MISS WORLD 2015 PHILIPPINES:  CANDIDATE NO. 19 – Hillarie Danielle Parungao.  From the first time I met her at the Press Presentation, I got the Megan Young vibes from her, especially with her demeanor and personality.   And I’m not the only one who felt that vibe–several other people felt it, and reportedly, even one our our now most beloved and praised beauty queens had that vibe at first sight when she met Hillarie at the start of her training under Aces & Queens. Little did I know that the Megan Young parallelisms would continue to extend beyond that, from the stormy weather that greeted the pageant finals, to other things that I will discuss later.


Prior to the finals, most pageant fans and pundits (including myself) presumed the special awards would be almost evenly divided among Hillarie, Emma, and Mia.  Though Emma and Mia ended up in a tie with the second most number of awards with three each, it was a shock as the awards announcement went on that Hillarie would end up with the lion’s share (with nine).  She garnered five sponsor’s prizes from Zen Institute, Technomarine, Figlia, Solaire, and Phoenix Petroleum.  Add to that her wins as Best in Fashion Runway, Best in Sports Challenge, Best in Swimsuit, and Best in Evening Gown.  Fashion Runway and Evening Gown were actually expected, the swimsuit win was slightly surprising as several pageant fans and pundits were willing to concede that to Emma Tiglao, but the judges do like the vibrant presence Hillarie brought to that round that they gave it to her.  What about Sports?  Mia supporters noted that she is a Southeast Asian Games medalist, so how did Hillarie beat Mia there, they wondered?  Well, I learned that the Sports challenge was structured closely to how the individual portions of the Sports challenge was actually conducted at Miss World–remember the first stage involve a series of endurance and aerobic exercises, then swimming and running.  It turns out Hillarie has a lot of experience running and swimming, and she has been doing a lot of crossfit training on top of the fact that she is an experienced mountain climber (which requires endurance).  A fencer’s skill set may not always fully match the exercises set for this challenge event as I doubt swimming is an integral part of a fencer’s regimen and endurance exercises are likewise not that emphasized (though they do matter).

Winning the lion’s share of special awards.

For the semifinal Q&A, her question was “What is the significance of being a beauty queen in this society?”  She gave this answer: “As a woman I uphold the value of compassion and I want to be a beauty queen because I want to share this compassion to others and this would lead to a greater society of love, of hope and a brighter future for everyone.”  This answer is definitely in line with the charitable spirit that Miss World is looking for, and in my opinion she probably gave the best answer during this round (pipping ahead of Cassie Naidas).  For the final round, she was asked by Fila Philippines executive Chris Albert this: “What is your life philosophy and why?”  Hillarie slightly had an effort gathering her thoughts as she answered, “My life Philosophy always relies on compassion. I believe that compassion can open doors to many challenges in life. I also believe that in compassion, we get to understand other people, and in understanding other people we become a better society.”  Norman felt after hearing the answers delivered by Mia and Cassie that Hillarie is vulnerable and her win is far from guaranteed.  But I felt her status as the “chosen one” still remained steady even if Cassie and Mia gave arguably stronger answers, as even if she could be criticized for using the same theme (compassion) in both Q&A rounds, her answers were cohesivej, coherent and relevant to the questions asked.  I think the only way she would not win is if her answer was in the same caliber as Emma Tiglao’s.  Also, for the final round, the way she pauses for a second to gather her thoughts is reminiscent of how Megan Young gave her final answer and clinch the win in Bali, albeit Megan has a more “perfect” diction than Hillarie–which doesn’t matter at all outside of this country.

It’s interesting to note that she made history for the Cory Quirino franchise–she’s the first winner under this franchise to have parents both of Filipino descent–remember the four previous winners have foreign fathers.  Yes, she does have foreign extractions in her bloodline, but the point here is that her parents were both born and raised in the Philippines and are Filipino citizens–any foreign extraction comes from generations above them.

also noticed parallelisms with how supporters of key rivals to Hillarie reacted to this result and how supporters of Janicel Lubina reacted to Megan’s win in the national finals two years ago.  I noticed anger and vitriol hurled at the victor by these people, and derogatory comments denouncing them were all over social media.  You could say their reactions are “stormy”, though of course there are far more supporters for the victor than the vocal detractors and whatever detractions are easily countered with messages of support and most detractors were easily neutralized.

