HAPPY VITUG: 07 JUNE 2013 – 25 AUGUST 2013

I know people talk about having a pet as becoming part of the family, or as Oprah Winfrey would call her pet dogs, “people with fur”.  I haven’t experienced that until recently, when my sister got a pet puppy (a shih-tzu / pomeranian hybrid).  In the 16 days he was with us I finally learned the unconditional love one feels when having a pet and why people would consider pet animals as important as family members.  It was such a devastating loss to everyone of us when his life was cut short.  We are still reeling with grief over this event.

My mom poured her heart out and journaled her thoughts that I think it’s important I share the essay she wrote to express what we all felt:

Why am I so out of sorts today?  Why are tears welling in my eyes?  I don’t want to feel this way, but I can’t snap out of it.  How can the deat of a less-than-a-kilo puppy called Happy affect me this way?  We have grown fond of him.  This is true but it seems so unreasonable to feel like the gloominess all around me will just go on and on.  Yet, I can’t snap out of it.  

Maybe, it [sic] not just because Happy is gone.  I will never hear his excited barking again.  I will never again see his excited twirling around or jumping up and down to reach my hand.  He was such a tiny creature when he was given to my daughter and he smelled, so she decided to have him groomed at an impressive-looking pet grooming shop wherein he was bathed and where the groomer decided to cut off his long and matted hair explaining it was best because he had a hot spot.  Since my daughter, Jacklyn, didn’t really know anything about dogs, she relied on the groomer’s advice thinking what he suggested was best for Happy.  After the entire process, Happy came home to us.  He was frisky and so delightful, we all fell in love with him.  I joked that he looked more like a white mouse than a puppy but despite his appearance, we were all enamored with him.  

The next days were busy ones for us.  I had deliveries and purchases to make but there was the welcoming presence of Happy to look forward to.  The weekend came and we brought him to a vet for his vitamins and other needs.  Happy was funny as he gave us signs when he wanted to pee and he barked excitedly when he had to poo.  It was easy to care for him and he signalled us when he wanted to rest.  Jacklyn had bought him a very beautiful, comfortable bed and I knew he loved it as he never even once soiled it.  When he awoke, he would get down from his bed, bark or twirl around sniffing his tail to signal to us that he had to pee and poo.  Everything seemed alright and even as I wrestled with my own problems, they quickly disappeared because I could go down to see Happy.

The following Saturday, Jacklyn brought Happy to the vet for deworming.  We watched and saw how sweet he was until he felt in delayed reaction, the first shot his tiny body ever received.  He was barking and twisting in agony as I held him to calm him down.  It was the first time I held him in my arms and the connection between us jolted my heart.  Here was a helpless, hurt creature who needed tenderness and I hope I gave it to him.

At home, he was still frisky and living up to his name.  He was Happy.  Three days later, he peed in the tiny home within the cage he stayed in.  We brought him to the old newspapers where we usually brought him whenever he signalled his desire to relieve himself.  He continuously clawed at them, trying to remove them, and tired of rearranging them as we waited for him to do his thing.  Then, he seemed to have just grown tired as he ate so little and slept almost the whole day.  We were worried because he was quieter and barely barked.

Thursday morning came and there was no barking at 5 a.m. to wake us up.  Happy did not eat his breakfast.  Jacklyn called the vet to ask him to came and see Happy but he didn’t arrive.  We were in Cabanatuan until 4 in the afternoon while Jacklyn went to work.  Josie and Joseph decided to bring Happy to the vet who took blood samples for examination to see what was wrong.  On the way home from Jacklyn’s office, she called the doctor for the results of his blood chemistry and we were all shocked at the findings.  Happy’s kidneys are weak, he had anemia and he still had no appetite.  He was given an intravenous line where  some of his medicines were injected and where he was given what his body needed.  Jim and I visited him and he immediately stood up to show us how he missed us.  He still had not eaten but he seemed so frisky though sad as he licked my hand when I brought it near him.  The doctor said we should be able to take him home when he is already feeding again.  I felt assured that he was going to come home, grow old and be a companion to our family and even when Jim and I are gone, to our daughter who genuinely cared for him.  That visit comforted me though I was apprehensive because he still refused to eat.

