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.




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