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Cortesi: From frontrunner to clapper

by Jericho Zafra

A DAY after the most beautiful day in the universe, Filipino pageant fans remain furious at the fate of the country’s candidate for the competition, Celeste Cortesi.

A consistent crowd favorite and frontrunner of the 71st edition of the pageant, Cortesi ended her journey in the competition earlier than expected after she failed to make it  to the top 16 semi-finals round.

She lost to the United States of America’s R’Bonney Gabriel, who won the title after the competition. Gabriel is a Filipino American model based in Texas. She follows Harnaaz Sandhu of India, Miss Universe 2021.

Gabriel is the first Miss Universe to don the “Force for Good” crown created by Lebanese jeweler Mouawad in partnership with the Miss Universe Organization under Anne Jakrajutatip, the organization’s new franchise owner.

After Cortesi’s sudden and untimely exit from the Miss Universe pageant, many fans and observers quickly hail the country’s representative as the 2022 Miss Universe El Tocuyo” awardee.

What is El Tocuyo?

El Tocuyo refers to a pageant candidate who is considered a frontrunner (contender leading the competition) but ended up losing the competition in the first cut-off.

The El Tocuyo award was named after the hometown of Mariam Habach, Miss Universe 2016 representative from Venezuela, who was then the edition’s top pick by fans and pageant observers next to Thailand’s Chalita Suansane and Philippines’ Maxine Medina.

Habach was eliminated from the competition after she was not called as part of the top 13, which surprised the world of pageantry.

In contemporary Philippine times, El Tocuyo means “Lotlot de Leon” or “Luz Valdez” in gay lingo, or a loser in simple terms.

After Habach’s defeat in the pageant, which was held in Manila, pageant fans started to give the El Tocuyo Award to frontrunners and strong contenders who did not make it to the first cut of the Miss Universe pageant.

Frontrunners turned clappers

Aside from Cortesi, who ended the Philippines’ 12-year consecutive placement in the Miss Universe, other pageant powerhouses like Mexico and Brazil and rising powerhouse Thailand failed to advance in the semi-finals competition of the pageant.

In 2021, Teresa Santos, who broke Brazil’s ten-year streak from 2011 to 2020, and Anchilee Scott-Kemmis, who broke Thailand’s six-year placement from 2015 to 2020, were two of the Miss Universe candidates who were called El Tocuyo awardees.

Miss Universe 2022 hot picks

For this year’s pageant, countries including Venezuela, Colombia, the Philippines, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico were the hot picks by pageant observer Sash Factor.

Also, Missosology, a beauty pageant website analyzing contenders of the big four beauty pageants, included Cortesi in its final predictions along with Venezuela, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, USA, Colombia, Thailand, Jamaica, Mexico, Aruba, Italy, Germany, South Africa, Peru, Bahrain, Vietnam, Mauritius, Portugal, and France.

Of the top predictions by Missosology, eight of them were included in the top 16 semi-finals.

The top 16

  • Puerto Rico
  • Haiti
  • Australia
  • Dominican Republic
  • Laos
  • South Africa
  • Portugal
  • Canada
  • Peru
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Curacao
  • India
  • Venezuela
  • Spain
  • USA
  • Colombia

Who do you think will save the Philippines in the upcoming editions?

Banner Photo Credit: Miss Universe Philippines

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