The next day, Jacklyn, Jim and I visited him and he looked so thin.  He was making small noises but he looked so sad.  It felt to me as if he was telling us something about how he was feeling.  I imagined he was asking me to take him home with us.  The long-haired veterinarian told us if Happy would eat, he would be stronger and he suggested that Jacklyn bring food Happy was accustomed to.  Jacklyn immediately brought his food and even took him out of his cage to hold him.  He still did not touch his food but we thought he would start eating later.  He also only likced the doggie biscuit shaped like a bone that he loved when first Jacklyn brought him home.  

That Saturday night, when I asked the veterinarian about Happy, Dr. Ong said he ate his supper.  How happy we were!  Finally, he was eating.  Maybe tomorrow or on Monday, we will be able to bring him home.  Then the doctor called about 30 minutes later to inform Jacklyn that Happy expelled a worm and he became weak.  He told us to visit on the next day to see him.

Sunday came and we prayed a decade of the rosary for Happy’s recovery.  During Mass, before consecration, somebody texted Jacklyn.  Happy died at 3 in the morning.  His tiny body could not take anymore.  He was gone.  We all wept bitterly and felt drained.  After Mass, we continued our rosary, praying that if Happy had a soul, that he would be in doggie heaven where there is no more sickness and pain.  I didn’t want to look at his remains but I felt that I must see him for the last time.  Jacklyn and I were shocked to see him lying there with eyes wide open sadly staring at us.  

I’m sorry, Happy.  We did our best for you.  Jacklyn especially spent so much for you, because she only wanted the best for you.  In the short time you were with us, you really lived up to your name.  You made everyone of us truly happy.  Dear Happy, rest now.  Jim, Joseph, Jacklyn, Josie, PJ, and I bid you goodbye.  Thank you for sharing your life with us.  Thank you for giving us so much joy and giving us your unconditional love.  Will we ever be able to find another puppy like you?”

FOOTNOTE:  To explain the people my mom mentioned in her essay:  Joseph – this blogger; Jacklyn – my sister; Jim – my dad; Josie – our helper; PJ – our helper at my mom’s store, who stays in with us.  Dr. Ong – one of the veterinarians, not the long-haired veterinarian also mentioned in this essay.

This blogger and Mom.


Three of the ladies who made the Final Five, I predicted would make it.  One that I didn’t get was one that I have a high regard–but she turns out to be a great sleeper choice, and it seems she would be delivering on her promise in possible national pageants to come.  The other one I didn’t get, well, she has such a gift of gab that she was able to go far with it–but then again she was also on the radar with other pageant fans and pundits.  For the final round, all five finalists were given one question asked by the reigning Miss World, Yu Wenxia: “Why do you want to become Miss World Philippines?”

4TH PRINCESS:  CANDIDATE NO. 18 – Osmarie Linn Osuna.  I didn’t know that much about her, but I noticed that she has great looks that I believed she had the potential to go very far, especially in future national pageants.  Little did I know she was already polished at the get-go, with excellent English diction and good presence of mind to boot.  Sure in the evening gown round her white gown is a bit pageant patty (that Nick Verreos panned it), but she worked it well.  For the semifinal Q&A she was asked about what can make a woman powerful.  She gave a well-put answer about having a strong heart with the willingness to serve an dgive to others in need, and the way you influence people to achieve these goals.  For the final question, I think the reason why she was then relegated to the bottom of the final five was that her answer is more in the tone of what she has instead of what she was willing to give, a pitfall that prevented other Miss World finalists from winning it all–“I am ready. I have what it takes: beautiful face and body, strong heart willing to serve others. I can bring home the Miss World crown.”  Anyway, what she has achieved is an auspicious start, and I can predict an upward trajectory for her from hereon.  In fact, I can recommend to the Kagandahang Flores camp that she’s already more than ready to compete in Bb. Pilipinas–and with her resemblance to 1994 Miss International semifinalist Alma Concepcion, she can even clinch the Bb. Pilipinas – International title (this is a title that beauty camp has been clinching regularly).

