Pinay wins Miss Planet Int'l crown

Maria Luisa Varela has been named Miss Planet International.

The Filipina bested several other beauties from all over the world in the contest held at Koh Pich Theater, Phnom Penh City Jan. 29.

Her runners up (in chronological order): Zimbabwe's Jemima Mandemwa, Japan's Aya Ono, Vietnam's Tiffany Ha, Finland's Katarina Juselius, Latvia's Alina Safronova, and Cambodia's Pok Srevleak.

During the Q&A portion, Maria was asked: "The Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 agenda adopted by the United Nations members are 17. There are 17 SDGs. So, if you had the chance to add the goal number 18, what would it be and why?"

She answered: "If I have the chance to add one more goal that would be promoting education using social media as a key platform. We all know that social media plays an important role in our daily lives. But we're using this for our monetary advances, entertainment. So as an advocate of youth empowerment, I want to use this platform to promote the importance of education. I want to use this tool to encourage, to promote, and to develop awareness towards a responsible and productive citizen of our sustainable planet."

The country's original representative to the pageant was Herlene Budol.

Her manager Wilbert Tolentino was national director of the pageant.

Wilbert was replaced as national director by Miki Antonio.