THE 21-year-old Dabawenya, who joined a beauty pageant for the first time, wowed the sea of beauty pageant enthusiasts with her eloquence during the coronation night on Sunday evening and landed second runner-up.
Candidate No. 37 Jehza Mae Huelar may have placed second runner-up in the competition but she impressed the audience and viewers with her words during the question and answer portion.
Pageant judge, Russian Ambassador Igor Anatolyevich Khovaev, picked Huelar to answer his question, "How will you encourage a Filipino who is feeling hopeless to cast his/her vote?"
Huelar, who holds a Finance degree from Ateneo de Davao University, was calm and confident when she uttered, "I would encourage a person who is hopeless to change his mindset. When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at, change."
Khovaev and the crowd which was dominated with supporters of the other girls in the competition cheered for her upon hearing one of the night's best answers.
Pageant blogger Norman Tinio, who watched the event at the Araneta Coliseum, also lauded Huelar in his social networking account, saying, "For the first half of the Top 15 Q&A, the standouts are Nicole Cordoves, Kylie Verzosa, Dindi Pajares and Jehza Huelar. Nichole Manalo delivered good lines but she really didn't answer her question directly. She may have been defeated on her first national pageant but with these commendations, an exciting future awaits her. Just like how three-peater of the Bb. Pilipinas pageant, Miss Universe 2016 Pia Wurtzbach put it, 'You should never give up on your dreams.'"
"Never waver on your perseverance and never let obstacles hinder your progress," Wurtzbach said in her farewell speech. The night ended with new title-holders: Miss Universe Philippines 2016 - Maxine Medina; Bb. Pilipinas International 2016 - Kylie Verzosa, Bb. Pilipinas Supranational 2016 - Joanna Eden, Bb. Pilipinas Intercontinental 2016 - Jennifer Hammond, Bb. Pilipinas Globe 2016 - Nichole Manalo, and Bb. Pilipinas Grand International 2016 - Nicole Cordoves.
Bb. 38, Angelica Alita was first runner-up.
In an earlier interview with Huelar, she said that she was planning on joining a pageant after completing her studies.
Her earlier plan was to get some experience first by joining the Mutya ng Dabaw this year. But this plan changed when she was chosen among the top 40 during the Binibining Pilipinas auditions.