For the past four years under the helm of Cory Quirino, the Philippines has made a major impact in Miss World, and we have an enviable perfect final-cut record with two semifinalist finishes, a first princess, and of course a Miss World winner, a feat that has not been achieved by previous franchises.  Now, can we continue the streak?  We would have a bit of a challenge this year as it will be held in Sanya, China and we know the ongoing tensions our country is having with China over maritime rights in the South China Sea–but as proven by Norway’s Marianne Birkedal‘s strong showing five years ago (when the Chinese government was aghast over the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize that year to an imprisoned dissident), we can at least stave off most resistance and still have a good showing.  Do any of this year’s candidates have that quality?

Miss World 2010 Top 7 finalist Mariann Birkedal of Norway

This year’s edition would’ve had the record number of candidates selected with 28, however for personal reasons, two comely ladies have withdrawn.  Let’s take a brief look at them:

Original CANDIDATE NO. 9 – Imelda Schweighart.  This former Binibining Pilipinas 2015 Top 15 semifinalist looked pretty chic with her new bob, though some pageant fans and pundits have reservations about her figure.  She dropped out prior to the Press Presentation, and posted a rather cryptic and almost incomprehensible message on Facebook (since deleted) “explaining” her withdrawal.  Well, it’s such a shame we will miss a pretty face to grace this pageant, but some are saying with her propensity to spout “religious” pronouncements she can rub many people the wrong way.

Original CANDIDATE NO. 19 – Diana Pinto.  I noticed how raw she was when she presented herself during the Press Presentation, but I noticed she otherwise would’ve had the qualities of a major contender if she only had the will and confidence.  Apparently either she felt ill, or her heart is simply isn’t in it as she likewise backed out of the pageant (most likely prior to the Ilocos sojourn).  If she chose to still pursue pageants in the future, I hope she gets the support and training as I believe she has potential.  But in case she stays out of the pageant scene, at the very least she’ll make men’s heads turn.

Now, let’s review the remaining 26 candidates in the running for Miss World Philippines.  My ratings would be based on their prospects of faring well (and wearing down resistance) in Miss World if they were chosen as the winner of this pageant.

CANDIDATE NO. 1 – Ma. Vanessa Wright.  I believe she has one of the prettiest faces in this year’s pageant.  Her figure seems trim enough, too.  She’s not that highly buzzed about but I feel she can be a sleeper choice to make the Top 12.  RATING:  8.75

CANDIDATE NO. 2 – Jannie Loudette Alipo-on.  I noticed in the Press Presentation that she has a tendency to overdo things, like her overbaked catwalk.  She is attractive, but it might be an uphill battle for her to make the final cut.  RATING:  7.75

CANDIDATE NO. 3 – Danica Macabangon.  She is another one who could be regarded as a babe in real-world terms.  But in pageant terms she doesn’t quite stand out.  Sure, I know that Julia Morley has a directive that there will be no swimsuit competition, but it may still count in the local milieu, and she is currently at a disadvantage here as it’s not as toned as most of the major contenders.  RATING:  7.

CANDIDATE NO. 4 – Sheila Mae Torino.  In person, she makes an okay but not distinctive impression, but she looked really good when you review her photos.    RATING: 8.

CANDIDATE NO. 5 – Christelle Abello.  She has a polished presence and a mestisahin (semi-mestiza) look that tends to work well in other national pageants.  She is good looking, but admittedly I found a few other ladies more impressive.  But then, it is reported she has a great gift of gab that can give her an edge.  RATING:  8.5

CANDIDATE NO. 6 – Janelle Tee.  I personally didn’t see much charisma in her but she has pageant experience and actually did well when she competed in Miss Philippines Earth last year and Miss Tourism World Philippines two years ago, making the final cut in both.  Will her Asian features be catnip for the judges and powers-that-be (who tend to favor Eurasian girls).  RATING: 8.

CANDIDATE NO.  7 – Ma. Jackielyn Mdulay.  She is refreshingly good looking, and her previous Top 10 placement in Mutya ng Pilipinas last year may augur well for her prospects in this pageant.  RATING: 8.5

CANDIDATE NO. 8 – Kiaragiel Gregorio.  Her ace is her buffed hourglass figure.  But considering the lessened emphasis towards examining the female form, would she be able to make inroads with her other qualities?  RATING:  8.

CANDIDATE NO. 9 – Mona Mamound Hammad.  Prior to Imee Schweighart’s withdrawal she was orginally Candidate No. 28.  Anyway, she has the pretty Eurasian features, slim model’s figure, and outgoing personality to make inroads in this pageant.  RATING: 8.5

CANDIDATE NO.  10 – Tweena Pagulayan.  If new The View co-host Raven Symoné had a trimmer, buffer figure, she would be like this lady.  I sense she has a much sweeter disposition than the controversial celebrity has been having these days…  RATING: 7.75

Raven-Symone (image sourced from fanpop.com)

CANDIDATE NO. 11 – Alexie Marie Ibabao.  Her features are not really to my liking, but she does have a trim figure.  But then again, how much weight would a trim figure have considering Julia Morley’s directive?  RATING: 7.

CANDIDATE NO. 12 – Emma Mary Tiglao.  She possessed an appeal that has cast a spell among red-blooded heterosexual males, and women and non-heterosexual males do appreciate her gorgeous face and enviable figure.  She delivers on the hype as a big front-runner for the title, so it might come down to the mix of judges during finals night and her will and fortitude at those final moments.  RATING: 9.5.

CANDIDATE NO. 13 – Avonlea Paraiso.  Her features remind me of a less polished version of Miss World 2011 1st Princess Gwendoline Ruais if you soften it with dashes of Miss Earth 2008 Karla Henry (I know some pageant fans and pundits are not into either, but I have high regard for these two ladies).  Her features and angles may not be for everyone’s tastes, but as long as she can project her more flattering angles, she can be a possible crown usurper.  She also seems to have an edge with her talent for playing the harp.  RATING:  8.75

Left: Miss World 2011 1st runner-up Gwendoline Ruais (image courtesy of Miss World Ltd); Right: Miss Earth 2008 Karla Henry (image courtesy of OPMB Worldwide)

Swimsuit images courtesy of Joy Arguil; Gala Night Gown images courtesy of Bruce Casanova.

COMING UP:  CANDIDATES 14 to 26 plus The “Fearful” Forecast.


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