I learned that the key reason why Hillarie was deadset in being part of this pageant was because she has a cause she has been involved in since 4th year of high school, a program to minimize infant mortality in rural communities, starting from her home province of Nueva Vizcaya.  Indeed this pageant is an ideal platform for her to promote her cause and vocation.

I don’t know how she’ll stack up athletically compared to her fellow contestants at Miss World, but it seems Hillarie could be our best bet in landing a short list in the Sports challenge.  I have a strong belief that her project would help her sustain the precedent set by Valerie Weigmann and Gwendoline Ruais and get shortlisted in that realm, too.  For multimedia, she may bring a playful bubblyness as she engages her fans that hopefully she can earn good points from that round, and even with people’s objections toward her height, remember that in Top Model, Miss World also likes to shortlist a few “petite” contenders and she could be one of them.  One of the aces up her sleeve is that she has the same body frame as Miss International 2005 Precious Lara Quigaman–if you see her walking on stage on her own, you would forget about her height as she has the proportions of a taller woman.  For performing talent, I think as long as she auditions and tries her best, it will be enough.

Miss International 2005 Precious Lara Quigaman

I am aware of the possible obstacle that might be in place since the pageant is held in China, and we currently have tensions with that nation over territorial disputes.  But I feel this plucky girl has the qualities to wear down resistance, and for me, as long as she makes the semifinals it will be mission accomplished in my book.  For now, though, what I’ll say is a hearty congratulations to Hillarie and may the odds be ultimately in her favor in Sanya.





There were four ladies from the beginning of the pageant proceedings who were most buzzed about and regarded as the top tier.  As expected they all made the Final Five.  For the rest, it was a battle on who would take the 5th slot.  In the end lass not that highly regarded amongst pageant fans and pundits (with the exception of myself, who saw the potential of her beauty at first sight) made it against all odds and even pulled off an upset.

4TH PRINCESS:  CANDIDATE NO. 12 – Emma Mary Tiglao.  It was presumed that it would be a battle between this lady and Hillarie Parungao for the top honors, and she seems to have an edge with her more classic beauty and alluring sex appeal that males (most prominently the heterosexual types, but other types are not that immune) took notice.  Her good looks earned her a Miss Photogenic award, while her singkil dance allowed her to garner a co-win with Janelle Loudette Alipo-on for the Most Unique Talent special award, and she was chosen as Miss Philippine Airlines, which gave her a round-trip business class ticket to Auckland, New Zealand.  As expected she sizzled in the swimsuit round, and was a shimmering lady in red during the evening gown round.  Cracks to her possible top tier standing started to show in the Q&A round, when she was asked “If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be and why?”  Her answer: “If I would go anywhere in the world it would in Paris in France because it’s my dream place. Every people that I’ve met they know that that’s my dream place and I just want to see the Eiffel tower. That’s it.”  My friend and fellow blogger Norman Tinio felt that she could’ve made a better answer by kissing a little ass and choosing Auckland, New Zealand since she won tickets to go to that place.  Both of us also felt there is more to say about Paris (the City of Lights, a city renowned for its art and cuisine, etc.) besides simply mentioning the Eiffel Tower.  But I don’t take it against her, and I thought at least she’s sincere and still believed her path to the Top Five remained secure especially with her performance prior to this.

Unfortunately it is with the final question that she fell apart.  She was asked by Bench head honcho Ben Chan, “Pick a current global issue and give a concrete solution.”  Her answer: “ think it’s education and for the solution is me, I am standing right in front of you acting as role models. I can be an inspiration to the youth so that they will be inspired to study more, to study hard so that in the end they will have a good future.”  Here’s a little coaching secret that I hear is being taught by some pageant coaches–“education” is the safest answer to give when you’re stumped.  Unfortunately it backfired as, well, education has several aspects to it, and to say “education” is a pressing problem won’t cut it.  And the “solution”?  Her answer would work if she has a story of someone overcoming obstacles to attain high education and achieved well in that realm, but I don’t think she’s the scholarly type–unlike, say, Wonder Years star Danica McKellar, who not only grew up to be babelicious, but earned summa cum laude with a degree in Mathematics (and reportedly has a theorem in her name, to boot), or for a more current example, hunky college math professor and supermodel Pietro Boselli) and that is reflected in her answer.  With that, she fell from an almost-guaranteed Top Three finish to end up in the rear.  I suppose with a bit more seasoning in handling questions and a bit more “education”, she can win the plum prize in a national pageant someday.


