Janine Tugonon is Miss Universe 2012 first runner-up

Posted at 12/20/12 10:59 AM

MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) Just like her predecessors Shamcey Supsup and Venus Raj, Binibining Pilipinas-Universe Janine Tugonon almost clinched this year's Miss Universe title, placing first runner-up.

Miss Universe 1st Runner-up Janine Tugonon

The coronation night, held at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas on Wednesday night (Thursday morning in Manila), was hosted by Andy Cohen, Bravo's executive vice president of development and talent, and entertainment journalist and fashion and beauty expert Giuliana Rancic.

Miss USA Olivia Culpo, a 20-year-old who plays the cello and is a breast cancer advocate, was crowned Miss Universe on Wednesday, the eighth time an American has won the pageant.

Culpo, who hails from Rhode Island, was chosen by a 10-judge panel from 89 contestants representing countries ranging from India to Kosovo and Britain. Wearing a red, long-sleeved dress for her final look, Culpo was the first Miss USA to take the title since 1997.

She takes the place of last year's winner Leila Lopes, who was the first ever Miss Universe from Angola.

Irene Sofía Esser Quintero of Venezuela was named second runner-up, followed by Renae Ayris of Australia and Gabriela Markus of Brazil.

Miss Guatemala, Laura Godoy, was chosen Miss Congeniality after the two-hour pageant that featured live performances by US pop group Train and Nigerian-born Australian singer and dancer Timomatic.


The Filipina beauty was given a Twitter question from judge, fashion photographer Nigel Barker: "As an international ambassador, do you believe that speaking English should be a prerequisite to being Miss Universe? Why or why not?"

She answered: "For me, being Miss Universe is not just about knowing how to speak a specific language. It's being able to influence and inspire other people. As long as your heart wants to serve and you have a strong mind to show people, then you can be Miss Universe."

For her part, Culpo was asked to name one thing she would never do again. "Picking on my siblings growing up," she replied.

Dubbed as an "early favorite," Tugonon, along with Culpo, has appeared in several pre-pageant activities such as TV guestings on talk shows.

Tugonon's predecessors almost clinched the Miss Universe title, with Shamcey Supsup and Venus Raj placing third and fourth, respectively.

Wednesday night's contest was broadcast live on television and seen by an estimated 1 billion viewers on TV and online in 190 countries, organizers said.

The contest, owned jointly by businessman Donald Trump and the NBC network, held a moment of silence for the 20 children and six staff gunned down at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14. -- With a report from Reuters