MANILA, Philippines — Celeste Cortesi, the representative from Pasay City at this year’s Miss Universe Philippines pageant, has been faced with questions regarding her status as a Filipina.
This issue is, however, not a new one. Any pageant entrant who has a dual citizenship or born to a parent of foreign lineage will is usally confronted with her citizenship status.
Some netizens doubt Celeste’s “Filipina-ness” because of the way she talks and the way she looks. And because she grew up in Italy, she has assimilated the heavy accent of how Italians speak in English. Her naysayers fault her for that. She’s also accused of not being fluent in speaking Tagalog.
She even made an effort to fit into the mold that other people think she should be, especially for those criticizing her heavy accent.
In an “Extraordinary Talks” interview with Canada-based Cuban vlogger Luis Portelles, Celeste shared, “What makes me a Filipina are the values that my Filipino mom always have taught me throughout my journey here… and that’s what makes me a real Filipina.”
Citizenship is a serious issue in the Miss Universe pageant, in both national and international searches. This is because the immediate consequence of a crowned winner is dethronement.
When Anjeanette Abayari, who was crowned as Binibining Pilipinas Universe 1991, got embroiled in a citizenship issue, too. It led her to resign from her post. While in 1999, eventual winner Janelle Bautista was dethroned for the same reason.
In 2015, Binibining Pilipinas Universe winner Ma. Venus Raj made headlines when her citizenship status was questioned. Fortunately, everything was ironed out and she competed in Las Vegas that year – thereupon starting the country’s longest living semifinal streak in the Miss Universe pageant.
The Miss Universe Philippines 2022 pageant is Celeste Cortesi’s second national pageant, after winning the Miss Philippines Earth title in 2018.