3RD PRINCESS:  CANDIDATE NO. 1 – Ma. Vanessa Wright.  I took notice of her when I first saw her in the Press Presentation, as I loved her gorgeous face.  But I was surprised she wasn’t as well-buzzed about by many pageant fans and pundits.  And during finals, I was a bit fretful that she would miss the cut as she appeared in her oversize, ill-fitting black strapless evening gown and awkwardly (and tripped) down the steps onstage.  But I suppose the judges at hand did take notice of her good looks that despite that fumble she still made it through.  Well, a sponsor took notice as she won the Miss Jazzy France special award.  She nailed the semifinal Q&A.  Her question: “What can be your greatest contribution to Philippines society?”  Her response: “I think my greatest contribution to the society will be education because of education and educating the people, there wouldn’t be progress within the society. So, when we start with education we can work our way up to solve greater issues.”  Emma, take notes as this is how to use education as an answer.

For the final round, she was asked by former senator Juan Miguel Zubiri “If you were to be a law maker, be it a congressman or senator, what would be the first law you to be passed?”  Her answer was concrete and strong: “The first law I would like to pass is free education for all up until high school because without education, we cannot progress as a person, as a society so if everyone is entitled to free education up until a respectable degree, that way we can have a basic knowledge and progress.”  She has a confident, serene way of answering her question that after Emma’s big stumble, she overtook her and became 3rd Princess.  Emma, take notes again…


2ND PRINCESS: CANDIDATE NO. 21 – Mia Allyson Howell.  She got the opportunity to stand out in this pageant after an unremarkable stint at this year’s Binibining Pilipinas.  Besides her good looks, she has strong communication skills and a background as a medalist in the Southeast Asian Games (for fencing) to bolster her prospects as an ideal fit to represent our country in Miss World.  Though several pageant fans and pundits (admittedly including myself) may quibble about her thick midriff, one might need to note that Miss World is ditching the swimsuit competition starting this year, so that may be a non-issue.  She garnered three special awards–co-winner for Talent for her fierce paso doble, Miss World – Ilocos Sur (a pre-pageant event held during their trip to that province), and the Miss Fila sponsor’s prize.

For the semifinal Q&A, her question was: “What’s the best thing that have happened to you so far and why?”  Her answer:  “I think life itself because I have been so privileged to live a life full of experience, full of wonderful people. I’m just so grateful to have been blessed to be born so that’s it.”  It’s a well-articulated and well-argued answer, though personally I felt it was a bit of a cop-out and it left me a bit cold.  It’s like a “no-regrets” answer if one is asked if there is anything they would like to change in their past or the biggest mistake they ever made.  Still, I don’t deny she gave a great answer here but in my opinion it doesn’t quite hold a candle to the gold standard answers that Miss Universe 2012 1st runner-up Janine Tugonon gave whenever she answers a pageant question onstage.

For the final round, Miss World 2013 Megan Young posed this question: “What super power which you would like to have and what would be the first thing you would do once you get it?”  Mia’s answer was this: “I think I would like to have the ability to read people’s minds because a lot of times people don’t express what they need and so if I could read people’s mind and you notover abused the power I  could help people who really need it and didn’t wanna say anything about needing help.”  For many people, especially her supporters and handlers, she gave the best answer of the night and were shocked why that “brilliant” answer did not earn her the crown.  Some people (especially supporters of the Top Two) will argue that the manner in which she answered may have put the judges off that is why she ended up in third place.  What do I think?  I have no objections personally in how she answered the question and I have to agree she did give the best answer.  But was it far superior from the ones who ended up ranking above her?  In my opinion, no, and I can find other justifiable reasons why she was edged out–more on that as I discuss…



