It's confirmed: Ahtisa Manalo will not join Miss Universe Philippines this year.
On Instagram Stories on Saturday, the Miss International 2018 first runner-up said she will no longer push through with her application as a candidate so she could focus on taking care of her health.
"I need to take care of my health and I hope everyone will be understanding of it," she said.
"I was hoping that I'll be able to join this year; but after considering the opinion of everyone important in my life, we decided it'd be best for me not to push through.
"Believe me that I want to give you the fight you want to see, but I honestly don't think I can manage to physically perform the duties of a candidate as this surely involves physically draining tasks."
Despite this, Ahtisa assured fans that she will "work on getting back to my 100% and continue hoping to step on the Miss Universe stage one day."
A crowd favorite, Ahtisa's announcement comes days after she was spotted at the Empire Studios in Taguig to file her application form for the first-ever Miss Universe Philippines pageant, which opened its search last December.
Other known beauty queens who have submitted their applications included Binibining Pilipinas 2018 Top 15 finalist Sandra Lemonon, Miss Globe 2018 Top 15 finalist Michele Gumabao, and Binibining Pilipinas 2019 Top 15 finalist Maria Isabela Galeria.
After Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc. let go of its franchise last December, a namesake organization will hold the new Miss Universe Philippines pageant on May 3 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
In 2018, Catriona Gray won the Philippines’ fourth Miss Universe crown after Pia Wurtzbach (2015), Margie Moran (1973), and Gloria Diaz (1969).