Twenty-year-old beauty queen Ahtisa Manalo was crowned first runner-up at Miss International 2018, which was held yesterday, November 9, in Tokyo, Japan.
When Ahtisa walked the runway for the national costume segment, Filipinos tuning in already knew she would be a winner. In a sparkling feathered gown inspired by the weaving of our indigenous people and the majestic birds of Philippine folklore, she owned the runway by gracefully twirling her feathered fans—props she truly knew how to work.
Ahtisa’s gown was designed by Amir Sali, who is known in the fashion industry as the “Prince of Beads” for his great use of crystal accents in his creations. The Mindanaoan designer’s inspiration for Ahtisa’s national costume is the Subanon tribe of Zamboanga.
When Ahtisa, later in her form-fitting Michael Cinco gown, was recognized as one of the top eight Miss International finalists, she gave this speech:
“Miss International is a celebration of youth and empowerment. I’ve always believed that age is not a barrier to reach our dreams or to have an impact on others. At 15, I started to help programs in my community for street children. At 19, I graduated [from] college. At 20, I realized that I can speak for good causes to a wider audience. That’s why I joined our national pageant.”
She promised: “If I become Miss International, I will continue to be the voice of the youth in showing that nothing is impossible with hard work and determination. And with these beautiful ladies with me tonight, all families of beauty queens, all young dreamers and achievers, we will show the world that it is love, peace, and beauty that we care about. And together, we will make a difference.”
Well-said, Ahtisa! Congratulations!