In general  the results of this year’s Binibining Pilipinas was satisfying.  But still there was room for surprises and shockers.  From my “Fearful” forecast, I got 10 out of 15 of the eventual semifinalists, and three “bubbling under” choices.  Two that I didn’t get were Binibining 5 (Riana Agatha Pangilinan) and Binibining 9 (Roshiela Tobias).   One proved to be a refreshing choice and the other remained to be a headscratcher–which is which, more on that on my full-fledged review.

Surprises (L-R): Bb. 5 Riana Pangindian and Bb. 9 Roshiela Tobias

There are six standout candidates that frustratingly failed to make the cut.  First, the third attempt is unfortunately not the charm for Binibining 39 (Sissel Ria Rabajante)–and this is already her final hurrah in the pageant realm.  Then there was one who previously made the cut six years ago, but in her next attempt since that feat, was not able to duplicate it–Binibining 35 (Mariela Santiago)–it is observed the contributing to her missing the cut was her less-than-buffed figure and, as Nick Verreos observed, her otherwise decent simple blue satin gown didn’t really fit and the adjustments made were obvious.  Being hyped to make the cut because of her background as a medical doctor, Binibining 3 (Angela Lauren Fernando) at least had the consolation of winning a special award; but I did expect that she might fall short if we examine her facial features and figure.

Ruth Ocumarez finalists: Bb. 39 Sissel Ria Rabajante, Bb. 3 Angela Lauren Fernando, and Bb. 35 Mariella Castillo

Many pageant fans and pundits were betting on Binibining 14 (Paula Rich Bartolome) and Binibining 36 (Maria Gigante) to make it, but both were shock boots.  It’s still a bit mystifying why they fell short, but it’s not without trying.  Paula was more of a choice by several pageant bloggers and experts, while Maria has a significantly vocal fanbase clamoring for her.

Ruth Ocumarez runners-up (L-R): 1st runner-up Bb. 36 (Maria Gigante) and Bb. 14 (Paula Rich Bartolome)

But the winner of the Ruth Ocumarez Award is Binibining 7 (Angelique de Leon).  Many pageant fans and pundits (including myself) were enamored with her native exoticism and sex appeal and sincerely believed she could be a title shoo-in, and her performance seemed to be faultless.  But unfortunately just like her stint two years ago, she missed the final cut.  I did have some concerns that perhaps she was projecting a bit too sexily (like in her bootylicious talent performance), but I thought she was restrained and classy enough to overcome those potential objections.  It’s such a tough break for her…

07 Ruth Ocumarez winner
Ruth Ocumarez Awardee: Bb. 7 Angelique de Leon

I’ll discuss more about the Royal Court in my full-fledged review but I have to say I’m generally optimistic that we can keep up with the lofty standards set by last year’s queens–I don’t foresee a steep dip like what happened two years ago.  Congratulations to the winners!



The Royal Court (L-R): 1st runner-up Bb. 38 Angelica Alita, Bb. Pilipinas – Globe Bb. 28 Nichole Manalo, Bb. Pilipinas – Supranational Bb. 13 Joanna Eden, Miss Universe Philippines Bb. 29 Maxine Medina, Bb. Pilipinas – International Bb. 31 Kylie Versoza, Bb. Pilipinas – Intercontinental Bb. 26 Jennifer Hammond, Bb. Pilipinas – Grand International Bb. 11 Nicole Cordoves, and 2nd runner-up Bb. 37 Jehza Huelar


BINIBINING 31 – Kylie Versoza.  When the initial list of candidates were announced, many pageant fans and pundits, including myself, thought it would be the “Kim-and-Kylie” show, with Kim Ross and this lady in a toss-up to who between them would take the Miss Universe Philippines and Bb. Pilipinas – International titles.  When I attended the talent competition at Gateway, I observed that it seems their handlers are packaging both of them to a certain template–Pia 2.0, anyone?  Now that Kim Ross is gone, the person packaged to be the next Pia is this lady–notice her make-up and her poses in her official swimsuit and glamshot below?  Buzz about her diminished a bit as attention seems to be increasingly focused on Angelique de Leon, Nicole Cordoves, Maxine Medina, and, okay, Nichole Manalo, but she still seems to be on-track for a title.  The question is, will she get the plummiest one? U – 9.5; I – 10; S – 9.5; IC – 9.5; GI – 9.5; G – 9.5

