A 24-year-old beauty queen and pre-school teacher from the Philippines nabbed the title of Miss International 2016 at Thursday’s coronation at the Tokyo Dome. Kylie Verzosa beat out 69 other contestants to win the title.
In a speech after the announcement of the top 15 finalists, Verzosa spoke about her commitment to diversity and tolerance. "If I become Miss International 2016, I will devote myself to cultural understanding and international understanding because I believe that it is in developing in each of us sensitivity to other cultures that we expand our horizons, tolerate difference and appreciate diversity," she said.
Verzosa is a preschool teacher from Baguio City and first participated last year at the Binibining Pilipinas competition, a national Beauty pageant in the Philippines. After graduating with a bachelor's degree in Business Management from Ateneo de Manila University, she went on to volunteer at the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation where she teaches people about mental health, according to Filipino news media. She posted a photo of herself Monday to her Instagram with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte while he was visiting Japan.
Verzosa is the sixth Filipina to bring home the Miss International crown for the Philippines. The last Filipina to win the crown was Bea Rose Santiago, who won in in 2013. Miss International is considered one of the Big Four international beauty pageants, along with Miss World, Miss Universe and Miss Earth.
Miss Australia Alexandra Britton came in as first runner-up, Miss Indonesia Felicia Hwang as 2nd runner-up, Miss Nicaragua Brianny Chamorro as 3rd runner-up, and Miss USA Kaityrana Leinbach as 4th runner-up.
Vezosa's mother, Gemma Raquel Fausto, joined Binibining Pilipinas in 1985 and was one of the semi-finalists, according to a photo posted to Verzosa's Instagram.