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.
COMING UP: THE TOP FIVE