Before I begin my reaction to the results, let me start by sharing my feelings along with the multitude of pageant fans out there about the choice of winner for Miss Universe Philippines:
This is one of those few occasions where the powers-that-be seemed to heed the public’s clamor and crowned Catriona Gray as Miss Universe Philippines. The other ladies who garnered titles have been highly buzzed about and worthy, so my elation also extends to their worthy selection. The choice of winners are almost unimpeachable and unquestionable. I’ll discuss about them in my full-fledged review.
I got 19 out of the Top 25, with two in my “Bubbling Under” list. Actually it was a challenge for me to limit by “Bubbling Under” list to five as there are other worthy choices out there–two who were actually in my radar were Binibining 8 (Sherry Ann Tormes), 9 (Agatha Lei Romero) and 13 (Kristie Rose Cequeña). Their presence in the Top 25 were not that surprising.
A little bit outside of my radar was Binibining 21 (Anjame Magbitang). Yes, she has a big edge that she is the tallest girl in this year’s batch, even towering over the Divine Miss Gray, and she has a trim figure, but to my eyes she’s overrated, especially in the evening gown round–I’ll discuss that further in my full-fledged review.
Now, for my Ruth Ocumarez award: Since all the big favorites actually made the Top 25 at the very least, I’ll give this award to someone who I feel was way underrated and missed the cut: Binibining 33 (Stephanie Joy Abellanida). I thought she had the looks and communication skills to make the Top 25 at least, but well, to the eyes of the judges and powers-that-be, she probably needs a bit more polishing. I’m rooting for her to succeed in the future.
Everyone expected Binibining 23 (Ena Velasco) to figure within the winners’ circle, but she failed to advance beyond the Top 25. We’ll dissect what might have caused her to be shut out of the Top 15.
Meanwhile it was expected that Binibining 35 (Sandra Lemonon) and most especially Binibining 11 (Aya Abesamis) were supposed to be guaranteed spots in the winners’ circle, but both fell short. In the case of Sandra, it was the case of a question that she was not prepared for, while in teh case of Aya, though she answered decently, it wasn’t enough as others gave stronger answers. Again we’ll dissect these further in my full-fledged review.
I’m very bullish at our prospects in the international pageant arena this year with this year’s set of winners. Most of them are now the prohibitive favorites to win or at least place high in their respective pageants. Kudos for BPCI and the judges for choosing excellently, and congratulations to all the winners!
BINIBINING 31 – Jehza Mae Huelar. If we follow MJ Lastimosa and Pia Wurtzbach‘s Binibining Pilipinas trajectories, this year is the time Jehza should finally clinch the crown. But unlike Pia and MJ, chances for her snagging the ultimate title of Miss Universe Philippines is hampered by the presence of a divine being who is the huge fan favorite (including myself) and the well-connected scion of a Miss Universe runner-up. Still it’s about time she earns herself a title as she is performing at a title-worthy level. U – 9, I – 9, S – 9, GI – 9, IC – 9, G – 9
BINIBINING 32 – Eva Psychee Patalinjug. I remember her hosting a male pageant and learning her background as a Mutya ng Pilipinas winner back in 2014, I thought to myself–she has the charisma worthy of making a big splash in Binibining Pilipinas, and she has a strong gift of gab as well. Finally, she took the plunge and joined this pageanttt, and yes, she’s proven to be title-worthy. Interestingly during the time she won Mutya, the title she earned didn’t give her the opportunity to compete in an international pageant (since at the time the Mutya organization was still not ready to revive the Miss Asia-Pacific International pageant) so if she gets a title this time, she will finally be able to showcase herself in an international stage. U – 9, I – 9, S – 9, GI – 9.5, IC – 9.5, G – 9.5
BINIBINING 33 – Stephanie Abellanida. Now, here’s a gem who I feel deserves o be a sleeper surprise and pull off a possible upset in the winners’ circle. I like her looks, she has strong stage presence hat helped her red Muslim-style costume be among the 10 shortlisted, and she’s a surprisingly great communicator. Since she’s only 22, she could be a major crown contender in subsequent editions of this pageant. U – 8.5, I – 8.5, S – 8.5, GI – 8.5, IC – 8.5, G – 8.5.
BINIBINING 34 – Mary Joy de Castro. Besides good oriental-mestiza blend of looks, her best attributes are her superb communication skills, honed through her stint as an anchor on the local PTV station in her native Davao. She could be another sleeper contender for the Top 15, and perhaps further into the winners’ circle. U – 8.5, I – 8.5, S – 8, GI – 8.5, IC – 8, G – 8.
