A long-standing and prestigious competition, Miss Universe has been a platform for women to share their stories and make an impact worldwide.
Since 1952, the Miss Universe organization has invited women from around the world to compete in a display of beauty, brains, and heart. Filipinos, who are avid pageant enthusiasts, have participated in the competition in more ways than one. In 2023 alone, Filipino designers Rian Fernandez, Larry Espinosa, Mark Bumgarner, Carla Fuentes, Furne One, Louis Pangilinan, and Boogie Musni’s gowns were worn by several Miss Universe representatives. All of the contestants also walked in pageant shoes designed by Filipino designer Jojo Bragais.
The Philippines is also no stranger to the crown. Filipina women have graced the stage of the prestigious competition, bagging the title and giving remarkable performances. Throughout the decades, these Filipina women have inspired generations to be their most confident selves and to make an impact in the world. Take a look at the full list of Filipina Miss Universe titleholders to learn more about their lives after the crown.
1963 – Lalaine Bennett, 3rd Runner Up
After being the first Filipina to be placed in Miss Universe history, Lalaine Bennett returned to the country and pursued an acting career in the film industry. She starred in the films Dear Eddie, Death Was a Stranger, and The Hunters’ ROTC Guerilla Story.
1969 – Gloria Diaz, Miss Universe 1969 Winner
At 18 years old, Gloria Diaz charmed the world with her beauty and wit when she competed in the Miss Universe 1969 competition. She is the first Filipina to win the title, paving the way for future Filipina beauty queens and making a mark in the international pageant scene.
After bearing the Miss Universe crown, Diaz became one of the Philippines’ beloved and award-winning actresses, starring in the films Ang Pinakamagandang Hayop sa Balat ng Lupa and Ganito Kami Noon… Paano Kayo Ngayon? In the film Jose Rizal, Diaz played the role of Rizal’s mother Teodora Alonso, which led to her first Best Supporting Actress award at the 1998 Metro Manila Film Festival. To this day, Diaz is still active in the entertainment industry as an actress.
1973 – Margie Moran, Miss Universe 1973 Winner
After four years, the Philippines took home the crown again with Margie Moran’s stellar performance in the Miss Universe 1973 competition. For her final question, she was asked what she would first buy if she had a million dollars. Moran’s winning answer was “A house and lot because it’s the most expensive thing and I can’t afford it. If I had a million bucks, I’d buy a house and lot and live by myself, and other people of course.”
Moran first pursued finishing her education after her Miss Universe reign. Returning to Maryknoll College (presently known as Miriam College), she finished her degree in business in administration and attained her master’s degree in development management from SOAS University of London. Eventually, Moran fell back into the culture and arts industry. From 2009 to 2018, she was the president of Ballet Philippines and then became the chairperson of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). Recently, she launched her travel book entitled My Universe, a book on her wanderlust and passion for travel.
1975 – Rose Marie Brosas, 4th Runner Up
Rose Marie Brosas turned heads with her natural beauty when she entered the Miss Universe pageant, finishing as a 4th runner-up in the competition. With her wit, she charmed the judges during her Q&A portion. She was asked the question, “If you become Miss Universe of 1975, what one individual other than your parents would have made the greatest contribution to your success, and why?” She responded, “Well, I think it would be the judges because they were the ones who voted for me if I won Miss Universe.”
After her Miss Universe stint, Brosas pursued her education. She completed her international business administration degree at the American College in Paris, France. A few years after graduating, she tied the knot with Filipino-German businessman Ralph Han. In 2009, her daughter, Regina placed second runner-up in the 2009 Binibining Pilipinas pageant.
1980 – Maria Rosario Rivera Silayan, 3rd Runner Up
A year after Miss Universe, Maria Rosario Silayan’s acting career began and she acted in the films Ang Maestro, The Commander, Dyesebel, and My First Romance. In 2003, she retired from acting and became a part-time announcer and host for The 700 Club Asia. A year later, Silayan battled with colon cancer and underwent surgery in which one of her feet was removed. At the age of 46, she died at St. Luke’s Hospital in Quezon City.
1984 – Desiree Verdadero, 3rd Runner Up
In the 1984 Miss Universe competition, Desiree Verdadero opened up about the reality of being a freelance model. “Modeling is not an easy job and it’s also not a stable job,” she said. Following in her footsteps, Verdadero’s daughter, Aya Abesamis, participated twice in the Binibining Pilipinas pageant. Abesamis became a finalist and placed 1st runner up, and later assumed the Binibining Pilipinas Grand International title.
1999 – Miriam Quiambao, 1st runner-up
At the time, Miriam Quiambao was the first Filipina to come close to winning the Miss Universe title. Quiambao had a mishap during the competition. During the preliminary round, the heel of one of her shoes caught in her evening gown, and she slipped on stage. Gracefully composing herself, she finished her evening gown walk and was met with applause from the audience. The moment did not discourage Quiambao. Instead, she used the incident to strengthen her answer in the interview portion. She said, “she felt she represented those women who have “fallen both on and off the stage” and hopes to be an “example to the rest of the women in the world.”
