The Miss Universe Philippines Candidates Ranked

Miss Universe Philippines candidates' national costumes from 2006 to 2015

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Miss Universe mania is not yet over. The whole nation is still on a high with our latest and third Miss Universe from the Philippines, the #ConfidentlyBeautiful with a heart, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach. It took us 42 Miss Universe Philippines candidates before we found one that would bring the Miss Universe crown home. Amiciness took a look back at the 10 most recent Philippine representatives to Miss Universe, starting with our 2006 rep. Who reigned supreme and climbed to the top? (Oops sorry! Wrong franchise. 😉 ) Here are the 10 most recent Miss Universe Philippines candidates ranked. Starting with…

#10: Jennifer Barrientos (2008)

To be completely honest, I actually had a hard time looking her up. I guess that’s just how uneventful 2008 was in terms of beauty pageants. She did not place in the semi-finals nor won any special awards in the Miss Universe pageant held in Vietnam. Fun fact: Lady Gaga performed “Just Dance” during the swimsuit competition that year. (Pardon the super low-res video. It was 2008 after all. LOL!)

Pageant fans should remember that year, if only for the national costume that year. Que horror!

WTF is up with this national costume? (Missosology via Starmometer)
WTF is up with this national costume? (Missosology via Starmometer)

#9: Bianca Manalo (2009)

No awards or semi-finals placement here either. Her national costume is said to be the precursor to MJ’s 2014 national costume. You be the judge:

Nightmare fuel (via Norman's blog)
Nightmare fuel (via Norman’s blog)

Her loss at the Miss Universe pageant did not stop her, however, from entering local showbiz. She has starred in multiple drama series and variety shows in the Philippines, but is most popularly known now as one of the actors in the hit primetime romantic comedy series On The Wings of Love with Nadine Lustre and James Reid playing lead.

#8: Lia Ramos (2006)

Still no placement but at least she’s no clapper (that’s a beauty pageant term for girls that joined but did not win an award or placed in the semis and/or finals). She won Miss Photogenic via a global online vote thanks to the country’s fervent Filipino pageant fans.

#7: Anna Theresa Licaros (2007)

As in 2006, the Philippines won the Miss Photogenic award again… and the last one so far. She was the epitome of beauty and brains: she graduated Summa Cum Laude in BA Communications, salutatorian in the University of the Philippines College of Law, passed the Bar Exams, and passed the Philippine Foreign Service Exams. Whew! What a list of credentials! After her reign she became a television host and presenter, and is now a news reporter on TV5.

#6: MJ Lastimosa (2014)

After the Philippines went all the way to the final five 4 years in a row, MJ’s Top 10 placement was kinda disappointing, to say the least. Filipino pageant fans blamed the dismal Barraza-designed gowns that MJ had to wear. I don’t think anyone can forget that national costume. The netizens had a field day making meme pics on that one.

#NeverAgain (via GMA News)
#NeverAgain (via GMA News)

#5: Shamcey Supsup (2011)

The Philippines was slowly inching its way to the top. From 4th runner-up last year, Shamcey Supsup excelled in 2011 with a 3rd runner-up finish. She was even invited back in 2012 by the Miss Universe Organization to host a web series chronicling the events behind the scenes of the Miss Universe pageant. Shamcey now co-hosts a lifestyle/talk show on CNN Philippines, and is now married and recently had a child (congrats!) with his longtime boyfriend.

#4: Venus Raj (2010)

2010 was the year when the Philippines rose again to prominence in the Miss Universe competition. After a decade of being clappers, with our last placement being 1999’s Miss Universe 1st runner-up Miriam Quiambao, here struts Venus Raj to wow us all and blow our minds. She finished a respectable 4th runner-up in her year.

Pageant experts pegged her to have a great chance at winning it all… until that dreaded final question. International media even focused on Venus’ being “Miss Perfect” because of her answer to this question: “What was one big mistake you’ve made in your life, and what did you do to make it right?”

What everyone should have focused on though is that she didn’t even answer the question and managed to slip in a greeting or pabati to her family. That was what made it so funny to me. It’s a typical Filipino thing when a camera is pointed your way. Back home though, everyone latched on to the “major major” slip and became a popular meme. (Did memes even exist back then?)

As if that wasn’t enough controversy, even before the Miss Universe pageant, her being the country’s Miss Universe representative was questioned. The Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc. (BPCI) almost dethroned her due to a clerical error in her birth certificate, calling into question her being Filipina, thus her eligibility to become the Philippines’ representative. Good thing that was resolved!

