Matea Mahal Smith is Miss Filipina International 2023, 1st winner of Filipino and Black descent

MATEA MAHAL SMITH, a student of Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience at University of Florida, who hopes to become a trauma surgeon is Miss Filipina International. She is shown with other winners.

LOS ANGELES, California  – Matea Mahal Smith, who was born in Coral Springs, Florida with family roots in Pililla, Rizal, won the Miss Filipina International 2023 title in a glamorous, top-tier show in the prestigious International Ballroom of The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California last Saturday, August 5.

Smith, 21, became the first winner of Filipino and Black descent in the 10-year history of the pageant. A student of Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience at University of Florida, Smith hopes to become a trauma surgeon and positively impact people’s lives.

Also the winner of the best in swimsuit competition, Smith said that she admires her Filipina mother who taught her that no matter what life throws her way, obstacles are a temporary challenge, not an end, in her journey. She loves traveling, cooking, exercising, dancing, spending time with her loved ones, and listening to music.
As the top winner of MFI, now owned by Geoffrey Jimenez, who also executive-produced the glittering production to be aired by GMA Network, Smith will receive a BMW 2 Series car and a $10,000 gift certificate from iSkin Beverly Hills.

Last year’s winner, Blessa Ericha Figueroa, put the stunning brand new MFI crown, made of Swiss blue topaz, Japanese pearls, and other gems, custom-designed by royalty designer Narcisa Pheres, on the head of Smith. The crown was presented by Jimenez while Michelle Dee, the reigning Miss Universe Philippines, put the sash on Smith.

Amanda Russo, born in Christiana, Delaware with family roots in Angeles City, Pampanga, bagged the Miss Filipina International Tourism title. The 18-year-old Finance and International Business student at Penn State University also considers her mom as her biggest inspiration. She wants to give back to the Filipino community and find ways to better the lives of elders

The other winners were Lauren Skeoch, first runner-up; Patricia Bianca Tapia, second runner-up; and Rylen Faith Steinbuch, third runner-up. Russo and these winners will receive cash prizes and iSkin gift certificates.

In partnership with Jonas Gaffud’s Empire Philippines, three MFI winners will be eligible to compete next year in Miss Universe Philippines while two MFI winners will vie in The Miss Philippines pageant.

From a field of 36 lovely aspirants representing various states across America and several countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom and the Philippines, 15 semi-finalists were chosen: Denisse Nicole Samaniego, Dakota Swart, Hannah Angelica Marte, Mary Ann Monda, Rylen Faith Steinbuch, Kelly McIlroy, Beatriz Mclelland, Matea Mahal Smith, Kawena Janessa Kanhai, Lauren Skeoch, Patricia Bianca Tapia, Jessica Zemanek, Amanda Russo, Heather Casignia, and Issha Rose Mata.

The winners in other categories and of sponsor awards were: best in evening gown, Manila International Film Festival Award and Enagic Water Ambassador, Beatriz Mclelland; photogenic, iSkin award and Philippine Airlines award, Rylen Faith Steinbuch; talent, Jessica Zemanek; best national costume, Hope Corpus; Miss Eloquent, Heather Casignia; best in glam, Mary Ann Monda; Jojo Bragais Walk + Win Challenge, Amanda Russo; and Legaspi Tax Ambassador, Alyanna Joelle Santos. (Rappler.Com)