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Miss Intercontinental 2017 1st Runner-Up Katarina Rodriguez Stars On The First Metro.Style Cover

 

With the backless style of her classy white one-piece swimsuit, some Latin words etched in black ink were peeking through her side. They meant “Always have faith, my love,” a sentence that Katarina Rodriguez’s aunt loved to say. When her aunt passed away, Katarina got this tattoo in her honor.

These words bear more meaning to Katarina now than ever. Having faith that fate has a plan for her, she now finds herself creating her own definition of success—the kind that leaves no space for regrets.

Today, it’s exactly one month since she represented the Philippines in the Miss Intercontinental 2017 beauty pageant held at the Sunrise Garden Beach Resort in Hurghada, Egypt. Katarina was among the top contenders and favorites. She was impressive, wowing in the categories all the way up to the most awaited part of any pageant: the question and answer portion.

As someone who studied and earned a degree in philosophy, it was evident she had learned the tricks to explaining things logically, with consideration for the fundamental aspects of the subject matter, such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Coming from such an interesting background, it’s easy to understand how she effortlessly nailed that Q&A portion as if she was doing it all her life.

“What is the most important thing that you have learned about participating in Miss Intercontinental?” To this question, the stunning Pinay answered: "The most important thing that I have learned while participating in Miss Intercontinental is actually an Arabic word, which is named after one of the resorts in Sunrise. It’s called Meraki. It means to do all things with passion, soul, and creativity. When I heard this word and the definition, it resonated with me 'til now and I think it will for the rest of my life. Therefore, that is the most important thing I learned while participating in this pageant. Meraki, to do all things with soul, passion, and creativity."

 

Swimwear from Negritas and bangles from Uber Finds

 

Many think she performed excellently, showing grace under pressure. That her answer was laced with eloquence and the right amount of confidence is a factor which could have easily ensured her victory. Unfortunately, Mexico’s Veronica Salas Vallejo beat Katarina, who was named the 1st Runner-Up and the Miss Intercontinental Asia and Oceania. Regardless of the fact that she didn’t take home the Miss Intercontinental crown, her fellow Filipinos were still proud of her and her achievements.

But this is a competition, after all—something she worked extremely hard for, along with an entire squad of experts who helped her prepare. Besides, who doesn’t want to emerge on top? This beauty queen was candid about how she felt about almost bringing home the crown as well as that moment when the winner was being crowned and the crown fell off Miss Mexico’s head. Katarina shares on Instagram, “The Intercontinental crown did fall off Miss Mexico’s head when she was crowned and YES, I did have to pick it up and hand it to her. How could I not say it was such a painful thing for me to do?”

But whatever pain she felt, she didn’t—or refused to—feel for long. She knew she gave her best shot throughout the pageant, so there was no reason for her to feel sorry for herself. While some would rather bury the memory of not winning, Katarina is not one to wallow in regret. After the competition, she, in fact, watched how she performed during the Q&A, and as she said in her Instagram post, “I can confidently say I was FLAWLESS. Never had I been more ready for anything in my life.”

She moves on from this pageant not with hatred but love for all the wonderful memories and experiences it has brought her. Asked what the best thing about this whole Miss Intercontinental journey is, she tells Metro.Style, “I think the best experience for me was—this is gonna sound odd—I guess it’s not winning the Miss Intercontinental crown. After I didn’t win, I did watch the pageant, I went back and watched it, and I realized ‘Wow, okay, I performed amazing.’ Everything that my trainers taught me, everything that I was meant to do, I did it. And I was really proud of myself. It was nice to know that I can do it, and that I could win.”

 

The Run to the Top

Katarina was born in Orlando, Florida to Filipino parents. Her mom is from Manila, while her dad is from Davao. While she spent some of her childhood years in the Philippines, she also lived a significant part of her life in States. Even so, she never forgot her Filipino roots, because they made it a point to fly back to the Philippines at least every other year.

Filipinos are known for having strong family ties, and in their household, Katarina’s parents make sure their kids embrace the value of always putting family first. They maintain their bond as a family and would always set aside Sunday as family day. “It’s very romantic and beautiful because it teaches kids that your siblings can be your best friends,” Katarina says. Such was the case with Katarina and her siblings, older brother Tony and younger brother Nico; they became really close to one another that it was unavoidable for Katarina to grow up as one of the boys.

“I loved being one of the boys because it was always challenging, like I eat really fast because growing up, if I didn’t eat fast, there would be no food left for me because I was competing with two boys,” she recounts.

