24-year-old bet already in ‘Beauty With A Purpose’ semi-finals’ Top 20
The closest the Philippines came to winning Miss World after Megan Young first claimed the crown in 2013 was only last year, when Catriona Gray delivered a Top 5 finish.
An image of Gray clutching the Philippine flag in near tears after failing to make it to the Top 3 is still fresh in the minds of pageant fans this side of the world. So is their online protest following the result maintaining Gray should have at least been named First or Second Princess after Puerto Rico’s Stephanie Del Valle was proclaimed Miss World 2016.
Given the recap, it is certain that all eyes will be on tonight’s pageant finals as Miss World-Philippines 2017 Laura Lehmann vies for the elusive blue crown all the say in Sanya, China.
A former courtside reporter for Ateneo de Manila during the 77th and 78th seasons of the UAAP (University Athletic Association of the Philippines), and consequently host of ABS-CBN Sports and Action’s “Upfront at the UAAP,” Lehmann’s first foray into pageantry was during the 2014 Binibining Pilipinas edition where she placed First Runner-Up.
Miss World, now on its 67th year, is somehow different from any other beauty contest. Seeing through its tagline, “Beauty With A Purpose,” candidates who win specified tracks during pre-pageant automatically advance to the semi-finals.
As such, days before coronation night, Miss Nigeria was first announced as winner of the “Fast Track Model Challenge,” which means she is assured of a Top 40 placement and exposure on stage. Next assured of Top 40 placements are Talent Winner Miss Malta and Sportswoman Final Winner Miss Dominican Republic.
Still to be determined are winners of the Multimedia Fast Track and Beauty With A Purpose, the latter of which already has Lehman in the running as one of Top 20 semi-finalists. She posted the good news herself on her Instagram account and the official Miss World-Philippines Facebook page: “Top 20! We made it as Top 20 Semi-Finalist for Beauty With A Purpose at @missworld! Ahh! This was the most important for me. And this is what makes Miss World so different from the rest! Have you watched the video of my project, Philippines?”
She then invited the public to watch the link on her bio, which shows her in action, organizing a milk bank for the Pediatric Ward of Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center in Sta. Cruz, Manila. There, she explained her advocacy to help mothers unable to produce enough breast milk for their babies or afford pasteurized milk in various ways.
Through Lehman’s efforts, the ward now has a milk pasteurizer—an ultra low freezer where breast milk donations can be stored for months—and mechanical breast pumps to make it easier for the mothers to get their milk production going.
While looking at a newborn baby, Lehman touchingly said on the video, “You don’t choose where you were born, but you can choose what you do with your life. And you can choose to help. And I know that as Miss World Philippines, I’m not Superwoman, I can’t change the world, but maybe if we just do the little things, then at the end it makes a difference,” she said.
The Beauty With A Purpose segment takes up almost half of a candidate’s total score by the end of the pageant.
Bolstered by her well-received Beauty with a Purpose advocacy, a look back at Lehman’s question-and-answer performance when she won the Miss World-Philippines crown will hearten pageant fans of her chance in bringing home the ultimate title.
Asked what she would say to non-believers of beauty pageants, the articulate beauty replied, “To anyone who doesn’t believe in pageants, I would ask them to take a look at the girls that we had on stage tonight. Because we have lawyers, we have architects—we have women of substance who are here today, not only because of what they look like, but also because of what’s in their heart, what’s in their mind, and because they brought forth ‘Beauty With A Purpose’ projects. They are here fighting to represent the Philippines and become the best version of a Filipina. And to me, that is something to celebrate, not protest.”
Crowned along with Lehmann on September 3 at the Mall of Asia Arena was Teresita Ssen “Winwyn” Marquez, who won the Reina Hispanoamericana crown as the very first Filipina and Asian to join the pageant in Bolivia on November 5.