After a strong showing this pageant season, the Philippines failed to secure a back-to-back victory in the Miss International pageant in Tokyo, Japan, as the country’s representative Mariel de Leon missed the cut in the finals staged on Tuesday afternoon.
The crown went to a Southeast Asian neighbor, Kevin Liliana, Indonesia’s first Miss International winner who was also awarded as “Best Dresser.” She was crowned by Kylie Verzosa of the Philippines, Miss International 2016.
Curacao’s Chanelle De Lau finished second, followed by Venezuela’s Diana Croce.
Australia’s Amber Dew, who was Miss Perfect Body, finished fourth, while host delegate Natsuki Tsutsui, the Miss National Costume, finished in fifth place
In a statement, the Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc. said it “wishes to extend our deepest gratitude to [De Leon] for representing the country at this year’s Miss International pageant. She has exemplified true grace and beauty every step of the way.”
Two other Southeast Asian neighbors cracked the Top 15 – Laos and Thailand.
Curiously, only two of the “continental queens” earlier proclaimed advanced to the semifinals – the United Kingdom (Europe), and Ghana (Africa).
Miss International continental queens Korea (Asia), Bolivia (Americas), and New Zealand (Oceania) failed to advance to the semifinals.
De Leon, daughter of actors Christopher de Leon and Sandy Andolong, suffered the same fate as the successors of two former Filipino Miss International winners.
After Precious Lara Quigaman’s victory in 2005, her Binibining Pilipinas successor, Denille Lou Valmonte, missed the semifinals.
Bianca Guidotti also failed to advance to the next round of competition in 2014, a year after Bea Rose Santiago became the Philippines’ fifth Miss International winner.
No country has ever won twice in a row in the Japan-based international beauty pageant.
Filipino beauty Kylie Verzosa won last year, making her the sixth Filipino to bag the crown.
The Philippines has the second most number of wins in the Miss International pageant, bowing only to Venezuela with seven wins.
De Leon’s Binibining Pilipinas sisters had earlier copped podium finishes in their respective pageants. Nelda Ibe was first runner-up in the Miss Globe competition in Albania, while Elizabeth Clenci was second runner-up in the Miss Grand International contest in Vietnam.
The Philippines also scored double victories on Nov. 4 when Karen Ibasco ruled the Miss Earth stage at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, and Teresita Ssen Winwyn Marquez dominated the Reina Hispanoamericana arena in Bolivia.
Ibasco is the fourth Filipino queen to wear the Miss Earth crown, while Marquez is the first Asian to be crowned Reina Hispanoamericana.
The coming weeks will be busy for pageant fans.
The Miss World pageant will culminate in China on Nov. 18, and so will the Miss Global tilt in Cambodia.
The two contests will be followed by the Miss Universe competition in Las Vegas on Nov. 26 (Nov. 27 in Manila), and the Miss Asia Pacific International in the Philippines on Nov. 29.
The Miss Supranational pageant will be held in Poland on Dec. 1 (Dec. 2 in Manila), followed by the Miss Tourism International in Malaysia on Dec. 16.
The final pageant for the year will be the Miss Intercontinental contest in Sri Lanka on Dec. 21. /atm