Sharifa Areef Mohammed Omar Akeel of the Philippines bested 49 delegates from around the world during the finals of the 50th Miss Asia- Pacific International 2018 on Thursday night at the Newport Performing Arts Theater of Resorts World Manila.
Akeel, a 21-year-old teacher from Lebak, Sultan Kudarat, is the first Muslim Filipina to win an international title for the country and the fifth Filipina to win in the pageant that was founded in Manila originally as the Miss Asia Quest in 1968. She was crowned by last year’s winner Francielly Ouriques of Brazil.
Akeel, a half-Qatari, half-Filipina beauty, was asked the during the Q&A portion of the pageant: “What do you think is the biggest issue of diversity that the world is facing today and how do you think you can play a part to resolve it?”
“One of the biggest issues our country is facing today is cyberbullying. We have to accept the fact that all of us were born with strength and weaknesses and with that, we have our own imperfections,” Akeel said.
“Let’s appreciate one’s uniqueness and relevance and, as a millennial, I believe in the millennial policy of compassion, idealism, in striving for uniqueness and authenticity because you are a beautiful creation of God, no matter who you are and wherever you are in the world.”
Akeel, whose joining and crowning in Mutya ng Pilipinas 2018 was criticized by her fellow Muslims in Maguindanao for wearing a swimsuit that was against Muslim tradition, had said that she joined the beauty pageant to promote mutual understanding between Christians and Muslims and to prove that Islam was a religion of peace.
READ: Muslim-Maguindanaoan wins Mutya ng Pilipinas-Asia Pacific International
Brazil nearly scored a back-to-back win as Miss Brazil Gabriela Palma, a native of Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul and graduate of Design at UFN Universidade Fransiscana was named first runner up.
Miss Costa Rica Jessica Melania Gonzales Monge, a 27-year-old law student and former Miss World Costa Rica 2016 and Miss Mongolia Misheelt Narmandakh, an actress of Model Yoga TV series, finished 2nd and 3rd runners-up, respectively. Meanwhile, Miss Venezuela Mariani Nataly Chacon Angarita, a 25-year-old model and Miss Oceano Venezuela 2018, completed Akeel’s court as 4th runner-up.
The 50th Miss Asia-Pacific International pageant was hosted by Joey Mead, Marc Nelson, and Rovilson Fernandez, and will be telecast on ABS-CBN on Oct. 7.
READ: 50 delegates for Miss Asia Pacific International 50th jubilee
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