What We Liked About The Miss Universe PH 2024 Q&A Answers and What We Thought Was Missing

Let them speak!

The recently-concluded Miss Universe Philippines 2024 Q&A segment had the candidates talk briefly about some important things—here are some things we liked, and some things we wanted more of.

Related: Miss Universe Voice For Change: Winners, Advocacies, And What It Means In The Grand Scale Of Things

You know the drill. Before a new Miss Universe Philippines is crowned, five finalists must take the stage to answer a question, usually about them, their womanhood, their inspirations, or their struggles in 30 seconds in an effort to showcase that they’re beauty and brains enough to become Miss Universe Philippines. This year, the queens’ answers, albeit short, touched upon some relevant things, but is the Q&A segment as impactful as pageantry insist it to be?

Beauty pageant Q&A segments often fall into the trap of being all about “me, me, me,” in the sense that contestants’ answers can lean more into vague sentimentalities about how much being a beauty queen means to them—and it’s hardly their fault completely. From the very nature of beauty pageants putting more emphasis on women’s ability to look good walking over their critical thinking skills, to the time limit, as well as the pressure that they definitely “don’t feel right now,” there’s not much leeway to be eloquent and well-thought out under those glaring lights.

So it’s always a welcome change when Miss Universe candidates are not only thoughtful with their answers, but are able to convey socially-relevant and empowering messages on a huge platform—literally and figuratively.

Though Miss Universe, and beauty pageants in general, aren’t expected to be breeding grounds of diverse discourse (their very existence, actually, is problematic), it’s possible to discuss what kinds of messages are being relayed through these Q&A segments and what more candidates and beauty pageant organizations can do with their platform for other people at this point in time.


Women learn from each other. What is the biggest lesson that you’ve learned from another woman and how did it improve your life?

“My grandmother put me through school, and the biggest lesson I have learned from her is to always be kind. She is someone who has a big heart, and took care of me since I was a kid. And I do think that my grandmother is someone that I can look up to. She is someone that is an embodiment of what a great woman is.” — Maria Ahtisa Manalo, Quezon Province

What is your breakthrough or big achievement and how did it improve you as a person?

“Being here in this prestigious pageant, or the Miss Universe Philippines 2024, is my greatest achievement. The Tarah before is someone who really limited herself when it comes to her achievements. I stepped here in Miss Universe Philippines, and I see the transformation and the improvement, and how I was able to become an inspirational woman that I am now, and that is something that I will be proud of after this journey.” — Tarah Valencia, Baguio

Women have inspired you all throughout your life. Now tell us how you have inspired another woman?

“You know, I’ve been told many times that I am too short to join a beauty pageant. But now I realize that pageants are a representation, a reflection of that very nation, and tonight I am not only representing myself—but every Filipino woman sees themselves in me. I hope to inspire every Filipina that just like the universe, we too are limitless.” — Stacey Gabriel, Cainta

You are beautiful and confident. How would you use these qualities to empower others?

“As a woman of color, I have always faced challenges in my life. I was told that beauty has a standard, actually. But for me, I have listened to—always believe in my mother, to always believe in yourself, to uphold the values that you have in yourself. Because of these, I am already influencing a lot of women who are facing me right now, as a transformational woman. I have here 52 other delegates with me who have helped me to become the woman that I am. Thank you.” — Chelsea Manalo, Bulacan

What is the hardest challenge you face as a Filipina woman, and what do you do to hurdle that challenge?

“I think one of the biggest challenges that Filipinas face today are being limited. By still being shadowed by—unfortunately—men who are in society. But I think my platform and me standing here in front of you today, I can encourage women that you too can stand up. You can be strong. You can be powerful. You can own your own destiny, like I plan to tonight.” — Christi McGarry, Taguig


From acknowledging their family and fellow queens to sending messages of empowerment to other women, these pageant contestants understood that they were standing on that stage molded by people and representing not just themselves. Being able to bridge the personal with something bigger than oneself during a Q&A segment is a commendable move, signifying their willingness to look beyond selfish intentions.


In a historically controversial event, these women taking control of their own narrative and standing as inspirational figures can serve as a reminder that we have come so far as a society, but also that we still have a long ways to go.

While choice feminism (in terms of women choosing to participate in beauty pageants) can be counterproductive in terms of progressing as a society, finding the silver lining means insisting plenty of people can still be inspired by the message that women can speak up, lead, and pursue whatever they want to—which has not always been the case.

This insistence is popular rhetoric in defense of beauty pageants. From the advocacies candidates are expected to champion, to the very idea that women beauty queens hold power as empowering, inspiring individuals, there are aspects to beauty pageants that can have significant impact on other people.


From talking about the patriarchal conditions Filipino women struggle with—ironically, in an event that has always faced much valid criticism for upholding patriarchal ideals—to touching on colorism, Christi McGarry and Miss Universe Philippines 2024 Chelsea Manalo were able to bring up social issues that limit the women of today. Had they had more time, they probably could have served a more comprehensive examination of the social issues they mentioned.

To be “limitless” (as Stacey Gabriel says) women, all forms of oppression must be abolished. In an ideal world, no person is exploited, commodified, or objectified. Despite its best efforts to appear as if it’s evolving into something more holistically empowering and inclusive, the beauty pageant industry is still an exploitative industry that promotes unrealistic standards and the objectification of women. But we can’t expect pageant contestants to say all that on stage, can we?


At the end of the day, people can say all they want about pageants—how it’s not a UN convention therefore there’s no need for deep discussion, how we shouldn’t take it seriously, how it’s just a business. But we can’t ignore how much it impacts people and culture. As long as people care about Miss Universe and beauty pageants—and we can see that people still do—they will be relevant to talk about.

So, the Miss Universe Q&A segment on its own, as it exists today, is an avenue for ideas. And we can hear so much more insightful thoughts and ideas from these women if pageants truly championed beauty in more forms than just physical. Instead, the Q&A segment gets 10 minutes out of a five-hour show and we only barely get a hint of insight from these women who are meant to be inspirations.

It doesn’t seem like the public will be doing away with beauty pageants any time soon, despite all the calls to abolish them. But there are many ways they can be far more productive should they continue. At the very least, putting more emphasis on what these candidates have to say, what they have to champion, on such a huge platform, would allow people to see just how much women can make an impact on the world—or rather, the universe.

Images from @themissuniverseph on Instagram.

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