BINIBINING 21: Jamaica Ambal. What is it with the two tallest girls in this year’s contest with their less-than-typical names? I have a feeling her parents named her after another 1980s mellow country-pop song, this time the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band‘s 1979 hit “An American Dream“*2, whose chorus goes “I dream Jamaica in the moonlight…”–again another hit still getting regular rotation in mellow radio stations in our shores. I actually like her a lot and am wondering why buzz is muted. She has a great exotic appeal with her statuesque 5’11” height, lovely face, and dusky complexion. She also seems solid in interviews, too, so I think she can be a stealth choice to shake up the roster of perceived favorites.
*2 It featured uncredited backing vocals from Linda Ronstadt, and spawned a local parody hit by Fred Panopio called “Turistang Bilmoko” [“Shopaholic Tourist”], about a beleaguered guy complaining about his shopaholic tourist girlfriend (“bilmoko” is a corruption of the Filipino phrase “bili mo ako” or “buy me (something)”).
U – 9, I – 8.5, S – 9.5, GI – 9, IC – 9.5, G – 9.5
BINIBINING 22: Chanel Olive Thomas. To counter the hype towards Sirene Sutton, Aces & Queens has this bright, articulate, half-Australian lady, who ended up Miss Philippines Earth – Air behind eventual Miss Earth 2015 Angelia Ong. She shares similar Eurasian features like Sirene, albeit hers a bit more angular and doesn’t project an aristocratic hauteur vibe but more intelligent girl-next-door. She seems to show fire onstage like the dramatic presentation she gave her gold-and-orange Muslim princess costume. She can pip Sirene at the finish line and garner a title.
U – 9, I – 9, S – 8.5, GI – 9, IC – 8.5, G – 9
BINIBINING 23: Arah Salientes. She made the Top 12 in last year’s Miss World Philippines and is a strong communicator. But I don’t know if that would be enough for her to advance amidst this competitive group of ladies. She’s not a conventional beauty but as I said, she has some strong qualities that made her worthy of belonging here.
U – 7, I – 6.5, S – 6.5, GI – 7, IC – 6.5, G – 6.5
BINIBINING 24: Dindi Joy Pajares. She’s already a known quantity in this pageant as she successfully made the Top 15 last year. She still has her buffed figure and strong communication skills going for her, and prospects are bullish she’ll improve on her previous showing.
U – 8.5, I – 8, S – 8, GI – 8.5, IC – 8, G – 8
BINIBINING 25: Clarice Marion Villareal. She is a good looking candidate, though she has not been receivingg much buzz. In a less competitive year she can become a semifinalist contender, but perhaps in a year or so with more training she can generate charisma and become a serious contender.
U – 7.5, I – 7.5, S – 7.5, GI – 7.5, IC – 7.5, G – 7.5
BINIBINING 26: Ruffa Nava. I’m glad she filled out her slender frame after her Miss World Philippines 2014 stint. Her rise-from-poverty story won her many admirers, and she delivered couture glam in her black-to-red terno. Still, during the object/image/word association challenge, she flunked so her interview skills may be suspect. Will her overall presence be enough for her to make the cut?
U – 7.5, I – 7, S – 7, GI – 8, IC – 7.5, G – 7.5
BINIBINING 27: Beatrice Valente. She already has international pageant experience as she represented Italy at Miss Earth three years ago. To her credit, she improved on that stint. Still, it is an uphill battle for her to advance.
U – 6.5, I – 6, S – 6.5, GI – 6.5, IC – 6.5, G – 6.5
BINIBINING 28: Juliana Kapeundi. This comely half-Austrian lass is another possible sleeper usurper, as she can parlay her pretty face and trim figure and upset the prevailing order of things as I find her a strong communicator. She shone in the word association challenge as she picked the word “Brave” and eloquently talked about the resiliency of the Filipinos. With the right packaging, she can shine and possibly make the royal court (and maybe even garner a title).
U – 9, I – 9.5, S – 9, GI – 9, IC – 9.5, G – 9.5
BINIBINING 29: Karla May Manongsong. Her purple terno with peacock headdress has a dramatic flair that it’s shortlisted as among the 10 best national costumes this year. Though I don’t respond that much to her looks, I think she is a worthwhile contender as I find her trim enough and a strong communicator and there are likely others who would dig her.
U – 8, I – 7.5, S – 8, GI – 8, IC – 8, G – 8
BINIBINING 30: Mae Liezel Ramos. She made the Top 15 three years ago in this pageant. She is still in strong fighting form here, so making the cut again is a possibility.
U – 8, I – 8, S – 8, GI – 8, IC – 8, G – 8
COMING UP: BINIBINING 31 TO 40 PLUS THE “FEARFUL” FORECAST