1ST PRINCESS:  CANDIDATE NO. 14 – Marita Cassandra Naidas.  Going into the finals, much attention has been to the triumvirate of Emma, Mia, and Hillarie, and Cassie is more of a fourth wheel in the presumed top tier.  I was thinking that landing the Top Five would be vindication enough for her.  But she proved she had the hunger and drive to shine, and she capitalized on her lean figure and statuesque height to the hilt during both the swimsuit and evening gown rounds.  I suppose her model’s frame and stature made her the choice to win the Miss Bench sponsor’s prize.  For the semifinal Q&A, she was asked “If you were to step into someone’s shoes today, whose would it be and what would you do?”  Her answer was “It will not be any specific person and but a type of person and this will be the street children because I feel like their experiences even at a young age is very inappropriate, you know, and I feel like they should be at home playing with their friends and yet on the street and I feel like wanna experience what they know so that I could have a better knowledge about it.”  It was heartfelt and full of empathy towards the disadvantaged in our society, that I think arguably she gave the second-best, if not the best, answer in that round.

For the final Q&A, she was asked by hunky Venezuelan telenovela superstar Fernando Carrillo, “What makes you proud to be a woman?”  Cassie answered, “What makes me proud as a woman is that I am able to express myself and be confident and through this I’m able to inspire others to do the same so that they could be the best versions of their self without comparing themselves to other women.”  I suppose Cassie was addressing a common stereotype that women tend to be catty toward each other and she made it a point to dispel that.  It’s definitely a high caliber answer that helped her vault to a much higher echelon.  I think the difference in overall points between her and Mia were marginal–yes, Mia is prettier and gave the best final answer, but Cassie pipped her with the advantages she garnered with her stronger swimsuit and gown presentation, plus that brilliant semifinal Q&A.





The Top 13 semifinalists were generally an expected lot, all of them with merits worthy of making the final cut.  Without further ado, let’s begin with:

CANDIDATE NO. 22 – Vianca Louise Marcelo.  During the swimsuit and evening gown rounds she actually delivered the goods to be a possible Top Five contender.  There was a significant crowd chanting out her candidate number, and she fed off their energy and delivered the goods onstage.  She also got a bonus by becoming a co-winner for Miss Talent with her magic act.  Unfortunately, she choked during the semifinal Q&A.  Her question was:  “If you had the opportunity to turn back time and change something what would that be?”.  She actually started out well, responding with “I think I wont change anything because we’re learning from our mistakes and I believe…” from this point, she started getting nervous and was stuck trying to complete her thought.  In Binibining Pilipinas, this would be the moment the Araneta crowd would be howling in derision, but here, with a more sedate and selective audience, they actually applaud to encourage her to finish her answer.  She completed her thought with “…here’s every time we do it…”  I think she only needs a little more seasoning and training in terms of composure and thinking at her feet, and she can be a major contender if she joins other pageants (or this pageant) in the future.


CANDIDATE NO. 17 – Jessica Rose McEwen.  If it wasn’t for Vianca’s meltdown, this lady would’ve been almost regarded as the weakest link in the Top 13.  She was solid enough in both swimsuit and evening gown to be worthy of the final cut, but her answer, albeit confidently delivered, left my head scratching a bit.  She was asked “What bothers you most about that is happening to Philippines society today and why?”  Her response:  “ think what bothers me the most is that us teenagers aren’t very responsible anymore even though we go along with our own lives, we sometimes forget the important thingsbut someday I realize that we will grow and we will learn from our experiences.”  She might have a point, but I’m not sure irresponsible teenagers is the most bothersome issue we are dealing with these days (but then again, perhaps a generation of people who don’t have an appreciation of our history could indeed be a major concern).


CANDIDATE NO. 5 – Christelle Abello.  She’s another solid performer, though I have quibbles that her figure was a bit thicker than the others who made the final cut, but she looked sexy and slinky in her black strapless bustier satin dress designed by Mark “Bessie” Bessana.  Her question was: “To what Philippines tourist destination would you take a tourist and why?”  She was a bit nervous in her response, but at least she was able to complete her thought:  “If could pick any tourist destination in the Philippines I would pick my own tourist destination, Kalibo, Aklan.  I am not only proud my father and my roots are taken back to  Aklan, but I also admire the beauty it holds and the scenery is just forever true and beautiful.”  I wish she could say something specific about the place (like its annual Ati-Atihan festival) to strengthen her solid answer answer, but it will do.


