Katarina Rodriguez is not your typical beauty queen.
She certainly looks the part, with her tall stature, preternatural poise, and classic pretty face. She looks great in everything she wears, speaks in an articulate and thoughtful manner, and yes, she even advocates world peace.
“I cannot get more stereotypical than that,” she laughs. But it is precisely this self-awareness, candidness, and undeniable authenticity that makes Katarina a beauty queen who breaks the mold.
Perhaps it’s because being a beauty queen was something Katarina didn't want to be, growing up. She in fact admitted to being one of those women who didn’t think so much of beauty queens and pageants – and during the crucial Q&A portion of the Miss World Philippines 2018 pageant at that.(READ: Katarina Rodriguez’s winning answer at Miss World Philippines 2018)
Still, she kept an open mind, listened to the pageant trainers who scouted her, and wound up joining Bb Pilipinas, Miss World Philippines, where she of course won the crown.
Ultimately she – and the rest of the pageant-loving Filipinos – are all the better for it. For the fans, there is a queen they can pin their hopes on, a strong contender they can trust will take the country all the way to the finish line. For Katarina, she has not only become the lady her grandmother always wanted her to be (she laughs as she shares how pleased her grandmother was that she had finally learned the rules of etiquette) but also a catalyst for the change she wants to see.
In Katarina’s case, the causes closes to her heart are peace, and HIV awareness, both of which she took up even in her early pageant days.
In October, the beauty queen visited war-torn Marawi for “Project Become,” which she started as part of her Beauty with a Purpose project for Miss World. There, she brought supplies for the children of Marawi, and asked the people about how their situation after being liberated from terrorists over a year ago.
“As much as it’s devastating, it’s twice as hopeful…. The people there, the children there, they’re incredible. They’re exactly what resilience is,” Katarina said in her send-off press conference on November 8.
Katarina’s work in Marawi is far from over – and as soon as she returns from Miss World (whether that’s right after the competition, or right after her reign), she says she intends to go back to the city and continue her efforts in helping them rebuild.
Right before she heads off to Sanya, China, to compete in the Miss World 2018 pageant, Katarina talks to Rappler about her journey – how a girl like her who didn’t believe in pageants became one of the country’s most well-loved beauty queens, and how, using her platform, she intends to start work on the causes she feels so strongly about.
After avoiding long-term jobs in favor of travelling the world, Amanda finally learned to commit when she joined Rappler in July 2017. As a lifestyle and entertainment reporter, she writes about music, culture, and the occasional showbiz drama. She also hosts Rappler Live Jam, where she sometimes tries her best not to fan-girl on camera.