The grand coronation night of Binibining Pilipinas 2019 is fast approaching and pageant enthusiasts around the world are anticipating for the next set of Binibinis who will represent the Philippines in the international beauty stage. Unlike last year, there is no 'Catriona Gray' who is a clear front-runner to the ultimate crown. Although there are a handful of girls who are capable enough of continuing our winning streak in Miss Universe as well as in the Miss International pageants. Hence, it is safe to say that this year's competition is anybody's ballgame.
Please take note that although BPCI is awarding 6 crowns, I am only focusing on two of the four Alpha pageants - Miss Universe and Miss International. The other two Alphas (Miss Earth and Miss World) are not under the local franchises of BPCI and are handled by different organisations.
Now, let's start with the Miss Universe Philippines crown. Presently, the Philippines has won the title for four times excluding the runners-up and the semi-final placements throughout it's 6 decade history. The recent is Catriona Gray who is also the reigning Miss Universe. It is also interesting to note that the Philippines has placed at least in the Top 10 of Miss Universe since 2010, 7 of which have penetrated the Top 5/6 and 2 of which have brought home the elusive crown. So it is safe to say, that the Philippines is now a powerhouse country in Miss Universe.
At this stage, we are looking for the next representative who can continue the winning streak in the most prestigious beauty derby. As Miss Universe is currently owned by IMG since 2015, then we will look for the qualities of the Miss Universe winners since 2015. If you look at Pia Wurtzbach (2015), Iris Mittenaere (2016), Demi Peters (2017) and Catriona Gray (2018), they all have one thing in common - aside from the obvious physical beauty, they're all 'charismatic' and well-spoken. All of them have universally beautiful faces too that could sell a product and could secure a million dollar contracts from print and tv ads. In other words, they're all marketable and relatable apart from being a great spokesperson for the causes the Miss Universe brand represents.
So among the 40 official candidates of this year's Binibining Pilipinas edition, I have seen five girls who can succeed Catriona Gray and is highly capable of continuing the Philippines' 10-year consecutive winning streak in Miss Universe.
Patricia Magtanong of Bataan - When I saw her photos online during the application donning a huge yellow ribbon-embellished top and jet-black straight hairdo, I thought we have a clear winner for the MUP. She was striking and her beauty stood out from the rest. But as the competition progresses, she seems to have lost the spark. Her pasarela and presentation skills on stage are lackluster and therefore easily overshadowed by the other fierce and experienced competitors. However, I still put her as one of the major contenders for the top crown, considering that BPCI has a penchant for some well-credentialed girls from UP.
Hannah Arnold of Masbate - She has a degree in Applied Science in Forensic studies from the University of Canberra, Australia. It is such an impressive credential but as we all know it isn't enough to win the crown. I really want her to triumph but I am quite doubtful that she could snatch the top plum given the fierce contention this year in Binibining Pilipinas. She also bears the resemblance of former Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach and this might be a disadvantage for her. Although I have to commend that she is hard-working and she has really prepared intensively for this pageant. I am sure that she'll place high and if she wins MUP, it wouldn't be a surprise. By the way, aside from MUP, she will also be a great representative for the Miss International pageant in Tokyo, Japan. I also placed her as an alternative for Miss Intercontinental.
Samantha Lo of Cebu City - Honestly, I never noticed her at first, she was never my fave but eventually as the competition gets nearer, she is also blooming. The Hollywood glam look suits her well with her chiseled cheek and mestiza features. Sam is pretty articulate as well, so we wouldn't have to worry if she gets to the Q&A. Aside from Miss Universe, she'll also do well if she'll be sent to compete in Miss International.
Maria Andrea Abesamis of Pasig - Although Aya is not that articulate and conversationally engaging, she has a very striking aura and moves flawlessly on stage. I could imagine her nailing the number one spot in the swimwear and evening gown segments of the competition, thus easily breezing through the Top 5 in Miss Universe. If we're only contended with a Top 5 placement after last year's victory, then Aya can be the best choice.
Gazini Ganados of Talisay City - She ticked all the boxes needed to be the next Miss Universe Philippines. She possesses the kind of beauty which other nationalities can also appreciate and admire. In other words, her beauty is universal. She could easily sell a product with that alluring face and charisma. Plus, she can speak. Not as conversant and deep as Catriona Gray but just enough to catch people's attention.
Now, let's move on to our next Alpha crown, which is the Miss International. The Philippines has won this Tokyo-based pageant for 6 times since its pageant inception in 1960. The latest titleholder we've got is Kylie Verzosa who won last 2016 and just last year our representative Ahtisa Manalo almost clinched the coveted crown by winning first runner-up. This is the only Alpha pageant that the Philippines has mastered the art of selecting the perfect delegate as evidenced by the country's multiple consecutive placements and 6 victories. And I bet, not long from now, we will witness once again another Filipina being crowned Miss International in Japan.
So basically, Miss International is looking for a winner with doll-like features and lady-like persona. The 'mahinhin' mestiza-type of Filipinas fit to the pageant's mold like a glove. No wonder why the Philippines is excelling in this pageant. Aside from the fact that we are sending not just beautiful but intelligent delegates, our ladies are also well-trained in all aspects of the competition especially in the stage theatrics (pasarela, visual projections, styling), public speaking and Japanese etiquettes. That's why Filipinas are hard to ignore in this pageant and most of time, ended up victorious.
I have seen three girls who can be our seventh Miss International. They are Vicky Rushton of Negros Occidental, Emma Tiglao of Pampanga and Samantha Lo of Cebu City. Among the three of them, I find Vicky to be the most eligible for the job followed by Emma by a hairline. Vicky has all the qualities needed to be successful in bringing home again the Mikimoto crown back to the Philippines and I am pretty sure that she will do the job with excellence.
For the non-Alpha crowns, I can see Samantha Bernardo of Palawan and Jessarie Dumaguing of Puerto Princesa as the perfect delegates for Miss Globe and Nawat's pageant. Aya Abesamis can be an excellent rep as well for Miss Supranational if she won't be able to clinch the Miss Universe Philippines title while Hannah Arnold is a good follow up for a back-to-back victory in Miss Intercontinental.
The Top 10 Finalists:
Julia Saubier of Daraga Albay
Ilene De Vera of Mandaue City Cebu
Leren Mae Bautista of Laguna
Jean Nichole Guerrero of Ilocos Sur
April Short of Zambaonga
Resham Saeed of Maguindanao
The Top 20 Semi-finalists:
Martina Turner Diaz of Muntinlupa Sigrid Flores of Iloilo
Jessica Marasigan of Malabon
Kimberle Penchon of La Union
Cassandra Chan of Bacolod City