Two key things characterize this year’s edition of Binibining Pilipinas–a policy to streamline the grandiose but perhaps occasionally unwieldy extravaganza, and a question whether Kagandahang Flores can bounce back from last year’s near-total dominance by Aces & Queens.  The second aspect, we’ll discuss further as we talk about the quarterfinalists, semifinalists, and winners.  For the first aspect, this is evident by the spareness of this year’s stage–besides the huge LED screen and some triangular clusters above the stage, it is generally simple and streamlined.  There is also a new format where after the 40 candidates were introduced they were then cut down to a Top 25 who then would parade in swimsuit and evening gowns, instead of having all candidates doing such in previous editions.  So does it achieve its objective of a better, tighter, show?  Read on as we discuss the production aspects of this pageant.

This year’s event is hosted by matinee idol and five-year veteran host Xian Lim and Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach.  Xian remains his unobtrusive, unremarkable self, while Pia ramps up the glam with three distinct wardrobe changes (with hairstyle changes at that)–many have criticized her third gown, though I’m very distracted by her second hairdo–I know Pia loves to play up with her looks by changing it up frequently, but pageboy bangs for me never becomes her.  Yes, Pia’s hosting is imperfectt but one has to note this is her first major hosting job, and imperfections are expected.  But Pia  actually acquitted herself well with this gig, bringing a bit of playful sass in her hosting that I love.

Pia Wurtzbach and her first two outfits, with Xian Lim

Back to providing color commentary after sitting out last year is Miss Universe 2010 4th runner-up Venus Raj–she has been in this role for five of the six past editions,  As always, Venus is a bubbly treat.  I also dig when Pia brought up pageant fan trivia and noted Venus’ indelible contribution to Philippine pageantry by breaking the decade-long Miss Universe drought and beginning the streak and our country’s rieturn as a major pageant powerhouse.

Venus Raj with Pia’s final look (image courtesy of Alecs Ongcal for Rappler)

It’s also interesting to note that unlike in previous ediions, this year’s pageantt began with a cold-open introducing he hosts, who after delivering initial spiels, then began the opening number with the 40 candidates–in previous editions they went straight to the opening number (after a video intro) before the hosts were introduced.  I think this is because of the fact Pia was hosting that they tweaked that sequence this year.  Anyway, it is a fun opening number featuring the 40 candidates clad in green and red dresses dancing and striking fierce poses to Sia‘s boppy shoulda-been-a-bigger-hit single “Move Your Body“.

After a first set of special awards were given, they then proceeded with the major change in this year’s format–they whittled down the 40 candidates to a Top 25, who would then parade in swimsuit and evening gowns.    After that cut, the pageant proceeded like in years before.  For the swimsuit round, the 25 quarterfinalists were clad intwo-piece swimsuits by Jeffrey Rogador.  The color motifs are eihter black with red trims and accents or purple with orange trims and accents.  Providing entertainment before and in-beween the 25 quarterfinalists’ struttings were a trio of ABS-CBN’s stable of R&B singers, Jay-R, Daryl Ong and Jason Dy, who covered the funky jam Dynamite” by Swedish DJ duo Nause featuring Pretty Sister (a.k.a. Zak Waters).

Jason Dy, Jay-R, and Daryl Ong

Just like last year, the evening gown round is now a more free fashion showcase wherein the Top 25 parade in evening gowns of their own choosing instead of being saddled with whatever is in Cumbia boutique’s inventory.  For this segment, the person crooning this year is matinee superstar Daniel Padilla who tried to channel Frank Sinatra‘s classic cool as he covered a Great American Songbook chestnut “The Way You Look Tonight“–a decent effort, but didn’t quite get there in my opinion.  After the second set of special awards, the Top 25 is whittled down to the Top 15 (with a People’s Choice awardee) who are then subject to a Q&A from the judges–like in last year, the judges randomly selects the candidate who they will interview.

Daniel Padilla

Also like last year, there is an effort to synch the live show with the delayed ABS-CBN telecast tto avoid leakage of the final results, and the way to do that was after the final Q&A and deliberations, they synched the Farewell Walk of the outgoing Bb. Pilipinas titleholders.  This resulted in a lengthy one-and-a-half hour wait for the audience at Araneta Coliseum while ABS-CBN’s broadcast finally caught up with the proceedings (which took a while because of ABS-CBN’s notorious penchant for lengthy commercials).  To kill the time, the Araneta audience endured watching the previous week’s Road to the Crown TV special in full.  Anyway, though there wasn’t as much pomp with this year’s Farewell Walk (because of course of the mad celebration last year over Pia’s Miss Universe win), it’s still a lovely highlight–I’m glad the outgoing queens were properly styled*1 this year (I still shudder at the shoddy styling on  Miss International 2015 semifinalist Janicel Lubina) and all gave pre-taped speeches.  Though I wish there is a bit more pomp given to Kylie Versoza‘s Miss International victory, seeing her with a replica of the actual Miss International Mikimoto crown (and was the only one who has a crown firmly on her head as she crowned her successor) was a great consolation treat.  As expected, giving the best farewell speeches were Kylie and Miss Grand International 2016 1st runner-up Nicole Cordoves.

*1 Though I heard pageant netizens quibble about Miss Universe Philippines 2016 Maxine Medina‘s green fringed Rhett Eala gown, but well, yes the style is not for everybody but Maxine for me pulled it off.


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