BINIBINING PILIPINAS 2018: DIVINITY’S PATH TOWARDS VINDICATION (CONCLUSION)

(Photo courtesy of Edmund Chua for OPMB Worldwide)

It is almost a consensus that the six ladies who garnered titles were indeed the six best performers of the night.  The choice of the top winner is also almost unimpeachable.  Now there is some who would feel they should have shuffled the titles among four of the five remaining titleholders as many felt the lady who got the “least prestigious” title deserved more

BB. PILIPINAS – GLOBE:  BINIBINING 19 – Michele Gumabao.  With heretofore title contnders Ena Velasco, Sandra Lemonon and Aya Abesamis falling by the wayside, this made this lady a shoo-in for one of the titles.  And on coronation night she proved to be so stellar that many felt she is on track for one of the plummier titles, like, say, International or Supranational.  Her athletic background gave her an undeniably lean and trim figure that many (including myself) felt she might deserve a Best in Swimsuit award.  But well, we know that went to   In the evening gown round, she evoked two major Miss Universe icons with her yellow one-shoulder Grecian style evening gown, which evokes both Miss Universe 1999 1st runner-up Miriam Quiambao and Miss Universe 2000 Lara Dutta.  She also got a special award as Miss Cream Silk.  Many are also impressed with her response to Ces Oreña-Drilon‘s question, “What can you do to fight fake news?”  Michele answered this way:  “I know that fake news is very rampant nowadays, but in order to fight these, we must first, know what we are reporting, know what we are reading and at the same time, be accountable for what we say, especially online. And I hope that media always filters their news, their resources to always deliver truth and authentic news. Thank you.”  When I heard it, I was also very impressed and thought she was on-track to representing us at Miss International.  But to the shock of many, she was handed this “inferior” title instead.  On one hand, yes, she’s on-track to bring forth an Ann Colis-style victory in this pageant as she has that similar kind of charisma, but she can also blaze a major trail at Miss International, too.  Did the judges take it against her for wearing a gown that is so 1999-2000?  Or were they asking more from her on top of her otherwise great answer?  I respect the judges’ decision, but I’m with many pageant fans and pundits who felt she deserved so much better.

Gown inspirations: Miss Universe 1999 1st runner-up Miriam Quiambao (L) and Miss Universe 2000 Lara Dutta (Images courtesy of Miss Universe Organization)

BB. PILIPINAS – INTERCONTINENTAL:  BINIBINING 38 – Karen Gallman.  Her pretty face and charisma (abetted by her charming Australian accent) help make people overlook any reservations about her height and figure.  She also cast an alluring spell with her low-cut red dress with that Jessica Rabbit-neckline.  Now, she caused a stir with her answer to the question posed by Miss International 2005 Precious Lara Quigaman, “Do you agree that a third restroom should be built for transgenders? Why or why not?”  Karen’s answer went like this: “I definitely agree there should be a third restroom for transgender because us women would like a privacy and also with men, and we have a separate room for the transgender. It just serves as an equality and privatization. Thank you.”  Karen has since acknowledged she was caught up with nerves when she delivered this answer.  There are also many social justice warriors (SJW) who also argue that the right answer to this question is that the transgender people should go to the bathroom according to the gender they identify with.  I agree with that stance, but then I thought about a small group within the transgender spectrum that doesn’t want to be defined by such categories and want to be considered “non-binary”, so for that group a third bathroom may indeed have merit.  Also, we can also nitpick with Karen’s justification for her stance, as it did create the implication that the transgenders were predatory, which is definitely not the case.  I would’ve placed Karen to the Globe title or shut her out of the titles and elevate Samantha or Vickie Marie to one of the titles if we base it solely on her answer.  But I think she made such an impact during the earlier rounds that the judges still rewarded her with a title.

