Among the key characteristics of noontime variety shows in the Philippines are the lively fiesta or festive atmosphere and the energy delivered by the hosts day-in and day-out. Just like one of the variety shows broadcast by ABS-CBN, entitled Happy Yipee Yehey! Unfortunately this variety show lasted only less than a year (51 weeks to be exact) as it failed to make serious inroads against its formidable and more established rival, Eat Bulaga.
Just like that noontime variety show, this year’s Bb. Pilipinas coronation night is imbued with a festive atmosphere and high energy hosting, and it ended with a bittersweet touch (especially for fans of a certain candidate highly favored to garner one of the crowns). The lively opening number set the upbeat, festive mood, with the 30 candidates dancing about clad in pastel-colored fringed minidresses to a Brazilian-style club remix of “Pass at Me” by Timbaland featuring Pitbull and David Guetta (with a snippet of Madonna’s “Girl Gone Wild” thrown in the mix).
The event was hosted by famous actress Iza Calzado, model Georgina Wilson, Miss Universe 2010 4th Runner-Up Venus Raj, and rising actor Xian Lim, all speaking bilingually in English and Filipino (and some purists might also note–“Taglish”). The three female hosts were in convincingly peppy spirits that you can’t help but join in their palpable joy. Iza’s seasoned hosting skills was particularly a standout, effortlessly and energetically delivering her spiels without missing a beat. Georgina was similarly lively even if her Filipino spiels have a thick non-native accent (there were reports the way she utters the Filipino word for our country sounded rather naughty*1 that her mentioning the title “Binibining Pilipinas” reportedly had to be edited out of the broadcast). Venus was a charming delight as always, even if she makes mistakes from time to time in her hosting–to be honest, her imperfect communication skills has become part of her “Major, Major” charm.*2 To her credit, whatever (not-so-serious) verbal gaffes she made she quickly corrected herself.
*1 Reminds me of an urban legend where former president Ferdinand Marcos allegedly wanted to change the name of our country to “Maharlika”, but was stopped short when it was learned that the etymology of that word came from a naughty Sanskrit term–the issue with Georgina’s alleged pronunciation of “Pilipinas” was in a similar vein…
*2 Again, may I reiterate–in Venus’s much-talked-about final answer at the 2010 Miss Universe pageant, she never claimed she had led a perfect life without mistakes; she was saying whatever mistakes she made were not major enough for her to want to change her life to correct them.
Now, what about Xian Lim? Yes, he looks model-dashing, though oddly enough I don’t find him that appealing on TV as I found him too skinny, in contrast to the beefier frame he projects on fashion layouts and TV commercials. And I couldn’t buy into his enthusiastic spiels as he’s caught reading them from cue cards–even simple sentiments in the vein of “I’m so happy to be here!” he had to read them from a damn cue card! Sure, Iza, Georgina, and Venus also used cue cards and teleprompters, but they did not use them to express emotional sentiments (except to segue into something or mention sponsors, which in that context would be forgivable).
I suppose I was so desensitized by the lengthy barrage of commercials ABS-CBN peppered their regular TV programs (yes, including their noontime shows) that I felt this year’s show zipped by at a fast pace with a tight program. Sure there are obvious edits than what was experienced live, like I observed after the hosts introduced the judges and key personnel of the Bb. Pilipinas Charities, there were more esteemed persons who were apparently introduced whose introductions were edited out (like that shot of a dignified white-haired woman who might actually be a significant figure behind the charities, for instance).
The structure of the pageant has not varied over a decade now–all candidates parade in swimsuit and evening gown in two groups, then are whittled down to the semifinalists where a final Q&A round is conducted, and from there they decide the three title holders and the two runners-up. The slight variation is that since 2010 (and also previously done in 2004), the semifinalists did not have to change into swimsuits for the Q&A but remained in their evening gowns. I suppose their performances during the first two rounds carried over to the final round.
The swimsuit round was spiced up by the presence of Australian DJ Callum David (a.k.a. DJ Vinimal) playing a medley of up-to-the-minute electronic pop jams. His mere handsome presence was so buzzed about that several viewers (including myself, admittedly) were more fixated on him than on the 30 candidates fiercely strutting onstage. Three (apparently heterosexual) male supporters of Candidate No. 27, Golda Soller, took off their shirts as she strutted down the stage during this round–we all wished the dreamy DJ did the same, though he looked downright smashing in a suit.
For the evening gown round, the candidates modeled dresses from the Cumbia boutique. In general the frocks are not as tacky as in some previous editions, but we all longed for the days when this was a showcase of the talents of our very own local designers. They were serenaded by top-notch rock singers singing a medley of rock ballads–the first group were serenaded by Journey frontman Arnel Pineda, and the second group by Bamboo Mañalac, former frontman of the bands Rivermaya and the band that carried his first name.
After the swimsuit and evening gown rounds, special awards were awarded. I’ll use this space to pay tribute to the non-finalists who garnered consolation prizes in the form of special awards:
MISS FRIENDSHIP: CANDIDATE NO. 25 – Chloe Zanardi. She might be a lively, friendly person, but throughout the coronation night (and in previous public appearances) she was one of the weakest links amongst this group of candidates. This prize is more than consolation enough (as there are a few worthwhile contenders who were shut out and did not earn any awards for that matter).
MANILA BULLETIN READER’S CHOICE: CANDIDATE NO. 20 – Roxanne Tadique. She was solid in both swimsuit and evening gown rounds that evening, and I’m glad this overachiever (CPA and Ateneo Law School graduate) has significant support amongst readers of the Manila Bulletin to gerner this special award.
PEOPLE’S CHOICE: CANDIDATE NO. 21 – Giselle Muñoz. It probably goes to show she has a significant army of supporters who rallied behind for her to earn this special award. I always thought it would’ve been an uphill battle for her to make serious inroads for the crown, but this award should be consolation enough. I do wish her the best in her endeavors, whether deciding to pursue a law degree, or pounding the pavements for go-sees to strut the runways in New York and Paris.
COMING UP: THE 12 SEMIFINALISTS