“This is the best Christmas ever!”
That’s how Miss International 2013 Bea Rose Santiago described her Christmas.
“Spend your Christmas bigger than yourself,” she added.
The country’s fifth Miss International titleholder feels blessed and ecstatic about her victory at the international beauty pageant until now.
Her happiness radiated during her homecoming press conference, held at the Gateway Araneta Center in Quezon City on December 22.
She expressed her gratitude to Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc. (BPCI) chairperson Madame Stella Marquez Araneta for all the support.
Aside from Madame Stella, Bea was welcomed by fellow beauty queens Precious Lara-Quigaman, Pia Wutzbach, and Ariella Arida.
They were all one in saying that Bea rightfully deserved the crown.
"She is the epitome of the beauty queen—beautiful face, gorgeous physique, genuine heart, and strong presence,” says Pia, Binibining Pilipinas 2013 first runner-up.
Ariella, on the other hand, admires her friend Bea for “being natural” and “sobrang lakas ng energy.”
She told the press about Bea's religiousness and her regular visit to the Baclaran Church every Wednesday.
“Walang palyang mag-pray everyday. Ayun, nakita siguro ni God,” says the Miss Universe 2013 third runner-up.
Meanwhile, Precious Lara, who won the Miss International title in 2005, is hats off to Bea’s humility.
This she proved when Bea asked for her blessing before flying to Tokyo, Japan for the pageant. This happened at the first birthday party of Lara's son Noah Lamar Alcaraz.
“Sobrang humble niya, isa iyon sa mga reason kung bakit siya nanalo,” Lara said.
Madame Stella also reaffirmed Lara’s praise on Bea: “She’s humble, very positive about life and about doing the right thing,” beams the beauty impresario.
IMMEDIATE PLANS. The 23-year-old lass from Masbate said that no homecoming event has yet been planned in her hometown; but expressed her desire to instead help the province’s third district, which was also hit by the super typhoon Yolanda last November.
As for her other plans, Bea is taking one step at a time depending on the activities related to her reign as Miss International.
But definitely, she wants to invite her runners-up Nathalie den Debber of Netherlands and Casey Radley of New Zealand to visit the areas hit by the super typhoon early next year.
DAY ONE AS MISS INTERNATIONAL. Bea recalled her momentous stint during the pageant in Tokyo.
She said she never expected that her competitors would be so nice to her, and that she was even surprised by the reactions of her fellow candidates when she won the title.
“There were no bitterness, there was just happiness!”
After her coronation, she started her official duties as the new Miss International the following day.
Part of her itinerary included lunch with the Philippine Ambassador to Japan Manuel Lopez at a restaurant where the hit movie Kill Bill was filmed.
Her excitement shot up when she learned that her framed photo would be hung alongside the photos of other global icons who have been to the cozy diner.
After the said lunch, a photo shoot with the runners-up followed suit.
Then, capping the first day of duty was a courtesy dinner with the new organizers of the Miss International pageant.
Another unforgettable moment was meeting her idol Miss International 2008 Alejandra Andreu of Spain.
Such personal acquaintance would turn out as prelude to her receiving the crown from Andreu herself, who was tasked to replace last year’s winner Ikumi Yoshimatsu of Japan, in the coronation ceremonies after the latter was dethroned due to an alleged case of harassment and intimidation.
Despite the controversy, Bea was not dragged into the fiasco.
She says that she admires the organizing committee for how they handled the situation.
The newest Pinay pride also expressed her admiration for the Japanese culture and values, particularly the way they respect the elderly, and utter patience and discipline.
Meanwhile, her beautiful triumph serves as a new inspiration to the Filipinos.
“Be beautiful,” says Bea.