BB. PILIPINAS – GRAND INTERNATIONAL:  BINIBINING 32 – Eva Psychee Patalinjug.  Though she won the Miss Photogenic award, among the six titleholders I found her the least pretty, but her charisma was undeniable and I always knew she is on-track for one of the titles.  I found out from the swimsuit round that she’s the winner of the BB Sweepstakes, and those assets were also in play in her strapless sparkly red evening gown.  But her real gift is her eloquence, as displayed when she was asked by Colombian ambassador Victor Hugo Echiverri, “What is the role of beauty queens in the pursuit of our country’s economic success, if any?”  Eva answered, “A role of the beauty queen is to be a voice. I am here to make a message to all of you. In these times of uncertainty…taking over our country, we have remained steadfast and have faith in all of its challenges. As a united nation, what we should do is to set aside our political differences, economic and social preferences. Let our love and loyalty to our country rise above all, in the hopes of making a peaceful country. Thank you.”  When I heard that answer, I was very impressed.  Later on it was pointed out she lifted out phrases and ideas from a Metro Magazine Independence Day campaign, with the quote coming from actress Nadine Ilustre.  Eva acknowledged it as such but she’s inspired by those ideas anyway, and it’s so apt to the question anyway.  I do agree so I won’t take it against her for paraphrasing ideas from other sources.  I so agree with her winning this title, as she does evoke Nicole Cordoves‘s persona, bolstered by a couple of assets that could be our ticket to finally winning Miss Grand International.  Think about it–the winners of this pageant aren’t the prettiest ladies in their respective batches, and most of the time it goes to the lady who gave the strongest answer or the best world peace speech, and speech is Eva’s best asset.  I’m also pleased she finally gets to compete in an international beauty competition–and most likely shine in that pageant.

BB. PILIPINAS – SUPRANATIONAL:  BINIBINING 31 – Jehza Mae Huelar.  Like MJ Lastimosa and Pia Wurtzbach, the third time’s the charm for this lady.  But unlike the other two who went on to win the top title, she had to content herself with a lesser title as she had to compete against an unstoppable luminously divine being.  Anyway, she secured her ticket to the Top 15 with her trim figure and sporting a strapless pink gown with peplum hem.  Then, she clinched a title slot when she answered this question from US ambassador Sung Kim: “What do you think is the most important quality of a millennial woman?”  Jehza answered,  “I think the most important quality a millennial woman have is to have a vision. With her vision, she should have this attitude and perseverance so that she can achieve her goals. And if she’s good at vision, she will be able to express herself freely. So I would hope that all the millennials out here would really adhere to our culture and our tradition so that we can inspire others, we can impact people. Thank you.”  I still maintain Michele Gumabao answered better than Jehza, and would want to promote her to either this title or International and Jehza and Ahtisa move down to this title or Intercontinental (and of course demoting Karen to Globe), but I think it would be unfair for Jehza to be awarded a lesser title and she does exude a bubbly vibe so she could potentially come closer to secure a victory in this pageant after Mutya Datul‘s historic victory five years ago.  Rooting for her to make Top Five this time.

BB. PILIPINAS – INTERNATIONAL:  BINIBINING 17 – Ma. Ahtisa Manalo.  Though I do think she’s great looking, I didn’t peg her as a title contender, though there was rising buzz about her.  But she made a convincing case with her trim figure (probably behind Michele Gumabao in terms of buffness) and most especially her dramatic evening gown presentation, performing a combo of the Riyo Mori Gucci Flash and the Dayana Dervish with her fuchsia evening gown.  She secured one of the crowns with her strong answer to Miss International 2005 Precious Lara Quigaman‘s question, “How should a beauty queen respond to ruthless criticism?”  Ahtisa’s response:  “A beauty queen should always respond to criticisms constructively. We beauty queens are public figures and we put ourselves in a position to be judged. But nonetheless, we should always, we should always filter which comments we should accept and what we should not. Thank you.”  She had to pause for a brief second to gather her thoughts and conclude her point, but as Pia remarked after she answered, “Good save.”  As I mentioned, I was more impressed with Michele Gumabao’s presence and answer and would probably peg Michele for this title and Ahtisa taking either Suprnaational or Intercntinental.  But it dawned on me the judges probably noticed there is something about her face that reminds them of somebody…

…And that somebody is Miss International 2016 Kylie Versoza.  I do see the resemblance, but I don’t think Ahtisa, being a country lass from Quezon province, has Kylie’s cosmopolitan sophistication at this point.  Still, she has ample time to learn how to channel Kylie’s combination of urbanity and Japanese deference and channel the modern Yamato Nadeshiko (the Japanese feminine ideal) and perhaps clinch our seventh Miss International crown.  I normally discourage sending clones to international pageants, but if one takes a glance at Japanese anime and manga culture, they do rely on archetypes (try comparing multiple animes that have pink-haired ingenues and brown-haired feisty girls, and reticent black-and-long-haired girls with fringed bangs across them), and Miss International is no exception.  Case in point, the one that I dub the Verna Vasquez archetype.*1  Kylie is an awesome arechetype to use and arguably she was responsible for giving this otherwise staid pageant an extended lease in life.

