November 5, 2009

Philippines’ quest for elusive Miss World crown continues

The Philippines’ bet to the 2009 Miss World beauty pageant left Thursday morning for London and South Africa as the country continues its quest for the elusive title in the only major beauty contest that the Philippines has not won.

Marie Ann Umali, 22, of Batangas City, said she has prepared enough for the 58th edition of the beauty pageant.

“I’ve waited long enough and I think I have prepared for the contest,” Umali said during a send-off party at the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City Thursday morning.

Russia’s Ksenia Sukhinova is the current Miss World. Some 120 contestants will compete in the pageant that will begin in London, England on November 7 and will end in Johannesburg on December 13.

During the preliminaries, the candidates will join four fast-track events – sports, beach beauty, top model, and talent – with the winner in each event advancing to the semis.

Of the fast-track competitions, Umali said that she is most interested in beach beauty and top model. She said she will not compete in the talent portion.

It was a redemption for Umali when she won the Bb. Pilipinas World crown in her second try after landing in the semifinals during her first attempt. She won the top two most coveted special titles – Best in Long Gown and Miss Photogenic – on her way to clinching the title.

Umali, a tourism graduate of the De La Salle University-College of St. Benilde, said she trained tirelessly and diligently to pursue her dream of becoming the country’s first Miss World titlist.

Umali stands 5’7” tall and measures 35-25½-36. She plans to pursue a career as a flight attendant prior to putting up a restaurant.

Of all the major beauty contests, only the Miss World crown has yet to be won by the Philippines. The highest the country has achieved was when Evangeline Pascual won first-runner- up in 1973. The winner, Marjorie Wallace of the USA, was later stripped of the title but Pascual was never crowned.

In 1993, Sharmaine “Ruffa” Gutierrez won second runner-up. Other placements were Caroline Subijano (Top 10, 1994), Katherine Anne Manalo (Top 10, 2002), Maria Rafaela Yunon (Top 5, 2003), Maria Karla Bautista (Top 5, 2004) and Carlene Aguilar (Top 15, 2005).

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