Celeste Cortesi said it’s her “greatest honor” to represent the Philippines on the international stage in her first post since the 71st Miss Universe pageant, where she concluded her journey to the crown earlier than expected.
“I’m finally back home,” she began her post on Instagram on Monday, Jan. 23, adding an emoji of the Philippine flag. “The entire year has been the most challenging, and yet most exciting time of my life.”
“To represent my country, the Philippines, is my greatest honor,” she wrote.
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Noting how she has always had a “burning passion” for the Philippines and is “always very curious” about its islands, the country’s bet bared her plans to push through with the pursuit of her identity as a Filipina.
“I challenged myself and stepped out of my comfort zone by flying here alone as a very young woman. I’ve always known by heart that there are no limits to what you can achieve as long as you are committed to the vision and your intentions are pure, as I have done by pushing myself beyond my limits in the services of my advocacies, training, and learning,” she explained.
The beauty queen added that she’s still in the process of discovering her purpose that goes beyond her ambitions for herself.
“I am immensely grateful to have had the chance to represent all Filipinos and all the sweet fans of pageantry around the world,” she went on.
Celeste expressed her utmost gratitude to her team that she referred to as her “safe place” as well as her fans, family, and loved ones.
“To my country, I stand proud to be a Filipina,” she later stressed.
Celeste also remembered her late father and thanked him for being her guardian angel to this day. “To my father, you guided me up to this day, you still are and will always do. I feel your protection.”
“If you are redirecting me to a different path, to what is truly meant for me, I trust you and I know I still am in the right place at the right time. Thank you, my guardian angel,” she said, concluding her post with the words: “Forever your Miss Philippines.”
Netizens and other beauty queens sent her some love in the comment section as they expressed their pride in the Filipina beauty. “Forever our Miss Philippines! Love you!” Miss Universe Philippines 2014 MJ Lastimosa wrote, accompanying her comment with the hashtag #UDABEST.
“Welcome home! We’re so proud of you,” Miss Universe Philippines 2021 first runner-up Maureen Wroblewitz added.
“You represented our country with your heart,” Miss Universe Philippines Tourism 2021 Katrina Dimaranan said.
Celeste ended her journey to the Miss Universe 2022 crown at the 71st edition of the tilt on Jan. 15 before the Top 16 finalists were announced. Her performance put an end to the country's years-long streak of placing in the beauty pageant's semi-finals from 2010 to 2021.