Miss Philippines Janine Tugonon was the first runner-up in the 2012 Miss Universe Pageant held in Las Vegas, Nevada on December 20, coming in after Miss USA Olivia Culpo, who got the much-coveted title.

Rounding up the top five are fourth-runner up Brazil, third runner-up Australia, and scond runner-up Venezuela.

During the question and answer portion, Janine was asked by celebrity photographer Nigel Barker if the ability to speak English should be a prerequisite for joining the pageant, to which she answered that language shouldn’t be an issue in joining the competition.

“For me, being Miss Universe is not just about knowing how to speak a specific language. It’s about being able to influence and inspire other people,” she was quoted as saying in an article on Inquirer.net. “If you have a heart to serve and a strong mind to show people then you can be Miss Universe.”

Janine’s triumph marks the third consecutive year that the Philippines placed in the top five of the famed beauty contest, following Shamcey Supsup, who was third runner-up in 2011, and Venus Raj, who placed fifth in 2010. This is the country’s best finish in the pageant since Miriam Quiambao won second place in 1999.

(Photo courtesy of PEP.ph)

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