Celeste Cortesi, 24, was crowned Miss Universe Philippines Saturday night, becoming the first Filipino of Italian descent to win the pageant. She will represent the country in the Miss Universe pageant in December.
Cortesi, a 5-foot-8 model who represented the Philippines in Miss Earth 2018, was crowned by outgoing winner Beatrice Luigi Gomez during the glitzy finale at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Cortesi nailed the title with her spontaneous answer to the final question asked by 2015 Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach: “If you could stop time for a day, how would you spend it?”
“If I could stop time, I would spend it with my family, especially my mother,” she said. “It’s been two years since I haven’t spent time with my family because they live in Italy, and I came here to the Philippines just by myself. If I had a chance to spend one day, I would definitely be with my mom, and I would just tell her how much I love her and I miss her.”
Earlier in the evening, Cortesi won Best in Swimsuit and Miss Photogenic.
Michelle Dee, daughter of Miss International 1979 Melanie Marquez and actor Derek Dee, who won Best in Long Gown, was named Miss Universe Philippines Tourism 2022, while Pauline Amelinckx was named Miss Universe Philippines Charity 2022. Annabelle Mae McDonnell and Ma. Katrina Llegado finished as 1st and 2nd runners-up, respectively.
Cortesi, who was born in Pasay to a Filipina from Camarines Sur and an Italian father who was born in Venezuela, but grew up in Rome, Italy, has always maintained that she is Filipina at heart, saying it’s in her blood.
Ghenesis Latugat, Lou Dominique Piczon, Chantal Elise Schmidt, Julia Calleja Saubier and Vanessa Ann Caro rounded out the Top 10 finalists.
Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach, Miss Universe 2016 Iris Mittenaere and Miss Universe 2017 Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters-Tebow hosted the live show with performances by Morissette, Bamboo Mañalac, Sam Concepcion, Arthur Nery, JM Bales and American Idol finalist Francisco Martin.
Reigning Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu served as one of the judges with Francis Padua Papica, Tonee Co See, Margarita Gutierrez, Richelle Singson Michael, Sam Versoza, Lia Andrea Moss, RS Francisco, Jennifer Olay and Joshua Sorrentino.