“I was really there to win the crown. But then again, some things are out of our control. The only thing you can do is accept it, and learn from it, and move on,” MJ said in a press statement. “I was just grateful to be given that opportunity to represent the country and I hope I did well, that I really showed what a true Filipina is. Kaya ngayon, wala akong bitternes, wala akong regrets.”
MJ was a heavy favorite in the pageant and was even touted as one of the girls to beat in the competition. She made it to the Top 10 of the competition, but didn’t advance to the Final 5 — the first time for a Miss Philippines since 2010.
The Bb Pilipinas Charities Inc and its chair Stella Marquez Araneta were lambasted after MJ failed to secure a spot in the Top 5. Many fans attributed the loss to the evening gown worn by MJ, which was designed by Colombian Alfredo Barraza.
Prior to that, MJ’s flower-festooned national costume also drew flak for not reflecting the “true” Philippine culture. In her defense, Araneta said in an interview with news program TV Patrol, she said that she had been tapping Barraza to dress up the Filipina candidates since 1999 because “the designs that were given to us (by Filipino designers) were no good for our candidates.”
But MJ, in an interview with ABS-CBN’s Ginger Conejero, asked supporter to not blame the loss on her gown.
Despite this, the North Cotabato beauty came home with pride and gratefulness, knowing how Filipinos expressed their overwhelming love and support for her during the pageant.
“I’m so happy I’m finally back after a month, di ba? Sobrang, I had a great experience in Miami, Florida, feeling ko ang tagal nag-stay doon because the people are very nice, warm yung pagkaka-welcome sa amin, sa mga candidates,” MJ said.
“It was a great experience knowing all the girls, sharing my culture, sharing what Filipinos are. And I think they embraced us, I think they love us there. It was a great experience all in all,” she added.
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