After introducing herself in a shiny purple halter-neck dress by Portia and Scarlett with matching elbow-length gloves, the Philippine bet didn’t make it to the semifinals of the prestigious tilt on Sunday, Jan. 15 (Philippine time).
Cortesi is currently taking up a course to become a real estate agent. Aside from women empowerment, she strongly advocates for “raising and feeding children” in marginalized communities.
A 25-year-old beauty queen from Pasay City, she was crowned Miss Universe Philippines 2022 in April last year. She also represented the country at the Miss Earth 2018 pageant, where she finished in the Top 8.
The Filipina-Italian model went to the Philippines for the first time in March 2018, with little knowledge of the country as well as its culture and language. She expressed her heartfelt gratitude to her mother for introducing “the part of being Filipina” to her—something that she admittedly “ignored” for a long time and “felt sorry for.”
While her being a Filipina has been questioned by some due to her remarkable Italian accent and inability to speak Tagalog fluently, she pointed out that the Filipino values that her mom taught her are what make her a “true Pinay.” Such include family-orientedness, respect for communities, and kindness for all.
Throughout her Miss U journey, Cortesi was guided by Filipino pageant experts—MUPh Director of Communications Voltaire Tayag, MUPh creative director Jonas Gaffud, and The Camp.
Cortesi left the audience in awe during the national costume competition, where she wore an ensemble inspired by Philippines' iconic superhero Darna—"a cultural icon that symbolizes kindness, empathy, and empowerment."
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Later on, she walked the runway in a pink two-piece bikini, which she layered with a cape showing multicolored handprints of children from Marawi.
“In amplifying the voices of the children who need our help, I wanted to bring them with me on the Miss Universe stage. The imprints all over the cape remind me that having a title means to have a purpose beyond myself. Having talked to some of the mothers of the children beneficiaries, I was reminded of my own Mother who struggled to provide for my sister and I. Unfortunately, there are millions of children who live in poverty, amidst crisis. I hope that it inspires people to donate to Save the Children Philippines. There’s much work to be done and every single person’s help matters,” she said, referring to her Miss U cape for the swimsuit competition.
She stunned in a light blue off-shoulder dress with crystal embellishments by Oliver Tolentino at the evening gown segment of the preliminaries. According to the Miss Universe Philippines organization, Cortesi chose sky blue to pay homage to the name her father gave her. "In the poem her father wrote for her, he writes that when he was holding her in his arms he knew her name would be Celeste. Celeste means heavenly and sky blue in Italian," the MUPh shared.
In an interview a day before the coronation night with reporter Dyan Castillejo, Cortesi stressed her determination to take home the fifth Miss Universe crown for the Philippines. “It has always been my dream to become Miss Universe. I have my purpose, and honestly, I was given a second chance to represent the Philippines. I’m not gonna waste it.”
Cortesi's Miss Universe 2022 performance puts an end to the country's years-long streak of placing in the beauty pageant's semi-finals from 2010 to 2021. At the 70th Miss Universe, Beatrice Luigi Gomez of Cebu City finished in the Top 5.
Catriona Gray is still the last Filipina to have clinched the Miss Universe crown. She achieved the feat in 2018.
The 71st Miss Universe pageant is taking place in New Orleans, USA. It’s being streamed live on A2Z, Kapamilya Channel, Metro Channel, and iWantTFC. Same-day replays will also be available at 10:30 p.m. on the same channels.