Who won Miss Universe 2010? Not Miss Philippines 2010, Venus Raj. Though she was favored by oddsmakers coming into the night, her answer during the question and answer portion of the contest, in which contestants try to impress the celebrity judges, left many confused, and it had to do with her family.
Judge William Baldwin asked, “What is the biggest mistake that you’ve ever made in your life and what did you do to make it right?” (Hmm. I would have liked to hear Baldwin’s answer!) Raj replied that essentially she’d made no major mistakes. “Because I am very confident with my family, with the love that they are giving to me. So, thank you so much that I am here, thank you thank you so much.”
That was widely seen as opening the way for Miss Mexico Jimena Navarrete to win. Still, Miss Philippines, the fourth runner-up, was definitely one of the most interesting contestants. Here, five things about her, including where her mom and dad are from and why she almost didn’t make it to the pageant.
1. Raj was born in Qatar to a Filipino mom and an Indian dad.
2. She was actually stripped of her title earlier this year after inconsistencies about her birth certificate arose, which she blamed on clerical errors.
3. There was a huge outcry in the Philippines, with online petitions and Facebook groups springing up to support Raj. Finally the Filipino government stepped in and declared her a legal citizen based on jus sanguinis principle, which gives Filipino citizenship to anyone with a Filipino mom or dad regardless of where they were born.
4. The 22-year-old Catholic was praised by church officials after she refused to take part in the controversial pre-pageant photo shoot in which the contestants posted topless with body paint.
5. Raj is the youngest of five children and she grew up in Bato, where her house had no electricity.
6. She graduated cum laude from Bicol University, where she earned a degree in journalism.