The posh Gauguin Room of Novotel Manila in Araneta Center was where Binibining Pilipinas International 2018 Maria Ahtisa Manalo had her official send-off in the afternoon of 11 October 2018. At 21, Manalo, being the youngest among this year’s Binibini Queens, is determined to clinch the seventh Miss International crown for the Philippines following the scintillating victories of Gemma Cruz (1964), Aurora Pijuan (1970), Melanie Marquez (1979), Precious Lara Quigaman (2005), Bea Rose Santiago (2013) and Kylie Verzosa (2016).
Venezuela and the Philippines will be on equal footing in the ranking if Manalo wins at Tokyo Dome City Hall in Tokyo, Japan where the 58th Miss International Beauty Pageant will be held on 9 November 2018.
“I’m not going to go to Japan just to be the second best. I’m going to make the Philippines proud,” the dainty beauty from Candelaria, Quezon assured during the send-off organized by Binibining Pilipinas Charities Incorporated (BPCI).
To offer their support to Manalo, her Binibining Pilipinas sisters were in attendance, including Miss Universe Philippines Catriona Gray and Binibining Pilipinas Supranational Jehza Huelar.
Binibining Pilipinas Grand International Eva Psychee Patalinjug and Binibining Pilipinas Globe Michelle Gumabao were already in Myanmar and Albania, respectively. Patalinjug is competing for the first Miss Grand International crown, while Gumabao will vie for the third Miss Globe crown after the victories of Maricar Balagtas (2001) and Ann Colis (2015).
From being a festival queen in her beloved Quezon province, Manalo is setting her sights on a much bigger stage and wider audience when she flies to the Land of the Rising Sun on 18 October. She revealed that she was given tips and advice by the former Miss International titleholders.
“My national costume is inspired by the Subanon tribe from Mindanao. It’s by Amir Sali and my evening gown is by Michael Cinco,” she added.
The Binibining Niyogyugan 2016, who identified the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and animal welfare as the social issues closest to heart, is a huge fan of Charlie’s Angels. In a prior interview she said she wanted to be a police officer but did not get the approval of her family. Instead, she earned her Accounting degree from the Manuel S. Enverga University in her hometown, Candelaria.