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)
BUBBLING UNDER: 2 (Katherine Ventura), 5 (Rose Marie Murphy), 7 (Sigrid Grace Flores), 37 (Patrizia Garcia), 40 (Angelie Asuncion)
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!