BINIBINING 35 – Sandra Lemonon. She followed her Miss World Philippines batchmate Catriona to this year’s pageant, and she’s making a major splash, and proving o be another title-worthy contender. She made a great impression in the Road to the Crown special and if she manages to convey the same charm and confidence as in that TV special, she will earn herself a title. Yes I didn’t include her in my Global Beauties prediction, but she was bubbling under alongside Michele Gumabao–if any of the six I cited faltered on coronation night, she and Michele could easily take over one of the titles. U – 9, I – 9, S – 9, GI – 9, IC – 9, G – 9.5.
BINIBINING 36 – Loren Mar Artajos. She is best known for being the replacement successor to the controversial Imelda Schweighart. She is attractive, but she’s one of the shortest in this year’s batch at 5’5″ but to make up for that she has a strong gift of gab that could make her a contender for one of the Top 15 semifinal slots. U – 7.5, I – 7.5, S – 7, GI – 7.5, IC – 7, G – 7.5.
BINIBINING 37 – Patrizia Garcia. There are people who would find her native features highlyy appealing, and on top of that, she has a strong gift of gab, making a great impression in the Road to the Crown special. She could be a sleeper choice for the semifinals. U – 7.5, I – 6.5, S – 7, GI – 7, IC – 7.5, G – 7.5
BINIBINING 38 – Karen Gallman. Many pageant fans raved about her striking Eurasian features and her strong communication skills peppered with that lovely Australian accent. With those qualities, yes she’s likely to improve on her Top 12 finish at this pageant six years ago and clinch herself a title. She already made a big impression with her pretty face, but with a tighter figure and stronger presence, she can offset objections about her 5’5 1/2″ height and make a splash in the international arena. U – 9, I – 8.5, S – 9, GI – 9, IC – 8.5, G – 9.
BINIBINING 39 – Trixia Marie Maraña. She has flattering and unflattering angles that make her one of the less-heralded ladies in this year’s batch. And though she has great ideas during the 30-second word-or-object-association challenge (she picked a globe and shared her background as a flight attendant), she needs a bit more polish in being able to organize her thoughts under pressure, but otherwise she’s a good communicator. U – 7.5, I – 7, S – 7, GI – 7, IC – 7, G – 7.
BINIBINING 40 – Angelie Asuncion. She has this appealing round face and exudes a vibrant persona. She’s also acquitted herself very well during the Road to the Crown TV special, surprising many with her strong communication skills. Another possible sleeper surprise. U – 7.5, I – 7, S – 7, GI – 7.5, IC – 7.5, G – 7.5.
Now that all 40 candidates are accounted for, let me trot out my “Fearful” forecast. Previously I would not commit to placing who would win which title, but since I decided to share my picks with Global Beauties, I’ll also post it here, though considering I learned Aya Abesamis exceeds the age limit for Miss International, I will make an adjustment in my predictions, as follows:
MISS UNIVERSE PHILIPPINES – 20 (Catriona Gray)
BB. PILIPINAS INTERNATIONAL – 31 (Jehza Huelar)
BB. PILIPINAS SUPRANATIONAL – 11 (Aya Abesamis)
BB. PILIPINAS GRAND INTERNATIONAL – 23 (Ena Velasco)
BB. PILIPINAS INTERCONTINENTAL – 38 (Karen Gallman)
BB. PILIPINAS GLOBE – 32 (Eva Patalinjug)
RUNNERS-UP: 19 (Michele Gumabao) and 35 (Sandra Lemonon)
TOP 15: 1 (Vickie Lee Rushton), 4 (Ana Patricia Asturias), 14 (Samantha Bernardo), 17 (Ma. Athisa Manalo), 24 (Edjelyn Joy Gamboa), 26 (Wynonah Buot), 33 (Stephanie Abellanida)
TOP 25: 3 (Murielle Orais), 10 (Kayesha Chua), 15 (Juliana Kapeundl), 18 (Rosantonette Mendoza), 22 (Sophia Baino), 27 (KC Cajandig), 28 (Angelica Mae Corbe), 34 (Mary Joy de Castro), 36 (Loren Mar Artajos),39 (Trixia Marie Maraña)
Though many fans are concentrated towards a very select few contenders, every one in this year’s batch have strong qualities worthy of your attention. Whittling this batch down to even to a Top 25 is actually a difficult exercise as there are a host of worthy ladies who would be overlooked.
