First and foremost, I would like to apologize for failing to post my usual Homestretch review for the 24 contestants in this national pageant. Attending to matters both personal and at work, combined with that inevitable feeling that the front-runner’s victory is all but a foregone conclusion, made me admittedly less motivated and inspired to generate a homestretch review.
Buzz for the 24 candidates was extremely muted with the exception of the “one-most=likely”, and obviously they are basically competing for semifinalist and runner-up honors. There are some who also dismissed the majority of those candidates as “weak”, but I noticed that if styled right, they can shine better than expected, like what I observed when I attended the gala night five nights before the final. There was one other lady who garnered the other special awards that were not awarded to the “presumed-front-runner”, Candidate No. 8 (Sandra Lemonon). But she provided the shocker for the finals as most would expect she should get First Princess, but garnered Fourth Princess instead, with three ladies scooting ahead of her. Was it warranted? I’ll discuss that more in my full-fledged review later this week.
Needless to say, the winner was the unanimously expected choice: Candidate No. 13 (Catriona Gray). Her dominance was evident from the very beginning, and to her credit she never treated this as a romp in the park as she still continued to bring her “A” game nevertheless. This doesn’t mean that the production slouched by any means, as Viva and GMA 7 delivered a good production nevertheless–the highlight for me was the evening gown parade as the fashion standard was at a high level. Again more details on that on my full-fledged review.
The big personal highlight of the evening for me was attending the post pageant celebration at the Champagne Room of the Manila Hotel, thanks to my good friend Lex Librea. First, I had the pleasure of meeting Bb. Pilipinas-Maja International/Tourism 1993 Jenette Fernando-Dizon with her husband Rex Dizon and we had a blast chatting about how pageants were like in her day. I also had the pleasure of meeting Catriona’s model/actor boyfriend Clint Bondad, who garnered 1st runner-up honors in Century Tuna Superbods search a few months ago. He could be a fine possibility to represent our country in a future Mister World, but that would be contingent on how willing he would be to subject himself to the grueling extreme sports challenges, and perhaps get a little help from YouTube vlogger Wil Dasovich for multimedia. For me he also has a passing resemblance to actor Brandon Routh, who played Superman in Superman Returns ten years ago*–which seems quite fitting as before we departed from the party the last topic we discussed was about superheroes, like the Marvel Universe and our favorite DC heroes.
*It’s an underrated turn–too bad movie honchos then felt it was a “disappointment” despite grossing well; but then again Brandon seemed more in his element playing Ray Palmer/The Atom in the CW TV universe on shows like Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow.
Seeing Catriona and Clint together made me recall a remark singer Ed Sheeran made when Taylor Swift and Calvin Harris were an item–about how he’s a hobbit compared to those divine beings (because of their tall stature). It’s so interesting as the coronation night’s opening number featured the hit dance smash “This Is What You Came For”, co-written by that erstwhile couple (and a supposed catalyst to their break-up). I did feel like a homely hobbit to their luminous presence, considering at my 5’9″ height I’m considered very tall in these shores. Unlike what happened to Taylor and Calvin, I’m so rooting for Clint and Catriona to remain together for a lifetime–they just seemed so perfect together, like a dream couple.
All in all, I had a wonderful evening, and I am extremely satisfied with the results. All hail Catriona and her royal court!