Miss Universe Bahrain Evlin Khalifa is having the time of her life in Manila. The beauty queen is currently in the Philippines capital to be trained by experts as she prepares for the Miss Universe 2022 pageant, which will to held in January next year.
On Tuesday night, Khalifa was out for dinner with her "Miss Universe sister" Celeste Cortesi, with whom she will compete in the global competition. Accompanying them were Miss International 2016 Kylie Verzosa, photographer BJ Pascual, Miss Universe Bahrain national director Josh Yugen and Ian Borromeo, the co-founder of Yugen Group.
"I am blessed to meet new friends from the Philippines. Last night was one of the funniest and happiest dinners that I had in my life. And Kylie especially is so funny," Khalifa tells The National.
"I have been in love with the Filipinos from day one. They are all smiling and happy people ... And I have learnt to eat champorado, tapsilog and lugaw for breakfast as well. I feel like it’s the first time I am eating four meals a day!"
Champorado, a sweet chocolate rice porridge; tapsilog, a meat, rice and egg dish and lugaw, a glutinous rice dish or porridge, are popular breakfast dishes in Filipino culture.
Khalifa landed in the pageant-mad Philippines last month, accompanied by Yugen, to be trained by some of the best in the industry.
In a previous interview with The National, Khalifa said: "I am very excited to see the Philippines and of course the lovely Filipinos who have always been there to support us and the pageantry in general," Khalifa told The National.
"Growing up in the Middle East, I have encountered a lot of Filipino friends and acquaintances and they are truly one of the most loving, most humble and most happy people I have met.
"I have Filipino cousins and am excited to meet them and eat chicken adobo here.“
Born to a Bahraini father and Russian mother, the trained pianist, 24, won the Miss Universe Bahrain crown earlier last month, and will be only the second beauty queen to represent her country at Miss Universe 2022.
She is currently a favourite ahead of the global pageant, ranking high on leaderboards compiled by hardcore pageant fans.
New Orleans in Louisiana will play host to the Miss Universe 2022 pageant. While a number of countries are yet to name their representatives, 70 contestants have already been chosen through national competitions.
On Tuesday, R'Bonney Gabriel made history by becoming the first Filipina-American to be named Miss USA.
Scroll through the gallery below to see all the Miss Universe 2022 contestants who've been crowned so far