Focus on the Philippines: Filipino contestant wins Asia’s Next Top Model

Plus: Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach to star in superhero flick; Filipino movie Pedicab wins top prize in Shanghai Film Festival.

Maureen Wroblewitz on Asia's Next Top Model. Courtesy Star World
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Filipino contestant Maureen Wroblewitz has won the fifth season of the reality television series Asia's Next Top Model. During the show's final episode, which aired internationally on Star World on June 28, 18-year-old Wroblewitz beat Malaysia's Shikin Gomez and Vietnam's Minh Tu Nguyen to bag the title.

The competition’s final challenges involved a runway show held in Singapore and a fashion shoot where each contestant wore traditional attire from their home countries.

“You’re not only the youngest, you’re also the smallest of the competition,” presenter and judge Cindy Bishop told Wroblewitz. “But you have stood tall, and silenced anyone who ever doubted you.”

Wroblewitz has won a modelling contract with Storm Model Management in London and a cover feature in Nylon Singapore, among other prizes.

On social media, Wroblewitz reflected on her victory: “I still can’t believe I’m saying this … but I’m Asia’s Next Top Model! It feels like a dream and I don’t know when I’ll ever realise that all this has happened to me.”

Addressing her supporters, she wrote, “I was the last Filipina standing and a Filipina has never won before. I wanted to win this for my country – the Philippines and I’m so happy to say that I did. This is all for you guys.”

Anjelica Santillan and Jennica Sanchez, the two other Filipino contestants on the competition, were eliminated in earlier episodes. Wroblewitz is indeed the first Filipino to win the Asia's Next Top Model title, outshining the second-place finishes of Filipino models Monika Sta Maria in 2015, Jodilly Pendre in 2014 and Stephanie Retuya in 2013.

The fifth edition of the show featured 14 contenders from all over Asia. The judging panel was comprised of Bishop, Yu Tsai and Cara McIlroy. Filipino beauty queen Pia Wurtzbach was the final episode’s guest judge.

Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach to star in superhero flick

Speaking of the former Miss Universe, Pia Wurtzbach has signed on to star in her first feature film after winning the pageant in 2015.

Wurtzbach will appear with popular Filipino actors Vice Ganda and Daniel Padilla in a yet-to-be-titled superhero flick to be produced by Star Cinema, one of the country’s biggest production studios. Veteran filmmaker Joyce Bernal will be directing the project.

“I’m quite nervous because it’s my first movie, but Vice Ganda reassured me: ‘This is going to be fun.’ I don’t want to be anxious about it — I just want to really enjoy the experience,” Wurtzbach said in a press conference.

Since passing on the Miss Universe crown to France’s Iris Mittenaere last January, Wurtzbach has made multiple appearances on local and international television programmes. Back in March, she appeared in the music video for Lebanese-Canadian singer Massari’s R&B single So Long.

Wurtzbach also recently signed a three-year contract with the international talent agency IMG. She explained that through the agency, she will continue to work with the Miss Universe Foundation on select projects.

“It’s like still being Miss Universe, but just not the reigning Miss Universe,” she said. “So it’s the same — the endorsements are still there, the advocacies are very much still there. I still have to go back to New York to report to Miss Universe. From there, we’ll see how it goes.”

Filipino movie Pedicab wins top prize in Shanghai Film Festival

Filipino filmmaker Paolo Villaluna's latest movie Pauwi Na (International Title: Pedicab) won the Golden Goblet top prize at this week's Shanghai International Film Festival.

The film was inspired by a real-life story of an impoverished family that travelled 433 kilometres from Manila to the province of Bicol in a pedicab, a type of cycle rickshaw. It bested 13 other entries in the festival's main competition, including Iranian director Mostafa Taghizadeh's Yellow, which was given the Grand Jury Prize.

During his acceptance speech, a flustered Villaluna dedicated the award to his countrymen.

“The film has always been about the Filipino family and our national story of struggle and hope. It is thankless, painful and difficult, but we are resilient. I’m happy it resonated well with the audience and the jury,” he said.

Villaluna attended the festival alongside the film’s lead stars Cherry Pie Picache and Bembol Roco.

“I feel happy and proud for our country. We need this good news — especially for Filipino filmmakers,” Picache told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

The festival's jury was led by the acclaimed Romanian filmmaker Christian Mungiu, who told the Hollywood Reporter: "I have tremendous respect for Asian films … [but] what's more valuable than awards is that the film festival provides a fantastic opportunity for exchange and exploration concerning films and life in general."