Former Miss Universe Iris Mittenaere (right) crowns new Miss Universe Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters at the Miss Universe pageant Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017, (Monday, Nov. 27, 2017 in the Philippines) in Las Vegas. (Photo by JOHN LOCHER / AP)
Even before 2017 Miss Universe Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters came to the Philippines, she already heard about the warm Filipino hospitality from her predecessor Iris Mittenaere.
“I heard you all in the crowd (at the Axis Theatre where the pageant was held). I wish I could take a little bit of your passion and just spread it all over the world,” Nel-Peters told the Inquirer at the Dusit Thani Manila hotel in Makati City on Wednesday evening.
“I’ve been wanting to come to the Philippines, it’s my first time. And to do it as Miss Universe is even more special,” she said.
Mittenaere said she had assured Nel-Peters that “it’s wonderful, it’s [going to] be fun. Everybody’s so kind, everybody wants to see you.”
The French beauty was crowned in Manila for the international pageant’s 65th edition in January.
The two queens, along with 2015 winner Pia Wurtzbach, attended a press conference organized by Filipino company Frontrow at the hotel.
Frontrow, headed by theater and film actor RS Francisco, struck a deal with the Miss Universe Organization just last month to help with the pageant’s charity projects.
Aside from the three titleholders, Frontrow also presented 13 other beauties who participated in the recent Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas.
Miss Universe Philippines Rachel Peters appeared with her batchmates from Canada, Spain, the United States, Malaysia, South Korea, Singapore, Russia, Italy, China, the Netherlands, India and Britain.
Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo said the ladies were preselected for the Philippine trip.
“They come from the emerging markets for tourists to the Philippines,” Teo said.
At a special luncheon for Miss Universe fans hosted by the Department of Tourism at the Dusit Thani on Thursday afternoon, Teo said the pageant road show in the country was meant to promote the agency’s “Bring Home a Friend” campaign.