Chelsea Manalo Is Miss Universe Philippines 2024

Miss Universe Philippines 2024 Chelsea Manalo Is ‘A Breath Of Fresh Air’

Photograph by Seven Barretto

The new Miss Universe Philippines 2024 is Chelsea Manalo. The 22-year-old, who represented Bulacan during the pageant’s annual competition staged at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay on May 22, has overturned traditional standards of what a beauty queen. She bested out 52 candidates from all over the country. 

According to her manager Manny Halasan, her physical attributes and charisma on stage made the difference. “I think Chelsea is a breath of fresh air in terms of qualities for a candidate in a beauty pageant. Her looks, physique, background as a model, as a breadwinner to her family, the authenticity of her character, the various faces and style that she is capable to pull through, the sincerity in her answers, the imperfections and inaccuracies—these altogether made her stood out,” he tells Vogue Philippines

He continues, candidly: “I have to be honest—Chelsea was not a frontrunner. Rarely was she mentioned in early updates during the pageant, so I was most proud and relieved when her name was called.”

Photograph by Seven Barretto

When asked about her qualities that would empower others during the final Q and A, she then described herself as “a woman of color” who has defied beauty standards. She added that her mother has reminded her of her values, which she could amplify to influence more women. Furthermore, her fellow Miss Universe Philippines candidates have also helped her to be the woman that she is now.

Aside from her performance, the gown was also intended to be a game changer. Manny, who also designed Chelsea’s evening dress for the competition, opted for a white beaded trumpet gown paired with an oversized floor-sweeping cape.

“I assumed that most candidates would wear sexy gowns with slit, so I decided to have a twist on the idea of sexy, so I added volume. I wanted to create a gown that fits Chelsea’s personality: soft, clean, subtle but will make an impact,” said the fashion designer, choosing the color white to complement her skin tone. “My vision is to create a gown that is fitting for ‘that moment’: the coronation of a queen.”

Photograph by Seven Barretto
Photograph by Seven Barretto

But the crown, for both Chelsea and Manny, meant so much more than prestige and emerging as the best. “To have won the Crown of Miss Universe Philippines 2024 is a big blessing and achievement. We did not have the financial means; I had to step up when there was no one supporting Chelsea on her journey to the competition,” Manny shares. “Now, all the hurdles and challenges we went through made sense.”

Meanwhile, Miss Universe Philippines 2024 winners also wearing custom gowns by Filipino fashion designers include Taguig candidate Christi McGarry (fourth runner-up) in Mark Bumgarner, Baguio candidate Tarah Valencia (third runner-up) in Glademir Echavarre, Quezon Province candidate Ahtisa Manalo (second runner-up) in Michael Cinco, and Cainta candidate Stacey Gabriel (first runner-up) in Val Taguba. 

The musical performances of drag queen Marina Summers, the band Lola Amour, and Thai actor and singer Win Metawin were also among the highlights of the event. 

Photographs and creative direction by SEVEN BARRETTO. Art direction by ERWIN BOTIN. Styling by PARIS ROXAS. Makeup by JESSICA BONOAN. Hair by FLORENZ. Photography team CLAUDE VILLAHERMOSA, DARIEL MIRAFLOR.
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