HOUSTON (July 16) — The Filipina beauty and brains is making waves once more. Not in the Philippines, but in the good ol’ United States of America where the opportunity for a Filipino American to compete and win in a national pageant has not been achieved yet until now.
Aileen Jan Yap, 20, of Houston, Texas was crowned Miss US International at a pageant which took place July 7-10 at the Stafford Conference Centre in her hometown. She represented Texas and succeeds Kelly Best, who was the U.S.’s delegate to the 48th Miss International pageant held at the Venetian Macao Resort in Macau, China.
She was crowned by Miss US International 2007 April Strong. Among the six judges were reigning Mrs. America Maureen McDonald and former Miss Universe Chelsi Smith.
Ms. Wyoming Keri Shaw was fourth runner up; Ms. California Kristy Davis, third runner up; Ms.Michigan Shawna Vale, second runner up and Ms. Florida Lees Darayanne Garcia, first runner up.
Aileen Yap is the daughter of Romeo Sy Yap of Cagayan de Oro City and Virginia Bautista Valdehueza-Yap of Balingasag, Misamis Oriental. Dr. Yap is a psychiatrist, who once served the city-run JR Borja General Hospital. Her mother, who is a nurse, is dierctor and owner of the Virginia’s Lakeview Personal Care Home in Texas. Aileen is the younger of two siblings; his brother, Nathan, 22, has his own successful business career.
“I’ve always wanted to be a doctor, seeing how may parents can help someone else’s life and also seeing how rewarding it is to be able to help someone in need,” she said in an interview with Mindanao News. “I want to specialize in pediatrics because I love kids, being the second youngest cousin, I have a lot of nieces and nephews and being around them help me decide how much I really enjoy being around children.”
A.J., as she is fondly called by her family, won over 15 semi-finalists and will represent the U.S. in the 49th Miss International pageant to be held in Japan later this year. She also won all preliminary competitions — she was awarded with the “Best in Swimsuit” and the “Best Evening Gown”.
A.J. graduated as the Most Outstanding Student at the Sacred Heart School in Conroe, Texas. She is a junior pre-med student at the University of St. Thomas in Houston majoring in Biology.
Miss International is the fourth largest beauty pageant in the world. Philippines has had four titleholders, namely: Gemma Cruz Araneta (1965); Aurora Pijuan (1970); Melanie Marquez (1979); and Precious Lara Quigamon (2005).
In this year’s competition, Aileen Jan Yap will face Philippines’ representative, Melody Gersbach, 23, a Filipino-German beauty from Daraga, Albay. She is a graduate of the University of Asia and the Pacific with a degree in Management. She was born in Germany but her mother hails from the Bicol Region, where Gersbach manages the family restaurant in Albay. She also holds the title of Miss Bicolandia 2008.