Hard to believe it was already nine years since I last watched a Bb. Pilipinas pageant live.  But thanks to a dear close friend, I finally got back to watching the proceedings at the Araneta live.  The enthusiasm and electric energy from the audience that I recalled in previous editions remained undiminished.  But adding to the fun this year was the presence of the reigning Miss Universe, Molly Isler, who had some charity work to perform here along with being part of the panel of judges.

The show was generally high energy and nicely paced (considering all 40 candidates paraded in swimsuits and evening gowns), but I’ll provide more details on that when I post my full-fledged review later this week.  Anyway, waiting for the final results (which could have been the one that would drag the proceedings) was not as unbearable as usual as Pentatonix’s cover version of Lorde’s “Royals” piped in as ABS-CBN cameras panned in to the 15 finalists grooving and miming to the tune, then seguing to commentator Venus Raj also miming to the song, then finally co-host Anne Curtis gamely “singing” over the tune (though of course, I wish Anne left Pentatonix alone, but it was fun, nevertheless).  Then, Anne gets to belt out over Heart’s “Alone”, reportedly a staple in her surprisingly successful concerts.  All these were not shown in the telecast, of course…

Anne Curtis belting out to Heart’s “Alone” while awaiting the final results.

I got 11 out of 15 finalists right, and 5 out of 7 in the court.  One was in my “Bubbling Under” list and one of the three I didn’t get I was torn about including in my “Bubbling Under” list.  Two of them were headscratching surprises for me, with one who didn’t justify her placement in the final Q&A round–again more on that in my full-fledged review.  Now, let’s go to the Ruth Ocumarez awardees.  I’ll award bronze, silver, and gold, and these are:

Ruth Ocumarez Award Bronze Medal goes to Binibining 9, Joy Diaz.  who I thought would win over the judges with her intelligence behind the scenes–but well, I suppose the conspicuous absence of her aunt, Gloria Diaz should’ve clued me in that her intelligence and personality were not enough to overcome her obvious weaknesses in the looks department.

Ruth Ocumarez Bronze Medalist Joy Diaz (image courtesy of Jory Rivera for OPMB Worldwide)

Ruth Ocumarez Award Silver Medal goes to Binibining 15 is Kimverlyn Suiza.  I think the judges had a major quibble about her narrow shoulders that I can understand that could have been the main hindrance to her making the final cut.

Ruth Ocumarez Silver Medalist Kimverlyn Suiza (image courtesy of Jory Rivera for OPMB Worldwide)

Finally, the Ruth Ocumarez Award Gold Medal goes to Diana Arevalo.  After making the final cut in her two previous attempts, I thought she performed strong enough to at least secure a semifinalist slot, yet surprisingly, she was instead shut out of the Top 15.  It was the most shocking result amongst pageant fans and pundits who have a high regard for her.

Ruth Ocumarez gold medalist Diana Arevalo (image courtesy of Jory Rivera of OPMB Worldwide).

Most of the ladies who made the final court delivered.  I know legions of local pageant fans are especially gladdened that finally, MJ Lastimosa garnered a coveted crown after her third try–the plum prize of Miss Universe Philippines at that.  I sincerely respect the results, but apparently in the wake of her victory she bequeathed a legacy to one highly favored semifinalist who missed out of the crowns this year.  I’ll provide more details in my full-fledged review but until then, well, I’ll just say the ending is bittersweeet for me.




BINIBINING 31 – Angelique Celine de Leon.  Hard to believe she used to be relatively heftier at 180 lbs and that she was a tomboy.  Now, she is a vision of glamour.  She looks on track to garner a semifinals slot and perhaps in a year or so be on track to garner a title.  U – 9; I – 8.5; TQI – 8.5; S – 9; IC – 9

BINIBINING 32 – Jeslyn Santos.  In real-world terms, she would be deemed attractive but in pageant terms, making this cut is going to have to be enough.  U – 7; I – 6.5; TQI – 6.5; S – 7; IC – 7

BINIBINING 33 – Gabrielle Erika Tilokani.  She made the Top 10 in Mutya ng Pilipinas 2011.  But this pageant is a whole different ballgame and so far it seems that making the roster of 40 candidates is the most she will achieve.  U – 7; I – 7; TQI – 7; S – 7; IC – 7

