10 Must-Know Things About The Philippines' First Miss Intercontinental Winner, Karen Gallman!
From the day she emerged as the country's representative to the Miss Intercontinental pageant, Karen Gallman knew she was on a mission.
The Philippines had never brought home a crown from this competition in its 47-year existence, and so she knew that her journey to the top would not be for herself, but for the millions of Filipinos she was representing in global competition.
Making her mark with grace, confidence, and needle-sharp focus, this stunner claimed what she set her eyes on at the Miss Intercontinental pageant held on January 27 at the Mall of Asia Arena: the winning spot, the first-ever Miss Intercontinental crown for her beloved Philippines.
Without a doubt, it was mission accomplished for Karen, a history-maker in the country's impressive roster of beauty pageant title-holders.
Get to know this queen who won a crown, and hearts, too!
Karen was born to an Australian father and a Filipino mom. Her bi-racial upbringing exposed her to two different cultures, both of which contributed to her openness to new experiences; a big part of her childhood was spent in Ubay, Bohol, while Queensland, Australia was where she enjoyed most of her adolescence before she moved back to the Philippines.
She waited until she was older to give pageanty a second chance
Like many Philippine candidates who have won titles, Karen competed in pageants more than once. But for this 27-year-old, she specifically made sure to give herself more time to mature before vying for more heavyweight titles. She was a teenager when she first entered the beauty scene and on her own, realized that she had much learning to do academically, emotionally, mentally, and even professionally before she could be serious about pageant life.
She recently got engaged
Part of Karen's promise to herself to become a more mature beauty queen was to learn how to balance work and her personal life—which she did with flying colors as she maintained a happy, healthy relationship with longtime beau Ian Garton as she was preparing for the Miss Intercontinental competition. The pair got engaged in June last year, a moment that served as inspiration—not a distraction!—for Karen.
WE ARE ENGAGED! Two weeks today, the love of my life asked me to marry him... I said YES of course! ?? Thank you for making me the happiest girl on the planet, I am so blessed to have you in my life. I love you with all my heart ?? #engaged #forever . . ?? @rodneytorresphoto
She's a role model for young women, thanks to her emphasis on education
Despite her interest in pageanty, Karen made sure to first give importance to her schooling. From secondary school to university, she excelled in academics and her impeccable work ethic carried over to when she became a young professional. The Business Management graduate landed a job in a London-based financial firm where she was a financial analyst and management consultant.
She bested tough competition at the pageant
Karen's win wasn't an easy-breezy ride, yet she came out on top nonetheless like a true winner. She beat candidates from Ethiopia, Colombia, and Vietnam, and eventually claimed top honors over second runner-up Miss Slovakia and first runner-up Miss Costa Rica.
She advocates for compulsory early childhood education in the Philippines
This is especially true for children who live in underserved communities in farflung areas of the Philippines. As a young woman educated in both Bohol and Australia, Karen has witnessed the difference of the quality of education children in her home country and abroad receive. With her newfound influence, she hopes to lobby for better education for primary school-aged children.
It's an advocacy she shares with Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray who has also made bettering the lives of underprivileged children her mission as a beauty queen.
She grew up in a no-nonsense household
Recalling her life as a teenager, Karen shares that her parents were definitely on the stricter side, but they always managed to temper that with being equally loving. But because of their high expectations of her and their consistent encouragement for her to keep her focus no matter what she was trying to achieve, Karen grew up to become responsible and self-reliant—qualities that proved essential to winning the crown.
She wore a beautiful evening gown by this Filipino designer
One of the best things about representing your country at a pageant is getting to show off the best it can offer in fashion. This rung true for Karen who wowed in a silver backless number by Benj Leguiab, who also dressed other candidates at other Miss Intercontinental competition events.
She defined success in a very special way
In the final, and most nerve-wracking, Q&A portion of the pageant, Karen was asked to define what success meant to her. The beauty queen answered that it wasn't all about winning in life, but rather, setting goals, working hard to achieve them, and being grateful for all the wins in one's life. The answer was clearly well-received, as it was crucial in making her the evening's winner.
She's an avid traveler
Karen's Instagram can easily double as a travel junkie's vision board. It's brimming with lovely shots from her adventures all over the world, many of which she enjoys with the company of her fiancé. She's gone everywhere from Greece to South Africa, Iceland to France, and Sweden to Italy and many, many more breathtaking destinations in the Philippines and Australia
Photos from @missintercontinentalorg