Bringing home the 3rd runner-up title from the Miss Universe 2013 Pageant, Miss Philippines Ariella Arida declared that she had the time of her life.
At her homecoming press conference two days after the coronation night, Arida excitedly recounted her wonderful experiences at Moscow, Russia where the world’s most prestigious beauty pageant concluded on November 10 (Manila time).
Arida first shared how thrilled yet nervous she was when she finally made the first cut of the competition to the Top 16.
“When the Top 16 was about to be announced, I was already very nervous. I was waiting for the camera to focus on me because during rehearsal, that was our cue. Just when the 16th slot was about to be called, [popular bets]Miss Russia and Miss Poland were still with the rest of us, so I prayed hard, ‘Lord, please give this to me, focus the camera on me,” Arida related in Filipino. “I was so relieved when the camera finally pointed at me!”
After the Top 16 candidates were selected, the glamorous evening gown competition followed where Arida wore a bright yellow tube mermaid dress. Filipinos who watched the show online and on television had mixed reactions to the very simple floor length number, which was first revealed at pre-pageant events. Some loved it while others gave it a thumbs-down.
Asked what she personally thought of the controversial gown, Arida replied, “I actually really liked it because the gown fit me well. It made my waist look like it was only 21 inches! My skin tone stood as well, and while I walked, it seemed to move on that I didn’t need to exert too much effort on swaying my hips. I really loved my gown.”
Arida’s confidence during the evening gown competition, combined with her high scores from the bikini competition, paid off pushing her to the final Top 5. At that point she recalled, “I just said, ‘Lord, Ikaw na ang bahala kung anong ibibigay Ninyo sa akin. Hindi ko Kayo kukwestyuhin kung anong ibibigay Mo.’
“So when He made me third runner up, I was already very happy. To make it that far was already a victory for me.”
What can she say then to those who still believe she should have won the crown?
“Nakakataba ng puso kapag naririnig ko sa ibang tao na yon ang sinasabi nila. Even the Russians would also tell me, ‘You’re my number 1!’ after the competition,” she joyfully remarked.
The 62nd edition of the Miss Universe pageant that ran for a month from October to November had many pre-pageant activities, which included runway shows, fund-raising charities, and photo and video shoots. All of these, according to Arida, were very memorable to her.
But just like the pageant itself, the Filipino beauty also has her Top 4 favorites among the non-stop events before coronation night.
“The first is being part of the Russian Fashion Week, which was very big event. Every model dreams to be part of that and it was the first thing we did when we arrived in Moscow,” she began.
“Second best is the commercial shoot for Mercedes Benz because it was my first time to ride a car like that!
“The third is the music video shoot with Emin, and finally, I will always cherish the charity event we held for cancer patients.”
Amid the hustle and bustle of activites, the stunning Alaminos, Laguna native also found new friends among her fellow contenders. She became very close to Miss Canada Riza Santos, who is half-Filipina, who worried with her when they learned about the devastation from Typhoon Yolanda.
Arida also counts Miss Spain Patricia Yurena Rodriguez, and Miss Universe 2013, Venezuelan Gabriela Isler as her gal pals during the month-long experience.
A winner in every sense of the word, Ariella Arida has indeed returned to the Philippines looking like a queen even without the Miss Universe crown. She did her best for country, and in the process, enriched herself with every moment of the once-in-a-lifetime experience of representing the country in the most prestigious beauty pageant in the world.