Out of the millions of ladies, one who hails from Mindanao’s war-torn provinces—North Cotabato, gained the right to have represented the Philippines at the 63rd Miss Universe Pageant.
Among the 88 candidates, the country’s beautiful bet—27-year old Mary Jean “MJ” Lastimosa, is an epitome of an independent modern-day Filipina. Through the support of three scholarships, and her strong will to prove that she will survive and succeed a male-dominated college, MJ graduated Computer Engineering with flying colors from the University of Mindanao.
Living in North Cotabato fortified her; and as a humanitarian, she is committed in seeking to inspire the youth of her hometown. MJ is a successful entrepreneur and a fitness advocate, who owns a fitness/spa center. She doesn’t settle for her fit physique; the 5’7” businesswoman-turned-beauty queen underwent rigorous trainings, and physical exercises in preparation of the world-renowned pageant. She was named Philippines’ Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrity by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in 2014.
Her Filipina mother (a native of Sultan Kudarat) and her father, an Arab businessman, both live abroad. She was seven when her parents left for Saudi to take care of their family business. MJ and her older sister grew up in the care of their maternal uncle—a father figure to her and greatest supporter, passed away last year. Her sister was someone who she always looked up to. Though countries apart, MJ and her parents are said to be in constant communication.
Living far from parents and faced with chaos in a hometown could in fact be traumatizing, but not for MJ, who considers herself a fighter. Her experiences only made her stronger. And in an interview, she proudly says, “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
MJ, praised for her “million-dollar smile,” is also truly admired by her co-beauties for her beauty, class, and warmth. During the pre-pageant, she also earned good reviews in the swimsuit and evening gown competitions.
At the coronation night, though her floral national costume had previously become a controversy, MJ showed what it means to be a lady that’s flawless, graceful, and composed as she went up to the stage.
She moves on to the Top 15 with other contending beauties. Short video profiles of the contestants, which talk of their passions and advocacies, were played while being introduced.
The Filipina beauty continued to the Top 10, where she was joined by those from Jamaica, Colombia, Ukraine, Argentina, Spain, Netherlands, Venezuela, Australia and the United States. Miss Universe 2015 is Miss Colombia Paulina Vega, a 22-year old business administration student from Baranquilla, Colombia.
MJ was commended by the Binibining Pilipinas Charities, Incorporated, for her admirable participation adding that “title or no title, her participation in the pageant’s global issue on peace, cultural exchange and other charity initiatives has beautifully showcased the Filipina’s beauty, intellect, and compassion.
As young as eight years old, MJ have always dreamed of being a beauty queen, and though she failed to land in the Top 5 nor bag the coveted title, she has shown that reality is bigger than dreams. Mary Jean Lastimosa has touched lives of many and has become a source of pride and great inspiration not only for her fellowmen, but to every woman.
MJ’s previous titles include: Miss Universe Philippines 2014, Bb. Pilipinas 2011 (2nd runner-up), Mutya ng Dabaw 2008, Reyna ng Aliwan 2008.

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