Venus Raj Miss Universe Philippines 2010: The drought-breaker for the Philippines

01 May 2020 | Angelique Reyes

Venus Raj is a Filipino-Indian actress, television personality and beauty queen who represented the Philippines at Miss Universe 2010 and with her talent and strong performance managed to secure a position as the 4th runner-up. Raj was first dethroned and then later she was reinstated as Miss Universe Philippines 2010 as she contested claim to Filipino citizenship, which she later overcame.

Venus was born to an Indian father and Filipino mother in Doha, Qatar. As an infant, Raj was taken by her mother to Bato, Camarines Sur in the Bicolandia, and was registered under perjury by her aunt as a Philippine-born child. Raj grew up with her mother, a former tenant farmer and dressmaker. Venus obtained her bachelor's degree in communication arts, major in journalism, from Bicol University in Legazpi City, with Latin honours.

Raj started out by joining local beauty pageants, as well as oratorical contests at San Vicente High School, where her English teacher served as her coach. Using the prize money won in major contests, she then bought land on an instalment basis for her mother as a means of improving their livelihood. She initially worked as an Information Assistant for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for Bicol Region. It was at this time that she also worked as a part-time fashion model in both her native Bicol and Manila. In 2017, Raj completed her master's degree in community development from the University of the Philippines Diliman.



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Raj’s passion for beauty pageants brough her to participate at Miss Philippines Earth 2008 and she was named as the Miss Philippines Earth Eco Tourism 2008. She was the fifth runner-up to Miss Earth 2008 Karla Henry. She then decided to participate in Binibining Pilipinas 2010 and was crowned as the Binibining Pilipinas Universe 2010 at the grand coronation at the Araneta Coliseum.

Venus Raj’s reign was difficult as the diva was dethroned by Binibining Pilipinas Charities, Inc., citing alleged inconsistencies between her birth certificate and the personal account of her birth. The diva was briefly succeeded by second runner-up Helen Nicolette Henson, since first runner-up Diane Elaine S. Necio also from Bicol was only 17 years old and thus below the contest's minimum age requirement.

Venus planned to take legal actions against the BPCI's decision, but she also weighed in on her decision because of its potential impact on her future career. Francis Padua Papica (whose foundation provided Raj's university scholarship) and another lawyer volunteered to act as her counsel pro bono; they led supporters in sending an appeal on Raj's case to the Miss Universe Organization. The diva appeared on a local television and explained that she wants taking a legal acting to clear her image and standing up for people who are poor and born out of wedlock. She stated that she was fighting for acceptance.



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On 10th April 2010, the Binibining Pilipinas Charities, Inc. allowed Raj to reclaim her title Miss Universe Philippines 2010 due to humanitarian reasons. But she was asked and additional requirement that she should legally obtain a valid Philippine passport as proof of her true citizenship was also requested by the pageant organizers. Raj was given a Philippine passport on 19th May 2010. She was given her title back but she became the first Philippine beauty who was dethroned and then reinstated. 

Venus Raj represented the Philippines at Miss Universe 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. She also won the special awards Best in Long Gown, Best in Philippine Terno, and was a co-winner for Miss Friendship a rare feat for a major title winner. She was the fourth runner-up at the end of the event finale. Raj was the last delegate to be called, signalling both an end to a 10-year semi-final drought for the Philippines and the beginning of its ongoing streak (as of 2020) of appearances at Miss Universe during the live finale. Raj advanced to the Top 5, eventually finishing as 4th runner-up to winner Ximena Navarrete from Mexico.



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During the competition, she was asked, “What is the biggest mistake that she made in her life and what she did to make it right”? The diva replied “You know what, sir, in my 22 years of existence, I can say that there's nothing major major problem that I've done in my life because I'm very confident with my family, with the love that they are giving to me. So, thank you so much that I'm here. Thank you, thank you so much!" The diva who was already fan’s favourite received the highest rating at the Miss Universe website with 3.54 points which is the highest ever for the Philippine delegate.

In 2011, Raj signed up an exclusive contract with ABS-CBN, coinciding with the network gaining the airing rights of the Binibining Pilipinas pageant for at least five years. In 2013, she left on hosting Umagang Kay Ganda due on the reformat of the show. Raj pursued her Masters in Community Development at the University of the Philippines Diliman and lent a hand to the group called “Care For Children.”

She is a successful host and a television anchor who is using her platform to encourage people to stay indoors and at home due to the pandemic.