Valerie Hernandez Matias of Puerto Rico won Miss International 2014 on Tuesday at the Grand Prince Hotel in Tokyo, Japan. She bested 72 other finalists from around the world.
Filipina Bea Rose Santiago, who was 2013’s titleholder, crowned the 21-year-old Latina beauty.
Miss Colombia Zuleika Suarez finished second place, and also bagged the Miss Friendship and Best in Long gown awards.
Rounding up the Top 5 were Miss Thailand Punika Kulsoontornrut, third place; Miss United Kingdom Victoria Charlotte Tooby fourth place; and Miss Finland Milla Romppanen, fifth place.
Now on its 54th edition, Miss International is unique among other beauty pageants in a way because there is no question and answer portion given to candidates. Instead, the Top 5 finalists are asked to give a speech on what they will do if they won the crown.
Matias’ said, “I think [Miss International] is not just crown, it’s not just the title. It’s one of the hardest responsibilities. As Miss International, I want to send a message of love, peace, and unity.” The newly crowned beauty is a student back in Puerto Rico.
Meanwhile, the Philippines’ representative, Mary Ann Bianca Guidotii, had an early finish in the competition. She failed to earn a slot in the pageant’s Top 10, which is somewhat an upset for Filipinos hoping for a back-to-back win at Miss International.
Had Guidoti won, she would have given the country its sixth Miss International crown. Besides Santiago, previous Filipina winners include Gemma Cruz Araneta (1964), Aurora Pijuan (1970), Melanie Marquez (1979), Precious Lara Quigaman (2005).
Other special awards during the pageant were given to Miss Indonesia Elfin Pertiwi Rappa, Best in National Costume; Miss France Aurianne Sinacola, Best in Swimsuit; while Miss India Jhataleka Malhotra topped the online voting category, which won for her the Miss Internet Beauty title.