Miss Philippines’ Janine Mari Tugonon Almost Made It

by Joseph G. Lariosa


CHICAGO (jGLi) – Miss Philippines Janine Mari Tugonon nearly delivered her surprise Christmas gift to the Filipino people when she ended up being the first runner-up to Miss Universe 2012 Olivia Culpo of Rhode Island during the coronation night in Las Vegas, Nevada Wednesday (Dec. 19).

During the pre-pageant interview beamed during the pageant, the 23-year-old pharmacy graduate from Balanga, Bataan disclosed, “If I win, it’s like I give the Philippines hope and happiness and Christmas gift this coming Dec. 25.”



But what impressed the judges more was her answer to the final question fielded to her by judge Nigel Barker: “As an international ambassador, do you believe that speaking English is a prerequisite to be Miss Universe? Why or why not?” Her answer: “For me, being Miss Universe is not just about knowing how to speak a specific language, it’s about being able to influence and inspire other people. So, whatever language you have as long as your heart is deserving and you have a strong mind to show to people, then you can be Miss Universe.”

A Philippine-flag bearing contingent of Filipino well-wishers inside Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino burst into wild applause when Miss Culpo was announced as the winner of Miss Universe, awarding Miss Tugonon the first-runner up honors.

In the semi-final round, Filipinos were on the edge of their seats when Miss Tugonon was the 10th and final pick. But Miss Tugonon came back strong when she was the second pick in the final five after the swimsuit and gown competition segments.

Rounding up the top five are Miss Venezuela Irene Sofia Esser Quintero, Miss Australia Renae Ayris and Miss Brazil Gabriela Markus.

Miss Culpo was asked if she had ever done something she regretted. Her answer: “I’d like to start off by saying that every experience no matter what it is, good or bad, you’ll learn from it. That’s just life,” she said. “But something I’ve done I’ve regretted is probably picking on my siblings growing up, because you appreciate them so much more as you grow older.”

Miss Tugonon becomes the second Miss Philippines first runner in the Miss Universe pageant after Miriam Redito Quiambao, who won the honor in 1999.

Only two other Filipinas had won the Miss Universe title: Gloria Diaz in 1969 and Margie Moran in 1973. The Philippines had won three third-runners up, two fourth-runners-up honors and eight became semi-finalists in the past.

Miss Universe has prohibited transsexual applicants and age fabrication. But beginning in 2012, transgendered women have been allowed to compete. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)


FINAL TWO — Miss Philippines Janine Mari Tugonon (right) must be very thrilled to be one of the two remaining contestants along with Miss USA Olivia Culpo who would be chosen as the 2012 Miss Universe beauty pageant winner last Wednesday (Dec. 19) night inside Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada in the final moments of the competition. Miss Tugunon later placed first runner up to Miss USA Olivia Culpo of Rhode Island, who beat out contestants from 88 countries, to win the 2012 Miss Universe.

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