“I have family members who are gay, and I have a lot of friends who are gay also, (including) my mentors, my friends (and) my supporters,” Manalo told GMA News Online. “I’m surrounded by gay people and the LGBT community.”
Similarly, Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach has been vocal about her advocacy for the LGBT community along with her efforts to educate people about acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). On March 18, 2018, she co-hosted the Binibing Pilipinas 2018 coronation night with Richard Gutierrez.
Days after being crowned as Binibining Pilipinas-International 2018, Manalo and her fellow Binibining Pilipinas 2018 queens appeared on “New to Go.” On the show, the beauty queen from Candelaria, Quezon mentioned about her advocacy for the LGBT community.
“I’m really strong when it comes to gender equality,” Manalo said. “When it comes to LGBT community, I really try to speak about it. I call (out) someone who is being homophobic, and that’s what I’m strong about lang.”
Manalo is looking forward to be the seventh Filipino to be crowned Miss International. Miss International 1964 Gemma Teresa Cruz, Miss International 1970 Aurora Pijuan, Miss International 1979 Melanie Marquez, Miss International 2005 Precious Lara Quigaman, Miss International 2013 Bea Rose Santiago and Miss International 2016 Kylie Versoza are all from the Philippines.
If Manalo does win, the Philippines will become the country with the most Miss International crown tying with Venezuela. There have been seven Venezuelan queens who won the international beauty pageant based in Tokyo, Japan, namely Nina Sicilia Hernandez, Consuelo Adler, Vivian Urdaneta, Goizeder Azua, Daniela di Giacomo, Elizabeth Mosquera and Edymar Martinez who were crowned in 1985, in 1997, in 2000, in 2003, in 2006, in 2010 and in 2015, respectively.
Here is a video of Manalo before becoming Binibining Pilipinas-International 2018: