Miss Philippines among favorites for Ms U crown

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    Stunning. Miss Philippines Gazini Ganados wows ‘em with a Phoenix-inspired gold gown in the preliminary competition.
    Stunning. Miss Philippines Gazini Ganados wows ‘em with a Phoenix-inspired gold gown in the preliminary competition.

    MISS Philippines Gazini Ganados aims for a rare back-to-back victory in the Miss Universe finals today at the Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia.

    Ganados, 23, of Talisay, Cebu showcased class, elegance and nationalism during the preliminary competition on Friday (Saturday in Manila) and installed herself as among the beauties to watch in the search for the successor of reigning Miss Universe Catriona Gray of the Philippines.

    To be hosted by comedian Steve Harvey, the finals will be aired live in the Philippines by ABS-CBN today starting at 8 a.m.

    If Ganados wins, it will be the fifth Miss U crown for the Philippines.

    Ganados has prepared long and hard with her pageant camp Kagandahang Flores under Jonas Borces in Cebu and founder Rodgil Flores in Manila, and Miss Universe Philippines creative director Jonas Gaffud after winning the Miss Universe Philippines title at the 56th Binibining Pilipinas finals at the Araneta Coliseum last June 9.

    Ganados became the second Cebuana to win as Miss Universe Philippines, after actress Pilar Pilapil, a native of Lilian, who won in 1967.

    She hopes to succeed Gray who won in Bangkok, Thailand last year. A victory by Ganados will only be the second back-to-back win in history after Venezuela achieved the feat in Vietnam in 2008 (Dayana Mendoza) and in the Bahamas in 2009 (Stefania Fernandez).

    As reported by pageant blogs and betting websites worldwide, Ganados is among the early favorites fancied to take the coveted crown along with Thailand’s Paweensuda Drouin, India’s Vartika Singh, Indonesia’s Frederika Cull, Brazil’s Julia Horta, Colombia’s Gabriela Tafur, Puerto Rico’s Madison Anderson, Vietnam’s Hoang Thuy, the USA’s Chelsie Kryst, Argentina’s Mariana Varela and South Africa’s Zozibini Tunzi.

    Ganados was born in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte to a Filipino mother and a Palestinian father. She has never met her biological father and was raised by her maternal grandparents. She and her family moved and have resided in Talisay City, Cebu since she was in sixth grade. She holds a degree in Tourism Management and a degree in Health Care Services NCII both from the University of San Jose–Recoletos in Cebu City.

    An advocate of elderly care, Ganados has been awarded by the United Nations for her philanthropic activities that also includes HIV/AIDS awareness.

    Like in 2018, 20 semifinalists will be chosen from the initial pool of 90 delegates through a closed-door interview and a preliminary competition that featured contestants competing in swimsuit and evening gown.

    For the evening gown competition, Ganados wore a Phoenix-inspired gold gown and for the national costume, a Philippine Eagle-inspired ensemble, both creations by renowned Cebu designer Cary Santiago.

    After a two-year absence, internet voting will return, with the public being able to vote a candidate into the top 20 through online voting.

    For the second straight year, an all-woman panel of judges, including Miss Universe 2014 Paulina Vega, will select Miss Universe 2019 who will wear a brand new crown valued at $5 million by luxury jeweler Mouawad.