Filipina beauty Ki’ilani Arruda of Hawaii crowned Miss Teen USA 2020

Published November 9, 2020, 7:04 AM

by John Legaspi

Ki’ilani Arruda (Photo from Miss Teen USA Organization)

Filipino pageant fans, rejoice! Miss Teen USA 2020 pageant crowned Fil-Am Ki’ilani Arruda as its queen.

After months of delays due to the pandemic, the 37th edition of the pageant was held on Nov. 7, in Memphis, Tennessee. There, the Hawaii representative bested 50 other candidates, leaving Miss Oregon Shayla Montgomery and Miss Georgia Shayla Jackson as 1st runner up and the latter as 2nd runner up.

During the Q&A portion of the pageant, Ki’ilani was asked: “What has experiencing a global pandemic taught you about life?”

Here is her answer:

“Well, of course this global pandemic is very unprecedented and has taught me a lot about life. For me, it has especially taught me how to appreciate my family. I got to spend so much time with my family, my little sister, my little brother. I love them dearly, and I know that soon, in spring, I will be going into college, and I won’t have those precious moments to share with them. So really, it’s just to cherish those moments. And it’s so honorable I get to represent my home of Hawai’i, so just being at home is so wonderful.”

Here are some interesting facts you need to know about this young queen.

Like Moana, she is a true island girl

A quick scroll on Ki’ilani’s Instagram and you’ll see that she loves to go for any island adventure, whether hiking on mountains or basking under the sun on the crystal beach of Hawaii. Having an active lifestyle is not new to the 19-year-old beauty. Back in her high school days, she competed in volleyball, swim, and track.

She advocates Autism Awareness

According to the Miss Hawaii USA website, Ki’ilani wants to advocate for Autism Awareness and recently received her Registered Behavior Technician License. This cause is grounded by her love for her younger brother, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of two.

She is the second Fil-Am to win in the pageant

Ki’ilani is the second candidate with Filipina roots to win the crown after the Miss Teen USA 1998 victory of Hollywood celebrity Vanessa Minillo-Lachey.

She is a fan of Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray

In a virtual presscon, Ki’ilani revealed that Filipina beauty queen Catriona Gray is her favorite Miss Universe winner. “There’s so many of them,” she says. “All of them but I’m a little biased towards Catriona because I am half-Filipino myself. Her reign was so amazing, and I’ve always looked up to her as a role model.”