SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP/Reuters) — Leila Lopes, a business student from Angola, was crowned Miss Universe 2011 on Monday night (Tuesday in Manila) after dazzling the panel of judges with her beauty and brains.
Miss Philippines Shamcey Supsup made a splendid account of herself in the beauty contest, joined by 89 countries, as she shared the lights and the stage as the pageant’s third runner-up.
Lopes, Angola’s first winner, won the title during the 60th anniversary of the world’s biggest beauty pageant by smoothly handling an interview question about what physical trait she would change if she could.
“Thank God I’m very satisfied with the way God created me and I wouldn’t change a thing,” Lopes said when asked her interview question by judge and Broadway star Lea Salonga. “I consider myself a woman endowed with inner beauty. I have acquired many wonderful principles from my family and I intend to follow these for the rest of my life.”
Lopes was crowned wearing a strapless cream-colored gown. She replaces last year’s winner, Ximena Navarrete of Mexico.
The first runner-up was 23-year-old Olesia Stefanko of Ukraine, the second runner-up was Priscila Machado of Brazil, and the fourth runner-up was Miss China.
It was the first time that the Philippines won back-to-back in the Miss Universe pageant in the major category.
Last year, Miss Philippines Universe Maria Venus Raj won 4th runner-up in the pageant held in Las Vegas Nevada. This ended an 11-year drought for the Philippines in the beauty contest.
During the question-and-answer portion, actress/producer Vivica Fox asked Supsup: “Would you change your religious beliefs to the person you love and why?’’
Supsup answered: “If I have to change my religious belief, I will not marry the person I love because the first person that I love is God and He created me. And I have my faith, my principles and it what makes me who I am. And if that person loves me, he should love my God.’’
Like Miss Angola, Supsup also received warm reception from the audience for her answer.
The Philippine bet scored high among fans in the swimsuit and evening gown categories. In both categories, Supsup was ranked No. 2.
Supsup’s father, Mr. Timoteo Supsup, said he was not that surprised that his daughter won third runner-up in the pageant since she had the beauty and the brains to make it.
“I was so nervous, but happy when my daughter’s name was announced as the 3rd runner up and even when she was in the top 10 and 5. I believed she’d go home with a crown,” he said in Filipino.
A farmer in General Santos City, Mr. Supsup said he raised his only child with a strong belief and faith in God so he was not surprised with the way she answered in the interview portion of the contest.
As a message to his daughter, Mr. Supsup said: “Thank you for doing your best and giving pride to our country. I’m so proud of you.”
“The Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc. would like to extend its heartfelt congratulations to Ms. Shamcey Supsup who placed third runner up in the recently concluded Miss Universe 2011 pageant. Her dazzling performance and excellent answer, besting more than 80 of the world’s loveliest women, clearly showed the innate beauty, values and intelligence of the Filipina. Indeed, Shamcey’s remarkable finish is a source of honor for Filipinos the world over,’’ said a Tessa Mangahas, Public Relations and Corporate Communications Manager of Araneta Center, Inc.
This year, the pageant slightly introduced a different format, which included the Top 16th slot in the semi-finals.
Contestants from 89 nations on six continents spent the past three weeks in Sao Paulo, trying to learn samba dance steps, visiting impoverished children and kicking a football around for cameras as the globe’s biggest beauty contest is held in Brazil for the first time.
Before the contest began, judges offered little insight into who they thought might win.
“I know my job and I’ll be tough, but fair,” said pageant judge and journalist Connie Chung. “You have to keep in mind that these women are not objects just to be looked at. They’re to be taken seriously. I want to choose somebody I take seriously and the world takes seriously, too.”
Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe organization, was hyped for the night.
“It’s our 60th anniversary, it’s a very big show,” she said. “We’re anticipating close to a billion viewers from around the world.”
In the Philippines, Malacañang was incredibly proud of Miss Supsup’s showing in the pageant despite losing the Miss Universe crown.
Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda hailed Supsup doing the country proud, saying she still emerged victorious in the eyes of Filipinos.
“On behalf of the Filipino people, we are proud of you; and we see even greater things ahead for you,” Lacierda said.
“The humility, intellect, and grace that you exhibited during the competition embodied the spirit of the true Filipina; and, in our eyes, that is the true victory today — that the world stood witness to and found an appreciation for the ideals, values, and beauty that has long characterized our nation,” he added.
Lacierda said they hope the triumph of Supsup would convince other nations to “appreciate not just the beauty of our people, but that of our country.”
He said the President was actually impressed by Supsup’s educational background. Supsup graduated from University of the Philippines as magna cum laude with an architecture degree as well as topped the architecture licensure exams last year.
“He said he congratulates Ms. Supsup for her accomplishment today. She was indeed beauty and brains. That was his description of Ms. Supsup,” Lacierda said.
Lawmakers were equally elated, saying Supsup should be chosen by the Department of Tourism (DoT) as the country’s tourism “magnet,” along with other Filipino world-class icons.
“It would be beautiful if she could join the likes of Manny Pacquiao and Lea Salonga. She made us proud again,” said Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, adding that they should be at the forefront of promoting the country abroad.
“I hope her victory will erase the negative image of the country brought about by Luneta tragedy,” he said.
Resolutions commending Supsup for performance in the international pageant were filed Tuesday at the House of Representatives.
You Against Corruption and Poverty (YACAP) party-list Rep. Carol Lopez echoed Evardone’s sentiments in filing House Resolution 1716 to commend Supsup, whom she described as an “accomplished Filipina.”
South Cotabato and General Santos City Rep. Pedro B. Acharon Jr. filed a similar resolution, said they are set to prepare a red carpet welcome for Supsup, who hails from his city.
“Preparations are underway to welcome her. We are very proud of her,” he said.
Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado-Revilla said she is also filing her resolution to extend her felicitation to Supsup.
But, Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan rejected the proposal of her colleagues in making Supsup as the country’s tourism poster girl.
“For tourism purposes, a beautiful woman should not be used to sell the beauty of our country. This is the old, macho way of promoting places. Our tourism spots can stand in their own without having a woman in a bikini promoting them,” she said.
Vice President Jejomar C. Binay also congratulated Supsup.
“Whatever it is, we’ll have to congratulate her. There were so many contestants and beautiful faces in the pageant,” Binay said. (With reports from Robert R. Requintina, Sheryl L.Miguel, Genalyn D. Kabiling, Charissa M. Luci, and JC Bello Ruiz)
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
It's Miss Angola, but Supsup shines