Winner proud of her culture

IT wasn't about promoting world peace or talking up internal beauty.

For recently crowned Miss Philippines Australia 2013 Melanie Balagtas it was about becoming a positive role model in the Filipino-Australian community.

"The purpose of this pageant is to teach young women today to really embrace Filipino culture with Australian culture," Ms Balagtas of Doonside said.

"I take pride in our community and in the Filipino culture.

"I wanted to be that representative that helped younger people to open their eyes to Filipino culture."

Ms Balagtas, 22, beat 14 other candidates after scoring high marks across four categories including the traditional Filipino wear, swimwear, evening gown and in the Q&A.

The local beauty queen said she was in "complete shock" when she was announced this year's winner. "There were a lot of mixed cultures in the pageant," Ms Balagtas said.

"There were Italian-Filipinos and Australian-Filipinos.

"Being a pure Filipino it was very intimidating because the half-raced people are well known for being really beautiful.

"So for me to actually win the title, it really brightened me up."

As the reigning queen, she is required to take part in community events. She will travel to the Philippines in January to distribute funds to charities and she will also star in Filipino TV shows.

Ms Balagtas was also crowned Charity Queen Australia 2013. She raised $14,000 — which was more than any other contestant — to take the title.

The proceeds raised through sponsorship, raffles and ticket sales were donated to a number of charities which the pageant supports.

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