• Maxine steps into Pia Wurtzbach’s big shoes

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    HER TURN TO SHINE Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach (right) crowns Binibining Pilipinas Universe Maxine Medina, who will represent the country in this year’s Miss Universe pageant. PHOTO BY CZEASAR DANCEL

    HER TURN TO SHINE Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach (right) crowns Binibining Pilipinas Universe Maxine Medina, who will represent the country in this year’s Miss Universe pageant. PHOTO BY CZEASAR DANCEL

    THE pressure is on for newly-crowned Binibining Pilipinas-Universe 2016 Maria Mika Maxine Medina.

    Along with the crown that she won is the challenge to achieve the same level of success that reigning Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach has set in the international arena.

    Medina, an interior designer, is by no means a stranger to parading her winning looks on stage.

    A familiar face in the modelling industry, the 25-year-old beauty emerged a strong contender on pageant night even if she was never considered one of the frontrunners among the 40 candidates in this year’s search.

    While the competition was far from easy, her win should not be attributed to pure luck especially with such an esteemed panel of judges –celebrated visual artist Betsy Westendorp, actor Ian Veneracion, Danish Ambassador Jan Top Christensen, ABS-CBN COO Cory Vidanes, Belgian Ambassador Roland Van Remoortele, Miss USA 2015 Olivia Jordan Thomas, Russian Ambassador Igor Anatolyevich, former ambassador Lani Bernardo, ABS-CBN TV production head Lauren Dyogi, youth leader Paolo Roxas and Trade Secretary Adrian Cristobal Jr.

    Medina was also named Miss Philippine Airlines (PAL).

    The rest of the winning candidates were Kylie Verzosa, Bb. Pilipinas-International; Joanna Deapera Eden, Bb. Pilipinas-Supranational; Jennifer Ruth Hammon, Bb. Pilipinas-Intercontinental; Nichole Marie Manalo, Bb. Pilipinas Globe; and Nicole Cordoves, Bb. Pilipinas Grand International.

    As soon as Medina was named the winner, many were quick to react on social media that she pales in comparison to Wurtzback.

    Criticisms mostly pointed to her “unimpressive question and answer skills,” which beyond beauty is a must in the Miss Universe pageant.

    Just as quickly, supporters of the new queen came to Medina’s defense, saying she still has time to correct her perceived weaknesses.

    This is the second time that Medina has joined the Binibining Pilipinas pageant.

    In 2012, she was selected as one of the official candidates for the beauty contest but her name was withdrawn because her endorsement contract conflicted with a major pageant sponsor.

    Before turning over the crown she won on her third try at the beauty pageant, Wurtzbach advised her successor to “give her best.”

    “Behind that beautiful gown, your knees may be trembling like me right now. I’m still not used to it,” she said.

    “And being in front of millions of people is nerve-wracking, but you have to remember that you are proudly wearing a sash that says Philippines. “In your moment of doubt, remember you have the whole country cheering you on.”

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