BINIBINING 34 – Leonalyn dela Cruz.  She has appealing Asian/native features, and the fact she is a CPA going for her.  She could be considered a worthwhile contender, though a longshot to make the final cut.  U – 8; I – 7.5; TQI – 7.5; S – 8; IC – 8

BINIBINING 35 – Yvethe Marie Santiago.  Admittedly, I’m not that into her features as other pageant fans and pundits are, rating her as one of the top contenders for the crown.  But I do have to note she is actually very photogenic, is a strong communicator (and branded among the academic overachievers with Laura Lehmann and Joy Diaz in the Road to the Crown primer), and is clearly a strong, polished stage presence.  I don’t mind seeing her garner one of the crowns, but my heart right now is with four ladies at this point.  U – 9; I – 9.5; TQI – 9.5; S – 9.5; IC – 9.5

BINIBINING 36 – Krystal Alonday.  She is reasonably attractive, but otherwise not in serious contention for the finals.  In my opinion she wore the worst national costume of the bunch with her ill-proportioned  white terno and humongously flouncy white-pink-and-blue hoop skirt.  U – 6.5; I – 6.5; TQI – 6.5; S – 7; IC – 6.5

BINIBINING 37 – Vanessa Saliba.  This half-Lebanese lady has the mestiza features that are highly appealing to most Filipinos.  She isn’t making a major splash, but I consider her worthwhile.  U – 7.5; I – 8; TQI – 8; S – 7.5; IC – 7.5

BINIBINING 38 – Janine Asanion.  Reportedly, straight men find her highly appealing.  If the proportion of straight men are in the judging panel is high like back in 2010, it is conceivable she can pull off a Czarina Gatbonton-type of upset.  U – 8; I – 7.5; TQI – 7.5; S – 8.5; IC – 8.5

BINIBINING 39 – Ladylyn Riva.  She’s a veteran who previously competed in the 2011 Bb. Pilipinas, along with winning Miss Casino Filipino and 1st runner-up of Miss Resorts World that same year.  I dig her unconditional choice of costume–a pantsuit laden with golden lace embroidery.  She could be within striking distance of making the final cut.  U – 8; I – 8; TQI – 8; S – 8; IC – 8

BINIBINING 40 – Vessica Sambo.  She has these prominent almond eyes and a long swan-like neck, plus an unconventionally spelled name (I initially thought her name started with a letter “Y” instead of a “V”).  Her pink terno would have been otherwise lovely if it weren’t for the way her skirt was shredded–supposedly for unconventional effect, but in my opinion, it just looked as if it was torn apart by accident.  U – 8.5; I –  8; TQI – 8; S – 8.5; IC – 8.5

I am not certain at this point if they are to select a Top 15 or a Top 12, and if they are still including runners-up on top of the five titleholders for this year.  I’ll assume they will do a Top 15 and add runners-up so let me now trot out my “fearful” forecast:

TOP CONTENDERS:  8, 11, 13, 22, 35


SEMI-FINALISTS:  1, 4, 14, 15, 17, 23, 27, 31

BUBBLING UNDER:  5, 7, 10, 18, 19, 21, 24, 30, 37, 38, 39, 40

i find this group in general to be highly competitive.  The interesting battle is who is going to garner the plummier titles of Universe and International–will it be Bianca or Kris Tiffany for Universe (with Pia in striking distance to take that title, too), and will it be Pia, Laura, or Yvethe for International?  Will MJ finally garner a title?  Plus, whoever would garner the Miss Universe Philippines title, will she finally bring home that much coveted third crown for our country?  And will the other titleholders sustain the blazing showings we had last year (and maybe even bring forth back-to-back wins in the case of International and Supranational)?  I’m waiting with bated breath.




BINIBINING 21 – Racquel Kabigting.  She’s the tallest contestant in this year’s batch at 6’0″.   Her facial features are more of an unconventional sort, and that might be the factor that could hinder her prospects for the semifinals.  U – 7.5; I – 7; TQI – 7; S – 7.5; IC – 7.5.

