Hopes were high for the Philippines’ Rachel Peters who advanced to the Top 10 of the 2017 Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas, Nevada Monday morning (Sunday night, US time). Just as quickly, however, the biggest night of her life came to an end when she failed to make it to the Top 5, stunning as she was in her ash blue long gown by designer Val Taguba.
Crowned Miss Universe was Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters from South Africa, who bested First Runner-Up Miss Colombia Laura Gonzalez, and Second Runner-Up Miss Jamaica Davina Bennett. Nel-Peters succeeded 2016’s winner Iris Metenaere of France, who was crowned in Manila in January.
Even before the pageant ended Binibining Pilipinas Charities Incorporated (BPCI) chairman Stella Marquez Araneta issued the organization’s congratulatory statement on Facebook, lauding Peters “for her phenomenal representation of the country in this year’s Miss Universe pageant.”
“The Universe is not livelier with you as a shining star. More than your poise and beauty, you are a cut above the rest with your grace and elegance that exemplifies a true woman of substance and an inspiring Filipina. We are proud to be a part of your journey,” Araneta said.
Filipino fans and supporters, touted as the most avid followers of the pageant, shared the same sentiments. (See related story).
This year saw a new system in choosing the first set of finalists or the Top 16. Landing a spot were four candidates from three geographical groups, while the remaining four (regardless of geographical representation) were chosen as “wild cards.”
From Africa and Asia-Pacific, the finalists were Thailand, Sri Lanka, Ghana and South Africa; from Europe, Spain, Ireland, Croatia and Great Britain, and finally from the Americas were Colombia, USA, Brazil and Canada.
Peters was chosen as one of the wild cards along with Venezuela, Jamaica and China.
The Top 16 then advanced to the Swimsuit Competition, and the candidates were whittled down to the Top 10 with Venezuela, USA, Canada, South Africa, Spain, Brazil, Colombia, Thailand, Jamaica, and the Philippines.
Peters was unable to take part in any question-and-answer portion, as they were only given out to the Top 5, and again the Top 3.
No clear advocacy
As Filipinos began moving on from Peter’s loss at the Miss Universe pageant, some observers were quick to note that as beautiful, graceful and confident the half-British-half Filipino candidate was, she seem to have paled in comparison with the winners in terms of advocacy.
Nel-Peters, who had been held at gunpoint and robbed, took her advocacy for self-defense among women to the pageant, while others talked about championing the deaf, mental health and HIV Awareness among other weighty issues.
The 2017 Miss Universe Pageant was held at The Axis, Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, the same venue where host Steve Harvey fumbled in announcing Pia Wurtzbach as the winner in 2015.