Stephanie Retuya, the Philippines’ representative to the reality-model search Asia’s Next Top Model, almost got the coveted title.

The 23-year-old stunner from San Pedro, Laguna bagged first runner-up in the Asian franchise of America’s Next Top Model, reports. Thai model Jessica Amornkuldilok won the Top Model crown, while Taiwanese beauty Kate Ma placed third.

For the show’s finale, Stephanie, Jessica, and Kate shot a TV commercial for Canon, had a photo shoot for Harper’s Bazaar, and had walked down a runway wearing the creations of Singaporean designer Frederick Lee. America’s Next Top Model creator and host Tyra Banks flew all the way to Singapore, where the finale was shot, to judge the models.

Tyra was impressed with Stephanie’s commercial, as well as her runway walk. “I thought your runway walk was spectacular. You have sass but you're also very sweet. This is a model now although she is not modelling,” she said.

However, Tyra found the results of Stephanie’s photo shoot lacking. “You were thinking strength but not giving strength,” she had said.

Stephanie had only begun her modeling career last year when she had to put it on hold because of an unexpected pregnancy. Her entry into the finals came as a big surprise to many viewers since she was never proclaimed the winner of any photo challenges. In addition, she also found herself in the bottom two five times, making her an underdog in comparison to Jessica, who was an early favorite in the competition.

As the winner of Asia’s Next Top Model, Jessica won a contract with London-based Storm Models Management, the same agency that represents supermodels Kate Moss and Cindy Crawford, as well as a three-month, all expense-paid working trip to London. Jessica will also be on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar and is slated to appear as the face of the 2013 campaign of Canon’s IXUS camera line. In addition, she will receive a Subaru XV and a 100,000 Singapore dollar cash prize.

(Photo via Asia’s Next Top Model)

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