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Who is Ahtisa Manalo? 5 things to know about the first Miss Cosmo Philippines queen

Miss Universe Philippines 2024 Ahtisa Manalo

Ahtisa Manalo of Quezon Province ended her Miss Universe Philippines 2024 journey as the 2nd runner-up.

Despite failing to take home the crown, Ahtisa was named as Miss Cosmo Philippines 2024 and will be representing the country in the first-ever Miss Cosmo International pageant later this year.

The Miss Cosmo pageant, founded by Unimedia, will be held from Sept. 15 to Oct. 5 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The new international beauty pageant aims to create a platform where impactful beauty takes center stage, advocating for voices and actions of women the world over to realize their dreams and create real impact.

During the Miss Universe Philippines 2024 question and answer portion on Wednesday night, Ahtisa was asked: “Women learn from each other. What is the biggest lesson that you have learned from another woman and how did it improve your life?”

The Filipina beauty queen answered: “My grandmother put me to school and the biggest lesson that I’ve learned from her is to always be kind. She is someone who has a big heart and took care of me since I was a kid and I do think that my grandmother is someone I could look up to. She is someone who is an embodiment of what a great woman is.”

But who exactly is Ahtisa Manalo? Here are five facts you need to know about the first-ever Miss Cosmo Philippines queen.

A Quezon Province native

Ahtisa was born and raised in Candelaria, Quezon, on May 27, 1997 to a Filipina-Spanish mother and a Finnish-Swedish father.

Before joining Binibining Pilipinas, she represented her province in the Reyna ng Aliwan festival in 2017, where she placed 2nd runner-up. She was also named Queen of Niyogyugan Festival the year prior.

A pageant veteran

Ahtisa is no stranger to beauty pageants. Her humble beginnings as a beauty queen trace its roots back to when she was in the fourth grade. Growing up underprivileged, she was sent to school by her grandmother and godfather.

The young Ahtisa searched for ways to fund her academics and ultimately decided to join a beauty pageant as the grand prize would be free tuition fee.

From there, pageantry became Ahtisa’s life vessel. In 2018, she joined Binibining Pilipinas where she competed with 39 other candidates, including Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray.

At the end of the pageant, Ahtisa was crowned as the Binibining Pilipinas International 2018 at the age of 20, becoming the youngest winner that year.

She represented the country later that year in the Miss International 2018 pageant in Tokyo, Japan, where she was named as the 1st runner-up.

An accountancy graduate and a businesswoman

Aside from being a beauty queen, Ahtisa is also an entrepreneur. She's involved in several business ventures, including natural drinking yogurt store Koomi, cafes, and more.

“I have two cafes in Australia. The first one is in a library, so the concept is noun, books, and all that stuff," she said in a past interview with "The other one is in a park."

The 26-year-old beauty queen also graduated with a degree in Accountancy at the Manuel S. Enverga University Foundation in Quezon, so it's no wonder she's business savvy!

She almost became a cop

People almost saw a different version of Ahtisa as she was supposed to be a cop.

The Filipina beauty queen revealed that she wasn’t supposed to join Binibining Pilipinas 2018 because she had already applied at the Philippine National Police Academy.

She said that some of her close relatives are police officers and she was inspired by them to make a difference.

"My uncles, also my grandfather, are part of the police force. I wanted to make a difference, I wanted to explore everything that I can, 'cause I know I want to do a lot and that's one of it," she said.

An LGBTQ+ ally and advocate

In a past interview with GMA News' News To Go, Ahtisa said that she advocates for the LGBTQ+ community and gender equality.

"I'm really strong when it comes to gender equality, when it comes to LGBT community, I really try to speak about it, I call [out] someone who is being homophobic, and that's what I'm strong about lang," she said.

"I have family members who are gay, and I have a lot of friends who are gay also, my mentors, my friends, my supporters, I'm surrounded by gay people and the LGBT community," she added.

Congratulations, Ahtisa! You made us proud!

— CDC, GMA Integrated News