22-year-old Melanie Balagtas, an aspiring model and singer, took home both titles at this year's annual beauty pageant held at the Fiesta Kultura in Sydney.
Melanie, a store manager who is currently studying Primary Teaching at the University of Western Sydney, was ecstatic when her name was announced as Charity Queen Australia 2013. Minutes later, it was another emotional moment as one of the judges called her name as winner of Miss Philippines-Australia 2013.
She bested 14 other candidates after scoring high marks across four categories: terno (Filipiniana), swimwear, evening gown and Q&A. She also took home 'Best in Swimwear' and 'Best in Filipiniana', two of six additional awards presented on the night.
Melanie shared her elation on Facebook, thanking her family (especially her brother), friends, sponsors and the pageant crew for their support.
"A massive thank you to my brother Francis for staying up and shouldering all the stress so that I would not need to, and a massive thank you to all the organisations who have supported me."
It has been an emotional year for Melanie whose father passed away this year.
"Daddy, I hope you were watching! I hope I made you proud! I am so proud to be walking tonight carrying your lucky number," she said.
The Miss Philippines-Australia quest is organised annually by the Philippine Australian Sports and Culture Inc. (PASC, Inc). Each candidate usually represent a community association or several community groups, which would then help them raise funds for charity.
This year, there were 14 other candidates namely Yvonne Amores (Miss Photogenic), Melanie Brodie, Nicole Collins (Runner Up for Charity Queen and Runner up for Miss Philippines-Australia), Cassandra Dawson, Victoria Giampietro, Dominique Giberson, Katrina Joy Gorman, Darlene Macabulos (Best in Gown and Miss Friendship), Sophia Matillano, Kattlen Quiza, Janellie Santos (Miss Popularity), Vanessa Anne Sims, Mary Ubay and Chandra Vidar.
The judging panel consisted of 12 members, including Consul Marford Angeles, Miss Australia 2013 (representing Australia for Miss Asia Pacific World) Jennifer Hunt and Philippine music legend now based in Sydney, Jim Paredes.
Photo credit: Bob Reyes