Chelsea Manalo Becomes First Black Filipino Woman To Be Crowned Miss Universe Philippines


May 30, 2024

We already know Black women reign supreme, but Miss Philippines just made it official. On Wednesday, May 22nd, Chelsea Manalo became the first Black woman to be crowned Miss Universe Philippines and will represent the island nation in the Miss Universe global pageant

Born to a Filipino mother and African American father and representing the Bulacan province, the 24-year-old former model surpassed 52 other contestants from around the archipelago nation and, in the process, shattered traditional beauty ideals held in the Philippines. 

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“As a woman of color, I have always faced challenges in my life. I was told that beauty has standards, actually,” Manalo said during the question and answer portion of the competition when asked on stage how she would use her beauty to empower others. “Because of these, I am already influencing a lot of women who are facing me right now.”

As a child, Manalo faced bullying due to her dark skin color and hair texture. But thanks to the love and support of friends and family, she overcame this and ” realize[d] that I am beautiful in my own extraordinary way,” she told the packed arena.

“I think Chelsea is a breath of fresh air in terms of qualities for a candidate in a beauty pageant,” Manalo’s manager, Manny Halasan, told Vogue Philippines following her win. “Her looks, physique, background as a model, as a breadwinner to her family, the authenticity of her character, the various faces and style that she is capable to pull through, the sincerity in her answers, the imperfections and inaccuracies—these altogether made her stood out.”


Over 100 countries will be represented at Miss Universe 2024, and Manalo is hoping to earn the fifth title for her home country. If she wins, she will join fellow Miss Universe winners, including Gloria Diaz’s win in 1969, Margie Moran in 1973, Pia Wurtzbach in 2015 (who was granted the title after Steve Harvey notoriously flubbed and declared the wrong winner during the live ceremony), and Catriona Gray, the last Filipino to win the title in 2018.

Cover photo: Chelsea Manalo Becomes First Black Filipino Woman To Be Crowned Miss Universe Philippines / Photo courtesy of Chelsea Anne Manalo

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