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It was a fight well-fought.

The bid for a back-to-back win and Philippine bet Mariel De Leon’s journey for the Miss International 2017 crown was cut short when she failed to enter the Top 15.

The result was announced during the coronation ceremony in Tokyo, Japan on Tuesday, November 14. Despite the candidate’s strong showing in the national costume, swimsuit and long gown competition, Miss Philippines International was not called for the Top 15.

Candidates who made the cut were from Venezuela, Ghana, Thailand, Slovakia, United Kingdom, Japan, Curacao, Honduras, Ecuador, Finland, Laos, Indonesia, Australia, Panama and South Africa. Miss Indonesia was eventually crowned as Miss International 2017.

Despite the loss, netizens and loyal pageant fans expressed love and support for De Leon, including recently-crowned Ms. Earth 2017 and fellow Bb. Pilipinas winner, Karen Ibasco.

“We are so proud of you, Mariel. Thank you for representing our country with a heart. You are still our winner. #MissInternational2017,” she tweeted.

“Thank you for representing the Philippines with grace and poise, Mariel De Leon. You give honor to our country. Best wishes to you,” another netizen tweeted.

There are others, too, who came to De Leon’s defense after netizens said her loss was a bad karma brought about by her earlier comments on the current administration’s drug war.

“I believe that it takes courage to stand up for what you believe in and I think it’s rather more beautiful to be able to speak your mind without the approval of others. You are still a winner, Mariel De Leon!” one netizen wrote.

“Mariel De Leon may not have won but she’s woke and that’s still a good thing. Aanhin natin ang korona if they can’t even use their platform to condemn the inhumane happenings in the country,” another commented.

De Leon, the daughter of Filipino actors Christopher De Leon and Sandy Andolong, first joined Bb. Pilipinas in 2013. She earned the opportunity to represent the Philippines in Miss International four years later. Her predecessor, Kylie Versoza, was crowned Miss International 2016 and was one of the judges in this year’s competition.

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