The incredible journey of Miss Universe 2016 first runner-up Raquel Pelissier

by Karen A.P. Caliwara
Jan 30, 2017
Miss Universe 2016 first runner-up Raquel Pelissier in her national costume and long evening gown

Victory has many faces.

All were happy for Miss France Iris Mittenaere for bagging the Miss Universe 2016 title.

And Miss Haiti Raquel Pelissier won hearts for her first runner-up finish.

It was the second time for a Haiti candidate to finish in top two overall in the prestigious pageant. The last was in 1975.

And out of the 14 times the country sent a representative to the pageant, only three made it to top 15.

Truly, Raquel Pelissier's win was big deal for Haiti.

The 5'11" stunner herself hurdled a lot of struggles to accomplish the feat.

Late last year, her sponsors backed out after hurricane Matthew hit Haiti in October and left massive destruction and deaths.

Raquel sought financial help to join the Miss Universe pageant in the Philippines via GoFundMe, a do-it-yourself fundraising online site.

Her appeal read, "In the midst of post Hurricane Matthew, a lot of sponsors have pulled out on us to support other causes.

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"Therefore, Miss Haiti Organization finds itself struggling financially to participate in Miss Universe 2016.

"Thus, we seek your support in helping us, and Miss Haiti Universe 2016, Raquel Pelissier, reach our goals."

Two days before the pageant, she posted on Instagram her gratitude to her benefactors: "Masaya akong nakarating dito sa Miss Universe."

The 25-year-old beauty queen was also a survivor of the magnitude-seven earthquake in Haiti in 2010.

On the pageant's coronation night, during the question-and-answer portion, she looked back to the traumatic experience as the "failure that made a mark in her life."

She said, "About seven years ago, I survived the earthquake. I felt like I was failing myself because I’m not fulfilling my dreams.

“I was living day by day from the earthquake. It was a bad event, but I chose to be a positive person. Because today, I’m living my dreams."

The pageant's outcome was a bonus, considering what had gone through.

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A few hours before the pageant, she posted her brush with death 21 years ago. She was then four years old.

On Instagram, she recounted, "On a beautiful Tuesday, June 13th 1995, I was born again.

"I was so little but so brave to wake up from a coma after 21 days when there was no more hope for my case.

"Many days I asked myself why did I get another opportunity at life? Why me?

"I will never find the answers to those questions but I feel so blessed to be alive, to be healthy, to have a family who loves me, and to be living my dreams.

"No matter what happens at the finals, I am and still will be grateful to have the opportunity to come here to the Philippines and represent my country."

Raquel is an optometrist, and is taking up her master’s degree in scientific research.

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Aside from her Miss Universe dream, her other goal is "find a cure for blindness" one day.

She speaks fluent Creole, French, English, and Spanish, and has Filipino blood from her mother's side.

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Miss Universe 2016 first runner-up Raquel Pelissier in her national costume and long evening gown
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