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'Philippines has my whole heart': Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu calls Philippines 'the best'

Marane A. Plaza - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — After a series of hate comments from netizens due to her weight gain, reigning Miss Universe Harnaaz Sandhu seemed to finally find a chill, friendly place in Manila during her recent visit to the country.

As one of the judges of the recently held Miss Universe Philippines 2022, Sandhu visited the Philippines and finally met former titleholders Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach, Miss Universe 2016 Iris Mittenaere, and Miss Universe 2017 Demi Tebow. In a pre-pageant Miss Universe Philippines (MUPH) event, she also met Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray, who was one of the vocal ones to defend her from body shamers.

Related: 5 Miss Universe queens reunite for Miss Universe Philippines 2022

In a video posted by Miss Universe on Instagram Stories, the current Miss Universe titleholder declared that the Philippines is "the best." 

"So guys, it's time to say goodbye as I'm heading back to New York. Philippines, you are the best and you will always be the best," she said.

"Thank you so much for sharing a lot of love, a lot of gratefulness, and I can't wait to come back again," she added.

The Indian beauty was able to enjoy the sights of Vigan in Ilocos Sur during her stay in the Philippines, and spread messages about her advocacy on women's health.

 

The President of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) and Narvacan City Mayor Chavit Singson along with Architect Richelle Singson-Michael, LCS Group Vice Chairperson and Ako Ilokano Ako Partylist first nominee welcomed Sandhu as their special guest in the inauguration of the Narvacan Digital Palengke, an initiative that aims to empower Filipino vendors with opportunities to make use of cashless transactions and provide training to help them improve their livelihood in these digital times. The Digital Palengke program is an innovation by Casha, Inc., a finance and technology company also headed by Singson-Michael.

“The majority of the population still lacks access to financial products, which is why we are continuously issuing digital wallets for the public market vendors, buyers and citizens of Narvacan.  The digitization of payments, particularly for small businesses allow for a safer, more convenient flow of cashless transactions as their Narvacan Digital Wallet allows for instant bank transfers to any bank, bills payments, pre-paid loading, all from their mobile phones," said Singson-Michael.

“The presence of Harnaaz just makes everything beautiful and inspiring. We as Ilocanos feel more inspired to innovate to better serve the municipality” she added as she went around the public market with Mayor Chavit purchasing goods from the vendors in a quick and cashless manner by using QR codes from their Narvacan Digital Wallet.

@philstarnews Miss Universe Harnaaz Sandhu feeds giraffes at the Safari Hotel in Ilocos Sur! ???????? #missuniverse #harnaazsandhu #entertainment #newsph #tiktokph #socialnewsph #MUPH2022 ? Happy Music - Mystix Instrumentals

 

Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu exploring Vigan
Philstar.com/Deejae Dumlao
Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu exploring Vigan
Philstar.com/Deejae Dumlao
Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu exploring Vigan
Photo release
Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu exploring Ilocos Sur with Architect Richelle Singson-Michael and Narvacan City Mayor Chavit Singson.
Photo release
Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu in a courtesy call in Ilocos Sur.
Philstar.com/Deejae Dumlao
Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu and Architect Richelle Singson-Michael exploring the Narvacan public market for the launch of Narvacan's Digital Palengke.
Photo release

Mayor Chavit also expressed optimism that the Narvacan Digital Palengke will help Filipino vendors and small businesses revitalize the local economy through the efficiency of the cashless transactions which will boost livelihood, result in more  job opportunities and attract larger enterprises to the region.

“First and foremost, I am extremely proud of this project because we in Narvacan, aim to be a Municipality that is current with the technology age. The Digital Palengke launch is one of the modernization projects in the advancing town of Mayor Chavit which includes solar parking shed modules that power the Market, a Dancing Fountain for entertainment and soon e-Jeepneys to service the town. I am certain these projects will bring a bright future and great opportunities to businesses and consumers not only in Narvacan, but in the entire region.” he continued.

When asked about her experience, Harnaaz said, “I am so excited for my friend Architect Richelle Singson-Michael, who has always been leading Filipinas towards empowerment. I am proud that through her leadership in different industries, women are able to take charge of their future through innovations made available by initiatives like these that allow convenience and security for their livelihood.” 

In an exclusive interview with Philstar.com during her Vigan trip, Sandhu said Filipinos' kindness left her "out of words."

"I've been grateful as to how everybody showed me love since the day one even before coming," she said. "I'm just thankful, grateful from the bottom of my heart... Philippines has my whole heart. What I want to say is to keep supporting, keep showing love. Salamat!"

RELATED: 'Hashtag I'm unbothered': Harnaaz Sandhu on body-shamers

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