BB 31


BINIBINING 32  – Jennyline Carla Malpaya.  She reminds me of Bb. Pilipinas World 2006 Anna Maris Igpit.  In other words, she would’ve made more serious inroads ten years ago, but in this era, it’s an uphill climb.  U – 6.5; I – 5.5; S – 6.5; IC – 6.5; GI – 6; G – 6.5

BB 32


Bb. Pilipinas World 2006 Anna Maris Igpit (image courtesy of Miss World Organization)

BINIBINING 33 – Leonalyn dela Cruz.  There are some angles where she reminds me of actress and Mutya ng Pilipinas – Asia Pacific 1990 Mutya Crisostomo Laxa.  She’s attractive, but it’s an uphill battle for her to make inroads into the Top 15.  U – 7; I – 7; S – 7; IC – 7; GI – 7; G – 7.

BB 33


BINIBINING 34 – Sarah Christine Bona.  There are some angles she resembles Miss Grand International 2015 3rd runner-up Parul Shah. albeit less charismatic.  As such, she has not really received as much buzz as she potentially could have gotten.  A bit more seasoning and maybe, jus maybe, she can make a stronger impact.   U – 6.5; I – 6; S – 6; IC – 6.5; GI – 6; G – 6.5

BB 34


Miss Grand International 2015 3rd runner-up Parul Shah (image courtesy of Miss Grand International)

BINIBINING 35 – Mariella Castillo.  Hard to believe she last competed six years ago (and she made the semifinals during that year), and she’s still young enough to compete two more times before being totally ineligible.  This deadringer to actress and Miss International 1994 semifinalist Alma Concepcion looks as great she did six years ago, so she looks poised to make the final cut again–though there are people quibbling that her figure may not be up to snuff.  But she has these native features that are very pleasing to the eye that she could win the judges over…  U – 8.5; I – 8.5; S – 8.5; IC – 8.5; GI – 8.5; G – 8.5

BB 35


Miss International 1994 semifinalist Alma Concepcion (program book image courtesy of Tony Paat)

BINIBINING 36 – Maria Gigante.  She has the looks and the intelligence to make serious inroads into the finals, and she has a catchy name (though at 5’6″, she’s not really a “giant”–remember that “gigante” is Spanish for giant).  Her touted skills in Q&A may even make her a possible crown usurper–will that materialize?  U – 8.5; I – 8.5; S – 8; IC – 8; GI – 8.5; G – 8

BB 36


BINIBINING 37 – Jehza Mae Huelar.  She recently graduated from my alma mater (Ateneo de Manila University) so I have a bit of a soft spot for her, and she’s good looking and a solid contender.  She is a semifinals possibility.  U – 8; I – 8; S – 7.5; IC – 7.5; GI – 8; G – 7.5

BB 37


BINIBINING 38 – Angelica Alita.  She received heavy compliments among pageant fans and pundits that many believe she has an inside track into the semifinals.  I so agree with them.  U – 8.5; I – 8.5; S – 7.5; IC – 7.5; GI – 8; G – 7.5

BB 38


BINIBINING 39 – Sissel Ria Rabajante.  This is her third attempt and a final hurrah as this is her last year of eligibility.  Though in all previous attempts (in 2013 and last year, along with a stint at Miss World Philippines 2013) she was well regarded by pageant fans and pundits but in all occasions she somehow fell short of making the final cut.  Can she finally end her pageant journey on a high note?  U – 8.5; IC – 9

BB 39


BINIBINING 40 – Christianne Ramos.  She’s attractive in real-world terms, but in pageant standards she has a long way to go–her strong factor is intelligence.  U – 6; I – 6; S – 5.5; IC – 5.5; GI – 6; G – 5.5

BB 40


With all 40 candidates accounted for, it’s time for me to give my “Fearful” forecast, as follows:

TITLEHOLDERS:  7 (De Leon), 11 (Cordoves), 27 (Pajares), 28 (Manalo), 29 (Medina), 31 (Versoza)

RUNNERS-UP:  14 (Bartolome), 22 (Smith)

SEMIFINALISTS:  4 (Penchon),  15 (Estoque), 16 (Openiano), 26 (Hammond), 35 (Castillo), 36 (Gigante), 38 (Alita)

BUBBLING UNDER:  2 (Garcia), 12 (Gamboa), 13 (Eden), 23 (Valdes), 25 (Lopez), 37 (Huelar), 39 (Rabajante)

INTELLIGENCE FACTOR:  3 (Fernando), 8 (Ibasco), 30 (Samaco), 40 (Ramos)

The coronation night promises to be very exciting as besides the reigning Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach gracing her presence to crown her successor, three of her batchmates from the Miss Universe pageant would also be present as special guests:  Mz. USA (Olivia Jordan), Myanmar (May Barani Thaw), and Malaysia (Vanessa Tevi Kumares).  Wonder if sole merit would prevail or would pedigreed politicking be at play for the final results?  I’m simply hoping for a just result.





