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“A Lot of Pain Involved:” Christi McGarry Looks Back on Her Miss U PH Journey

“[I feel] so incredible looking back at it and reflecting now. I get emotional talking about it because I’m just so proud of myself,” the Miss Universe Philippines 2024 4th Runner-Up shared, walking us through this pageant journey and the lessons she picked up from it

Mis Universe Philippines 2024 4th Runner-Up Christi McGarry
Mis Universe Philippines 2024 4th Runner-Up Christi McGarry in Mark Bumgarner | Photography by @iamdoc

Pouring out her absolute best in the recent Miss Universe Philippines season was something that 33-year-old 4th Runner-Up finisher Christi McGarry is proud of. She may not have snagged the coveted crown and title, but still, she earned the greatest feat of all throughout her journey in the prestigious pageant: lifetime friends and lessons. 

Between filming for her Metro Channel show Beached, spending time with her family, and catching up on sleep, Taguig City’s Miss U PH rep is now back on her feet to recalibrate her time for other passion projects outside pageantry. Also a program host, DJ, and free diver, the beauty queen-model is slowly springing up again to take on the many hats she wears. 

“It was a sacrifice for me to put a pause to my music and to my DJ career, so I’m just going to get back into that,” she told Metro.Style in an exclusive interview. “I’m looking forward to traveling a lot this year and yes, modeling and hosting are still at the forefront of my career as well.”

An advocate of the environment and sustainable practices, Christi intends to make people more eco-conscious as well. According to her, she wishes to share her love for Mother Earth with everyone by helping promote awareness and reduce prevalent stressors of nature like plastic pollution.

As one of Metro Channel’s Beached hosts, Christi, too, is passionate about embarking on various sea and sun adventures all around the Philippines. Through this offering, she can showcase the beauty of our natural landscapes and champion her environmental causes.

“That was going to be a huge part of my platform if I had one, but I still plan to continue very strongly with that,” she revealed. “Luckily enough, with Beached, we always push sustainability within the forefront of our episodes and we always have a sustainability segment.”

Growing up, Christi has always had an appetite for adrenaline. She likes to see the world through her own lens, and make the most out of precious life. Entering pageants like Binibining Pilipinas and Miss Universe Philippines, however, was not part of the plan. Before her Miss U PH stint, Christi was also crowned Binibining Pilipinas Intercontinental 2015 and represented the Philippines at Miss Intercontinental 2015 where she finished first runner-up.

“I had never imagined that I could actually compete in a beauty pageant, but I had always looked up to them because I just thought they were so stunningly beautiful,” she said. “I grew up extremely tomboy; I played sports my whole life.”

“My mom is the one that noticed that I was naturally blessed with height. She wanted to push me into that direction and encouraged and believed in me to know that I could potentially win or become Miss Philippines.”

Having dedicated sleepless nights and innumerable hours to training, Christi’s mental and emotional strength were definitely tested. Being consistent in her mission and the purpose she serves, however, kept her doubts at bay. 

She opened up, “Believing myself [is important] because it was pretty easy to get discouraged mid-competition. You just see all [of them]. I mean, everyone this year [is strong]—this batch is just so incredibly strong. All of the women were just amazing.”

As Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach and Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray’s personal bet, Christi finds it flattering to have the kind of support she was receiving from the Filipino community the entire time during her Miss Universe Philippines 2024 journey. 

“It was amazing, but like I said, that also did come with the additional pressure and expectation. So I feel like a lot of eyes were on me to fulfill these expectations. But at the same time, I’m competitive by nature and I’m so much more self-aware and confident in the woman that I am now than I was 10 years ago,” Christi shared.

Meanwhile, when asked what her greatest takeaways are from the contest, Christi replied, “Wow, there are so many. I think number one would still have to be following your dreams and not letting anyone dictate or tell you when or how you’re allowed to do them.”

“If you feel like you have a burning drive or passion or some purpose that you feel like you need to fulfill,” she asserted, “then you have no doubt in your mind that you should do it. I think one of the biggest things in life that would cause pain is regret. And I knew I didn’t want to regret not taking the opportunity and not following something that I felt so passionately about.”

Apart from learning to perceive herself in a different light, Christi has developed a brand new understanding, too. She felt that everything just falls into place when time wills it, and whether her success comes with a crown or not, she’s still confident she aced the game.

Christi said, “I still feel like I fulfilled my mission and my purpose in following my dream and inspiring others and women that even at my age, I still wanted to dedicate myself to the craft and to go for it.”

Taking pride in being able to take a hit, Christi declared it is genuine acceptance that she had to learn the hard way. After losing the crown to Miss Universe Philippines 2024 Chelsea Manalo of Bulacan, it was normal for any candidate to feel the pain sinking in. 

“It hurt. There was a lot of pain involved there for sure,” she looked back. “I put my entire heart and soul into this competition and I dropped my career. I paused my entire life and I took the risk, but at the same time, [I feel] so incredible looking back at it and reflecting now. I get emotional talking about it because I’m just so proud of myself.”

The maturity and growth she gained over the course of four months during her Miss Universe Philippines stint, as per Christi, gave her chunks of wisdom, too. Being present, staying strong, and embracing her whys helped her go through the complexities of joining a pageant, pushing her to be the queen she wanted to portray. 

“I guess the lesson that I did learn is that losing and failure are part of life and it’s part of the journey,” she concluded, armed with dignity and self-worth. “They’re things that teach you or form you and mold you into the woman or the person that you are. I mean, you would never learn without failure.”

Even past the crown, Christi makes sure that her voice will be heard. She hopes to echo her advocacies and inspire women to go after their multiple passions, just as what she did as a multi-faceted woman herself. The unconventional route, after all, took her to places and spaces she’s never been to in the past.

Being the rebel she is, Christi encouraged the young generation to be brave and chase after what they truly want. “I love that I changed the norms or the stigmas of what the average or typical beauty queen is or was. You can be a fashion queen; you can be a music head; you can have all these unconventional ideas and beliefs, but still be a beauty queen.”

Lead photos by @borgyangeles

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