Despite a wave of Muslim protests in Indonesia leading up to and during the Miss World 2013 contest, held in Bali, the competition moved forward without major incident and was won by Megan Young of the Philippines on Sunday. Although Philippine contestants have won Miss Universe and Miss International a number of times, the 23-year-old Young was the first Miss Philippines to clinch the Miss World title. She beat out second and third runners-up Miss France Marine Lorphelin and Miss Ghana Naa Okailey Shooter, succeeding Miss World 2012, China’s Yu Wenxia.
“I promise to be the best Miss World ever,” she said after receiving the crown from Yu.
She followed this by thanking her fellow compatriots in Tagalog: “Salamat sa mga kababayan ko. Mahal na mahal ko kayo.” (“Thank you to my countrymen, I love you very much.”)
Although born in the United States, Young has lived in the Philippines since the age of 10. In response to the news, Philippine President Benigno Aquino’s communications secretary Ramon Carandang congratulated her on government radio, saying, “This is another Filipino who has gone out there…and shown the rest of the world what we can do as Filipinos and another reason for us to be proud. Finally, the blue-beaded crown for the Philippines.”
The event was originally scheduled to take place in Bali before moving to Jakarta. However, this plan was derailed by protests staged by hardline Muslims. The entire contest was held in Bali instead, following protesters who decried the pageant as a “whore contest” and “pornography.” Alongside forcing the cancellation of the Jakarta portion of the event, the protests also pressured event organizers to scrap the bikini contest in favor of a more straight-laced “beach fashion” segment that included the donning of Indonesia’s native beach garment, the sarong. The venue where the competition was staged was guarded by heavily armed police and water cannons. Similar protests forced pop icon Lady Gaga to cancel the Indonesian leg of her 2012 tour.
In contrast to the protests that engulfed many cities across the Indonesian archipelago, to the northeast, Filipino celebrants flooded social media sites to congratulate Young. One tweeted: “Feeling proud. The beauty of the Pinay (Filipina) has come out on top.”
Another wrote: “I'm so proud of you Megan. You prove that we're beautiful. I'm proud to be a Filipino.”
Born to an American father and a Filipina mother, Young is a digital film making student at De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde in the Philippines. She has been acting in films since the age of 15 and has served as a television presenter.