*1 Yes, Curacao’s Verna Vasquez (Miss Universe 1997 4th place finalist) never set foot at Miss International, but her brand of beauty proved to be major catnip with the Japanese judges, yielding a win with Puerto Rico’s Valerie Dominguez in 2014 and a 1st runner-up finish for Verna’s countrywoman Chanelle de Lau last year.

Miss International 2016 Kylie Versoza

MISS UNIVERSE PHILIPPINES:  BINIBINING 20 – Catriona Elisa Gray.  It turns out just like in her stint at Miss World Philippines two years ago, the Divine Miss Gray dominated the competition with her fellow competitors settling for scraps.  She took the lion’s share of special awards, like Miss Jag Denim Queen, Miss Ever Bilena, Best in National Costume, and of course, Best in Swimsuit and Best in Evening Gown.  I’m impressed that she is able to morph from the saintly Audrey Hepburn archetype to a more alluring siren/nymph persona.  This is especially in play with her spellbinding presence in the evening gown round, with her hair swept to one side and showcasing the now legendary patriotic ear-cuff (designed to represent the sun and stars on the Philippine flag).  Her now well-renowned gift of gab is very much in full effect when answering this question posed by US Ambassador Sung Kim: “After the devastating war, Marawi is now on its way to recovery. What is your message to the young women of Marawi?” Catriona’s answer:  “Thank you for that question. My answer and my message to the women is to be strong. As women, we’re the head of the household and we have amazing influence not only in our families, as mothers, sisters and friends, but also in our community. If we could get the women to stay strong and be that image of strength for the children and the people around them, then once the rebuilding is complete and is underway, the morale of the community will stay strong and high. Thank you.”  With that she made history as the first ever Filipina who will get to compete in both Miss World and Miss Universe.*2

*2 Yes, Miriam Quiambao was originally crowned Bb. Pilipinas – World back in 1999 before eventually being designated to compete at Miss Universe as the Bb. Pilipinas – Universe titleholder Janelle Bautista was dethroned due to citizenship issues, but Miriam never ever competed at Miss World, unlike what Catriona would be doing.

After her victory, there was criticism from former beauty queens Maggie Wilson (Bb. Pilipinas – World 2007) and Miss International 2013 Bea Rose Santiago as they posted on Twitter objecting to Catriona’s Best in Swimsuit win.  Yes, Catriona’s figure is not as buffed as, say, Michele Gumabao but there is precedent for this–remember Oxana Fedorova‘s extremely inflated swimsuit score at Miss Universe 2002?  The trend then was extreme buffness as exhibited by the likes of Germany’s Natascha Börger, South Africa’s Vanessa Carreira and Venezuela’s Cynthia Lander, but well, Oxana’s face was so spellbinding that the judges overlook those standards and granted her that high swimsuit score.  Catriona has ample time to whip her figure into a buffer shape, and if not, well, remember that Miss Universe is now open to a broader range of body types.

Dethroned Miss Universe 2002 Oxana Fedorva during te swimsuit competition (image courtesy of Miss Universe Organization)

There was also heavy talk about the gown Catriona wore on coronation night, as many noted it resembles the gown worn by Miss Universe 2015 1st runner-up Ariadna Gutierrez.  I do agree there is a resemblance, but there are enough design differences (like the slit at the left thigh and the design patterns in the gown and the neckline) to see that it’s not a copycat.   Besides, the way Catriona was styled that night was way different also, but I acknowledge the silhouette is a beautifully classic one to emulate.

