Chelsea Manalo Becomes First Black Filipino Woman Crowned Miss Universe Philippines

by Gee NY

Chelsea Manalo, a 24-year-old Filipino American, made history on Wednesday, May 22, by becoming the first Black woman to be crowned Miss Universe Philippines.

Born to a Filipino mother and African American father, Manalo’s victory is being celebrated as a significant step towards redefining beauty standards in the Philippines.

Social media erupted with praise following her win, with many users highlighting the impact of her achievement.

“Chelsea’s win challenges our ingrained preference for Eurocentric beauty and lighter complexions in our nation,” wrote one user on Instagram. Another commented, “Filipino beauty standard shattered into pieces.”

Representing Bulacan, a province north of Manila, Manalo emerged victorious from a pool of 52 contestants at the competition held at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.

During the final round, Manalo was asked how she would use her beauty and confidence to empower others.

“As a woman of color, I have always faced challenges in my life. I was told that beauty has standards,” she said, adding that her mother taught her to “believe in yourself and uphold the vows that you have.”

Her inspiring words resonated with the audience as she emphasized the importance of self-belief and empowerment.

Manalo’s victory comes amid a broader conversation about diversifying beauty standards in the Philippines, where lighter-skinned actors and models often dominate media. Skin lightening treatments and products are also common, reflecting the country’s colonial past and its lingering preference for Western ideals.

In a YouTube video on Empire Philippines, Manalo shared her personal struggles with insecurities growing up. “I was always bullied because of my skin and my hair type,” she said, crediting her friends and family for helping her realize her unique beauty.

Manalo will represent the Philippines in the Miss Universe pageant in Mexico this September, aiming to secure the country’s fifth title. Previous Filipino winners include Gloria Diaz (1969), Margie Moran (1973), Pia Wurtzbach (2015), and Catriona Gray (2018).

This year’s Miss Universe competition will feature over 100 countries and, for the first time, will not have an upper age limit for contestants. The Miss Universe organization has recently faced scrutiny due to allegations of mismanagement and a toxic work environment affecting Miss USA and Miss Teen USA.

Despite these challenges, Manalo’s historic win is a beacon of hope and progress, inspiring many to embrace their individuality and break traditional beauty norms.

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