PROFILE: Miss Universe Philippines 2014 Mary Jean Lastimosa

Mary Jean Lastimosa (center) is crowned Binibining Pilipinas Universe 2014 by last year's winner Ariella Arida (right) and assisted by reigning Miss Universe Gabriela Isler. The 26-year old North Cotabato beauty bested 39 other contestants in the coronation night Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum. Photo by Fernando Sepe, Jr.

Bb. 25 Mary Jean Lastimosa is the new Miss Universe Philippines titleholder.

Lastimosa, a 26-year-old beauty from North Cotabato, was crowned Binibining Pilipinas Universe 2014 at the annual beauty pageant's grand coronation night held at the Araneta Coliseum on Sunday, March 30.

During the highly anticipated but dreaded question and answer portion, reigining Miss Universe Gabriela Isler asked the Davao-based entrepreneur:

"What is the greatest advantage of being a woman?”
The greatest advantage of being a woman is being able to compose ourselves. Just like here, we’re standing in front of thousands of people not knowing if they're cheer for us. But we try to compose ourselves, we keep the emotions and show the beauty that is in us. And tonight, thousands of people are here, celebrating the beauty of a woman.

The pressure is on Lastimosa as she tries to equal or surpass the recent good standing of the Philippines in the Miss Universe competition: Maria Venus Raj was fourth runner-up in 2010, Shamcey Supsup was third runner-up in 2011, and Janine Tugonon was first-runner up in 2012.   In 2013, Ariella Arida was named third runner-up in the Miss Universe pageant, with Venezuela's Isler taking the crown.

Lastimosa is an entrepreneur who has established a slimming center in Davao.

She joined in the Binibining Pilipinas 2011 and won the second runner-up title, placing behind Shamcey Supsup, Dianne Necio, Isabelle Manjon and Janine Tugonon. She competed again in 2012 and was among the 12 semi-finalists.

Lastimosa is an actress and a computer engineer. She was the Class Salutatorian in elementary and graduated with honors in high school.

She joined Mutya ng North Cotabato and placed first runner-up; Davao's Loveliest, first runner-up; and Miss National PRISAA, second runner-up. She won Mutya ng Tulunan 2003,  Lakambini ng UM 2004, Mutya ng UM 2006, Miss Regional PRISAA 2007, Mutya ng Davao 2008, and Reyna ng Aliwan 2008.

Lastimosa represented the Philippines at Miss ASEAN 2012 in Chiang Rai Province, Thailand and placed as Top 10.

After her stint at the Binibining Pilipinas 2012 pageant, Lastimosa traveled to Brazil to gain further experience in modeling and beauty pageants.

After her victory, Lastimosa said that she never really expected to win.

“It was surreal. When they called my number, I was like, 'Am I really going to wear the crown?' Because I never imagined that I would. But when it happened, it was like a dream come true.”

Lastimosa admitted that she wasn’t really into pageants when she was younger.

“The first time, Davao City just convinced me to represent them, to just try it. I never trusted myself so I was hesitant to join. I joined the pageant because the whole city was supporting me. And then when I won second runner-up, I got addicted to it. I was like maybe I should try because I think I can do it. And then failure came. I was like no more pageants for me. But then acceptance would just come in and you just move on with life and do what you wanted to do.”

Lastimosa took one last chance when Binibining Pilipinas adjusted the age limit for the pageant.

“When I was in the States, my friends were texting me to join. I was like no, that's it for me. But when I came here, the people in the pageant wanted to meet with me. They convinced me that maybe I can do it. I was like okay, because I don't have anything to do naman. Thank God I did it.”

Now that she will represent the country in this year’s Miss Universe competition, is she pressured to continue the Philippines' winning streak in the pageant?

“I don't know. I'm still trying to suck in the idea that I won. Pressure will always be there no matter what the performance of the past winners would be. I think I just trust BPCI that they will give us the right training that we need.”

Last year, Arida who is an Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church of Christ) member placed third runner-up in the international competition.

Lastimosa is also a proud INC member. Her name is registered in the Locale of Ugong, Metro Manila East.

Aside from Lastimosa, other INC members are making waves in the different fields. Atty. Nielson G. Pangan topped the 2013 Bar Exam. Kristine Joie Azarcon Danan and Engr. Emmanuel S. Gabriel also topped the NLE and ECE respectively.

With the church celebrating its 100th founding anniversary, will Bb. Pilipinas bring home the Miss Universe crown?

Photos by Luigene Yanoria

Photo from Bb. Pilipinas

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