Candidate No. 9 Joy Antonette Diaz takes her turn on stage during the Binibining Pilipinas press presentation last February 19. Photo by Mark Demayo for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA - Forty-five years after Gloria Diaz' Miss Universe win, another Diaz beauty is hoping to bring home the same crown to the Philippines.
Joy Antonette Diaz, whose grandfather is a cousin of Gloria, is candidate No. 9 in this year's Binibining Pilipinas, the national pageant that has been sending the country's representatives to Miss Universe since 1964.
While she has yet to speak personally with Gloria, the 22-year-old beauty queen hopeful said her entire family has been supportive of her bid to follow in the screen veteran's footsteps.
But Joy, who is representing Dagupan in the 51st Binibining Pilipinas, is also careful not be identified only with the accomplishments of the famous Diaz.
"They're very supportive of me, of course," she told ABS-CBN News' Mario Dumaual, referring to the Diaz clan. "But whoever I'm related to or not, this was my dream, obviously. It doesn't matter."
"They said for me to shine on my own, to show the world who I am and what I can offer them despite whatever last name I may have, [I have to show them that] it's me," she said.
Not out to be 'prettiest'
Joy Antonette Diaz in Jag and her national costume. Photos courtesy of Binibining Pilipinas
A political science graduate from the University of California, Joy is an aspiring lawyer who identifies helping the less fortunate as her passion.
Asked why she should win Binibining Pilipinas and eventually represent the Philippines in Miss Universe, Joy was quick to answer that she "didn't join this pageant because I wanted to be the prettiest girl in the world."
"I really wanted to use the title of whatever crown that I win to make a difference in this world, to really reach out to those who aren't as [fortuante]," she said.
Joy added: "Especially growing up in the States, I want to reach out to people, I want to help other people. I want to dedicate my life to humanitarian work. This is kind of like the outlet of doing that, I think."
Aside from handing out the Miss Universe-Philippines title, Binibing Pilipinas crowns the country's representatives to Miss International, Miss Supranational, and Miss Tourism Queen International.
Joy's batch of candidates follows a highly successful year for Binibining Pilipinas, whose top four winners finished with titles or as a finalist in their respective international pageants.
Notably, Bea Santiago and Mutya Datul won Miss International and Miss Suprnational, respectively. Ariella Arida, whose last three predecessors placed in the top five of Miss Universe, finished 3rd runner-up in last year's competition.
With less than a month away before the Binibining Pilipinas coronation night -- it will be held on March 30 with live telecast on ABS-CBN -- Joy enjoys being an "early favorite" among the 40 candidates.
"I think it's really humbling, actually," she said. "I think we all came into this pageant just trying to offer the best that we can be. They always tell us to not be competitive amongst the girls, but to still give your best. So to be a favorite, [I feel] honored."