and claims her win is ‘a hard responsibility’
Valerie Hernandez of Puerto Rico has been crowned Miss International 2014.
The 21-year-old student and model from Carolina, Puerto Rico, won her title at last night’s finals, the beauty pageant’s 54th annual event, held at the Grand Prince Hotel Takanawa in Tokyo, Japan.
Dressed in a gold-embellished white gown, Ms Hernandez sobbed with joy as she was officially crowned by Miss International 2013 winner Bea Santiago of the Philippines.
During the question-and-answer rounds in the lead-up to the finals, Ms Hernandez stated, according to the Philippine Star: ‘Thinking about [the] Miss International title, I think it’s not just crown, it’s not just the title, it’s one of the hardest responsibilities.
‘As Miss International, I want to send a message of love, peace, and unity.’
Ms Hernadez celebrated her win flanked by the rest of the top five; first-runner up Zuleika Suarez of Colombia, second runner-up Punika Kulsoontornrut of Thailand, third runner-up Victoria Tooby of the United Kingdom and fourth runner-up Milla Romppanen of Finland.
On her official Facebook page, Ms Hernandez claims she was trained in classical ballet at the Escuela de Bellas Artes de Carolina.
She lists Pizza Hut and Professional Gym as previous employers.
|Miss International 2014: Valerie Hernandez, Puerto RicoFirst Runner-up: Zuleika Suárez, Colombia
Second Runner-up: Punika Kulsoontornrut, Thailand
Third Runner-up: Victoria Tooby, United Kingdom
Fourth Runner-up: Milla Romppanen, Finland
Along with its rivals — Miss Universe, Miss World and Miss Supranational contests — Miss International is one of the four largest beauty pageants in the world.
It was launched in Long Beach, California in 1960, but moved to Japan in 1968, where it is has been held almost every year since.
Those that did make the top ten, but not the top five, are as follows: Argentina’s Josefina José Herrero, Brazil’s Deise Benício, Indonesia’s Elfin Pertiwi Rappa, Mexico’s Vianey Vázquez and Panama’s Aileen Bernal.
First runner-up Ms Suárez, from Colombia, won both the Miss Friendship and the Miss Best Dresser special awards; and Ms Rappa from Indonesia won Best National Costume. France’s Aurianne Sinacola was awarded Miss Perfect Body.
According to Miss International, the pageant is aimed at promoting ‘Love peace and excitement to the world’.
The contestants are expected to serve as ‘ambassadors of peace and beauty’, serving ‘tenderness, generosity, friendship, beauty, intelligence and a great international sensibility.’