BINIBINING 22 – Mary Anne Bianca Guidotti.  Insiders have rated her as the one most likely to garner the Miss Universe Philippines title, citing her attractively exotic features, statuesque 5’10” height, and her knowledge of the Portuguese language (as she was raised in Brazil, where Miss Universe is supposedly going to be held this year even if no official confirmation was announced at this point) as the key factors.  Viewing her demeanor, I could also add that she exudes the vibe of Miss Universe 2011 3rd runner-up Shamcey Supsup, especially in the way she interacts with screaming pageant fans.  However, it is not going to be a cakewalk for her to take the most prized title, as Kris Tiffany Janson is proving to also have compelling qualities worthy of gaining that title, too.  U – 10; I – 9.5; TQI – 9.5; S – 9.5; IC – 10

Miss Universe 2011 3rd runner-up Shamcey Supsup

BINIBINING 23 – Nichole Marie Manalo.  Considering her two older sisters haver garnered titles (Katherine was a Miss World 2002 Top 10 finalist and Bianca was a Miss Universe 2009 delegate), pageant fans and pundits wonder if she would also be granted favored status because of her pedigree?  She does have the good Asian looks of her sisters, but for some reason, I don’t see as much spark or charisma from her–Pia, Laura, Kris Tiffany, Bianca, and Yvethe are the ones garnering the biggest buzz thus far, and she also has to contend with the likes of Diana, MJ, and Parul.  We’ll see if she can muster some magic on finals night.  U – 9; I – 9; TQI – 9; S – 9; IC – 9

BINIBINING 24 – Ednorance Agustin.  Like the reigning Miss Universe Philippines, Ara Arida, what I noticed most about her are her relatively narrow hips and those naturally arched eyebrows. She looks to be in strong contention to make the semifinals.  U – 8.5; I – 8; TQI – 8; S – 8.5; IC – 8.5

BINIBINING 25 – Mary Jean Lastimosa.  This three-peater (2nd runner-up in 2011 and semifinalist in 2012) does have the hunger to finally garner one of the titles in her last hurrah for this pageant.  Her legions of fans definitely are fervently hoping she finally gets rewarded and she seems to be making the right approach, with a more refreshed look instead of her usually well-done fierceness.  She is within striking distance of usurping perceived faves Pia, Bianca, Kris Tiffany, Yvethe, and possibly Laura.  U – 9; I – 8.5; TQI – 9; S – 9; IC – 9.5

BINIBINING 26 – Hannah Sheena Manuel.  She is clearly overshadowed by the stars out there, but this co-provincemate of the reigning Miss Supranational  Mutya Datul can promisingly sparkle eventually in the future.  For now, she could be considered a worthwhile contender.  U – 7.5; I – 7.5; TQI – 7.5; S – 7.5; IC – 7.5

BINIBINING 27 – Hannah Ruth Sison.  I had a high regard for her when she competed last year that I felt a bit sad that she failed to make the final cut.  I’m rooting for her to make the final cut this time as she still possess the right mix of attractiveness and strong communications skills.  I love her rather modern twist of a national costume–a barong tagalog top with a pink satin skirt.  U – 8.5; I – 8.5; TQI – 8.5; S – 8.5; IC – 8.5

BINIBINING 28 – Carla Jenina Lizardo.  This sports writer, news anchor and radio DJ had significant national pageant experience in her belt, winning the Mutya ng Pilipinas Intercontinental title back in 2010 (although she could not compete due to a family emergency) and made the Top 12 in Miss World Philippines 2012.  Despite that, she made the roster of 40 candidates by replacing one of two who were disqualified for undisclosed reasons.  Despite that apparent disadvantage, she is making the most of this pageant and is making a more-than-worthwhile impression.  U – 7.5; I – 7; TQI – 7; S – 7.5; IC – 7.5

BINIBINING 29 – Krischelle Halili.  She has appealing native features, but thus far she seems overshadowed by the standouts out there.  Still she made a great impression in The Road to the Crown primer.  U – 7.5; I – 7; TQI – 7; S – 7.5; IC – 7.5

BINIBINING 30 – Joy Marie Gangan.  This Isabelanon (like Hannah Sheena Manuel and Miss Supranational 2013 Mutya Datul) is a polished contender all throughout that it is highly conceivable she’ll make the semifinals.  U – 8.5; I – 8; TQI – 8; S – 8.5; IC – 8.5

COMING UP:  BINIBINING 31 TO 40 plus the “Fearful” Forecast.