Miss Universe 2015 1st runner-up Ariadna Gutierrez (courtesy of Miss Universe Organization)

At this point, indeed Catriona is THE favorite to win this year’s Miss Universe, and she looks poised to achieve the clamor of her fans for vindication after missing winning the Miss World crown.  But one should never be presumptuous as between now and that pageant there are still a lot of unknowns.  But of course, me and multitudes of pageant fans all over the Philippines are fervently hoping everything works in her favor.  Anyway, in the meantime while we await Catriona’s Miss Universe stint, we should root for the other titleholders as they look poised to deliver another bonanza year for our country, similar to the dominance we exhibited in 2013 and 2015.  Best wishes to all of this year’s titleholders.

JUST ME!

JOSEPH

(Image courtesy of FAB Philippines)

All images courtesy of Binibining Pilipinas unless otherwise indicated.

BINIBINING PILIPINAS 2018: DIVINITY’S PATH TOWARDS VINDICATION (PART 2)

Each one of the candidates who made the Top 15 have at least one standout quality that made them advance from the Top 25, even if it is at the expense of the likes of Ena Velasco and (for some pageant fans) Sherry Ann Tormes.   Still, in my opinion, one of them should have taken the place of one semifinalist, and she is…

BINIBINING 21 – Anjame Magbitang.  Yes, she’s the tallest in this batch, she has a trim figure, and her native feature may have some appeal, but to be honest, I found her silver-grey long-sleeved embroidered evening gown a tad too busy that I found it a bit surprising she bumped Ena out of a Top 15 slot.   Her response in the final Q&A didn’t help matters to justify her placement in this hallowed group.  She was asked by ABS-CBN’s Chief Technology Officer Martin Lopez “When is the right time to listen and when is the right time to speak?”.  Her response:  “It’s time to listen if you respect the people who will talk and then you will try to speak after the people who talk to you speak because there must be…The best version…”  It was a disorganized answer and for me, way weaker than the lady who ended up not being able to answer a question and hence caused a brief media storm…

BINIBINING 35 – Sandra Lemonon.  Actually, she’s otherwise a great communicator, and she’s a polyglot who can speak four languages fluently and can comprehend at least a couple more, and because of this many pageant fans felt her Fourth Princess finish at Miss World Philippines was probably a fluke and she could vindicate herself in this pageant.  She seemed on her way as she made a great impression in her simple fuchsia satin gown  But it seems during the moments that count, she was caught in a situation that prevented her from articulating the best that she could have.  It happened in Miss World Philippines two years ago that led her to be demoted from an expected First Princess finish to Fourth, and now she was shut out from a potential place in the winner’s circle with the question handed to her by Megawide Construction Chairman Edgar Saavedra: “What are your insights on the government’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ program?”  Because she has not studied regarding this aspect of current events, this is her answer:  “Actually, I studied so much for this Q&A, but suddenly that’s something that I really don’t know much about. But, at least I’m here trying to answer a good question. Thank you!”  As co-host Pia Wurtzbach noted, her honesty is refreshing and that is why I find her non-answer stronger than Anjame’s messy, disorganized answer.  If I were in her situation, what would I have done?  I was thinking one of two approaches–first, I would indeed go the honest route and acknowledge I have no knowledge about that project but I would ask the judge to give me a brief background of what that program, “Could you please give me a brief description of what the program is about?”  and share the first thing that comes to her mind based from what the judge relayed to her.  The other approach is assuming she has an idea or an opinion what good governance is all about, she can take this approach:  “I would stand behind any government program that would bring long-term benefits to the Filipino people, just as long as that project is properly implemented and no corruption is involved.”  It’s optional to add something about that it also doesn’t impose too much from the taxpaying public, but I’m sure you get the idea.  Or if she really has no stance about what her idea of a good government is, her honest response would suffice.  Yes, it cost her a slot in the winners’ circle, and yes pageant netizens would turn her answer into a meme, but I think the public in general respected her response and viewed it positively.  It’s way better than to be a subject of ridicule like what happened to Jeanie Anderson back in 2001 and Janina San Miguel in 2008.

