10 things you don't know about Miss Universe-Philippines 2014 MJ Lastimosa

She will compete in the Miss Universe pageant in January and attempt to get us our third crown

Will MJ be the one to bring home our third Miss Universe crown? (Jar Concengco)

"There is always perfect timing in everything. Sometimes we fail and fail again, and we give up, thinking it’s not for us. But there would be a perfect timing for every dream, if you believe in yourself."

In 2014, Mary Jean Lastimosa joined the Binibing Pilipinas pageant for the third time. And in that third time, she finally won a crown — not just any crown, but the Miss Universe-Philippines title.

Now the pressure to win the country our third Miss Universe crown is on MJ's shoulders. We've come very close in recent years but never quite got it.

"I know I’m not fighting alone. I have millions of Filipinos supporting me," MJ tells Yahoo Philippines. "Prayers are among the biggest gifts they can give me."

The reserved vegetarian can be an enigma to many, so we made the effort to get to know MJ better for you.

Here are 10 things you should know about the lady representing our country in Miss Universe 2014:

1. She grew up away from her family
They’re in Saudia [Arabia]. My dad’s Arabian; my mom’s Filipina. I spent some of my childhood in Manila and then in North Cotabato. I studied college in Davao City. I have an older sister who lives we me here in Manila. The other three younger siblings are in Saudi. They were born there.

2. She played the xylophone until high school
I think I was in third grade [when I first played the xylophone]. I didn’t expect that I would participate in extra-curricular activities because — when we were in Manila — we were very [sheltered]. We couldn’t really go out; we just studied. That was the very first time I did something not academic-related. I enjoyed the music and composing songs with it.

3. She's a vegetarian who constantly craves salad
I love trying out healthy restaurants, and if their salad is remarkable, I would crave for it. Greek salads are always really good. Vegetarians have wide choices of food. I’m just one of those who really like salad. I can have it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner but eat only when I'm really hungry.

4. She still buys CDs
I like chill music, relaxing music. I love Beyonce, John Legend. When I support a singer, I really buy their album. I don’t just download music.

5. She believes in understated elegance when it comes to personal style
I’m the classic type. Less is more, for me — always simple. I always want my personality and beauty to be the center of the outfit, not the clothes that I wear.

6. Videos of children in war-torn areas make her sad
Whenever I see videos on social media of children suffering because of war, because of conflict, it hurts me. As a kid [in North Cotabato], I grew up in the middle of war, and I know how hard it is to survive in such an environment. I thank God that I was not traumatized at all, and that it didn’t affect me as I grew up.

I want to inspire children and show them that they can still dream despite the conflict happening around them.

7. Despite not growing up with her family, they are her source of happiness
They really, really, really make me happy, especially when my siblings abroad send me audio saying, “You can win the crown!” We weren’t very vocal about how we cared about each other, but just recently, they have become very vocal about supporting me and my journey towards Miss Universe. I really value those moments I have with them.

8. She talks to a priest when she is stressed
When I am really stressed, the first thing I do is meditate. Then I’ll go visit the closest priest and share everything I feel. It’s nice to have someone you can open up to about your life, who can listen and give fair advice. I’m a very spiritual person. Just being thankful helps me to not be easily stressed by things happening around me.

9. Her one beauty must-have is a pink lipstick
It can be a lot of things. You can apply it on your cheeks as blush. You can even apply it on your eyelids. Red lipstick would be too harsh.

10. Her daily mantra is: "This day shall pass"
Sometimes you just can’t handle things and you feel like giving up. Remember that there’s still tomorrow; this day is not forever. You shouldn’t be scared of one day. Believe in yourself and know that God will not put you in a situation you cannot handle.

Photography by Jar Concengco
Photography by Jar Concengco

The 63rd Miss Universe pageant is happening on January 25 in Miami, Florida. MJ will compete with 87 women from all over the world. When asked how she feels about the pageant, MJ gives a big smile.

"I’m very, very excited to do this with you. If this is the perfect time for us [to win the crown], then we shall get the third crown!" she says, laughing.

The lesson from her Miss Universe journey? Never, ever give up.

"If you give up, you wouldn’t know that you were almost there," MJ says. "If you’re really passionate about achieving something, God will hear you."

To view MJ's official Miss Universe profile, click here.