First Black Fil-Am to represent Philippines in Miss Universe

Charmie Joy Pagulong - The Philippine Star
First Black Fil-Am to represent Philippines in Miss Universe
Chelsea Manalo of Bulacan waves after being crowned Miss Universe Philippines 2024 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday night.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — A Black Filipino-American model from Bulacan won this year’s Miss Universe Philippines.

Chelsea Anne Manalo is the first Black Filipino-American beauty to represent the country at the 73rd Miss Universe pageant in Mexico later this year.

Manalo, who is turning 25 this year, bested 52 contestants during the coronation night at the SM Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday.

Cainta’s Stacey Daniella Gabriel won first runner-up, Quezon’s Ahtisa Manalo was second runner-up, Baguio’s Justine Tarah Marie Valencia was third runner-up and Taguig’s Christi Lynn McGarry was fourth runner-up.

Manalo started modeling at the age of 14 and was among the top 15 in Miss World Philippines 2017.

She was born to a Filipino mother and an American father.

She was raised in Meycauayan City, Bulacan by her mother and stepfather after her biological father passed away.

The beauty queen is a tourism graduate who advocates for youth empowerment with a focus on children’s education, especially among indigenous communities, according to her profile on the Empire PH website.

During the top 5 question-and-answer segment, she was asked how she would use her qualities of being beautiful and confident to empower others.

“As a woman of color, I’ve always faced challenges in my life. I was told that beauty has a standard. But for me, I have listened to always believe in my mother, to always believe in yourself, uphold the vows that you have in yourself,” she replied.

“Because of these, I am already influencing a lot of women who are facing me right now as a transformational woman. I have here 52 other delegates with me who helped me to become the woman I am. Thank you,” she added.

The coronation event was hosted by Alden Richards, Gabbi Garcia, Tim Yap, Miss Universe 2022 R’Bonney Gabriel and American television personality Jeannie Mai.

RuPaul’s Drag Race: UK vs. The World top 4 drag queen Marina Summers, Filipino rock band Lola Amour and Thai actor Win Metawin entertained the audience with their performances.

Later after coronation night, Valencia was proclaimed Miss Supranational Philippines, Pampanga’s Cyrillen Payumo as Miss Charm Philippines, Iloilo’s Alexie Brooks as Miss Eco International Philippines and Ahtisa Manalo as Miss Cosmo Philippines.

Manalo succeeded Miss Universe Philippines 2023 Michelle Dee.

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