Matea Mahal Smith is Miss Filipina International 2023, 1st winner of Filipino and Black descent
Smith, 21, became the first winner of Filipino and Black descent in the 10-year history of the pageant. A student of Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience at University of Florida, Smith hopes to become a trauma surgeon and positively impact people’s lives.
Last year’s winner, Blessa Ericha Figueroa, put the stunning brand new MFI crown, made of Swiss blue topaz, Japanese pearls, and other gems, custom-designed by royalty designer Narcisa Pheres, on the head of Smith. The crown was presented by Jimenez while Michelle Dee, the reigning Miss Universe Philippines, put the sash on Smith.
Amanda Russo, born in Christiana, Delaware with family roots in Angeles City, Pampanga, bagged the Miss Filipina International Tourism title. The 18-year-old Finance and International Business student at Penn State University also considers her mom as her biggest inspiration. She wants to give back to the Filipino community and find ways to better the lives of elders
The other winners were Lauren Skeoch, first runner-up; Patricia Bianca Tapia, second runner-up; and Rylen Faith Steinbuch, third runner-up. Russo and these winners will receive cash prizes and iSkin gift certificates.
In partnership with Jonas Gaffud’s Empire Philippines, three MFI winners will be eligible to compete next year in Miss Universe Philippines while two MFI winners will vie in The Miss Philippines pageant.
From a field of 36 lovely aspirants representing various states across America and several countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom and the Philippines, 15 semi-finalists were chosen: Denisse Nicole Samaniego, Dakota Swart, Hannah Angelica Marte, Mary Ann Monda, Rylen Faith Steinbuch, Kelly McIlroy, Beatriz Mclelland, Matea Mahal Smith, Kawena Janessa Kanhai, Lauren Skeoch, Patricia Bianca Tapia, Jessica Zemanek, Amanda Russo, Heather Casignia, and Issha Rose Mata.
The winners in other categories and of sponsor awards were: best in evening gown, Manila International Film Festival Award and Enagic Water Ambassador, Beatriz Mclelland; photogenic, iSkin award and Philippine Airlines award, Rylen Faith Steinbuch; talent, Jessica Zemanek; best national costume, Hope Corpus; Miss Eloquent, Heather Casignia; best in glam, Mary Ann Monda; Jojo Bragais Walk + Win Challenge, Amanda Russo; and Legaspi Tax Ambassador, Alyanna Joelle Santos. (Rappler.Com)