20 December 2012, 11:28 p.m. – THE THOMASIAN community on Thursday cheered Pharmacy alumna Janine Tugonon for her runner-up finish in the 2012 Miss Universe pageant.

While Tugonon lost the crown to the United States’ Olivia Culpo, she is the “real Miss Universe” in the hearts of Thomasians, UST officials said.

“She makes us proud as Thomasians and as Filipinos,” Secretary General Fr. Winston Cabading, O.P. told the Varsitarian.

Public Affairs chief Giovanna Fontanilla said: “She showed to the world how a Thomasian is truly elegant. She is my Miss Universe.”

In the Q&A portion, Tugonon was asked by pageant judge Nigel Barker to answer a question posted on Twitter, which read: “As an international ambassador, do you believe that speaking English is a prerequisite to being Miss Universe? Why or why not?”

The Filipina crowd favorite answered: “For me, being Miss Universe is not just about knowing a specific language. She should be able to influence and inspire other people. Whatever language you have, as long as your heart wants to serve the people, and you have a strong mind, then you can be Miss Universe.”

Olivia Culpo, meanwhile, was asked whether she ever regretted something she had done.

“I’d like to start off by saying that every experience no matter what it is, good or bad, you’ll learn from it. That’s just life,” the 20-year-old Boston University student said. “But something I’ve done I’ve regretted is probably picking on my siblings growing up, because you appreciate them so much more as you grow older.”

Tugonon, who represented the Philippines in the 61st edition of Miss Universe in Las Vegas, Nevada, beat 87 other candidates, but fell short to Culpo, who hails from Rhode Island. Culpo succeeded Miss Universe 2011 Leila Lopes of Angola.

Completing the top five were Irene Sofia Esser (Venezuela), Ranae Ayris (Australia), and Gabriela Markus (Brazil) in the third, fourth, and fifth places, respectively.

Tugonon graduated cum laude from the Faculty of Pharmacy in 2010. She was crowned Miss Pharmacy in 2009 and won as Miss UST in The Search for the Ideal Thomasian Personality (TSITP) in 2010.

“She is a guiding symbol to all the candidates of TSITP. In one way or another, I know TSITP helped her shape her personality,” said Benjo Ravanera, president of the Student Organizations’ Coordinating Council, lead organizer of the annual University-wide personality search.

Plans are afoot for homecoming celebrations in UST for Tugonon.

Tugonon’s Miss Universe feat is the best finish for the country since 1999, when UST Physical Therapy graduate Miriam Quiambao emerged as first runner-up to Botswana’s Mpule Kwelaglobe.

Tugonon’s runner-up title is the third in a row for the Philippines. Venus Raj, a graduate of Bicol University, won the fifth spot in 2010, while University of the Philippines architecture graduate Shamcey Supsup won third runner-up at last year’s pageant in Brazil.

Tugonon was the only Asian who made it to this year’s top 10. She was joined by candidates from Australia, Russia, Brazil, France, Venezuela, the United States, Hungary, South Africa, and Mexico. Reden D. Madrid


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