And we’re down to our Top 3. We are going to announce the second runner-up first. The second runner-up on our ranking of the 10 most recent Miss Universe Philippines candidates is… *suspenseful music*

Miss Universe Philippines 2013 Ariella Arida
Our 2nd runner-up! (Missosology, International Business Times UK)

2nd Runner-up: Ariella Arida (2013)

Before Pia brought the fierce, Ariella Arida had it in spades. She almost did not make it to the semi-finals, if not for an extra 16th spot for the girl who won the global fan vote. In short, she got lucky. At least that’s what the organizers wanted us to believe.

What I remember most about Miss Universe that year was how Jeannie Mai low-key threw shade at our representative and her gown. Case in point: “She [Ariella] holds a degree in chemistry, which she plans to develop—check this out—her own line of organic fragrances.” I can detect the sarcasm in your voice, Jeannie! And my personal favorite: to describe Ariella’s gown during the evening gown competition, Jeannie says:

Apparently, “Yellow is the color of joy” is her go-to description for the color. That’s all Jeannie can say about our gown. Can’t blame her though. Almost everyone was stunned by that Barraza-designed yellow serpentina gown—not because we loved it, but because we freaking loathed it. It was the wrong color for her skin tone, and it was the wrong cut that didn’t flatter her body. This prompted Filipinos to rally for a Filipino designer to make the evening gown for our Philippine representative. It isn’t until two years later that we finally get to witness that.

Is it Pia Wurtzbach or Janine Tugonon?
Is it Pia Wurtzbach or Janine Tugonon?

We’re down to two girls. Miss Universe Philippines 2015 Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach and Miss Universe Philippines 2012 Janine Tugonon. In the event that the winner is unable to fulfill her duties as Miss Universe, the first runner-up will—you know the rest of it.

And the number 1 on our ranking of the 10 most recent Miss Universe Philippines candidates is… *even more suspenseful music*

Miss Universe Philippines 2015 Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach
Miss Universe! (, Miss Universe Official)

Miss Universe Philippines: Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach (2015)

What a non-surprise. LOL! She is our most recent Miss Philippines representative and she is our most recent Miss Universe. Filipina-German Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach nailed the walk and the talk. This was the year when both the national costume and the evening gowns were proudly Philippine-made, both of which Pia carried with grace, poise and fierceness. She nailed both rounds of question and answer confidently beautiful with a heart.

It was a long journey to the crown for Pia. She wanted it so much that she joined the Binibining Pilipinas competition three times. She won 1st runner-up in 2013, but, desiring the Miss Universe Philippines title, she resigned from her post to join again the following year. Her 2014 placement was worse, managing to only make it to the Top 15. Many pageant fans blamed her answering the Q&A in Tagalog for her loss. (To be clear, the judge, Senator Sonny Angara, asked his Q&A question in Tagalog, however the jury included non-Tagalog-speaking foreigners who definitely did not understand her answer.) In her third year she finally won the spot to be the Philippines’ Miss Universe representative. Third time’s the charm for Pia, and the rest, as they say, is beautiful history.

Miss Universe Philippines 2012 Janine Marie Tugonon
First runner-up (Missosology)

1st Runner-up: Janine Tugonon (2012)

Side note: see how weird this is—announcing Miss Universe first and then announcing the first runner-up. There’s no rhyme or reason to it, and as you already know it leads to a global media frenzy and shattered dreams. HAHA!

Prior to 2015, when Pia won Miss Universe, this year, 2012, was a particularly painful year for Filipino pageant fans. Everyone believed that Janine had it in the bag. Her impeccable answer to the final Q&A gave all of us pageant fans hope that it was the year that the Philippines will become victorious. Alas it was not. Miss USA Olivia Culpo ultimately won the crown.

Before being Miss Universe Philippines in 2012, she actually already won a spot to compete in an international beauty pageant previously. I guess she really wanted the Miss Universe crown as she resigned from being 1st runner-up to be eligible to join again. (Funny enough, MJ Lastimosa was the other runner-up, also resigning and joining the following year.) That ultimately was a wise decision as she came that close to winning the Miss Universe crown.

Do you agree with my ranking? How would you rank the Miss Universe Philippines candidates? Who is your favorite Filipina beauty queen? Sound off in the comments below, and vote in our poll.

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