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One of the Filipino Judges at Miss Universe 2018 Reveals Insider Details About the Pageant

Architect and entrepreneur Richelle Louise Singon-Michael takes us behind the scenes.
IMAGE COURTESY RICHELLE SINGSON-MICHAEL
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Architect and Platinum Skies Aviation CEO Richelle Louise Singson-Michael is no stranger to being involved in beauty pageants. As vice chairwoman of the LCS Group of Companies, she oversaw and managed the 65th Miss Universe competition when it was hosted by the Philippines last year.

This year became even more special, as she was part of the first-ever all-women panel of judges for Miss Universe 2018 held in Thailand, along with another Filipina, bridal and fashion designer Monique Lhuillier. The same all-women panel sat through both the preliminary and final rounds of the competition—another first in more than 20 years. 

“Having understood the turmoil behind organizing this international event from hosting it in 2016, I can say that the best thing about it this time is that I am experiencing the event as a guest and talent of the Miss Universe [Organization] (MUO),” Singson-Michael tells Town&Country in an exclusive interview. ”I was completely stress-free. I was not carrying the responsibility of the successful outcome of the event. My sole responsibility was to be fully equipped in getting to know all the contestants to be able to aptly contribute in determining  the winner.” 

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Prior to the finals Singson-Michael shared some details about the judging process, even posting on Facebook a video of the pageant’s “profile book” that contained important details about each candidate, which the judges had to review and write notes on throughout the competition.

These are all ladies of substance and are already Miss Universe winners in their respective countries. They each bring with them wisdom from challenges that they have experienced and inspiration from the advocacies that they promote. To maintain the integrity of our thoughts, we do not speak to each other about the contestants nor do we cross paths with them outside their turn during the competition. The selection process is quite consuming and I am proud to take this enjoyable job seriously. I have read all their bios and have written a fair share of notes on the profile book. (My notes are in Tagalog so that only I can understand). A Miss Universe should be someone confident yet humble, and empowered enough to be able to make positive changes within communities as well as the global scene. She should be able to inspire others and raise awareness for her philanthropic endeavors, conducting everything so very beautifully. #missuniverse #missuniverse2018

Posted by Richelle Louise Singson-Michael on Thursday, December 13, 2018

“To maintain the integrity of our thoughts, we [the judges] do not speak to each other about the contestants nor do we cross paths with them outside their turn during the competition. The selection process is quite consuming and I am proud to take this enjoyable job seriously,” she said. “I have read all their bios and have written a fair share of notes on the profile book. (My notes are in Tagalog so that only I can understand).”

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She shared more details about the very strict protocols of MUO to Town&Country: ”We stayed in a separate hotel; and during times we were in the same building such as during preliminary interviews at their hotel or at the arena, it was made sure that should any of us travel to the bathroom, we would be escorted to ensure that there were no contestants crossing. It would be an unfair advantage if a contestant would be able to greet us, have a chat with us or even smile at us up close and personal without giving the other contestants the same advantage.”

On what she thinks the winner should possess? ”A Miss Universe should be someone confident yet humble, and empowered enough to be able to make positive changes within communities as well as the global scene. She should be able to inspire others and raise awareness for her philanthropic endeavors, conducting everything so very beautifully,” she    wrote on Facebook. 

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According to Singson-Michael, the top 20 finalists were selected through the preliminary rounds—interviews, swimsuit competition, and gown competition. She believed that for the finals night, what would play a huge impact and role was stage presence.


“Answering questions in front of a few judges during personality interviews is very different from answering questions in front of a live audience. If I remember my notes correctly, Miss Universe is broadcasted to almost 170 territories with over 600 million viewers. That’s quite a lot of pressure. Whoever can exude that beautiful and fun confidence the most on stage while constructing witty and intelligent responses really deserves the crown,” she shared.

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Of course, Singson-Michael can only be proud to have crowned the Philippines’ very own Catriona Gray as Miss Universe 2018. ”Catriona already stood out from the onset during the personality interviews. We were divided into two groups of panels. From her interview on my side, you could see that she was someone who exuded confidence,” she tells Town&Country. ”She was relaxed; she was having fun while at the same time providing well constructed responses with substance. I believe she also did well with the other group of judges because I heard from my end that she even started singing to them!”

Apart from nailing the Q&A segment of the final competition and stunning everyone with her red gown, Gray has been commended for her charity work that began even before joining beauty pageants, which focused on education for the poor.

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About The Author
Nicole Limos Morales
Contributing Beauty Editor
Nicole is the former managing editor of Town&Country. After working as features editor and beauty editor of the title’s print edition for 6 years, she helped launch Townandcountry.ph in 2016, creating new concepts and story formats, analyzing data, and mastering digital audiences—establishing the title to become the Philippines’ leading luxury lifestyle website. She left her full-time position in 2019 to focus on family life, while carrying on writing beauty content for T&C as a contributing editor. “I think what’s amazing about beauty is that in its arena, you can really only be a skeptic for so long,” she says. “There will always be a product that will make you believe.”
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