|Miss Philippines Janine Tugonon congratulates Miss USA Olivia Culpo after Culpo was named Miss Universe 2012. Photo by Joe Klamar, AFP
MANILA, Philippines – Shortly after Miss USA Olivia Culpo was crowned Miss Universe last Thursday (Manila time), several other candidates in the pageant huddled with Janine Tugonon to tell the Filipina beauty, "We know it's you."
"Nakakatuwa nga, halos lahat sila nag-hug, sabi nila, 'It is you, we know it's you, and you know it's you,'" Tugonon told reporters during a press conference held Saturday afternoon for the homecoming of the beauty queen.
"Hindi ko na alam kung sinu-sino, pero madami," she added.
Tugonon, 23, arrived in the Philippines early Saturday morning from Las Vegas, where the 61st Miss Universe coronation night was held.
In a decision met with dismay by Filipinos and even Tugonon's foreign supporters, the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) cum laude placed second to Culpo.
Many supporters of the Pinay couldn't help but compare her performance with that of Culpo in the question and answer portion, saying Tugonon easily gave the better answer.
Filipino netizens, it turns out, were not alone in their "protest" of the results. Among the several candidates who told Tugonon she deserved the crown was Miss Indonesia Maria Selena.
"Si Indonesia, roommates kami eh, and we became very close, and right after the crowning, umiiyak siya, siya pa 'yung umiyak para sa 'kin," Tugonon said.
"Umiyak siya kasi nakapasok nga ako, nagulat din siya sa results, pero sabi niya okay lang naman daw," the Filipina added.
Tugonon's runner-up feat is the best finish of the Philippines in the pageant in over a decade.
The country's last best finish was the first runner-up win of Miriam Quiambao in 1999. Venus Raj and Shamcey Supsup finished fourth and third runner-up, respectively, in 2010 and 2011.
The country is still hoping to produce its third Miss Universe winner after Gloria Diaz in 1969 and Margie Moran in 1973.