Last Saturday at the Activity Center of the Gateway Mall in Araneta Center, Cubao, the general public got its first glimpse of the candidates of this year’s Bb. Pilipinas, along to being treated to a showcase of their talents.  But prior to that, 39 of the 40 candidates introduced themselves to the public clad in pink tops and Jag jeans by batches of 10 and performed a little dance / strut.  Then very quickly after that hosts Miss Intercontinental 2015 1st runner-up Christi Lynn McGarry and Bb. Pilipinas 2015 2nd runner-up Kimverlyn Suiza efficiently introduced the candidates who would perform their talents, generally with brief bio details and the description of the talent they were performing.  Without further ado, let’s begin the talent review with…

BINIBINING 1 – Janelle Olafson.  She performed a contemporary piece to contemporary Christian artist Natalie Grant’s song “Held”.  It was a graceful and pretty performance.  I first was not that impressed but viewing some video footage made me reconsider and regard her as one of the stronger performances that afternoon.

BINIBINING 2 – Alexandra Faith Garcia.  She, like two other candidates later, went native by performing a combination of native dances to a Philippine tourism-themed song.  In her case it’s a mix of modern jazz with elements of pandango sa ilaw (holding aloft glasses on her head and hands that traditionally would feature candles inside them).  It’s a solid performance.

BINIBINING 7 – Angelique de Leon.  She sizzled as she performed a dance to a medley of four Beyonce songs:  “Run The World (Girls”, “Upgrade U”, “Naughty Girl”, and “Crazy in Love”.  She was fierce and sharp in her moves, and she conveyed a sexy spell, just like what Beyonce does.  In my opinion, her performance was the highlight of the afternoon, but I have a feeling she might not be awarded the Talent prize because as much as Beyonce is a role model for women everywhere, the upfront sensuality when she performs onstage and in music videos might be a bit too much for the traditionally conservative tastes as the powers-that-be at Bb. Pilipinas Charities, Inc. (BPCI) tend to be…

BINIBINING 8 – Karen Ibasco.  She was an ethereal vision in her lovely white dress, and delivered a strong contemporary dance to Rachel Platten’s Top Ten hit, “Fight Song”.

BINIBINING 10 – Jeslyn Santos.  She looked lovely in her evening gown as she sang the Frozen hit, “Let It Go”.  I wish I could say the same thing about her singing, as unfortunately she missed the notes half of the time–hers is probably the weakest performance in this group.

BINIBINING 12 – Edjelyn Joy Cay Gamboa.  She did a pretty good job singing the late Whitney Houston’s “Try It On My Own”.  A worthwhile performance.

BINIBINING 14 – Paula Rich Delgado.  She sang  the Mulan ballad “Reflection”–there were pitch issues, but not as glaring as Jeslyn.

BINIBINING 15 – Kristine Angeli Estoque.  It’s a risk singing and playing guitar at the same time, and performing an original, self-composed song like she did, called “See You When I See You”.   To her credit, the song was actually pretty good, with a nice breezy melody–it’s just that there are obvious limitations with her vocals.  The only people with poor singing voices who can get away with that are Robert Smith of the Cure, Leonard Cohen, and Bob Dylan, and she’s not really at the level of those legends.

BINIBINING 16 – Vina Openiano.  She performed an Egyptian-styled belly dance, and was very good at it–one of the strongest performances of the afternoon.

BINIBINING 17 – Priscilla Kimberley de la Cruz.  Hers is arguably the flashiest performance, with loads of props and backup dancers.  Sure, she executed some risky moves, but I found her transitions between her moves occasionally awkward and not as smoothly executed.  If the judges were dazzled by the props and a few of the moves, they might be giving the award to this lady, but to be frank I was not really that impressed and would’ve considered her unworthy of the award.

BINIBINING 22 – Apriel Smith.  She also performed a dance to a Beyonce medley (“Crazy in Love”, “End of Time”, and “Single Ladies”), but well, Angelique did it so well that Apriel had a tough time following that up and avoid the inevitable comparisons.  While Angelique cast a spell and put a bit of her own stamp to those Beyonce moves, Apriel left an impression that she was simply mimicking the moves without putting in her own flavor–she mimicked them well, but it paled compared to Angelique.  I know the slicked-back-hair-with-ponytail is a lovely look for this lady, but when I see that image to Beyonce’s music, it felt a bit jarring–it would work if she did the lesser-known single “Get Me Bodied“.*1

*1  You need to check out the terrific video to that song, inspired from the Bob Fosse-choreographed “Rich Man’s Frug” sequence in the Shirley McLaine musical film Sweet Charity.  Check out the medley of dances that Beyonce called out towards the end…

BINIBINING 23 – Angela Gene Valdes.  Just like Candidates No. 2 and 17, she went the Filipiniana tourism route, this time accented with a headdress.  It’s generally a solid performance.

BINIBINING 24 – Niza Sabrina Sophia Limjap.  She was the best vocalist of the afternoon, singing the Les Miserables’ classic “On My Own”.  She hits all the notes and conveyed the right emotions, so she can be the one worthiest of winning the talent title.

BINIBINING 25 – Anjelica Lopez.  She did a generally adequate job to Adele’s sassy “Rumour Has It”

BINIBINING 32 – Jennyline Carla Malipaya.  She delivered a strong flouncy Latin dance performance to Ricky Martin’s 1996 international smash “Maria”.

BINIBINING 34 – Sarah Christine Bona.  She performed a lyrical hip-hop dance to Beyonce’s “Pretty Hurts” featuring two backup dancers.  A very solid performance.

BINIBINING 36 – Maria Gigante.  To cap the competition, this lady sang “To Make You Feel My Love”, penned by Bob Dylan and covered by several artists though most now associate this with Adele.  Also pretty solid.

As I mentioned above, if I were the judge I would’ve awarded the talent prize to Angelique de Leon, but it might be a bit too upfront for conservative tastes, so a more deserving, acceptable choice would be Niza Sabrina Sophia Limjap.  Let’s see how it will all turn out during finals night on 17 April.