"Nothing is ever given to you for free; you have to work hard for it." This was one of the striking phrases Pia said in her speech during the homecoming press conference held at Novotel last Sunday. While Pia has been busy with her duties as reigning Miss Universe, she made sure to fly back to the Philippines not only to share her experience, but also to thank everyone who supported her as well as to the judges. "Thank you to the judges, that night, who saw something in me, and chose me unanimously."

She recounted some of the most memorable moments she had during the pageant, one of which was during registration. Pia jokingly said that there’s no such thing as Filipino time since she was early on that special day. "I think it was the first time they pinned the sash on me, I was the first one to arrive that day–I was actually country number one." When the sash was finally given to her, she said she had to step back a little to find a mirror because she wanted to see how it looked on her.

Another time she will always remember is when she graced the stage wearing her majestic blue gown made by Filipino designer Albert Andrada while singer Seal serenaded her. "I’m so happy that we’re finally able to wear a dress made by a Filipino designer in Miss Universe. It’s something that I have been looking forward to–and it finally happened."

Pia even mentioned that while she was walking during the evening gown competition, she saw the Philippine flag being waved and she said, "I’ve never been more proud to be a Filipina."

"Hope my story becomes an inspiration of determination, discipline, faith, and hard work. Never give up on your dreams! I hope people learn this lesson."

Congratulations again, and welcome back, Pia!

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