Alma Concepcion at Miss International 1994 (image courtesy of BeauLand)

3RD PRINCESS:  CANDIDATE NO. 19 – Maria Bianca Paz.  Two years ago, she garnered Best in Evening Gown and 3rd Princess in this pageant.  This year, she also got the exact same outcome, though she also garnered two additional special awards:  a tie for Heart of Miss World Philippines award with Karla Patricia Alas, and Miss Redux Fat.  I personally found two other gowns to be better than hers, but I’m okay with her win as Best in Evening Gown–the long-sleeved white gown has a provocative low V-neckline and intricate lacy embroidery.  I think going into the semifinals she was actually a rung higher than her eventual placement, but as the Q&A rounds progressed, she was overtaken.  For the semifinals, she was asked about what qualities make a Filipino distinct from the rest of the world.  She gave a strong answer about our knack for hospitality and our family values.  In my reckoning, she ran fourth in the semifinal Q&A behind the excellent responses by Megan, Zahra, and Osmarie, and to be honest her response to the final question was in my opinion the weakest of the Final Five:  “I’ve been through many challenges. I can’t think of a better venue to inspire people other than Miss World.”  Still, it’s a great showing in her last hurrah in pageantry that is worth saluting.

2ND PRINCESS:  CANDIDATE NO. 5 – Zahra Bianca Saldua.  Facewise and figurewise, I’m not that into her, but ironically her sporting a one-piece swimsuit and her heftier, more voluptuous built made me realize that amongst this year’s group, she’s the winner of my personal BB Sweepstakes award for this pageant.   In terms of actual special awards, she garnered two:  Miss Friendship and Miss Pantene.  I have a sense her well-known gift of gab would be her ticket to make the cut, but little did I know it will make her go all the way to this high ranking.  I think her BB quality helped her garner an edge in the swimsuit round, and though Nick Verreos ranked her navy blue gown as his least favorite (which based on photos, I have to agree), one has to note that she actually gave that otherwise tacky number a dramatic catwalk presentation that I actually scored her high in her evening gown performance overall.

But as the question and answer rounds came in, she came up with all aces.  In the semifinal round, she impressed in the casual chit-chat about why unlike the 24 other candidates she sported a one-piece swimsuit with a shawl wrapped around her waist.  She eloquently explained about her Moslem religion and how confident she is that you can be viewed as beautiful without having to expose your body.  In the official semifinal question, she was asked about what she does on a weekend.  She explained that with her kind of job (as a radio DJ and newscaster) she works practically 24/7, but the little spare time she has she spends it with family and doing sports like basketball, soccer, and a couple of other sports.  For the Final Five question, she was again extremely eloquent with this answer:  “When I was 10 years old, I told my parents I wanted to be part of the United Nations. I wanted to be an Ambassadress of Goodwill. Whether I win or not, I want to continue with my charitable work, and I hope you give me that chance.”  Based on her answer alone, she probably could have been the winner, but in terms of overall impression, the fact that she went this far is already great achievement enough.

1ST PRINCESS:  CANDIDATE NO. 10 – Janicel Lubina.  In technical terms, she has the best body and she in my opinion (and Nick Verreos, too) sported the best evening gown of the night.  Her white intricately embroidered sheer evening gown was an eye-popping provocative sensation–onstage and on TV you would believe she was nude underneath (but upon closer photo inspection she was actually protected by flesh-colored bodystocking up to her upper thigh).  Her Best in Swimsuit award was well-earned, and I have a feeling they were in the mood to spread the wealth a bit so they awarded the Best in Evening Gown to another lady instead of making this one win both.  For the semifinal Q&A she was asked about who is her personal idol.  She gave a sincere answer about Beyonce, and how she makes her realize that a brown complexion like hers could indeed be beautiful.  In my opinion, in terms of the quality of the semifinal answers I would’ve ranked her fifth–there is more to Beyonce than her complexion, remember, like her talents and how she espouses about empowering women, for instance.

