Miss Philippines was crowned Miss Universe on Monday in Bangkok after a trailblazing ceremony praised for featuring its first transgender candidate but marred by gaffes about the English-speaking ability of two Asian contestants.
Catriona Gray, 24, finished first ahead of the South African and Venezuelan finalists in the glittering televised event hosted by American comic turned TV host Steve Harvey and supermodel Ashley Graham.
In the final round, Gray earned applause describing her work in the slums of the Philippine capital Manila.
After winning she told reporters she would like to expand her work with an organisation in the Philippines that promotes education on HIV and AIDS.
“A few years ago I lost a close friend to health complications with HIV,” she said.
“So spreading awareness on that cause and encouraging people to get the simple test and knowing their status is definitely one of my first projects that I’d like to pursue.”
Gray’s victory was closely followed in the Philippines, where beauty pageants are hugely popular.
Social media exploded with clips of fans jumping for joy and hugging each other as the Filipina contestant went through each successive round and eventually won.
A spokesman for President Rodrigo Duterte in a statement praised Gray’s win for putting the Philippines on the world map “for its beauty and elegance