Collectively the last batch of this year’s Bb. Pilipinas 2012 candidates received the least buzz amongst pageant fans and pundits.  Still, there are some worthwhile contenders (including a personal sentimental favorite of mine, and a personal sentimental favorite of a close friend of mine) who may not be perceived to be front-runners for the titles at stake, but are on track of at least landing a semifinal slot.

CANDIDATE NO. 21 – Giselle Muñoz.  I have a few friends who are passionately in her corner.  Sure she has some photos with flattering angles that could make one compare her to Miriam Quiambao or Shamcey Supsup (oh, my, just like Janine Tugonon?), and she has strong communication skills.  But more often than not, she tends to look more like a cross between Bb. Pilipinas Universe 2002 Karen Agustin and Miss Universe 1969 Gloria Diaz.  So does this mean she would be a superb fit for the Miss Universe title?  I have to note that there is a very particular set of circumstances that brought forth Gloria Diaz’s victory that I doubt would be replicated in this day and age; and even though I have a very high regard for Karen Agustin as a person and a 17th place showing amidst a bevy of stunning heavy-hitters that year is something worth commending, most pageant fans and pundits would view the placement more as a “close-but-no-cigar” showing, and I foresee that if Giselle would be granted this title she would share Karen’s fate.  Sending her to Miss International is not a good idea as they wouldn’t appreciate her type of looks (unless she sports the sash of either “China” or “Japan”), and sending her to Miss Tourism Queen International would be a major gamble that I fear may not really pay off.

But watching her strut her stuff at the Ali Mall fashion show, I had visions of her walking down the runways of New York and Paris.  I think her type of features would be best appreciated in the modeling world, sporting the creations of Josie Natori, Monique Lhuillier, Vera Wang, or any Asian-friendly designers.  She has these “Asian doll” features that could be perfect catnip for them.  Though I may respectfully disagree with my friends about her prospects, I would be rooting for her to at least land among the semifinalists.  U – 8; I – 6.5; TQI – 7

Miss Universe 1969 Gloria Diaz (image sourced from
Bb. Pilipinas Universe 2002 Karen Agustin (image courtesy of Miss Universe Organization LP, LLLP)
Asian Doll (strutting with Candidate No. 22, Meiji Cruz)

CANDIDATE NO. 22 – Meiji Cruz.  She’s attractive enough to make inroads in a less competitive year, but for this batch she is likely to be overshadowed.  U – 7.5; I – 7.5; TQI – 7.5

CANDIDATE NO. 23 – Goldy Baroa.  Her close-up headshot made me recall actress Rufa Mae Quinto, but for most angles, I have to be blunt and say she’s one of the homeliest in this year’s batch.  She does have redeeming qualities of being a solid communicator and having a trim-enough figure.  U – 6; I – 6; TQI – 6

Rufa Mae Quinto (sourced from

CANDIDATE NO. 24 – Fer Mae Baliquig.  She is like the late 1980s bold actress Claudia Zobel reincarnated.  She has the appealingly dusky looks that could stir the loins of heterosexual men, and like Bb. Pilipinas World 2010 Czarina Gatbonton before her, her chances may improve exponentially with the presence of that contingent in the board of judges.  U – 8.5; I – 7.5; TQI – 8

Claudia Zobel (image sourced from

CANDIDATE NO. 25 – Chloe Zanardi.  To her credit, she resembles a high school classmate of mine who was regarded as one of the major beauties in our class then.  But unlike my classmate–who was often simply but impeccably stylish–she’s often styled like a hot mess, and in many ways she is like Candidate No. 11, Marie Virgenia Cecilie Peter, the “typical German contestant” (though her heritage is half-Italian, by the way).  U – 6; I – 6.5; TQI – 6.5

CANDIDATE NO. 26 – Angelee de los Reyes.  I have quibbles about her facial features from below her nose, but otherwise, I consider her a worthwhile contender.  She is the reigning Miss Bikini International – Philippines, and was a semifinalist at the 2011 Miss Bikini International contest. U – 7; I – 7; TQI – 7.

CANDIDATE NO. 27 – Golda Soller.  In the brains department this woman is the one to beat–she’s a licensed medical doctor (general practitioner).  At my first glance of her in person at the Ali Mall fashion show, the first thing that came to my mind was, “OMG! They cloned Dianne Necio!”  Well, she’s a dead-ringer to the reigning Bb. Pilipinas International, with the exception that Golda sports a squarish jaw line and a too-toothy grin.  Will she be able to parlay that resemblance and her brains to a semifinal finish?  U – 8; I – 8.5; TQI – 8.5.

Miss International 2011 semifinalist Dianne Necio (image courtesy of Bruce Casanova for OPMB Worldwide)

CANDIDATE NO. 28 – Marie Irisha Arcenas.  I’m not that crazy about her looks, but she’s an excellent communicator with Renaissance woman type of background (she’s VP in her family export handicrafts firm and a magazine editor).  U – 7; I – 6.5; TQI – 6.5

CANDIDATE NO. 29 – Annalie Forbes.  She is my sentimental favorite.  I adored her when I saw her at the Ali Mall fashion show as I found her really pretty and has a lively, sympathetically vibrant presence.  She has the second prettiest face behind Candidate No. 1 Karen Gallman.  So I was surprised why several pageant fans and pundits were not as enthusiastic in their regard for her–some say it’s because of her height (but onstage, I found her proportions pleasing enough that like Miss International 2005 Precious Lara Quigaman, I could overlook that factor), but then others would say her communication skills are not up to snuff, especially judging from her interview on the televised pageant primer (but in my opinion, sure she is not comfortable speaking in English, but she still exuded sympathetic, heartwarming charm, a la Candidate No. 10 Jillean Orbina).  She had the misfortune of wearing the absolute worst dress in the national competition–an utterly unflattering avant-garde disaster that could not be redeemed by this girl’s charm.  U – 8.5; I – 8.5; TQI – 8.5.

CANDIDATE NO. 30 – Sherlyn Gonzales.  In my opinion, she has the third prettiest face in this year’s batch of candidates.  Her prospects would depend on how willing the panel of judges would overlook the height factor.  If she’s to be granted a title in this year’s pageant, she would be best suited for Miss International with her semi-Caucasian features.  U – 7.5; I – 8.5; TQI – 8.

All images courtesy of Raymond Saldana for BPCI unless otherwise indicated.

Now with all 30 candidates accounted for, let me put out my “fearful” forecast for April 15:

TOP FIVE:  7, 8, 9, 13, 18

SEMIFINALISTS (IF TOP 12):  1, 4, 10, 14, 16, 24, 29

BUBBLING UNDER:  3, 5, 6, 12, 15, 20, 21, 26, 27, 30

All I could wish for on April 15 is that the judges be granted the wisdom to select the right ladies for their respective titles.  Best of luck to all the candidates!




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