Filipinos couldn’t be any prouder of Miss Philippines Beatrice Luigi Gomez for making it to the Top 5 of the 70th edition of Miss Universe held at the Universe Dome in Eilat, Israel on Monday, December 13, 2021 and was broadcast locally by A2Z Channel 11 live via satellite.
Eighty promising, gorgeous, and talented women from different parts of world vied for the most coveted crown, which was eventually snagged by Miss India Harnaaz Sandhu.
The prestigious pageant commenced with the invigorating production number of Israeli singer Noa Kirel with the candidates, which was succeeded by the parade of nations done by flashing in alphabetical order the montage of the delegates’ national costume exhibition during the National Costume Show.
Illustrious American television presenter Steve Harvey reprised his role as the host, with American TV personalities Carson Kressley and Cheslie Kryst as correspondents who gave their analyses in each portion of the competition.
Meanwhile, comprising this year’s selection committee were Indian actress Urvashi Ratuela, Filipina actress-host Marian Rivera, American actress Rena Sofer, fashion supermodel Adriana Lima, Miss Universe 2016 Iris Mittenaere, Puerto Rican actress Adamari Lopez, and American model and social media influencer (also Steve’s daughter) Lori Harvey.
With the exceptional performances they exhibited in the preliminary rounds, Clemence Botino of France, Valeria Ayos of Colombia, Nandita Banna of Singapore, Brenda Smith of Panama, Michelle Mare of Puerto Rico, Chantel O’Brian of The Bahamas, Juri Watanabe of Japan, Emma Collingridge of Great Britain, Elle Smith of USA, Harnaaz Sandhu of India, Kim Nguyen of Vietnam, Thessaly Zimmerman of Aruba, Nadia Ferreira of Paraguay, Beatrice Luigi Gomez of Philippines, Luiseth Materan of Venezuela, and Lalela Mswane of South Africa comprised the Top 16 who proceeded to the swimsuit round.
Breaking in to the Top 10 were Paraguay, Puerto Rico, USA, South Africa, India, The Bahamas, Philippines, France, Colombia, and Aruba, who dazzled in their stunning and glimmering numbers as they sashayed onstage while American singer-songwriter JoJo sang a few of her hits during the Evening Gown competition. Miss Nigeria Maristella Okpala was also called back on stage to display her winning national costume designed by Filipino fashion student Kennedy Jhon Gasper.
India, South Africa, Paraguay, Colombia, and Philippines successfully made it to the Top 5, wherein each finalist had to face the question of the judge they randomly drawn from a pool of names and had to answer within 30 seconds.
First off was Miss India, who was asked how she’s going to convince people that climate change is not a hoax.
She related, “Honestly, my heart breaks to see how nature is going through a lot of problems, and it’s all due to our irresponsible behavior. I totally feel like this is the time to take actions and talk less because each action could either kill or save nature. Prevent and protect is better than repent and repair, and this is what I’m trying to convince you guys to do. Thank you.”
Second was Miss South Africa, who shared her thoughts on teenagers being held liable for their malicious posts on social media in the coming years.
“I believe that everybody should be held accountable for their actions, and if a person doesn’t know how to act on social media, they should be canceled. I believe in cancel culture. In the same way, I also believe in redemption culture, and hoping that the person has matured and has learned better, and done better. I hope that they could do better and be redeemed, so I do believe that they can grow and be allowed to do that,” she expounded.
Next was Miss Paraguay, who said, “Our body is our temple, so we must take care of it. Our inner beauty is what really matters. Let us cultivate our inner beauty, so it can reflect our external beauty. Thank you”, when asked how women can best handle body-shaming.
Miss Colombia then uttered how she thinks the world would be different if more women were in-charge of leading the countries, “Women are leaders by nature. We have the power to raise our voice and make transcendental decisions in society as role models, and we can be an example not just with words but with actions. That’s why, women raising their voice as in this platform called Miss Universe, we are taking charge of our lives and deciding what we want to impart to the society in order to make it a better one. Women, let’s raise our voice and make us a better united universe. Thank you.”
Last was Bea, who expressed her agreement on the notion of mandating a universal vaccine passport. She said, “I believe that public health is everyone’s responsibility, and to mandate vaccine inoculation is necessary. If mandating vaccine passports would help us in regulating the rollouts of the vaccine, and mitigate the situation of the pandemic today, then I would agree on mandating the necessary passport of vaccination. Thank you.”
Due to their impressive responses, Miss South Africa, Miss India, and Miss Paraguay were declared the final three who moved on to the last round. They were serenaded by Harel Skaat, Narkis, and Valerie Hamaty as the three of them once again paraded onstage, which was succeeded by Miss Universe 2020 Andrea Meza’s final walk and look back on her reign.
In the last Question and Answer segment, the three remaining finalists were asked by host Steve Harvey the same question, “What advice would you give to young women watching on how to deal with the pressures they face today?”
And among the three retorts, it was Miss India’s statement that stood out the most.
According to her, “Well, I think the biggest pressure the youth of today is facing is to believe in themselves. To know that you are unique and that’s what makes you beautiful. Stop comparing yourselves with others and let’s talk about more important things that’s happening worldwide. I think, this is what you need to understand. Come out, speak for yourself because you are the leader of your life. You are the voice of your own. I believe in myself that’s why I’m standing here today. Thank you!”
This makes 21-year-old Harnaaz Sandhu the third Miss Universe from India, following Sushmitta Sen in 1994 and Lara Dautta in 2000. Meanwhile, this is the first time for Philippines to make it to the Top 5 again since Catriona Gray’s historic win in 2018.