A 25-year-old Filipino-British event organizer was crowned Miss Universe Philippines 2017 at the 54th Binibining Pilipinas beauty pageant held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City early yesterday morning.
Crowd favorite Rachel Peters, 25, bested 39 other candidates for the coveted title during a five-hour show which started evening of April 30 and ended up early morning of May 1.
Peters impressed the panel of judges when she answered the question of European Union Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen: “This week, the Philippines hosted the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Summit. If you were invited to speak, what would have been your message to the leaders?”
She said: “I believe that one of the biggest problems of our country is divisiveness: in politics, religion, and culture. I believe it is same across the world and that is something I would like to address. If we can learn to tolerate each other’s differences and respect each other, then we will be a stronger nation going forward.”
The 5’9 beauty queen also received three major special awards – Best in Swimsuit, Jag Denim Queen, and The Face of Binibini (Miss Photogenic).
As an events organizer, Peters has worked with foreign artists Katy Perry and Christina Aguilera. She also loves dogs.
Peters was also trained and groomed under the Kagandahang Flores beauty camp under Rodgil Flores. She is in a relationship with Governor Miguel Luis “Migz” Villafuerte of Camarines Sur.
She finished her International Baccalaureate at the British School in Phuket, Thailand. She has a Bachelor of Business, Tourism and Events major from La Trobe University in Australia.
Peters also said that she officially became a Filipina on November 4, 2015 as she held her Philippine passport on Instagram. It was captioned: “Salamat po dfa. Officially a Filipina today!!! Yewww.”
Other winners were: Mariel de Leon, Bb Pilipinas International; Chanel Olive Thomas, Bb Pilipinas Supranational; Katarina Rodriguez, Bb. Pilipinas Intercontinental; Elizabeth Clenci, Bb. Pilipinas Grand International and Nelda Ibe, Bb. Pilipinas Globe.
First runner-up honors went to Charmaine Elima while Kristel Guelos, second runner-up.
Other recipients of special awards were: Thomas, Miss Friendship and Best in National Costume; Dane Felisse Marasigan, Bb. Talent; De Leon, Miss Creme Silk and Best in Evening Gown; and Rodriguez, Bb Philippine Airlines.
The prestigious beauty pageant also introduced new formats in the show. From 40, the candidates were narrowed down to 25 as they competed in evening gown and swimsuit. Candidates with high scores in both competitions advanced to Top 15.
Juliana Kapeundl, 25, of Batangas, won the People’s Choice award via online voting sponsored by Smart Philippines. She also joined the Top 15.
MB Readers’ Choice
This year’s Manila Bulletin Readers’ Choice is Christagale Borja from Western Samar.
Borja, 26, graduated with First Class Honors from St. Mary’s University in London. She has worked as a fashion merchandiser for a top fashion boutique before pursuing her ultimate passion of joining beauty pageants.
As winner of the Manila Bulletin Readers Choice special award, Borja received three days and two nights stay at the Sunrise Suite or Sunset Suite of the Manila Hotel, a gift certificate for lunch or dinner for two at the Cafe Ilang-Ilang, gift certificate for lunch or dinner for two at the Mabuhay Palace, full body massage at the Manila Hotel spa for two, one-year free subscription of Manila Bulletin newspaper and P10,000 cash.
The Manila Bulletin Readers Choice award was presented to Borja by Badette M. Cunanan, Public Relations Manager; and Barbie Atienza, head of External Affairs, of the Manila Bulletin.
Happy family, BF
Family members of Peters and Villafuerte were jubilant when the name of the Camarines Sur beauty queen was announced as the top winner of the night.
“I am very happy for Rachel. She represented all the Bicolanos here tonight. I know what she’s gone through the past three months for the Bb. Pilipinas regimen. Congratulations CamSur! Congratulations kay Rachel!” said Villafuerte.
The 28-year-old politician said that he is very supportive of Peters in her stint to the pageant. “Very supportive naman ako sa kanya. Tumutulong ako sa kanya kung saan pwede.”
Asked about her winning qualities, Villafuerte said: “I think she’s a total package – beauty, brains, the body. Sa tingin ko sa tulong ng buong Pilipinas, ang Miss Universe kaya natin yan.”
“I am overwhelmed! I am overjoyed! I am so proud of Rachel,” said Nigel, father of Rachel, who also came with his wife. “I used to live here for 10 years but her brother (Daniel) stays with her in the Philippines.”
Nigel said that his family flew in from Thailand to cheer for her daughter.
Just like Rachel, Nigel is also a concert promoter. He said that he has promoted so many concerts in the Philippines.
“We have a company named Midas Promotions.”
Midas Promotions staged concerts of Bryan Adams, The Moffats, David Guetta, Simple Plan, Pentatonix, Charlie Puth, Selena Gomez, Engelbert Humperdinck, among others, in the Philippines and around the world.
“She’s beautiful! She has a great education. Her Q&A was very good,” said Nigel when asked to comment on her daughter’s performance in the pageant.
Battle of beauty camps
Flores admitted that it is still the battle of beauty camps when it comes to prestigious pageants like Binibining Pilipinas.
“Until the results were out, I was really very nervous. We will have a celebration at the camp. Win or lose it’s for the girls,” he said.
On Peters, Flores said: “No. 1 she is so determined. No. 2 she always seeks advice. I am so happy with the results.
We have second runner-up. We have Miss Globe, Miss Grand International and Miss Universe.”