For the final question, this is her response:  “Because I would like to unite physical beauty and a message of hope, perseverance to the world, knowing people can relate to my humble beginnings, that poverty is not a hindrance, that’s the essence of Miss World. Beauty with a purpose, beauty with giving.”  I was surprised at the eloquence of this answer as thus far she did not sound this eloquent in most interviews.  I have this feeling the Kagandahang Flores camp prepared her in case she was asked this type of question, and she was ready with this response.  Then, it started to dawn on me that she is starting to be positioned to be like one recent Miss World winner–remember Miss World 2011 Ivian Sarcos, and her similar rags-to-riches story?  This can be a compelling argument that this lady can actually have what it takes to also finally win it all for our nation.  Still, I think her current placement is apt.  But this poses interesting strategic possibilities for the Kagandahang Flores camp:  1) Should they field her for next year’s Bb. Pilipinas with the hope of clinching the Miss Universe Philippines title? (Her online fans seem to be clamoring for this one)  2) Should she forfeit this year’s prizes as 1st Princess to compete again next year for Miss World Philippines?  3)  Should she keep her position as 1st Princess and try again two years later a la Bianca Paz?  I personally would choose option 3 as the safest, best option, especially if Megan actually wins Miss World, though the other two options are also very deliciously viable.

Miss World 2011 Ivian Sarcos (image sourced from picstopin.com)

MISS WORLD PHILIPPINES 2013:  CANDIDATE NO. 20 – Megan Lynne Young.  First, click on my reaction to her victory here.  Now let me now go down to earth and discuss her performance during the finals.  In technical terms, she was edged out by Janicel Lubina in swimsuit and evening gown, but her gorgeous face and inner sparkle (plus that undeniable charisma) helped her neutralize Janicel’s advantage and ultimately take the lead.   Yes, Janicel is very buffed (she’s not the reigning Slimmers World Miss Bikini Philippines for nothing) but Megan is not very far behind in that department, and though Janicel caused a jaw-dropping sensation in her white evening gown, Megan delivered a serenely regal presence in her sparkling, shimmering royal blue Eric delos Santos low-cut gown.  I suppose to spread the wealth again, they did not grant her the wins as Best in Swimsuit and Evening Gown, but she eventually got the lion’s share of special awards anyway.  Let’s tally them all:  Miss World Laguna, Best in Fashion Runway, Miss Sports (by Fila), Miss Bold & Glamorous by Revlon, Miss Olay, and Bench Body.

In the semifinal Q&A, she was asked about her favorite hobby.  She sincerely answered about her love of video games, online games, and other tech stuff.  The sincere and fluid delivery of her answer for me made her top the semifinal round.  For the final Q&A, this was her response:  “Miss World Philippines is selfless and to be selfless, you need to have a heart. If I win Miss World Philippines, I would give myself wholeheartedly to be of service. Beauty with a heart.”  Based on the transcript alone, you can argue she didn’t give the best answer, that Zahra and Janicel gave stronger answers.  But well, again, the way Megan fluidly and sincerely delivered her answer, and of course her overall performance (and yes, charisma and star quality) made her a totally deserving winner.  And once the crown was on her head, it dawned on me that she has a resemblance to two classic Filipina beauties from rival pageants past–I noticed she has Miss International 1979 Melanie Marquez’s lips and cheekbones, and I recalled a classic photo of Miss Universe 1963 3rd runner-up Lalaine Bennett and how Megan looks like a deadringer for her.  It also entered my mind that she also has the hip, modern vibe that Miss World 1998 Linor Abargil reportedly has, though of course Megan is leagues more gorgeous than Linor.

Miss International 1979 Melanie Marquez and her court (image sourced from Missosology)
Miss Universe 1963 3rd runner-up Lalaine Bennett (image courtesy of Tony Paat)
Miss World 1998 Linor Abargil (image courtesy of Bellazon.com)

I was surprised that Megan got the Sports award as I thought that would’ve gone to someone like basketball-playing Candidate No. 15, Maria Lily Teresa Salazar.  But it seems that either the other 24 contestants are simply not really that athletic (and we never figured in sports challenges in Miss World, anyway), or perhaps there is a hidden athletic edge that Megan has that she can bring our country in contention for the Sports challenge event–just like the way the model-glamorous Miss World 2002 Azra Akın demonstrated a hidden athletic edge in the British reality sports competition The Games 10 years ago.  If that is the case, it is possible that Megan can conceivably figure in the short list of all the Miss World challenge events:  Beach Fashion, Top Model, Sport and Fitness, Talent, Beauty with a Purpose, and World Designer Award.  If a Multimedia challenge is also included like last year, Megan would likely ace that, too.

