11. 1984: Desiree Verdadero, 3rd Runner Up
Desiree Verdadero is the original Pia Wurtzbach. She was a Binibini second-timer, having competed in 1982 and won first runner up to Maria Isabel Lopez. Two years later, she represented the country in Miami, winning the third runner up crown. She did not win the title, but she won an even bigger one: being the wife of a doctor and former model. She also once told the Philippine Star, “In our peak years, there were gay pageants held in every town and there would always be a candidate introducing himself as ‘Desiree Verdadero.’ “They would copy my look, the way I walk and speak. It was amusing how they admired me and called me their idol.”
12. 1987: Geraldine Asis, Semi-Finalist
Geraldine, or Pebbles, got into Binibining Pilipinas by accident. Before the pageant, she was working for a photography studio. She accompanied a client to a fitting, and ended up modeling, too. Later on, she was encouraged to audition for Binibining Pilipinas, and was screened by Stella Araneta herself. She won and represented the country, losing by .048 points to Venezuela’s Ines Maria Calero Rodriguez for a slot in the top 5. This year, she plans to open a modeling school in Roxas City.
13. 1994: Charlene Gonzales, Top 6
Charlene Gonzales charmed the world when, as the representative of the country in the Miss Universe pageant in Manila, she was asked how many islands there were here. She smilingly responded, “High-tide or low-tide?” She gave both answers. Gonzales became known for her acting career, and married actor Aga Muhlach.
14. 1999: Miriam Quiambao, 1st Runner Up
Miriam Quiambao was one title away from the crown, until she tripped during the evening gown competition. She later redeemed herself at an interview during the finals, when she said that she represents “those women who have fallen both on and off the stage” and hopes to be “an example to the rest of the women in the world.” However, the competition was too good and Botswana’s Mpule Kwelagobe won the crown, after the country joined the pageant for the first time.
15. 2010: Venus Raj, 4th Runner Up
Venus Raj started the trend of Filipina beauties consistently getting titles at the pageant. Her humble beginnings, where she grew up without electricity, seemed worlds away from her life as a beauty queen. But stories say that she learned her distinctive walk in the rice paddies, which won her the Binibining Pilipinas crown. However, controversy erupted when she was briefly replaced because of inconsistencies with her birth certificate and her personal account. She regained her crown due to “humanitarian” reasons. She was a clear favorite in the Miss Universe, until she was asked in the Q&A about a big mistake she has done in her life. She answered, “In my 22 years of existence, I can say there is nothing major major, I mean problem, that I have done in my life, because I am very confident with my family and with the love that they are giving to me.” She may not have won the crown, but she became a viral sensation.
16. 2011: Shamcey Supsup, 3rd Runner Up
Shamcey Supsup came in like a tsunami with her tsunami walk, and ranked higher than Raj the previous year. Supsup impressed the Philippines when she graduated magna cum laude for architecture at the University of the Philippines Diliman and topped the national examination for architects with a board rating of 86.60%. She is now married to her long-time boyfriend, and they have a child together.
17. 2012: Janine Tugonon, 1st Runner Up
The Philippines went absolutely crazy when Janine Tugonon won the title of first runner up. While some were disappointed because she was one title away from becoming Miss Universe, many were excited about the upward trajectory of the country in the pageant. Curiously, Tugonon was Supsup’s roommate in college, while Tugonon was studying Pharmacy at the University of Santo Tomas (where she graduated cum laude). In the Q&A, she was asked if speaking English should be a prerequisite to being Miss Universe. She answered, “For me, being Miss Universe is not just about knowing how to speak a specific language – it is being able to influence and inspire other people. So whatever language you have, as long your heart is to serve and you have a strong mind to show to people, then, you can be Miss Universe.”
18. 2013: Ariella Arida, 3rd Runner Up
Ariella Arida stunned at the pageant with her bright yellow gown and her long hair, which she wore down instead of in an elaborate hairstyle. The Philippines cheered her on in the late morning (the pageant was held in Moscow), even if she won third runner up. But she did the country proud, especially that she was the only Asian delegate to be included in the top 5.
19. 2014: Mary Jean Lastimosa, Top 10
Mary Jean Lastimosa is a 26 year old beauty from North Cotabatao. The computer engineer and entrepreneur, who established a slimming center in Davao, won the Binibini crown after joining the pageant three times, like Wurtzbach.
20. 2015: Pia Wurtzbach, Miss Universe
Pia Wurtzbach is a national treasure. She represents the Filipino who goes after what he or she wants, and rises every time he or she falls. After two unsuccessful stints at the Binibini, she won the title in 2015. After a controversial coronation (host Steve Harvey accidentally announced Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutiérrez as the winner), Wurtzbach is now the most-followed Miss Universe, and charmed the world with her wacky personality, her love for video games, Chickenjoy, and Pokemon. Pia, we’re just waiting for you to become a street in BF Resort.
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