As hinted in my review of last year’s Binibining Pilipinas, the big story for this edition is the presence of Miss World 2016 4th placer Catriona Gray in this batch, to the delight of Filipino pageant fans hungering for vindication over her perceived “unjust” finish at Miss World.  But one has to note that pageant fans should never be presumptive that participating is already a guarantee of a win–nothing in this world is 100% guaranteed.  For starters also in the fray is the daughter of Miss Universe 1984 3rd runner-up Desiree Verdadero, Maria Andrea “Aya” Abesamis, and there was heavy talk of how much Desiree holds sway with the powers-that-be.  There are also some buzzed about possible usurpers garnering buzz, too, though

From the screening: Catriona Gray (L) and Aya Abesamis (R)

One wonderful development this year is that unlike in previous editions, there are no withdrawals and disqualifications that took place this year.  There were rumors of withdrawal threats from some lesser-regarded candidates griping about the excessive attention towards the perceived favorites, but thank goodness all prevailed and stayed on.  Now, as is my wont, I will be rating these ladies’ prospects of making waves in the international titles at stake, with the following legend:  U – Universe; I – International; S – Supranational; GI – Grand International; IC – Intercontinental; and G – Globe.  Without further ado let’s begin with…

BINIBINING 1 – Vickie Lee Rushton.  There is some talk that she can be a possible player in the winner’s circle (when I refer to this, I’m referring to runners-up and above), especially since she won the plum prize of Mutya ng Pilipinas seven years ago.  She does have great looks and solid communication skills. She also has a human-interest angle with a blind mom and a brother inflicted with Down’s syndrome.  She is a good communicator who could come up with great ideas, albeit imperfect as shown in the 30-second word/object-association challenge.  U – 8.5, I – 8.5, GI – 8.5, S – 8.5, IC – 8.5, G – 8.5.

BINIBINING 2 – Kathrine Ventura.  She doesn’t fit my notion of conventional beauty but she is attractive and has an outgoing vibe.  A worthwhile contender.  U – 7.5, I – 7.5, S – 8, GI – 7.5, IC – 7.5, G – 8

BINIBINING 3 – Murielle Orais.  Her experience winning Miss Philippines-Water seven years ago serves her well here, even if there are taller and prettier contenders generating stronger buzz.  Another worthwhile contender.  U – 7.5, I – 7.5, S – 8, GI – 7.5, IC – 7.5, G – 8

BINIBINING 4 – Ana Patricia Asturias.  She is one of the strongest communicators in this bunch, and she made a splash with her white Muslim-inspired pantsuit costume with hijab.  It’s no surprise it was shortlisted as one of the ten best.  She seems to have an inside track for the Top 15 (improving on her Top 25 standing last year).  U – 8.5, I – 8.5, S – 8.5, GI – 8.5, IC – 8.5, G – 8.5

BINIBINING 5 – Rose Marie Murphy.  She’s attractive with a trim figure.  She’s not quite making much impact but she’s a worthwhile contender.  U – 7.5, I – 7.5, S – 7.5, GI – 7.5, IC – 7.5, G – 7.5.

BINIBINING 6 – Janice Roman.  Her ace is her gift of gab, since she’s a TV host and an English teacher.  Her native features are not necessarily the sort appreciated here, but she can make serious inroads for Westerners with exotic tastes.  U – 7, I – 6, S -7, GI – 6.5, IC – 7, G – 7.

BINIBINING 7 – Sigrid Grace Flores.  She has an interesting human interest story being a missionary and living on the train tracks at age 13.  Her features are the sort of “native appealing” that works well here and in the international arena.  She also acquitted herself very well in the object-or-word-association challenge.  U – 7.5, I – 7, S – 7.5, GI – 7.5, IC – 7.5, G – 7.5.

BINIBINING 8 – Marie Sherry Tormes.  She’s not conventionally pretty but she has a trim figure and is a good communicator.  Will this be enough for her to advance further?  U – 7, I – 6.5, S – 6.5, GI – 6.5, IC – 6.5, G – 6.5.

BINIBINING 9 – Agatha Lei Romero.  She has a trim-enough figure and a native attractiveness to her.  Another worthwhile contender.  U – 7.5, I – 7, S – 7.5, GI – 7.5, IC – 7.5, G – 7.5.

BINIBINING 10 – Kayesha Chua.  She has appealing Oriental features, a slim, slender figure, and strong communication skills to make her a Top 15 possibility.  U – 7.5, I – 7.5, S – 7.5, GI – 7.5, IC – 7.5, G – 7.5.