Somehow, Katarina developed that competitive spirit at a young age, channelling that drive to succeed through sports. She narrates, “I was 14 when I competed for my first long-distance run. It was the Disney Princess Half Marathon and I ran quite fast for someone who’s 14. And I guess, the fact that I was in Disney World—the faster you finish, you can go around the park for free—was what was motivating me.”

Later, running for Katarina no longer meant a kiddie activity. It became part of her lifestyle and her core. She went on to become a track and field athlete. Aside from its obvious fitness, health and wellness benefits, running also taught her so much about discipline. “Everything that I learned while I was a track athlete, I can actually apply to my everyday life now,” Katarina shares. “As a runner, if you’re going to have a 10km race in three months, you plan out your workout, your strategy and even your food and how much water you drink. You really observe and analyze yourself for those three months, so you can beat yourself. You have a goal.” Since running is an individual sport, Katarina liked the idea of competing with no one else but herself, and in so doing, she also becomes a better version of herself.

 

Top by Ha.Mu Studios, pants by Mikee Andrei, and earrings from Flutter Statement Jewelry

 

Unlike many teens her age who dream of becoming a fashion model, Katarina never imagined herself taking on that job. It took a while for her to develop the kind of self-confidence she has now, especially with all the high school drama she had to go through in Orlando. Looking back at those times, she says, “I absolutely am thankful for every bad thing that any of the girls or guys said to me. All the times they made me cry, they gave me such tough skin now.”

Who would have thought that this girl who was getting bullied would eventually become a fashion model that many girls look up to? Even Katarina didn’t expect this twist in her life. Though she didn’t have any modeling experience, she found herself auditioning on a whim for Asia’s Next Top Model (Cycle 2) as her two close friends prodded her to.

“When I got there, I kept on telling myself, I kept thinking, ‘why am I here?’ I saw the other girls, they were tall and payat, really model-esque with their books. They all had portfolios. I had no experience,” she shares, later telling herself, “You know what, I’m just gonna be honest and be myself completely, and then let’s see how far that would get me.”

In the end, her raw and natural talent for modeling brought her all the way to the Top 3 of the competition, with fellow Filipina Jodilly Pendre as the 1st Runner-Up and Sheena Liam from Malaysia named as the winner. She did the country proud.

 

Wearing an Invisible Crown

After placing third in Asia’s Next Top Model, she caught the attention of well-known beauty queen mentor Jonas Gaffud, who encouraged her to try out pageantry. Again, like with being a model, she never imagined herself becoming a beauty queen. But there are many things in her life that she had done on a whim, and the spontaneity of stepping into an unknown territory is something she welcomes.

“I’ve truly believed that you should have a plan so you have, sort of, like a guide in your life, but I think there are many opportunities that come along and present themselves. You have to kind of try new things 'cause you don’t know what other doors will open,” Katarina says.

“The essence of being a beauty queen, it is quite prestigious now because of the past Filipina representatives who have really created such a great branding for beauty queens. I think I was aloof to that, that’s why I had no interest. But when I saw what it was really about, I told myself, 'You know what, I’m gonna give it a try,'” Katarina tells Metro.Style. “It was a step up from being like a young adult model who just graduated from college to ‘this is me, I’m going to be a young lady’ and it gave me that push to kind of grow up faster than I would have.”

 

Off-shoulder sweater and hoop earrings both from Uber Finds and pants from Norte

 

With this realization, Katarina wore her high heels, stood tall and proud, and embraced the idea of becoming a beauty queen—and look at where it had led her, from Binibining Pilipinas to the Miss Intercontinental stage.

After placing 1st Runner-Up in the said pageant, the 25-year-old is often asked: “What are you going to do now?” At only 25, there’s so much more exciting things that are waiting to happen for her. Does she plan on joining a beauty pageant again? She says, “I’m definitely not going to close my doors to that. At the same time, I’m not going to force myself to go through it if it’s not meant for me. It did open other doors for me. Right now, I’m just going to go with the flow. There are lots of things I’ve been wanting to do. A lot of collaborations. And I have a little bit of time in my hands now.”

This is the point when the beauty queen takes off her crown, to adorn her head with a different hat waiting to be festooned with more achievements of her own. “A lot of the things that have helped me get further with my dreams and goals in life, they were on a whim,” she says. Where this adventurous young woman is headed to next, her fans and followers will have to wait and see. Who knows what tricks she still has under her sleeves? Now, if those sleeves are as voluminous as the ones she is wearing for this cover, trust that this top model and beauty queen will have more surprises coming in the near future.

   

 

Produced by Grace Libero-Cruz

Photography by Ria Regino

Styling by PJ Almera

Makeup by Katchie Mejias of New Monarq Creativx using Nars Cosmetics

Hairstyling by MJ Rone for Revlon Professional

Shoot assistant: Judy Arias