Miss Universe bets from Bahrain, Pakistan, Egypt say Philippines gives the best pageant training
CEBU CITY, Philippines—The 2023 Miss Universe delegates are already enjoying the pageant’s 72nd edition in El Salvador, and among them are ladies who received training from Filipino mentors aside from the country’s bet Michelle Dee.
“Well of course the Philippines is a pageant training powerhouse. So, I’m so grateful that I got to learn here and I got to learn from some of the best over here,” Miss Universe Bahrain Lujane Yacoub said in a media gathering last month at the Edsa Shangri-la in Mandaluyong City before she left for the international competition.
Erica Robin, Pakistan’s first-ever representative in the Miss Universe pageant, joined Yacoub for training. “I’m just very blessed. It’s my first time ever in a pageant and that’s Miss Universe, and I’m being trained by the best team I could ever imagine,” she said.
Egypt is staging a comeback in the Miss Universe arena after a three-year break through Mohra Tantawy, who prepared for the pageant together with Yacoub and Robin. “The three of us are going to give it 120 percent on the stage in El Salvador, and we’re so excited for you to see all the hard work us and the team have put into our training,” she declared.
The three international beauties are under the stewardship of Josh Yugen, a Filipino marketing practitioner and magazine publisher based in the Middle East, and the franchise holder and national director of Miss Universe for Bahrain, Egypt, and Pakistan.
He brought Yacoub, Robin and Tantawy to the Philippines in October to expose them to the country’s culture, snag several endorsements, and especially to prepare them for the Miss Universe pageant. They stayed in the country for about three weeks and underwent “pasarela” (pageant walk), makeup, styling and interview sessions with Filipino mentors.
Among those who trained them was pageant walk mentor Ian Mendajar, who has gained international fame with his social media presence and online pasarela videos.
Tantawy said Yugen flaunted the prospect of being trained by Mendajar to the Miss Universe Egypt contestants, and she and the rest of the candidates got excited upon hearing it. “I could see just the fire in their eyes, and just excel two times more to get to train with Ian,” she said.
Yacoub, for her part, said Mendajar “taps into every single one of our unique abilities and our personalities. It’s not like he wants us to copy anyone or take all the inspiration from someone. He acknowledges that I’m not trying to copy Catriona Gray. I’m not trying to be the next Pia Wurtzbach. I’m trying to be Lujane.”
Robin said transitioning to pasarela from the walk she has been accustomed to as a model has been a challenge. “Ian, he just put my personality in the walk and just pushed me to a level where I was able to portray my personality in the world, the type of person I am. So it has helped me not just be better in walking, but to feel confident, to look beautiful, to embrace my inner personality,” she explained.
Yacoub, Tantawy, and Robin are competing with Dee and 81 other international delegates in the 72nd Miss Universe pageant to succeed reigning queen R’Bonney Gabriel. The winner will be known on Nov. 18 (Nov. 19 in Manila).