Miss Universe candidates have begun to arrive in the Philippines. In fact, 16 candidates already flew to Boracay for a visit this morning. One, however, went to Pangasinan for a more personal reason.
Before she officially starts her pageant-related activities, Tania Dawson -- who is representing New Zealand in the Miss Universe pageant -- found time to head to Pangasinan to visit relatives. "The 24-year-old music and drama teacher spent a day with her relatives at Urdaneta Garden Resort," reports Pep.ph.
Yes, Dawson happens to be half-Filipino, and she has visited Philippines before. Three days ago, she shared on Instagram a photo that shows her in an Igorot costume in Burnham Park, Baguio. According to her caption, it was taken back in 2012.
Above was another throwback photo she shared (she is third from right), also taken in 2012, which she captioned: "This is with my Filipino family. Can't wait to be reunited."
In an interview with Stuff.co.nz, Dawson says her mom encouraged her for years to enter a beauty pagant. "In the Philippines, pageants are regarded as a family honor and there is a huge amount of respect for them," she said in the interview. "I thought I'd give it a go and next thing you know, I was enjoying them."
Dawson credits the beauty pageant for encouraging her to step out of her comfort zone. She will join the rest of the Miss Universe contestants for the pageant coronation, set on January 30, 2017. Contestants are already in the country to prepare for other pageant-related activities like fashion shows in Vigan and Davao.