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We love Maria Venus Raj for the fact that she paved the way for the successive top five placements of our country, by bringing home the fourth runner-up bouquet from Miss Universe 2010. Every year since then, there seems to have been no unlikely stoppage, while we keep surmising and hoping that, finally, one of Venus’s successors may already clinch the third Miss Universe crown for the Philippines, after Gloria Diaz (1969) and Margarita Moran (1973).

Before her Binibining Pilipinas 2014 segment started at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on March 30, I called Venus to let her know what I thought of her beside the Russian pop star Emin. “You look perfect together,” said I.

Venus said, laughingly, “Emin is already taken. He’s a married man!”

Anyhow, Venus Raj’s story is one for the books: She has inspired a number of aspiring beauty queens who have no penny to their names and, like her, no electricity in their homes for practically twenty years, yet determined to provide for the dire need of their impoverished family and combat the challenges of poverty.

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Maria Venus Raj, 22, Philippines!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IHLKyOE73s

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