The 2017 edition of Miss World Philippines, the first edition post-Cory Quirino, turned out to be ironically auspicious, as it generated sterling results with its winners’ circle in the international arena.
First was the venerable Reino Hispanoamericana pageant held in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, where Teresita Ssen “Wynwyn” Marquez served as our inaugural representative. Wynwyn made a splashy impression in a TV guesting for that pageant, where she performed a fusion of a traditional singkil dance which then surprisingly segued to a spicy salsa set to the massive international hit “Mi Gente” by J. Balvin & Willy William, which left the Bolivian audience pleasantly stunned. Despite barely able to speak the Spanish language, Wynwyn had the polish and spice to outdo her 26 other competitors and clinch the crown. It was a headline-making feat, arguably garnering more buzz than the victory at Miss Earth which was held concurrently with this pageant.
Then, in Feburary of this year was the inaugural Miss Multinational pageant held in New Delhi, India. Our representative, Sophia Señoron, is not that highly regarded in the looks department, but her superb gift of gab was a major factor how she pulled off an upset in the national pageant and ended up with this title. Most pageant pundits were not expecting her to win in a supposedly more competitive international arena, but lo and behlod, her gift of gab helped her clinch what might have been a decisive victory in this pageant, too.
In April was the third edition of the Miss Eco-International pageant held in Cairo, Egypt. Everyone was bullish about our representative Cynthia Thomalla’s prospects as her beauty was well-renowned. And that beauty, along with a strong Q&A performance, helped her clinch her victory in this pageant.
As an added bonus, just last month 2nd runner-up Zara Carbonell was given the opportunity to represent us at Miss Tourism Worldwide held in Bali, Indonesia, and also clinched a win.
It’s so interesting that the lady who won the prime title of Miss World Philippines, Laura Lehmann didn’t generate the splashy finish of her colleagues. Instead, she only landed in the Top 40 and failed to advance further to the Top 15, Top 10 or Final Five. She made the Top 40 thanks to her win in her batch in the head-to-head challenge (no mean feat as in her bracket was Thailand, and that country is no slouch in terms of pageant fanbase), and secured her slot with a joint win for her Beauty with a Purpose project. Considering the show actually highlighted our country with a humanitarian award being granted to Father Rocky, our national director Arnold Vegafria was in the board of judges, and ironically the farewell video of the reigning queen Stephanie del Valle, prominently featured her visiting Catriona Gray‘s Smokey Mountain VWAP project, Laura not finishing higher could be deemed a disappontment. So what gives?
I’ll leave this as a blind item but according to an insider, going back to Miss World Philippines 2017, there was one person in the board of judges who also served as the de facto representative of the main Miss World Organization who wanted to exercise veto power over the choice of winner. This person actually wanted Cynthia Thomalla to win but the rest of the panel didn’t agree (and to most observers, Cynthia was not at her peak, especially in Q&A that night) as this person seemed to relate to Cynthia’s scrappier, underdog background than with Laura’s privileged upbringing. This person wanted to exercise a veto power to overrule the decision of the other judges, but well, that was probably not part of the rules so Laura’s win prevailed. Still, the sour impression spilled over to the rest of the organization that even if by most accounts Laura has a sympatico personality, the Miss World Organization insiders (who, as we all now, lately has a major say on who would rank high) penalized her in the process. Arnold Vegafria had no say in deciding the Top 15 (he had a say in deciding the rest of the outcome that night).
It’s a bit sad that there was a bit of reverse prejudice that went on that led to this ironic outcome. Still, for me, what Laura has achieved is nothing to be sneezed at and even if the lesser members of her court proved more successful, Laura represented us well and was a rightful winner.
It’s a tough challenge for the 2018 batch to follow–in the next four parts, let’s see if they have the goods to follow this group’s blazing footsteps.