Celeste Cortesi revealed that it was former Miss Universe Philippines and her close friend Rabiya Mateo who convinced her to join this year's national beauty pageant.
Celeste shared that she initially thought of joining the Miss Universe Philippines pageant next year but Rabiya was the one who encouraged her to join it this year instead.
"Me and Rabiya are very close, and I remember that before submitting my application for Miss Universe Philippines, I was talking to her and I was opening up about me wanting to join next year, not this year. I was telling her that I just want to prepare and be ready 100%. [And] If there is something that Rabiya really told me, it's you will never be 100% prepared," she said during the media briefing by PLDT Home as reported by ABS-CBN News.
The beauty queen relayed that Rabiya gave her the "best advice" by saying that "you will never be prepared" when joining a pageant.
"Rabiya's so straightforward, she's really telling me just go for it, don't think about it too much. [She said] You will never be prepared, you just have to send the application and everything will follow. So it was one of the best advice because I was really listening to her and she's also one of the reasons why I decided to go for it," she Celeste said.
The Miss Universe Philippines 2022 shared that her past experience joining Miss Earth also helped her prepare for the pageant.
"Now I have the experience. I know where I have to improve, I know my weaknesses, and I know how to capitalize [on] my strengths as well... In the past four years I've been thinking, I didn't do a great job in my last pageant, but now that I'm Miss Universe Philippines, I know that [Miss Earth] really helped me in improving myself so much," she stated.
She continued, "You know that whatever happens to you happens for a reason, and this was the reason. The reason why that happened is because now I know what to do, I know how to work on my weaknesses more. I'm just very grateful that I got this second chance to represent the Philippines in the best way I can."
Celeste was crowned the new Miss Universe Philippines on April 30.
Aside from the crown, she also received special awards such as the Miss Photogenic and Best in Swimsuit, among others.
During the question and answer portion of the top 5 finalists, Celeste was asked, "If you could stop time for a day, how would you spend it?"
She said in her winning answer, "If I could stop time, I would spend it with my family, especially [my] mother. It's been two years since I haven't spent time with my family because they live in Italy, and I came here in the Philippines just by myself. If I had a chance to spend one day, I would definitely be with my mom, and I would just tell her how much I love her and I miss her."