Freeman Cebu Entertainment

Cebu City’s Irma Payod-Bitzer is Mrs. Philippines International 2023

Januar Junior Aguja - The Freeman

After months of preparation, Irma Payod-Bitzer, 39, bested 21 other finalists to be crowned Mrs. Philippines International 2023 during the finals held April 4 at Okada Manila. The entrepreneur and mother of two is an Ormoc City native who represented Cebu City North at the pageant after being named Mrs. Cebu Philippines-Tourism 2022 last November.

She also won Best Festival Costume for her Malayka Yamas ensemble – the same creation that  Steffi Aberasturi wore during her Miss Universe Philippines 2021 bid. Bitzer also nabbed the Social Media Award and Best in Interview during the Preliminary Competition held last month in Cebu City.

In her opening speech Tuesday evening, the NGO volunteer of the Bukas Palad Foundation shared how “poverty and despair consumed my life. I was left with nothing but torn-up clothes and shattered dreams. But I never let circumstances dictate my future.”

“I fought hard and I persevered and I never gave up. I am an empowered Cebuana mother, a testament that anyone can triumph over adversity – making my story an inspiring one.”

In the Q&A segment where all finalists were asked what title in the pageant they were aiming for, Bitzer remarked, “I would like to choose the main crown which is Mrs. Philippines International because I believe I am one who can make the vision of Mrs. Philippines to make people inspired, to share my life story that even without eating during childhood, I was able to triumph over adversity and be successful, becoming an entrepreneur and a beauty queen.”

In an unusual move for a pageant, this year’s Mrs. Philippines International gave every single finalist a title. Fourteen titles were handed to the candidates who will compete in international tilts, including Mrs. International for Bitzer, while seven of them are special titles.

All delegates from the Visayas snagged titles with international assignments, namely, Mrs. Philippines Planet Evangeline Pulvera of Bohol, Mrs. Philippines National Universe Princess Joesel Bajamonde of Cebu Province, Classic Mrs. Philippines International Global Liz Tagimacruz-Vecina of Cebu City East, Mrs. Philippines Grand International Honeylane Palero Labang of San Fernando, Mrs. Philippines Woman of the Universe Mary Jade Luna of West Cebu, and Mrs. Philippines Earth Classic Elma Preglo Lavajo of Sogod.

During a send-off press conference last December for the Mrs Cebu Philippines delegates, Luna admitted that they felt pressured to bring home at least one crown for Cebu.

“This is our promise to the judges, the organizers, and everyone else, we will make sure that we will do our very best to maintain and set the standard higher because we are representing Cebu and we won’t fail you,” Luna said then.

Other titleholders set to compete abroad are Mrs. Philippines International Global Grezza Day Rosales of Laguna, MRS Philippines International Analyn Roxas of Oriental Mindoro, Mrs. Philippines Earth Vernelie Diane Babasa of Lipa City, Elite Mrs. Philippines International Vanessa Magbojos of Bauan, Batangas, Mrs. Philippines Worldwide Woman Ruvigene Pantas Labong of Antipolo, Mrs. Philippines World Universal Classic Ma. Concepcion Mirabuena of Sta. Ana, Manila, and Mrs. Philipines World Universal Maria Lezylda Quadra of Cavite.

Special crowns were given to Mrs. Philippines International Imperial Nikka Salve Apungan of Rizal, Mrs. Philippines Ecotourism Ederly Abel of Batangas, Mrs. Philippines Heritage Lourdes Ferrera, Mrs. Philippines Tourism Ambassador Vanessa Grace Torrecampo of Dasmariñas City, Mrs. Philippines Universal Beauty Milani Pareja of Tanza, Mrs. Philippines International Beauty Erica Macatangay of Batangas City, and Mrs. Philippines Global Beauty Philma Saquisame of Imus.

Other awardees were Bajamonde for Best in Theme Wear, Rosales for Best in Evening Gown, and Johannamaine Travel and Tour Ambassador, and Babasa for Best in Swimwear.

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