Miss Philippines: 4th-runner up Miss Universe 2010

Maria Venus Raj was born in Doha, Qatar to an Indian father and a Filipina mother. Upon birth, Raj was taken by her mother to Bato, Camarines Sur in Bicol Region, Philippines as an infant and was registered by an aunt as a Philippine-born child to Roman Catholic parents.Raj grew up with her mother, a former tenant farmer and dressmaker who brought Maria Venus Raj up as a child.

Raj lived in a nipa hut made of wood, bamboo and anahaw leaves with no electricity in the middle of a sprawling rice field in the rural Bato town for more than twenty years. She allegedly used rice paddy dikes for her early training where she eventually developed her distinct catwalk.
The youngest among five children, Maria Venus Raj started joining local beauty pageants at four years old. She also joined oratorical contests at San Vicente Pre-School where her English teacher served as her coach. With her victories in major contests, Venus Raj had started to buy land on installment basis for her mother as a means of improving their livelihood.

Raj obtained her Bachelor's Degree in Communications Arts, major in Journalism, at Bicol University in Albay, with Latin honors (Cum Laude). She graduated through the scholarship that she received from Francis Papica Foundation.Back in the Philippines, she works as an Information Assistant for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Region V.
In addition to this, she also works as a part-time fashion model.