Finding Sam Lo: Where is PH’s bet to Miss Grand International 2019?

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 18) — Clad in a vibrant orange dress, Samantha Ashley Lo left the Philippines for Venezuela on October 9 with high hopes of bringing home the country’s first Miss Grand International (MGI) crown.

In an Instagram post, the 26-year-old Cebuana beauty shared a photo of herself, all smiles while waving the Philippine flag. The caption of the photo says a lot about her eagerness to win the title: “’The Samantha here is the product of all the love, support, and nurturing done by amazing people who constantly told her "Yes you can, and you will.’ See you soon Venezuela.”

Lo, the country’s fourth delegate to the annual beauty derby, is among the front-runners in the competition, at least based on forecasts regularly made by pageant fans and observers.

But days after her flight to the South American country, pageant officials and her supporters have no information about her whereabouts. Concerns among Filipino pageants fans increased when pre-coronation events of the pageant began and Lo was nowhere to be found.

On Wednesday, Venezuelan jeweler George Wittels said Lo was supposed to arrive in Venezuela on October 15. However, Lo faced several issues on her flight, he added.

“Miss Philippines got to Paris, but missed her plane to Venezuela. In Paris the airport authority didn’t allow her to stay at the airport for more than one day and she was sent back to her country,” Wittels said in an Instagram story post.

Lo, he added, “had a passport issue” but was already “trying to get a new flight to get here.”

“She said that she is trying to get another ticket and we hope she can do it and finally join the MGI group,” Wittels said.

MGI President Nawat Itsaragrisil, meanwhile, on Wednesday also said Lo is “still on the way” to Venezuela and he expects the Filipino beauty queen to arrive “very soon.”

“We are still pending one country. She is still on the way, quite long time, so I expect she will be arriving very soon,” Itsaragrisil said during the pageant’s welcome gala dinner and fashion show, referring to Lo.

“If [you’re] watching us tonight, take care of [yourself]. We are very welcoming to [let you] show the world the potential of the Philippines,” he added.

Itsaragrisil said that from last year’s around 80 candidates, only 59 have flown to Venezuela to join the pageant as many supposed participants think “Venezuela is not safe enough” amid the political turmoil in the country.

Lo, as well as the Binibining Pilipinas Organization—which holds the local franchise rights of Miss Grand International—have yet to issue a statement on the issue.