As it turns out, Singapore’s bet Bernadette Belle Ong was born and raised in the Philippines by her Chinese parents. In the pageant’s Up Close video segment, the beauty queen revealed she lived in the country up until she was 11 years old!
Though she moved to Singapore with her family in 2004, Belle remains fluent in Filipino, and even humorously replied in an interview, “Laban lang diba? Push, ganun!” when asked for her message to the Filipino community in Singapore.
Fun fact: Belle is a multilingual who can perfectly speak not just Filipino, but English and Mandarin Chinese as well.
Before Miss U, the 27-year-old actress and model actually recently returned to the Philippines to train for a new pageant dubbed Miss Charm International 2019. Unfortunately, the contest, which was supposed to be held in Vietnam on March 2020, was discontinued due to COVID-19.
Thankfully, the pageant gods had other plans for Belle. Upon her return to Singapore, she was handpicked instead by Miss Universe Singapore national director Valerie Lim to represent their country in the quintessential competition.
In a video call with Rise and Shine Philippines, Belle revealed that the Singapore-based Filipino community has been nothing but supportive towards her and her Miss Universe journey. In fact, it was her Pinoy friends who convinced Belle to push through with the offer in the first place.
“During my time here, I’ve been able to build a community with Filipinos. Having that community, sila yung nagyaya sa akin na, 'O, sige, i-try mo na yung Miss Universe,'” she told Rise and Shine. “The Filipino support began even before Miss Universe even started.” She even got two Pinoy students to make her statement-making costume!
In addition to being an actress, model, and a host, Belle is also a producer and radio DJ who’s passionate about music. “I feel like music is an inspiration for many, especially at a time when there’s so much uncertainty and you don’t feel quite the way you used to be. I think music is really the great way to lift you up.”
Watch her full Up Close interview below.
The 69th Miss Universe will be staged at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida on May 16, 2021 (May 17, in Filipino time).
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This story originally appeared on Preview.ph.
* Minor edits have been made by the Candymag.com editors.