CANDIDATE NO. 2 – Jannie Loudette Alipo-on.  I was pleasantly surprised by her performance, especially looking slinky in her beaded evening gown, that I’m not that upset that she took what could’ve been Avonlea Paraiso’s slot.  She got a citation for “Most Unique Talent”, sharing that honor with Emma Mary Tiglao.  Her unique talent was she did a boxing demonstration. During the Q&A round, her question was: “f you were a beauty pageant judge, what would you like to ask the candidates and why?”  She confidently answered, “If I get to be a judge and get to ask, the question will be who will the person be from the past you will like to give back life because if you ask me I will answer Jesus because I want all of us to see how Jesus sacrificed his life for us.”  I’m not against expressions of faith and I respect her personal convictions, but I just get that unusual vibe that made me recall the pronouncements of a former Bb. PIlipinas semifinalist who was supposed to be a candidate here but then withdrew…


CANDIDATE NO. 24 – Jeddahliz Maltezo.  Just like Vianca Marcelo, she brought a loud cheering crowd with her for the finals.  I’m glad she ditched the frizzy hair extensions for a more refined look throughout the pageant finals, hence she proved worthy of belonging in this group.  Her question was: “f anything is possible, what is the one thing you would like to invent and why?”  Her answer is a bit provocative with a touch of shock value: “I would like to invent the time machine that go back to the past to fix things and everything especially in the Philippines, I want go back like three hundred years ago like the Spanish era, I wanna go back there to help other people, to help the women who have been raped and specially those who have been killed because of doing nothing. I want to go back there.”  It’s well intentioned, but I feel a bit too rash and I felt not really well-thought through, though I know there will be a lot who will disagree with me here.


CANDIDATE NO. 7 – Jackielyn Dulay.  She is a pretty lass who is another consistent performer in the swimsuit and evening gown rounds.  She was also consistently solid in the Q&A round, where she was asked, “What lesson did you learn as a child, do you still hold onto until today?”  Her response: “The lesson I have learn during my childhood is to have a positive quality which is love because for me when I love something I will do anything for what I love. Like in joining this pageant I love myself. So I really work hard to prepare myself to win this pageant. I also love my fellow candidate, the organizers and the experiences and the confidence I gain in this pageant.”  A tad patty-ish, but still a strong answer.


CANDIDATE NO. 8 – Kiara Giel Gregorio.  Admittedly I do not really read much of the backgrounds of the candidates in our national pageant, so I was not aware of her being a UP law student.  I thought her main qualities she got going for her are her exotic looks and her enviably trim figure.  But when she opened her mouth, my jaw dropped at her British accent and her confident delivery.  Her question was, “Outside the family who is your greatest influence and why?”  Her answer was, “Outside my family, my greatest influence would be one of my role models and why I decided to be a law student which is Miriam Defensor-Santiago, because she is a woman who isn’t afraid to speak out her opinion, but is never afraid to listen to others.”  I may have some misgivings about Miriam Defensor-Santiago, but her points are well presented and I respect her views.\


CANDIDATE NO. 6 – Janelle Tee.  Like Kiara Giel, I didn’t have a high regard for her even if she had a strong track record making the final cut at Mutya ng Pilipinas and Miss Philipines-Earth.  I only placed her in my Bubbling Under list, just like Kiara Giel.  But I have to hand it to her that she proved to be a solid performer worthy of making the final cut, and she showcased an awareness of the causes espoused by this pageant with her well-thought answer.  Her question was, “If you win the title of Miss World 2015 Philippines, what is the first thing that you will do?”  Her well-received answer: “The first thing I would is that I would help maybe with the beauty with a purpose project beneficiaries and I wanna share it to everyone that we could teach a man how to fish and here he could eat for a lifetime and with that it will last a lifetime and there’re kids who are abused and there’s women who are abused will have a great life in store for them if I would do that. So they will be the first one I would share my prize with so that I could share my happiness and love.”  Many pageant fans and pundits felt she could’ve made inroads into the Top Five, but in general, more classically prettier faces prevailed.