Miss Universe Philippines 2022 Celeste Cortesi arrived in the United States on Saturday, Dec. 17, and will stay in California for two weeks to prepare for the biggest and grandest pageant of her life.
The 71st Miss Universe competition will be held on Jan.14, 2023 (Jan. 15, Philippine time) in New Orleans, Louisiana which is a 3.5- hour flight from Los. Angeles.
"Celeste needs to get used to the weather, get the jet lag off and be ready in two weeks," said philanthropist-lawyer Francis Padua-Papica who is hosting Celeste and her team at his four-bedroom house in the affluent suburb of Chino Hills in California.
Atty. Papica posted on Facebook a photo of him and Celeste still wearing her all-white airport attire of a hoodie and jogging pants. According to pageant mentor Jonas Gaffud, this is the "first time that a Miss Universe Philippines is in streetwear at the airport (because) comfort should be constant." The casual outfit is from Cavaso Philippines which is a MUPH sponsor.
At Celeste's send-off party last Dec. 15 which also coincided with her birthday, she was asked a mock Miss Universe interview question by sportscaster Dyan Castillejo: "Can you tell us why we should select you to be the next Miss Universe?"
Celeste, who worked as a cashier in her hometown of Parma in Italy, replied: "I've always wanted to join this competition with a purpose, being real, authentic and be relatable to people.
"I believe that I am not scared of showing my vulnerability and I’m not scared to talk about my experiences, especially my struggles. And I know that because of this kind of strength that I have, people can relate to me and that’s what I want."
Celeste said she is "not nervous but in fact, very excited" to meet the rest of the Miss Universe candidates. She added that she is drawing strength from a strong support system which includes her whole glam team, her boyfriend Mathew Custodio and her mom Ma. Luisa who will all be in the US to cheer for her personally.
In her Miss Universe website bio, Celeste listed as her "biggest dream … to move her mom back to the Philippines and to buy her a house for retirement."