Beauty queens are tops in Amazing Race Asia

Filipino teammates Parul Shah and Maggie Wilson-Consunji (both above) were the winners of the fifth season of The Amazing Race Asia.
Filipino teammates Parul Shah and Maggie Wilson-Consunji (both above) were the winners of the fifth season of The Amazing Race Asia.PHOTO: AXN

If you hope to win future editions of The Amazing Race Asia, consider going through some beauty pageant training first.

After all, both the first- and second-place winners of the fifth and latest season of the hit series crowned on television last night are beauty queen teams.

The champions are Filipino teammates Maggie Wilson-Consunji and Parul Shah, while Malaysians Yvonne Lee and Chloe Chen are the runners-up.

Wilson-Consunji was Miss Philippines World in 2007, while Shah was Miss Grand International Philippines last year. Lee was Miss Malaysia World in 2012 and Chen had the same title in 2011.

Shah, 28, tells The Straits Times at an interview yesterday: "In the Philippines, beauty pageants are like a national sport. They train you physically, mentally and spiritually. So we have to look good, but we also have to be mentally stable all the time, which helps us take on any challenge."

She adds with a laugh: "What's really funny is that we've been so used to presenting our best all the time that even when we hurt ourselves on the show, we always have this big smile.

"When we watch the show, I can find myself in the crowd just by looking for the big grin of 32 teeth."

Indeed, both teams look glamorous in every episode, even when they have to wake up in the wee hours to set off for their next destination.

Wilson-Consunji, 27, who is a digital influencer, says: "That's all from our training days. We have little tricks to save time, so we can do our make-up in five minutes. And we always wash and curl our hair the night before, so we don't have to do it in the morning."

When the two best friends joined the show, they were met with doubting viewers, who questioned on social media if they were bimbos. But they were not fazed.

Wilson-Consunji says: "We heard all the names in the book way before joining the race. In the beauty pageant business, everyone is extremely judgmental. So anything that we heard from audiences of the show is nothing compared with what we used to get."

In person, the two are just as bubbly as they appear on TV. Things get solemn only when they were asked what they would do with the prize money. The winning team receives US$100,000 (S$144,000) in cash.

Shah, whose 63-year-old driver father suffered a stroke while she was filming the race, says: "A big chunk of the money will go to my dad's medical bills. He is now half- paralysed and I'm just relieved to win because this will help our family so much."

Her friend pipes up: "Parul is actually the breadwinner of her family. We're so happy and relieved that the money will help them pay their bills. As for me and Parul, the race has made us better friends than ever before."

• The Amazing Race Asia 5 finale re-runs on AXN (StarHub TV Channel 511 and Singtel TV Channel 304) tomorrow at 3pm and on Sunday at 8.10pm.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 16, 2016, with the headline 'Beauty queens are tops in Amazing Race Asia'. Print Edition | Subscribe