Celeste Cortesi is a woman of beauty, confidence, and grace who knows and advocates for what she believes in.
With her attention-grabbing beauty courtesy of her Filipino-Italian heritage, Celeste Cortesi is a head-turner in every room she enters. It’s just one of the many reasons why she was chosen as Miss Universe Philippines 2022 and is set to represent the country in one of the most important events in Philippine society. But aside from her looks, one aspect that has made Celeste a formidable queen is the way she carries herself and speaks on topics near and dear to her heart. She isn’t afraid to get real, which makes us love her even more. Here are some of the times Celeste shared some words of wisdom.
LOVING HER HERITAGE
Celeste was born to an Italian father and a Filipino mother and admits that she initially wasn’t so connected to her Filipino roots growing up in Italy. But that didn’t stop Celeste from traveling to the Philippines alone at just 19 years old to explore the country and be closer to her Filipino side. She put in the work when she could have easily just ignored it. Still, some people don’t consider Celeste a true Filipino, a criticism she has addressed in the past. “Everyday I still read so many comments questioning and doubting my Filipino heritage. It is unfortunate and sad but I hope that by watching this video you’ll get all the answers,” she wrote in the caption of her Instagram post about her trip to Italy to reunite with her mom.
She continues, “Proud to be a Filipina, proud to represent the Philippines with all my heart, and proud of my Italian heritage too. Don’t ever be afraid to show who you are, to share your story with all the struggles and challenges in between. You have no idea the power you can hold by being your true and authentic self and how many people you can positively impact around you.” Spoken like a true queen.
DEALING WITH HATERS
Given the high-stakes nature of beauty pageants, it’s no surprise that people have tried to come for Celeste. But even if people try to throw shade her way, she doesn’t respond with hate, but with love. A few months ago, malicious edits of Celeste began making the rounds on the internet suggesting that she got plastic surgery.
The beauty queen then took to her Instagram stories to address the issue, in particular telling her fans to not fight fire and fire. “I invite my fans to not answer and fight back please. If you want to protect me, then simply use the hashtag #kindness campaign. Let’s not engage with any form of hate.” Even when the going gets tough, Celeste will always lead with love.
THE POWER OF TRYING AGAIN
In case you didn’t know, Miss Universe Philippines isn’t the first Filipino pageant Celeste has competed and won in. In 2018, she was crowned Miss Earth Philippines, but was sadly not able to take home the Miss Earth crown that year. At the time, Celeste could barely speak English and was thrust into a world that she barely knew. “I didn’t know the meaning of beauty pageants at the time, like your purpose, the fact that you’re carrying the whole country. It’s a heavy weight and you have to be ready for the responsibility,” Celeste shared in an interview with Dr. Vicki Belo on reflecting on her past failure. But despite the torrent of emotions she was facing at the time, Celeste decided to stay in the Philippines, put in the work, learn the language, and grow into the person she is today.
As she told Dyan Castillejo, “I had two choices: one was to go back to Italy, to my comfort zone, and the other one was to stay in the Philippines and learn. And I decided to learn the language, the culture, and tradition, and I decided to stay because I wanted to show that you can do whatever you want to do as long as you are committed to it.” It took four years for Celeste to prepare herself to become the queen that she is today. But all that hard work paid off as she hopes to become the next Miss Universe from the Philippines.
FOCUSING ON MENTAL HEALTH
When Celeste won Miss Universe Philippines 2022 back in April, she immediately went into training mode to prepare for the main competition. But it’s not the physical preparations that Celeste says she struggled with the most, it was her mental state. In interviews, she said that controlling her mind to avoid the negative thoughts from consuming her is one of the hardest things she’s had to learn. “Sometimes you just want to give up. You just listen to the opinions of others. That’s the time you really have to block everything and focus on yourself.”
To that end, she says that she avoids using social media too much and speaks positive affirmations to herself when she wakes up. It shows that she recognizes the importance of mental health when participating in a high-stakes competition like Miss Universe and in general. It’s a key component that some people forget with regards to competitions that usually focus on physical qualities.
CHAMPIONING YOUR ADVOCACIES
Being Miss Universe doesn’t just mean being a pretty face. It’s also about championing important causes you believe in. And for Celeste, that manifests in working with Save The Children to help underprivileged kids around the country. “That’s something I wanted to bring to the Miss Universe stage, to amplify the voices of these children,” she expressed in an interview with CNN Philippines. Her purpose in the competition goes beyond herself because she knows her platform can be used to support bigger things.
KEEPING IT REAL
There are many words you can use to describe Celeste Cortesi, but fake is not one of them. Ever since she won the MU PH 2022 title, Celeste has been vocal about her struggles in life and embracing who you are. She’s not afraid to be real and wants to inspire others to do the same and live their truth. “I’ve always wanted to challenge this idea that a beauty queen has to be perfect like she cannot make any mistakes, she has to act and dress a certain way. I wanted to go inside the competition knowing who I am wanting to be real, authentic, and relatable, and that’s the message I want to give to people.”
Comparing Celeste from 2018 to now is like talking about two different people. She also hasn’t been shy about how big of a transformation she has gone through. It’s a part of her life she’s proud of and something she feels is not that hard to replicate. “They’re looking for a transformational leader,” is what Celeste said when asked who she thought the Miss Universe judges were looking for. Her life story then fits that to a T, but is also something that anyone can achieve. “I feel like everyone can be a transformational leader in a different way. In my transformation, I became strong, independent, and purpose-driven.”
Celeste is living proof that you can change for the better as long as you put your heart and mind into it. It’s a kind of transformation that can even inspire others to do the same.