Post-pageant life, she became a television host for GMA Network in the Philippines. Quiambao established herself as a successful television host, winning multiple awards such as the PMPC Star Awards for Television and Aliw Awards. She also dipped her toes into acting, appearing in Filipino films Patient X and Kimmy Dora. She also starred on the television shows Kung Tayo’y Magkakalayo, Banais, and The Jose and Wally Show Starring Vic Sotto. In 2015, Quaimbao became an author with the release of her first book entitled He Can Catch You When You Fall.
2010 – Venus Raj, 4th Runner Up
After a decade of a Miss Universe semi-final drought, Venus Raj began a Filipino competitive streak with her finish as a 4th runner-up in the 2010 competition.
Returning to the Philippines, Raj began her career as a host and signed an exclusive contract with the ABS-CBN network. She hosted the morning show Umagang Kay Ganda and the Sunday noontime music variety show ASAP 2012, and acted on television in the anthology shows Wansapanataym and Maalaala Mo Kaya. Raj received several Best Morning Show awards for her work in Umagang Kay Ganda. After slowing down in the entertainment industry, Raj found the time to pursue her master’s degree in community development at the University of the Philippines.
2011 – Shamcey Supsup, 3rd Runner Up
Shamcey Supsup made waves with her performance in Miss Universe 2011. Known for her trademark “Tsunami” walk, Supsup continued the Filipino semi-final steak in the competition.
After placing as a 3rd runner-up in Miss Universe 2011, Supsup became a host for several lifetime programs, such as ANC’s Cityscape and Lifestyle Network’s Interior Motives. In 2019, she returned to the world of pageantry as the national director of the Miss Universe Philippines organization.
2012 – Janine Tugonon, 1st Runner Up
The Philippines came close again to winning the crown when Janine Tugonon placed 1st runner-up at the Miss Universe 2012 competition. These days, Tugonon lives in the United States to pursue her studies. She continued her modeling career overseas, trading the pageant stage for runways and photo shoots. Tugonon is the first Filipino to be featured in a Victoria’s Secret Ad and also was one of the winners of Nu Muses’ global model search in 2016. In 2017 and 2019, she walked the runway shows of Sherri Hill at New York Fashion Week.
2013 – Ariella Arida, 3rd Runner Up
Ariella Arida set the stage ablaze with her pageant walk and intense stare during the swimsuit round and evening gown presentation. In her Q&A segment, she highlighted her advocacy for youth education. After Miss Universe, Arida pursued a modeling and acting career. She starred in the films Coming Home and Sarap Mong Patayin, and in the television shows Playhouse, The Killer Bride, The Lost Recipe, Stories From the Heart: The End of Us, and Black Rider. She also co-hosted Wowowin and Umagang Kay Ganda. In 2020, Arida became an ambassador for the Hope From Within organization, a platform that supports cancer patients.
2015 – Pia Wurtzbach, Miss Universe 2015 Winner
Unforgettable is the best way to describe Pia Wurtzbach’s crowning moment. Miss Universe 2015 host Steve Harvey misread the cue card, announcing Miss Colombia 2015 Ariadna Gutiérrez as the winner 2015 instead of Wurtzbach. Harvey went back on stage to correct the mistake and Wurtzbach was officially crowned Miss Universe 2015. Immortalized in one of pageant history’s unforgettable coronations, Wurtzbach is also the first Filipina to win the title in four decades.
After her reign, Wurtzbach continued her career in the entertainment industry as an actress, model, and host. Since becoming a Miss Universe titleholder, Wurtzbach acted in the films Gandarrapido: The Revenger Squad, and My Perfect You. For her role in Gandarrapido, Wurtzbach won New Movie Actress of the Year from the PMPC Star Awards for Movies. In 2017, Wurtzbach was also named as a UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador for Asia, continuing her advocacy for HIV awareness. This year, she made her author debut with her first book entitled Queen of The Universe, a novel loosely based on her life and experience in the world of pageantry.
2018 – Catriona Gray, Miss Universe 2018 Winner
When Catriona Gray stepped out in her lava gown inspired by the Mayon Volcano, she cemented herself as one of the most remarkable Miss Universe titleholders in history. The clip of her slow-mo turn in the preliminary swimsuit portion has hundreds of thousands of views online, even catching the attention of supermodel Tyra Banks.
These days, Gray is a model, singer, TV personality, advocate, and arts ambassador. Carrying her heart in all the projects she does, she continues to work with organizations such as Young Focus Philippines, Love Yourself Philippines, and Smile Train. Since 2018, Gray has also released her music singles “We’re in this Together,” “R.Y.F.,” and “Love Language.” She also received the Global Achievement by a Filipino award along with Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao, from the 49th Guillermo Mendoza Memorial Scholarship Foundation Box Office Entertainment Awards.
2022 – R’Bonney Gabriel, Miss Universe 2022 Winner
R’Bonney Gabriel is the sixth mixed-heritage woman to become a Miss Universe titleholder and the fifth Miss Universe of Filipino descent. In the evening gown segment, Gabriel dazzled the audience with her black gown designed by Filipino designer Rian Fernandez. During her reign, she helped propel the Miss Universe Organization’s age limit change. This means that the pageant is now open to all women ages 18 and above, regardless of marital status. Aside from being a beauty queen, Gabriel is also a fashion designer who champions eco-friendly fashion with her eponymous independent label.