It is interesting to note that even if they now have four titles on offer, they apparently wanted to stick to a Top Five royal court. It turns out that based on the prize package announced, the Supranational title only has a similar value as that of the runner-up.
I have to say the final announcement of results were surprising, but in the end I was actually satisfied. Only two of my Top Five choices made it, with the one most pageant fans and pundits believed is guaranteed a title actually shut out of one. Plus, the one who got the top prize was only in my bubbling under list (though I have to note, I actually so wanted her in my Top 15 list, but I didn’t know who to remove at the time).
1ST RUNNER-UP: CANDIDATE NO. 15 – Pia Wurtzbach. If we judge based solely on performance, I thought Pia should have gotten one of the crowns. I thought she was flawless onstage in the swimsuit round, and she was appropriately dreamy in her light blue number in the evening gown round. I thought she or Mutya deserved to win the Best in Swimsuit, but the San Miguel Zero Fit and Sexy Body special award was appropriate also. In my reckoning, her answer in the final Q&A was the second best after Shan Apuad’s. She was asked by Philippine National Police (PNP) director-general Allan Purisima about what is the greatest achievement of Bb. Pilipinas in its 50 years of existence. Her response: “I think the greatest achievement that Binibining Pilipinas has given to the world is the candidates, not just the winners, but everyone because each candidate, our lives changed when we joined this pageant and we become inspiration to other people and that’s why I think the greatest gift of Binibining Pilipinas is its candidates. Thank you.”
So what gives? Why was a title ultimately outside of her grasp? I think it’s simply a matter of taste with the panel of judges on hand, and I have to admit her features are not universally to everyone’s liking. It was a shock that she was shut out of a title when most pageant pundits (including myself) believed she was a lock for a title. I bluntly believe she deserved better, but I can stomach this outcome. Hope if she chooses to compete again, she finally gets rewarded for her consistently strong performances.
BB. PILIPINAS – SUPRANATIONAL: CANDIDATE NO. 39 – Mutya Johanna Datul. She was the one to watch out for, for both the right and wrong reasons. For the right reasons, she possesses a luminous radiance that lights up everything she sets foot on, with an irresistible beauty that I could not peel my eyes away from, plus a lively stage presence and trim figure. For the wrong reasons, pageant fans and pundits who saw YouTube videos of her Mutya ng Pilipinas interview and her primer video have noted that her communication skills are very suspect. So, there is some sort of excitement and suspense in seeing how well she would fare–how well she would deliver in the swimsuit and evening gown rounds, then with fear and trepidation how she’ll fare in the Q&A round. As it turns out, she actually gave the best performance in both swimsuit and evening gown, and her Best in Evening Gown special award was definitely well deserved. Equally deserving was the Bb. Photogenic special award she also won (she was only one of two candidates who won more than one special award). Based on her performance in those “looks” rounds, it would’ve been a cinch for her to nail either the Universe or International titles.
Then, pageant fans and pundits braced themselves nervously with the Q&A round, wondering if we are going to witness a new “Janina San Miguel Moment”. She was asked by Chilean ambassador Roberto Mayorga about what his her advocacy since many beauty queens embraced advocacies. Her response: “Thank you so much, sir. My advocacy is I want to extend my help to those people who are in need especially the BPCI charity and I want to be part of them to help those charity of BPCI. Thank you much.” Yes, her diction and grammar left much to be desired, but at least she kept her answer simple (even if it was trite) and sensible. Yes, it was one of the weakest answers among the 15 semifinalists, but it still thankfully passed muster, and pageant fans and pundits heaved sighs of relief.
In a way, she was penalized for the relative weakness of her answer by being granted “only” the Supranational title. But at least she was spared the anticipated severe boot camp she would need to endure if she were to win either the Universe or International titles. I would’ve prescribed a speech bootcamp a la Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady if that happened (see the hint I left in my Homestretch review) but since she got Supranational, the Dale Carnegie courses she would take as part of her prize package would already suffice. (Personal note: I have taken some of those Dale Carnegie courses over 20 years ago–they were wonderful!) Barring any possible politicking, she is likely to become a front-runner in the Miss Supranational pageant in Belarus this September. If she wins, she is on her way of relieving her recent family misfortunes–go for it, Mutya!