Remember, she whupped Sporty Spice’s butt in a judo match: Miss World 2002 Azra Akin (image sourced from pxdrive.com)

I heard from a pageant insider friend of mine that Megan has some rap skills, so I thought that could be a way she can gain an edge in talent, even if it is likely that opera-singing Miss World Australia, Erin Holland, is the front-runner for this event.  Sure, Megan was fine singing the Cure’s “Lovesong” (done in the style of Adele’s cover version) at this pageant’s talent competition, but I suppose I’m too spoiled rotten by American Idol Season 12 champion Candice Glover’s killer cover version that everything else paled in comparison.  Some rap-sung ideas that came to my head include Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Can’t Hold Us”, Rihanna featuring Jay-Z’s “Umbrella” (inspired by American Idol Season 10 finalist Naima Adedapo’s version), and Nicki Minaj’s “Starships” (though sanitize the lyrics).  Readers out there–what other song suggestions can you think of?

[Please indulge me as I squeeze in a review of the recently released video by my favorite group, Pentatonix, with their cover version of “Can’t Hold Us”:  As usual, freaking awesome, and with a wonderfully edited video featuring sequences of each band member front-and-center with differing wardrobes that seem to reflect their personalities–like formal Kevin, preppy Mitch, edgy Kirstie, dark Avi, and hip-hoppy Scott.  Also love the slightly customized lyrics, and Mitch channeling Nicki Minaj when he rapped his lead part.  It’s ironic that during the Sing-Off’s hip-hop themed week, they did not rap, but they rapped real well here.]

I’m extremely confident that Megan has what it takes to nail Beach Fashion and especially Top Model–I already have visions of her face gracing an international ad campaign for a major cosmetics company, like Miss World 2001 Agbani Darego and Miss World 2007 Zhang Zilin.  I’m also confident with the help of Cory Quirino, they will also showcase a Beauty with a Purpose project worthy of a shortlist (and they can even add in the work she did for TV network rival ABS-CBN in the aftermath of the heavy monsoon rain fueled by Typhoon Maring that befell on her coronation night).

Miss World 2001 Agbani Darego gracing L’Oreal
Miss World 2007 Zhang Zilin also for L’Oréal
Isn’t Megan ready for an international fashion ad campaign? (image sourced from paddylastinc.com)
Helping out flood victims through ABS-CBN’s Sagip Kapamilya (image courtesy of Megan Young’s Facebook)

On a parting note, I’m so excited over Megan’s prospects at this year’s Miss World pageant.  If everything works as we expect (and looking at who her competition would be), I can feel that history will be made.  Me and 90+ million other Filipinos are praying for that.  I wonder if the deluge that occurred on the night of coronation is a precursor to the blessings she will receive in Indonesia this September?



(image sourced from Global Beauties)

All images courtesy of Bruce Casanova, Melvin Sia, and Jory Rivera for OPMB Worldwide unless otherwise indicated.

P.S.  I’m inspired to post Lana del Ray’s “Video Games” because of Megan’s semifinal answer.  Come to think of it, that can also be a song idea.  I also have a mash-up idea as the chorus reminds me of The Cure’s “In Between Days” and the refrain reminds me of Paul Simon’s “The Obvious Child”.


Even as the entire Luzon and Visayas was drenched with intensifying monsoon rains on Sunday evening, August 18, at the safe and dry confines of the ballroom of the recently built Solaire Resort and Casino the search for Miss World Philippiines 2013 proceeded with its coronation finale.  As directed by runway show veteran Robby Carmona, the pageant promised to be a sleek and stylish affair.  The event began auspiciously at 8 PM with the 25 candidates looking fierce in black and grey bias-cut dresses designed by Arnold Galang that are above-the-knee at the front and floor-length at the back, while the outgoing queen Quenerich Rehman sang Rihanna’s “Right Now” that then segued to a recording of Jennifer Lopez’s “Live It Up” as the candidates danced and struck glamorous poses (choreographed by Nancy of the famous dance group The Hotlegs).

