Philippines’ very own Sharifa Areef Mohammed Omar Akeel clinched the crown of being Miss Asia Pacific International 2018, outwitting 49 other candidates from different parts of the world on Thursday, October 4 at Newport Performing Arts Theater, Resorts World Manila.
In its 50th year, the Miss Asia Pacific International took their theme of ‘beauty in diversity’ as they presented 50 stunning ladies hailing from different countries and showcasing their values and culture during the competition proper. Maximizing the best of the best tourist spots in the country, the candidates had the chance to visit several areas where some of their events took place.
Before the grand coronation night, the organization has begun its preliminary competitions that determined their standings in the competition.
On September 18, the 50 gorgeous candidates were presented to the media at a Media Presentation held at Conrad, Manila Hotel in Pasay City. Days after, the competition for the Best National Costume took place wherein the candidates gracefully strutted their culture through their costumes and attires.
Kilmara Nayubel Carvajal Salcedo of Panama was hailed as the Best in National Costume.
On the other hand, on September 23, candidates flew all the way to Vigan City in Ilocos Sur to get a taste of the infamous ’empanada’ and vie for the Best in Swimsuit category wherein Gabriela Palma of Brazil emerged as the Best in Swimsuit. Meanwhile, Didar Atmaja of Kazakhstan was named as the Best in Talent of the competition.
On September 28, the breeze in Alta D’ Tagaytay got colder when the Philippines’ bet Sharifa Akeel bagged the Best in Evening/Long Gown competition.
Get to know newly crowned Miss Asia Pacific International 2018 Sharifa Akeel
The 21-year-old beauty queen hailing from the tribe of Sultan Kudarat finally gave the country a Miss Asia Pacific International crown after 25 long years of drought. It can be recalled that it was just less than a month when Akeel clinched the title as the Mutya ng Pilipinas-Asia Pacific International 2018 on September 16 held at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Sharifa Akeel is not a name in the pageant industry as she once graced the most prestigious Reyna ng Aliwan as a representative of Sultan Kudarat’s Kalimudan Festival. Akeel shared her love for Softball as a sport. She holds a degree in Elementary Education from the Notre Dame of Salaman College, and presently works as Human Relations Officer at the Congressional office of the Province of Sultan Kudarat.
She was also featured in BBC’s Arts Hour as someone who embodies Muslim Filipinas in beauty pageants. During her stint in Reyna ng Aliwan, Akeel noted that she wants to empower women by identifying their own strengths and weaknesses.
“To be yourself is to be able to assess your own strengths and weaknesses. To always put yourself in the highest point of humility. To always reach out and help those who are underprivileged brother and sisters in all walks of life,” she said in her interview.
With her inborn charm and humor, Akeel quickly made herself one of the crowd’s favorite and stood out throughout the competition.
During the Question and Answer, Akeel was asked, “What do you think is the biggest issue of diversity that the world is facing today and how do you think you can play a part to resolve it?’
Akeel was quick to point out that the country is currently facing the issue of cyberbullying.
“We have to accept the fact that all of us were born with strength and weaknesses and with that, we have our own imperfections. Let’s appreciate one uniqueness and relevance and, as a millennial, I believe the millennial policy of compassion, idealism, striving for uniqueness and authenticity because you are a beautiful creation of God no matter who you are and wherever you are in the world.”
“Beauty is indeed diverse and it is visible to all of us.”
In the end, her deeply rooted love for the country and diversity led her to clinch the most coveted crown for Miss Asia Pacific International.
Sharifa is the 5th Filipina that gave the country another Asia Pacific crown, she will be lined alongside past winners such as Carines Zaragoza (1982), Gloria “Bong” Dimayacyac (1983), Lorna Legaspi (1989), and Michelle Aldana (1993).