BB. PILIPINAS – TOURISM: CANDIDATE NO. 16 – Joanna Cindy Miranda. She exuded the vibe of a sexy bombshell during the coronation night, so I understood why she could fare so high with the panel of judges. She was also the only other person besides Mutya Datul to garner two special awards, Bb. Petron and the Cream Silk Beyond Beautiful Woman awards. For the Q&A round, she was asked by Liliana Marquez Zawadzky (yes, Madame Stella’s sister) about what personality quality most people would remember about her: Her response: “One word that can describe is I’m unstoppable. Everything that I wanted in life, I get it even though I didn’t have any permission from my parents, my friends, or from people around me. If know that what I wanna do is right and good for me, I will do it. And at the end of it, every people around me will be proud of me.” Well, she does seem to be a driven competitor, and in hindsight her answer is stronger than I originally thought (though Shan Apuad and Pia Wurtzbach’s answers were still better, in my reckoning). I may wish that Pia got a title and Shan was in this list over this lady, but I’m fine with her placement.
BB. PILIPINAS – INTERNATIONAL: CANDIDATE NO. 20 – Bea Rose Santiago. There might be some detractors who weren’t impressed with her looks, but I thought she does have what it takes to possibly become one of the titleholders, as I find her looks, though not that conventionally pretty in some angles, very striking and very attractive. For the Q&A she was asked by the chairman of the Miss International pageant, Hirofumi Hashimoto to complete this sentence: “The ideal Filipino is…” She completed it by saying, “The ideal Filipino is both proud and happy people. We love Philippines that we are willing to come back here every year. We’re willing to spend our Christmas, holidays every year just to be here in the Philippines because we Filipino will always feel our home here in the Philippines.” It’s generally a solid answer, but with her great English diction, it is not surprising that she was granted a plum title. She is very likely to extend the current streak we are enjoying at Miss International–the question now is if she can propel us beyond semifinalist level and make the Top Five, at least. It is highly possible, in my opinion.
MISS UNIVERSE PHILIPPINES: CANDIDATE NO. 41 – Ariella Arida. Talk about an under-the-radar surprise. Though she is well regarded by pageant fans and pundits, no one expected her to be the one to clinch the top prize–most pegged her only as a likely semifinalist and a long-shot finalist at best. But I suppose most (including myself) did not anticipate the final makeover she received that catapulted her into front-running contention. There were two key elements–first, her normally pale complexion has gradually turned bronze; and second, they piled on the dramatic Cleopatra eye makeup. The results surprisingly made her evoke all the successful Philippine beauty queens who competed in Miss Universe, without her mimicking any one of them. Come to think of it, a similar strategy was also employed on Charmaine Elima, and Charmaine made such a great initial striking impact. I think the difference why Charmaine fell by the wayside while Ara shot up was that Ara’s features are more subtle and would win one over in the longer term, along with the fact that Ara is a more solid (though imperfect) communicator.
I personally felt that though her figure is undeniably fit and trim, I thought the Best in Swimsuit award should have gone to Pia. But well, the judges were more mesmerized by her more bronzed persona that I do not totally object to her winning it. For the evening gown round, well, she did look resplendent in the pretty white Grecian styled one-shoulder number selected by the powers-that-be for her. For the Q&A round, she was asked by PNP director-general Allan Purisima about a lesson women can teach men. Her response: “One lesson in life that, we, women can teach men is being sensitive because we all know that men are more logical when it comes to decisions. They usually more rationale, straightforward, unlike we, women, we use our heart and we tend to get emotional in some of our decisions. And so that’s it for me. Sensitivity is something that we, women, can teach men. Thank you.” She was on the right track, but the gnawing quibble I have about her answer is that she didn’t show why sensitivity is an advantage and something that is worth learning. If she mentioned the “why”, it would’ve been a perfect answer.
Come to think of it, Ara could indeed be a great fit for Miss Universe. Miss Universe is no longer looking for the brightest brains nor the most eloquent speakers–the reigning Miss Universe, Olivia Culpo is regarded as smart enough but nothing extraordinary (none of the eloquence that Janine Tugonon provided in her onstage pageant interviews, that’s for sure)–and Ara might actually fit that bill. There is a big weight over Ara’s shoulders right now especially with such heightened expectations after the consecutive successes of Venus, Shamcey, and Janine. I want to scale down expectations and state that all I really ask of Ara is to simply sustain a semifinalist finish. Though she can aim high and go for the win, we should all remain supportive as long as she ends up a semifinalist (and love her nevertheless even if she falls short of that). Anyway, she is backed up by a proven team who can ensure her success in the cutthroat arena that is Miss Universe, and she has that one intangible ace that can also help give her a big splash–her name. Her name has a dramatic ring to it, especially if we use her nickname: “Ara Arida” is very cathy and memorable, isn’t it? And doesn’t it evoke visions of a diva-rrific glamazon? Ara is on her way to living up to the fierceness that her name evokes, and if that happens, the Universe should watch out.
As a parting shot, I should say that even if the results are not exactly what I anticipated, I wholeheartedly support these queens on their journeys. All hail the reigning queens!
All images courtesy of Bruce Casanova for Bb. Pilipinas and OPMB Worldwide unless otherwise indicated.