BINIBINING 21 – Jessica Gonzales.  She’s generally a solid contender but not generating that much buzz.  She could be considered an underrated contender.  U – 8; I – U; S – 8; IC – 8; GI – 8; G – 8

BB 21


BINIBINING 22 – Apriel Smith.  This dark-complexioned Cebuana has been making a major splash, that she can be that unconventional spoiler choice for one of the titles.  If Japan can send an Ariana Miyamoto to Miss Universe, why not this lady?  U – 9; I – 7.5; S – 8.5; IC – 8.5; GI – 8; G – 8.5

BB 22


BINIBINING 23 – Angela Gene Valdez.  She is reportedly not affiliated with any beauty camp but she is making a solid impression on her own.  With the current framework, it may seem the odds are stacked against her, but given a fair shake she deserves to make serious inroads.  U – 8.5; I – 8; S – 8; IC – 8; GI – 8; G – 8.5

BB 23


BINIBINING 24 – Niza Sabrina Sophia Limjap.  Her standout quality is her singing voice, as she is the strongest singer in this group, and is most likely to win Miss Talent this Sunday.  Everything else?  Not enough to make the final cut.  If she wants to, she may want to try out for Miss World Philippines as the corresponding international pageant do make room to allow her special talent to make inroads, but the thing is Miss World Philippines does not really employ the same selection process/criteria as the main pageant.  U – 5.5; I – 5; S – 5; IC – 5.5; GI – 5; G – 5.5

BB 24


BINIBINING 25 – Anjelica Lopez.  She is a semifinalist possibility for the more “native” contingent.  She is a sleeper possibility for the finals.  Interestingly she made the Top 13 of Miss World Philippines 2013, and following her is another batchmate from that pageant who also had the same showing as her…  U – 8.5; I – 7.5; S – 8.5; IC – 8.5; GI – 8; G – 8.5

BB 25


BINIBINING 26 – Jennifer Hammond.  She has a cosmopolitan vibe and strong communications skills that could help her make the final cut in this pageant.  She looks like she has an inside track into the Top 15, but I don’t think her vibe would translate well in the international arena.  U – 7.5; I – 8; S – 7.5; IC – 7.5; GI – 7.5; G – 7.5

BB 26


BINIBINING 27 – Dindi Joy Pajares.  Facewise, she’s not conventionally pretty, but she has a couple of major aces–her buffed figure and superb stage projection skills.  She looks like a shoo-in to win the Best in Swimsuit award as pageant fans and pundits have been raving about her figure and proportions, and she can win the judges over with her strong projections skills. Can she end up with a title?  U – 9; I – 8; S – 8.5; IC – 9; G – 8.5; G – 9

BB 27


BINIBINING 28 – Nichole Marie Manalo.  We have to give her credit that she improved considerably from her previous outing two years ago.  And with her pedigree, there is heavy talk she would be guaranteed one of the titles.  However, she is of maximum age, and she is only qualified for Miss Universe and Miss Intercontinental.  Does she have the qualities to be a great follow-up to Pia Wurtzbach?  To be blunt, most pundits (including myself) feel that if she was chosen for Universe, she is only in the same caliber as her sister Bianca when she competed seven years ago.  But then, some would argue that she might enjoy some concessions especially with our recent track record (culminating with last year’s win) that she might end up sustaining our streak, especially if rumors are true that we are going to be the host country for this year’s pageant.  We’ll see how it all plays out on Sunday.  U – 8.5; IC – 9

BB 28


BINIBINING 29 – Maria Mika Maxine Medina.  With Kim Ross’s disqualification, this lady rose up the ranks as the big favorite.  She definitely seems to have all bases covered and looks to be a titleholder shoo-in.  Many pageant fans and pundits are hoping she’ll win the Miss Universe Philippines title on Sunday.  Will that be realized?  U – 10; I – 10; S – 9.5; IC – 9.5; GI – 10; G – 9.5

BB 29


BINIBINING 30 – Crescent Anne Samaco.  Her key strengths are her intelligence and communication skills. She also has a trim enough figure and adequate presence, but facewise she’s not a standout.  U – 7; I – 6.5; S – 6.5; IC – 6.5; GI – 7; G – 6.5

BB 30