Entertainment

For the first time, a Black woman has been crowned as Miss Universe Philippines

Chelsea Manalo, a Filipino American, broke ground as the first Black woman to win the Miss Universe Philippines title. At the competition held in the Asia Arena in Pasay on Wednesday, the 24-year-old, representing the province of Bulacan, located north of Manila, trounced 52 other competitors from all across the archipelago and abroad.

As the competition drew down to the final five, Manalo, the daughter of an African American father and a Filipino mother, was asked on stage how she would utilize her beauty and confidence to empower others.

She boldly replied, “As a woman of color, I have always faced challenges in my life. I was told that beauty has standards, actually,” she said, adding that she was taught to “believe in my mother, to always believe in yourself, uphold the vows that you have.”

“Because of these, I am already influencing a lot of women who are facing me right now,” she said, according to CNN

Despite being bullied in the past because of her skin and hair, Manalo said her family and friends helped her “realize that I am beautiful in my own extraordinary way.”

Now, the trailblazer, who started her modeling career at age 14, will have the opportunity to compete for the Philippines in the Miss Universe pageant, which takes place in Mexico in September.

Netizens lauded her historic victory. One fan said, “You are making your country proud,” while another noted, “I never knew the time will ever come when a woman of color will be crowned as Miss Universe Philippines. Cheers to this change.”

Some Filipinos in recent years have been speaking up to end the obsession with light skin. The idea of being “fair-skinned” is cherished in the Philippines, like in many other Asian cultures. Fair-skinned women are mostly preferred for billboards, commercials on television and movies.

Dollita Okine

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