NEW YORK – Excelsa de Jesus of Bronx, New York, won the Miss Republic of the Philippines – International 2018 pageant held at the Grand Ballroom of Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila on January 31, 2018. She topped 4 other contestants from Australia, Canada, and the US. She was Miss Philippines America 2016.
Angel Ram, who performed with de Jesus in a concert early this year, congratulated her immediately. In a post on Facebook, she said: “Very proud of you, never doubted you were a winner from the start! You made all of us very proud.” And to De Jesus’s parents, Ram also wrote: “You guys are amazing! You molded baby girl to the person that she is, all love and blessings to you mama and papa Willy-Diane De Jesus.”
A family friend, Marissa Acapulco, also posted on Facebook: “Congrats my friend Dianne, for having a talented, beautiful, kind, humble daughter like excelsa…you’re much blessed by our God Almighty coz He knows our heart…don’t change, stay as humble as you are…we are here to support her & pray for her more success in life.”
Before winning the coveted crown, de Jesus also bagged the Miss Talent and Advocacy Award. Other overseas contestants were: Leah Alivio of Melbourne, Australia; Adora Jane Bonadeo of Perth, Australia; Jheian Velasco of San Diego, California; and Anna Marie Panganiban of Canada.
According to Vantle.net, an online voting solution used for the pageant, De Jesus received 146,770 votes, followed by Marinel Dizon with 125,960 and placing third, Lana Palting of Paranaque with 30,000.
DJ Chinita Na Pogi, a friend of de Jesus who set up a Facebook page “Ms. Excelsa De Jesus (Fans Club/Supporters)” for her said: “Now she is the Beauty Icon that will inspire more Filipino children to continue dreaming until their dreams become reality, just like her. Congratulations to you our Beauty Queen…We are always here to support you and your advocacy…”
Lynette Padolina, CEO and President of the Mr. and Ms. Republic of the Philippines, said that this year’s competition “is a revolutionary approach to pageantry with emphasis on scholarship for the winners and Philippine pride among the new generation of young Filipinos based here and abroad.”
Added Padolina: “The new Mr. & Ms. RP focuses on education, Philippine heritage, and strengthening Filipino communities around the globe.”
Top winners of the pageant will receive scholarship grants up to P900,000, a cash prize of P100,000, travel opportunities abroad to attend Philippine Independence Day celebrations, wardrobe allowances equivalent to P100,000 and travel to key destinations in the Philippines to foster tourism and culture.
There were 16 male and 19 female candidates who vied for the title. The preliminary stage of the competition was held at the Expo Hall of the Fisher Mall in Quezon City on January 29. The candidates were adjudged according to their performance in three categories — Advocacy Presentation, Talent, and Swimwear.
In an interview with the Philippine News Agency shortly after she arrived in the Philippines, she said that “a nation is only as strong as its people and to build a stronger nation, its people must get the education and opportunities they deserve.”
She also aims to work with local communities, investors, and stakeholders to promote sustainable tourism in the Philippines.
“If I am crowned the next Miss RP, I will be working with local communities, relevant stakeholders and investors, as well as the sectors of the government to address our responsibilities for creating sustainable tourism in the Philippines,” de Jesus said.
Eighteen-year-old de Jesus, who is turning 19 this April, is the youngest child of Willy and Diane de Jesus. Her siblings are John Paul, who is with the U.S. Army and, Christian with the U.S. Air Force according to Rose Adriano, missionary pastor of the International Fellowship Church (IFC) in College Point, New York.
Her parents – Wilfredo (Willy) and Ana Gene (Diane) – are both physical therapists. Her dad is also an assistant pastor at the IFC.
When reached for comments, missionary Adriano said: “Everything happens for a reason for the glory of God. Excelsa is dedicated to her faith and she has a heart for indigent children. Her trip to the Philippines is two-fold: one, to participate in the pageant; and the other, to accomplish her missionary work. She plans to visit children in the Smokey Mountain area and the offices of Bantay Bata before coming back to New York.”
Added Adriano: “They are a very good people, good family, and true servants of the Lord.”
De Jesus describes herself as a virtuoso singer, fashion model, dancer, actor, musician, host/MC, and a pageant titleholder. She was born in Queens and moved to the Bronx when she was very young.
She graduated high school at the La Guardia High School of Music and Performing Arts and plans to take Musical Theater at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City.
At a tender age of 4, she started to sing at a church worship service during a Christmas event without understanding the lyrics. That experience inspired her since.
Over the years, she has performed in several concerts featuring artists from metro New York and from the Philippines. Before leaving for the Philippines for the pageant, she performed at her concert, Lovely, at Don’t Tell Mama in Manhattan, the proceeds of which she was donating to Bantay Bata Foundation. Her guest performers at that event were Angel Ram and Jerome Gentolia with pianist Boby Ramiro.