Hosting the event were two of the stars of GMA 7’s runaway hit soap opera My Husband’s Lover, Carla Abellana and Victor Basa, with vetaran host KC Montero.  Providing color commentary throughout the proceedings were Miss World 2011 1st runner-up Gwendoline Ruais and socialite Divine Lee.  I could not find any serious fault with any of the hosts and commentators, except that spontaneity and energy was sacrificed as they all delivered their spiels by reading cue cards.

Hosts Victor Basa, Carla Abellana, and KC Montero

The structure of the pageant was generally straightforward–after the hosts introduced themselves, then came the contestant introductions, followed by an initial set of special awards (that was actually pre-taped prior to the actual pageant), then the swimsuit round, a second set of special awards, the evening gown round, a final set of special awards, the selection of the Top 13 semifinalists, an interview with the Top 13, the selection of the five finalists, the final interview, and then of course the announcement of winners.  Though there were the expected lulls as they transitioned between the major rounds (for wardrobe changes for swimsuit and gown for instance) and tabulation of the results, at the live venue it seems to be a well-paced event.  In between the rounds, there were some song numbers, of course.  After the initial set of special awards, singer Kris Lawrence performed three of his latest songs.  After the swimsuit and evening gown parades there were  song numbers from other cast members from My Husband’s Lover: the renowned singer/actress Kuh Ledesma (who plays the “husband’s” mother) sang the soap’s theme song “One More Try” after the swimsuit competition; and leading man Tom Rodriguez (yes, the “husband”) navigating adequately through the standard “The Way You Look Tonight”.  It should be also noted that another cast member from this soap, Dennis Trillo (the “husband’s lover”), was part of the board of judges.

As usual, where director Robby Carmona left his indelible stamp was in the conduct of the swimsuit and evening gown competitions.  Both sequences feature top notch use of appropriate mood-setting music that is modern and stylish.  For the swimsuit round, the extended remix of France’s 2010 Eurovision entry “Allez Ola Olé” by Jessy Matador was used to provide an appropriately lively and festive mood as the 25 candidates (with one exception) parading in red Fila bikinis.  For the evening gown round, the fusion of live orchestration from the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra performing a medley of U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name” and Maroon 5’s “She Will Be Loved” with beats supplied by DJ Samir Ayeb (who looks almost as dashing as DJ Callum David back at the Bb. Pilipinas 2012) provided a hip and fashionable backdrop that best showcased the gown designs by various Philippine designers.  The gowns are done in a red, white, and blue theme–the 25 candidates were free to choose any of the three colors to parade in, and there is a free rein in the kind of design, and after individually presenting the gowns in the usual order, the final sequence in this round featured the candidates grouped together by color.  It’s far superior than the Cumbia parades at Bb. Pilipinas over the past several years.

Time for a beefcake break: DJ and model Samir Ayeb (image sourced from tumblr.com)

This year’s semifinalist question-and-answer round featured video questions posted by Miss World Philippines followers from around the world (also including our shores).  Several of the questions are generally simple fluff, but then again, those are the kinds of questions that are expected in the actual Miss World pageant.  With this, I will now segue to my review of the Top 13 semifinalists.

In general, the 13 semifinalists were in the radar of several pageant fans and pundits though I missed out on two of them in my homestretch review as lookswise I personally was not into them.  Even with the absence of Candidates No. 9 Pia Kamil Ochengco, No. 14 Vina Openiano and No. 23 Ria Rabajante, in general this group of Top 13 is a solid bunch.  Let me start with:

CANDIDATE NO. 7 – Samantha Mae Bernardo.  As I predicted, she was rewarded for her dancing talent with a Best in Talent special award.  She also struck a sexy presence as she looked trim in swimsuit and sported a cleavage-baring white gown in the evening gown round (I liked it though Project Runway alumni Nick Verreos panned it in his blog).  But she fell apart in the Q&A round (which is why she appears first in my list), as she tried to explain about that old saying “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” but she couldn’t really quite exactly state the saying itself and rambled on a bit.

