A palpable wave of excitement has befallen Filipino pageant fans regarding this year’s Miss World Philippines pageant.  It is fixated over one lady who several local fans and pundits believed is our best shot in garnering that ever-elusive first Miss World crown.  But a competition is needed to be held, and there are other candidates in contention besides her too.  How do they stack up, and can any of them pull off an upset over the perceived major favorite?

A last-minute development came in wherein one of the 26 candidates has to drop out of the competition.  Officially it was for “health reasons” but there is speculation that based on now-deleted posts on a couple of popular pageant blogs, that it was about something that would be grounds for disqualification.  Let’s start with that withdrawn candidate, who happens to be…

CANDIDATE NO. 1 – Nicole Marable  (Withdrawn).  Looks-wise, this former Bb. Pilipinas 2012 contestant seems to be a lock for the Top 12, but we all know Miss World sometimes looks for qualities besides a pretty face and a trim figure.  Though she gave a nice energy in her peppy pop dance during the talent show, it did not quite stand out in the end.  I would’ve liked to see how far she could parlay her good looks in this contest.  RATING: 7.5

Performing a peppy pop dance

Now, let’s proceed with the rest of the candidates.  The ratings I give is my indication of how far they can go if they would be selected to represent our country in Miss World.

CANDIDATE NO. 2 – Roselle Marie Ferrer.  To be blunt her face is not my cup of tea, and though she gave a competent Argentine tango, it still was not considered a standout talent.  RATING: 5.

Performing an Argentine Tango

CANDIDATE NO. 3 – Princesslyn Dignadice.  We have to hand it her talent is quite unique–combining a painting demonstration and dancing to some ethno-tribal music.  Otherwise, as former American Idol judge Randy Jackson would put it, “she’s just aiiight.”  RATING: 6.

Odd combo of painting and dancing to tribal music.

CANDIDATE NO. 4 – Khadija Nasser.  Her name has an Islamic/Arab tinge to it, though she looks Oriental.  I think she needs a little seasoning as her looks has potential but she doesn’t seem to project and showcase her best features optimally.  Like Nicole she did a pop dance but a bit lesser energy than Nicole’s performance.  RATING: 6.

Performing a peppy Latin-tinged pop dance

CANDIDATE NO. 5 – Zahra Bianca Saldua.  In her press presentation photos she seemed to be hefty and worsening matters was that she covered herself with a shawl around her waist.  But it turns out it was not because she was hiding her figure, but because of her religion–she’s Moslem.  Then again, with Miss World being held in Indonesia this year, she could fit right in and it is reported that the beachwear competition will be conducted in modest sarongs anyway.  She performed a mish-mash medley of songs for her talent, an eclectic mix featuring “On My Own” from Les Miserables, Chris Brown’s “Look at Me Now”, Shakira’s “Whenever Wherever”, Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and a Beyonce song that was edited out of the excerpt I saw through OPMB Worldwide.  Her rapping in the “Look at Me Now” portion was actually impressive, but to be blunt I found the rest of her medley rather disjointed and messy and her singing chops aren’t up to them.  But since she’s a disc jockey for DZRH, expect that a gift of gab would be one of her strongest qualities and her possible ticket to make the Top 12.  RATING: 6.5.

Singing a medley of Les Miserables’ “On My Own”, a Pinoy-rock classic, Chris Brown’s “Look at Me Now”, Shakira’s “Whenever Wherever”, Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”, and Beyonce…

CANDIDATE NO. 6 – Karla Patricia Alas.  This former Miss Philippines-Earth 2013 contestant is reasonably attractive.  But does she have any more to offer besides that?  The talent portion is in my opinion not one of her strengths as her singing sounded rather pitchy (yes, another Randy Jackson-ism).  RATING: 6.

Singing a song

CANDIDATE NO. 7 – Samantha Mae Bernardo.  Her facial features are not really my cup of tea, but she has a trim figure, and she’s my bet to garner the Talent title, as she was very impressive in her dance routine, combining a Pandango sa Ilaw folk dance with rhythmic gymnastics.   RATING: 7.5

From a “Pandango sa Ilaw” dance…
…to a rhythmic gymnastics hoops routine.

CANDIDATE NO. 8 – Frances Claire Vintola.  She reminds me of Korean girl group Brown Eyed Girls singer Narsha, prior to her glamorous transformation via plastic surgery.  But she looked good and performed well in the talent round, playing acoustic guitar and singing to Maroon 5’s “Sunday Morning.”  Will her strong talent showing propel her to a semifinal finish?  RATING:  6.5

Singing and playing guitar to Maroon 5’s “Sunday Morning”
Narsha pre-plastic surgery and circa 2009 (image sourced from en.korea.com)

CANDIDATE NO. 9 – Pia Kamil Ochengco.  She is refreshingly good looking, and she performed her Latin ballroom routine pretty well (to “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps”).  I think she can propel her good looks and trim figure to a strong finish.  RATING: 8.5

Latin-style ballroom dancing to “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps”.

CANDIDATE NO. 10 – Janicel Lubina.  This reigning winner of Miss Bikini Philippines 2013 seems to have a significant following over the web, hyping her as the possible usurper to the perceived favorite’s destined path.  She does have appealingly Asian exotic looks and yes, a buffed figure–which she showcased with aplomb performing a belly dance combined with a swinging routine that you can imagine could have been performed as a fire poi, but she used yellow fringed balls instead of actual flaming chains.  In another year, I would’ve regarded her as an acceptable choice for the title, but well, there is the “perceived favorite” present…  RATING: 9.

Belly dancing and spin dance to a medley of songs including Buster Poindexter’s “Hot, Hot, Hot”.

CANDIDATE NO. 11 – Mercegrace Raquel.  Speaking of fire, this Bb. Pilipinas 2013 contender danced to a medley of Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire” and Jennifer Lopez featuring Flo Rida and Li’l Jon’s “Goin’ In” in a red fringed minidress.   She has attractive native features so she can be a possible contender in the semifinals.  RATING: 8.

Dancing to a medley of Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire” and Jennifer Lopez’s “Goin’ In”.

CANDIDATE NO. 12 – Angelica Lopez.  In general, this otherwise attractive lady does not really make a standout impression.  And the less said about her pitchy rendition of Christina Perri’s “Jar of Hearts” during the talent show, the better.  RATING: 6.

Singing Christina Perri’s “Jar of Hearts”

CANDIDATE NO. 13 – Maria Paula Estenzo.  Facewise, she reminds me of famous (and ageless) Philippine choreographer Maribeth Bichara in the OPMB photos below, but there are angles where she looked more gorgeous than that.  She looked great during the talent show, but unfortunately the same cannot be said about her singing–she listlessly butchered Adele’s mega-smash “Rolling in the Deep”.  But that talent debacle aside, it is still conceivable she can parlay her looks to a semifinalist finish.  RATING: 7.5.

Singing Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”
Maribeth Bichara (image courtesy of Pep.ph)

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