, Megan.Young. You could say then that the Philippines truly conquered the "world" and the "universe" for the record.



In total, there have been 190 countries who have joined the Miss Universe pageant, from the start, though not in the same years.

  • The United States of America, as franchise owner - first with Madison Square Productions, to the Trump era, to today's WME/IMG ownership - has participated 67 times and has the most number of wins with eight (1954 (Miriam Stevenson), 1956 (Carol Morris), 1967 (Sylvia Hitchcock), 1980 (Shawn Weatherly), 1995 (Chelsi Smith), 1997 (Brooke Lee) and 2012 (Olivia Culpo).
  • Venezuela has participated 66 times and has won seven times (1979 (Maritza Sayalero), 1981 (Irene Saez), 2008 (Dayana Mendoza), 2009 Stefania Fernandez) and 2013 (Gabriela Isler).
  • Puerto Rico has joined 65 times and won the crown in 1970 (Marisol Malaret), 1985 (Deborah Carthy Deu), 1993 (Dayanara Torres), 2001 (Denise Quinones) and 2006 (Zuleyka Rivera).
  • The Philippines has joined 64 times and won the title in 1969 (Gloria Diaz), 1973 (Margarita Moran), 2015 (Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach), and 2018 (Catriona Magnayon Gray).
  • Sweden participated 63 times and won three times - 1955 (Hillevi Rombin), 1966 (Margareta Arvidsson), and 1984 (Yvonne Ryding).
  • South Africa participated 45 times and won thrice - 1978 (Margaret Gardiner), 2017 (Demi Leigh nel-Peters) and 2019 (Zozibini Tunzi).

The current title is won by Andrea Meza of Mexico. Her country previously won in 1991 (Lupita Jones) and 2010 (Ximena Navarrete).

But there are 31 countries that have been part of the semi-final round but have yet to win the title. These are:

  • Latin American countries Costa Rica, Uruguay, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Jamaica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Aruba, Curacao, Bahamas, Paraguay
  • European countries Poland, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Austria, Turkey, Switzerland, Ireland, Denmark, Iceland, Belgium
  • Asian countries Singapore, Malaysia, Korea, Sri Lanka, Indonesia
  • Island states Sri Lanka, Guam, US Virgin Islands

As such, pageant fans should realize it's not only the Philippines exerting so much time, money and effort to win the title. While we may be working on winning our fifth, other countries are working to.simply land in the semi-finals, while others are still aiming for their first win.

So the country's 11-year placement streak at the semi-finals is no small feat, considering that, in the recent pageant alone, frontrunners like South Africa, Venezuela, Chile, Romania and Canada did not even make it to the Top 21.

Related: Analysis: Possible reasons why Rabiya Mateo failed to advance to Miss Universe 2020 final round

So in the next international pageant we will watch and follow, let's be kind and supportive of our representative. Let's wish her well in her journey and stop expecting too much from her. It's not easy to compete on any stage and winning is ordained by destiny.

If you don't believe me, give it a try. Join a pageant and you'll know what I mean. —  Video and cover image from Sights of Cy via YouTube

RELATED: New way to the Universe: Miss Universe Philippines announces new normal selection process




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