CANDIDATE NO. 13 – Maria Paula Estenzo.  I found her performance in the two rounds generally solid overall that I was not surprised she made the final cut.  Yes, her red lacy minidress with train was not really my cup of tea (and yes, listed as one of Nick Verreos’s least favorites in his blog) but she worked it well in my opinion.  In the Q&A round, she was asked about what makes her smile.  She hesitated then gave a terse answer: “When I’m with someone I love.”  There was an awkward pause that gave a hint that she momentarily intended to elaborate on this further, but decided not to anymore as she seems to now be at a loss for words and was fearful of embarrassing herself.

CANDIDATE NO. 6 – Karla Patricia Alas.  Though she garnered a special award prior to the finals (a tie for the Heart of Miss World Philippines award with Bianca Paz), I was not into her features that I didn’t include her in my “fearful” forecast (nor in my bubbling under list).  But she won me over with her good diction when she introduced herself, her effortless speech in an interval video about their charity work, and that stunning white flouncy evening gown.  But her answer in the Q&A round simply left me wanting, as she was asked a question about shopping and after first stating about what makes it enjoyable she then abruptly tried to then tack in about shopping not being as important as giving to others.  It could’ve been a good answer but it was just awkwardly constructed (think Venus Raj and Luo Zilin at Miss Universe).

CANDIDATE NO. 12 – Angelica Lopez.  This is another candidate whose looks I’m not that into (generally she is attractive though lacks any standout features in my opinion) that I didn’t include in my “fearful” forecast.   I generally also found her performance in the finals so-so, and probably would’ve preferred Vina Openiano in her place, but well, I suppose the judges on-hand took a liking to her features better to advance.  Though Nick Verreos raved about her simple red satin gown, I personally found it a tad too threadbare that it didn’t register a major impression on me (though in hindsight after reading his blog, I do appreciate its impeccable construction).  Anyway, she was solid in her answer to the question about what her ideal man is–she likes a compassionate man who gives everything he has for the people he loves, including his family.

CANDIDATE NO. 11 – Mercegrace Raquel.  After missing the cut in Bb. Pilipinas earlier this year, she’s at least rewarded with a placement in this pageant.  Deservingly so with her trim figure and the way she worked her lacy white cocktail minidress with chiffon train (Nick Verreos disliked the dress, but I did like the way she walked in it).  She was asked regarding who is her favorite Disney princess.  She gave a solid answer about Cinderella with a fresh take about a Prince Charming who would accept her despite her station in life.

CANDIDATE NO. 17 – Jennifer Hammond.  As I expected, with a predominantly Filipino panel, this lady would make the final cut.  I have to concede she looked impeccably styled in her blue gown (though I found it a tad too simple-looking, but Nick Verreos raved about it) and so she was worthy of making the final cut.  In the Q&A round, she was asked about the qualities needed to become Miss World besides beauty.  She gave all the points most would think of, like the X-factor, charm, the willingness to help, the intelligence of presenting ideas and the personality to mobilize other people to achieve her goals.

CANDIDATE NO. 24 – Zandra Flores.  All that hard work participating in all those other national pageants reaped some rewards, as she also made the final cut in this pageant (in a way, her path is like an upward trajectory, as she made the cut in the most recent pageants she joined, Mutya and this pageant).  In her Q&A she was asked about what she would do to help her country progress (or something in that line).  Her response was that to teach people to become entrepreneurs like herself, as she mentioned about setting up her own beauty salon.

CANDIDATE NO. 22 – Patricia Lae Ejercitado.  Among the semifinalists, at least she had the luck of garnering two special awards, Miss Prudential Life and Miss Novu Hair.  As expected she performed very strongly in both swimsuit and evening gown (she worked her otherwise just-okay white evening with aplomb).  In the Q&A round she was asked what does she do to be fulfilled.  She gave a “correct” answer about finding fulfillment in giving.  I’d like to give the benefit of the doubt and trust she is sincere in that sentiment, but perhaps the key reason why she fell short of making the Top Five is that the ones who made it had expressed more sincerity and conviction in their answers.

All images courtesy of Bruce Casanova, Melvin Sia, and Jory Rivera for OPMB Worldwide unless otherwise indicated.