But I have to admit the main attraction here is if the powers-that-be in this pageant will heed the clamor of the pageant masses, or will insider influence prevail. History seems to point to the latter, but I know pageant fans are fervently hoping that this year would be one of those exceptions. Best of luck to all the ladies!
BINIBINING 21 – Anjame Magbitang. She has a statuesque stature (at 5’11”), appealing native features and a trim figure, but she would need a bit more polishing especially in the interview department to be in serious contention in the future. U – 7; I – 6; S – 7; GI – 6.5, IC – 7; G – 7.
BINIBINING 22 – Sophia Baino. She is good looking, though we Filipinos tend not to appreciate her nose as our ideals are more on the aquiline side. She’s actually a good communicator so she can make inroads to the Top 25 and possibly Top 15. U – 7.5, I – 7, S – 7.5, GI – 7, IC – 7.5, G – 7.5.
BINIBINING 23 – Ena Louis Velasco. Her background as a medical doctor, strong communication skills, and trim figure generated heavy buzz that she can become one of the possible titleholders. I don’t really find her conventionally pretty, but she’s attractive enough to pass muster for me. There is heavy talk she is one of the ladies who is guaranteed to clinch a title–perhaps International or Grand International would be the best fit for her qualities. U – 9, I – 9, S – 8.5, GI – 9.5, IC – 8.5, G – 9.
BINIBINING 24 – Edjelyn Joy Gamboa. She made the Top 15 two years ago in this pageant, and she seems poised to duplicate her feat this time. She displayed a lot of charm in her 30-second word-or-object-association challenge, but I’m rooting for her to vindicate her weak Top 15 onstage interview two years ago. U – 8, I – 8, S – 8.5, GI – 8, IC – 8.5, G – 9.
BINIBINING 25 – Jerelleen Rodriguez. In terms of facial beauty, she’s one of the least regarded, but she more than makes up for it with her trim figure and her intelligence and gab, since she’s a teacher by profession. Will her intelligence and gab help her achieve a Top 25 finish? U – 7; I – 6.5, S – 6, GI – 7, IC – 6.5, G – 7.
BINIBINING 26 – Wynonah Buot. There are pageant fans hyping her as a possible upset choice for the winners’ circle. She is a strong contender and probably a Top 15 shoo-in, but I’m not as confident about her landing the winners’ circle as some are. U – 8.5, I – 8.5, S – 8.5, GI – 8.5, IC – 8.5, G – 8.5.
BINIBINING 27 – Henna Kaizzelle Nicole “KC” Cajandig. In 2013, she became a candidate due to someone being disqualified, but she has since vindicated herself, first with a respectable performance in the 2013 edition of this pageant and at Miss World Philippines that same year, then another go at Miss World Philippines last year which yielded her a Top 15 finish. She looks poised to have an inside track for the Top 15 for this pageant this time, though perhaps further finetuning in nailing her interview under pressure. U – 8, I – 8, S – 8.5, GI – 8, IC – 8.5, G – 8.5.
BINIBINING 28 – Angelica Mae Corbe. She’s good looking but not really gathering much buzz. She can either be an underrated beauty or a possible sleeper surprise. Let’s see how that turns out on coronation night. U – 8, I – 8, S – 8, GI – 8, IC – 8, G – 8.
BINIBINING 29 – Samantha Kaye Avestruz. Though she noted that she doesn’t really have that much confidence when she speaks in public, she actually acquitted herself very well during the times she spoke in the Road to the Crown TV special. Amongst a compeitive group of delegates, her face may not be one of the standouts but with more confidence she can make more serious inroads–she just needs to believe in herself a bit more as she has strong potential to unveil her best self. U – 6.5, I – 6, S – 6.5, GI – 5.5, IC – 6.5, G – 7
BINIBINING 30 – Sarah Joson. She’s another one whose face is not the conventionally pretty sort, but her background as a community trainer gives her a bit of an edge in the communications department–though she didn’t quite nail the 30-second word-or-object-association challenge even with strong ideas being presented. Interesting note about her national costume (which was among the 10 shortlisted)–it’s essentially Elizabeth Clenci’s national costume at Miss Grand International last year. I was deservingly a standout. U – 7, I – 6, S – 6.5, GI – 6.5, IC – 6.5, G – 7.
COMING UP: BINIBINING 31 TO 40 plus “FEARFUL” FORECAST