Miss Philippines Megan Young won the title of Miss World on Saturday, beating 126 contestants from around the globe. She is the first woman from the Philippines to win the beauty competition.
"Thank you so much to everyone for choosing me to be the next Miss World," Young said just after the crowning in Bali, Indonesia. "I promise to be the best Miss World ever."
The 23-year-old digital filmmaking student was born in the United States but moved to the Philippines at the age of 10. She has starred in films and television shows since she was a teenager, and would like to work behind the camera as a director after she finishes school, according to her pageant profile.
During the interview portion of the competition, the contestants were asked to describe why they should become the next Miss World. Wearing a pale pink gown, Young expressed her desire to "show other people how they can understand each other" and her belief that "as one we shall help society."
Former Miss Scotland Jennifer Reoch and Irish television presenter Kamal Ibrahim hosted the 63rd annual competition, which kicked off with an opening ceremony in Jakarta on Sept. 8th. The ladies participated in seven preliminary rounds and challenge events with categories like “beach fashion,” “beauty with a purpose,” “top model,” and "sports and fitness."
Last year’s pageant winner was Miss China Wenxia Yu, a music student who said she would like to go into teaching. The event was hosted at Dongsheng Stadium in the northeastern city of Ordos, China.
Miss World 2013 was fraught with an unusual amount of drama — and not the standard beauty pageant variety of behind-the-scenes backstabbing.
The controversy started in June, when Miss World organizers announced that the contestants would be wearing one-piece swimsuits, some covered by sarongs, instead of bikinis, after several conservative groups in the predominantly Muslim country protested against the revealing swimwear traditionally worn by contestants.
The Islamic Defenders Front, an extremist group known for their sometimes violent demonstrations against bars, pornography and prostitution, held protests in the weeks before the pageant, according to the Associated Press. Even more mainstream Indonesian religious groups vocalized their dissatisfaction with the beauty contest, calling for the show to be banned in the country.
Three weeks before the competition, the government made a sudden venue switch, moving the show from Jakarta to the Hindu-dominated province of Bali, the AP reported. But the drama continued as members of the Islamic Defenders Front urged protesters to make their way to Bali to protest, despite the organization's heightened security measures. British, Australian and U.S. embassies issued alerts to their citizens to be on alert for a possibly violent attack.
Not everyone was in agreement with the extremist fringe groups. Many Indonesians welcomed the competition and were dismayed when the government gave into their demands.
"The decision was changed so quickly just because of pressure from a certain group," Hary Tanoesoedibjo, head of Miss World sponsor MNC media group, said at a news conference before the event. "We are worried this will create the perception that we are a weak nation."
Despite the protests, the event went off without a hitch and no rallies were staged.