A message of unity has helped a 25-year-old Filipina-British beauty from Camarines Sur win the Miss Universe Philippines crown.
Rachel Peters, who has a Bachelor of Business, Tourism, and Events from La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, is an event organiser who has worked with such big names as Katy Perry and Christina Aguilera.
The 5-foot-9-inch candidate was asked what she would say to Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders if she had been invited to speak at the recent Manila summit.
The question from the European Union Ambassador Franz Jessens — one of the judges — was: “This week, the Philippines hosted ASEAN Summit. If you were invited to speak, what would have been your message to the leaders?”
She answered: “I believe that one of the biggest problems that our country faces today is divisiveness — in politics, in religion and also in culture.
“And I believe that is something that is the same across the world, and so that is something that I would want to address. I believe that when people can learn to tolerate each other’s differences and respect each other’s opinions, then we will just be a stronger nation and world.”
Rachel also won the Best in Swimsuit Award, the Face of Binibini Award (Miss Photogenic) and the Jag Denim Queen Special Award.
Prior to winning Miss-Universe Philippines, Peters, who is in a relationship with Camarines Sur Governor Migz Villafuerte, also participated in the 2014 Miss World Philippines pageant, where she was named Fourth Princess.
Speaking after the pageant, Rachel said: “It’s a dream come true. I have no words. I am so happy and I’m so grateful for all the people who helped me along the way.
“This year everyone told us that it’s a very level playing field. So, it was very hard for them to tell who’s going to win.
“Backstage we were all holding hands, we were all praying. I’m really, really happy.”
The runners up were Charmaine Elima, who won first runner up, and Kristel Guelos, who came in second runner up.
The Philippines has won the Miss Universe pageant three times making it — along with Sweden — the country with the fourth highest number wins behind the US, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico.