FEATURE 2/3: The Reality of Life Behind These Drought Breakers

In just a span of 3 years, the Philippines has won it’s 4th Miss Universe crown. For the past 9 editions of the pageant, the country was able to secure a straight streak Top 10 spot in the finals. The country is unstoppable in maintaining it’s status as one of the Powerhouses when it comes to beauty pageant next to Venezuela, USA, Puerto Rico and India. Filipinos are going crazy as they are enjoying their current status in the pageant world. People from around the world including the neighboring countries in Asia have been looking forward to every contestants we send for almost ten years. Even the latin community have been very observant in the pageant system in the Philippines.

Miss Universe 2010 4th Runner up, Venus Raj at the Question and Answer Round
These people would never thought that if they will look back to the years where Philippines placement in the pageant was considered to be in the dark age era. For more than a decade, the country has not placed in the Top 16 Semifinalists. It was the darkest moment of these Filipino pageant fans. They are instead happy everytime our representatives would be hit by the cameras. The success of this status started right after then Miss Universe Philippines 2010, Ma. Venus Raj finished as 4th runner up in the pageant calling her the Philippines’ drought breaker. She is the reason why all the Filipinos are enjoying their status as the undeniable Powerhouse of Beauty.
Early Life and Education
Maria Venus Raj was born in Doha, Qatar to an Indian father and a Filipino mother, the youngest of five children. She was taken by her mother to Bato, Camarines Sur in the Bicolandia, and was registered under perjury by her aunt as a Philippine-born child and grew up with her mother, a former tenant farmer and dressmaker. For the first two decades of her life, she lived in a nipa hut that is made of wood, bamboo and anahaw leaves, without electricity, in the middle of a sprawling rice field. She allegedly used rice paddy dikes for her early training, where she eventually developed her distinctive walk. She started out by joining local beauty pageants, as well as oratorical contests at San Vicente High School, where her English teacher served as her coach. Using the prize money won in major contests, she then bought land on an installment basis for her mother as a means of improving their livelihood.
She obtained her bachelor’s degree in communication arts, major in journalism, at Bicol University in Legazpi City, with Latin honors (cum laude). She graduated through the scholarship that she received from the Francis Papica Foundation. She initially worked as an Information Assistant for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for Bicol Region. It was at this time that she also worked as a part-time fashion model in both her native Bicol and Manila. In 2017, Raj completed her master’s degree in community development from the University of the Philippines Diliman.
Miss Universe Philippines 2010
After joining Miss Philippines Earth in 2008, Raj took a break from beauty contests and worked as an Information Assistant at the regional office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. 2010, she was crowned Binibining Pilipinas Universe 2010 during the pageant’s Grand Coronation Night at the Araneta Coliseum. She won the right to represent the Philippines at the 2010 Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas, Nevada. She also won the special awards Best in Long Gown, Best in Philippine Terno, and was a co-winner for Miss Friendship – a rare feat for a major title winner.
Ma. Venus Raj being crowned as Miss Universe Philippines 2010

A few weeks after her coronation, Raj was dethroned by Binibining Pilipinas Charities, Inc., citing alleged inconsistencies between her birth certificate and the personal account of her birth. Raj was briefly succeeded by Second Runner-up Helen Nicolette Henson, since First Runner-up Diane Elaine S. Necio–also from Bicol–was only 17 years old and thus below the contest’s minimum age requirement. She had planned to take legal action on the BPCI’s decision, but she also weighed in on her decision because of its potential impact on her future career. Francis Padua Papica (whose foundation provided Raj’s university scholarship) and another lawyer volunteered to act as her counsel pro bono; they led supporters in sending an appeal on Raj’s case to the Miss Universe Organization.

In a local television appearance, Raj stated that a representative for Miss Universe 2010 spoke with her and looked into her case. In the same interview, she said, “My fight is now more than just chasing a dream. It is about clearing my soiled reputation. It is about standing up for people who are poor and born out of wedlock. It is a fight for acceptance.”

On 10 April 2010, the Binibining Pilipinas Charities, Inc. allowed Raj to reclaim her title due to humanitarian reasons. An additional requirement that Raj should legally obtain a valid Philippine passport as proof of her true citizenship was also requested by the pageant organizers.

On 19 May 2010, the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs finally issued Raj a Philippine passport thereby attesting to her Filipino citizenship.[9] According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, Raj is a Philippine citizen by virtue of the jus sanguinis principle (“right of blood”), a basic right provided by the Philippine Constitution which bestows upon a person the citizenship of his father or mother regardless of where the person was born, thus declaring her of Filipino citizenship. Upon issuance of her Philippine passport, Binibining Pilipinas Charities, Inc. announced that it would reinstate Raj. She is the first dethroned Binibining Pilipinas to have her crown reinstated.
Watch out for the last article of this 3-story-feature artile of Vietnam and Philippines’ drought breakers.

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