BINIBINING 15 – Juliana Kapeundl.  I thought her thick figure would be a big obstacle for her to advance tto the Top 15, but I think there is heavy premium on facial beauty, which she possesses in spades that is why the judges overlooked her less-than-pageant-standards figure.  She was asked by news anchor Ces Oreña-Drilon this topical question: “Misogyny or bias against women has been very prevalent lately. How should this be addressed?”  Juliana gave this thoughtful answer:  “I think this should be addressed by empowering women. We women, we have to think that we are not just women. We don’t need labels. As mother, daughter, sister, we have our own individuality and we have to use it to our advantage and let our strengths shine. So, as women, we have to empower our co-women an equality with men in the future. Thank you.”  It’s an answer full of substance, albeit delivered in a slightly monotone manner, that along with her swimsuit figure, made me rank her here instead of higher.

BINIBINING 24 – Edjelyn Joy Gamboa.  She exudes glamour and charisma all througghout, especially in her sexy yet elegant white low-cut white evening gown.  She was asked by Ateneo volleyball star Alyssa Valdez this question:  “If inner beauty is emphasized in beauty pageants, then why are there physical requirements upon joining it?”  Edjelyn’s answer:  “Okay, honestly speaking, there’s no requirement, there’s no beauty requirement in a competition like this. Everyone is accepted as long as you have a good heart, as long as you are confident with your looks, and then you’ll be a part of Binibining Pilipinas. Thank you.

BINIBINING 26 – Wynonah Van Joy Buot.  She’s one of the sleeper choices who was deemed as possessing an inside track into the Top 15 and beyond as the pageant activities wore on.  She delivered on the hype on finals night as she looked lovely in her sexy form-fitting red sequined gown.  For the Q&A, she was asked by actor Gerald Anderson, “Name one great Filipino artist you truly admire and why?”  Wynonah cited a celebrity, as follows:  “One great Filipino artist I truly admire would probably be Toni Gonzaga. Although she’s a celebrity and we have a stereotype when it comes to celebrities, I truly admire her because she follows a certain path when it comes to her life. She actually has a successful career, a complete family, and she did these all together by following her parents. And that’s one important thing that we millennials must learn. You will never fail in life when you follow your parents. Thank you!”  It might seem a shallow choice, but she justified her answer very well.

BINIBINING 3 – Murielle Orais.  There are pageant fans who loved how she registered in her formal photos, that many have included her as one of the likeliest to make the winners’ circle.  She was proven to be polished all throughout, especially making a great impression in her white sweetheart-necklined evening gown, and she got a special award as Miss Philippine Airlines.  She was asked by Martin Lopez this question:  “This year marks the graduation of the first-ever batch of K-to-12 students. What is your message to them?”  This is Muriel’s message:  “My message to the students is that you have to focus on your studies, because their parents are very working hard for their education. I believe that education will give them knowledge and experience and it will give them a better future. Thank you.”  I suppose with other delivering more remarkable answers, she fell a bit short to make the winners’ circle.  Still, spare a thought for…

BINIBINING 11 – Maria Andrea “Aya” Abesamis.  Her unimpeachable stage chops served her well and many assumed she’s a lock for the winners’ circle unless she made a big flub in her Q&A.  So how did her Q&A go?  She was asked by Novotel Hotel General Manager Mike Brown this topical question:  “Boracay has its hazardous environmental situation. What is your view on this issue?”  Aya answered this way:  “My view on this issue is that it’s a big matter right now. We need to conserve our natural habitat and our isles as a Filipino and a Filipina. Because we live there. We live in the country. There are locals there and we’re supposed to take care of it. Thank you.”  It’s actually a solid answer, albeit generic and that was probably the factor why she was pegged down by the judges.  Apparently her pedigree as he daughter of Miss Universe 1984 3rd runner-up Desiree Verdadero-Abesamis didn’t hold sway.  I suppose hints that she’s not as favored as perceived manifested when she failed to garner a single special award.  I have to say though I think she’s worthy, her being shut out of the winners’ circle is fully justified.

Now, let’s discuss the Winners’ Circle.  These ladies, by all accounts, earned their standings with strong charismatic presences and strong answers in the Q&A.  Let’s meet them starting with:

2ND RUNNER-UP:  BINIBINING 14 – Samantha Mae Bernardo.  She garnered a special award as Manila Bulletin Readers’ Choice, but her biggest splahs was in evening gown as she astounds in her orange gown with elegant cape.  It was the second-best evening gown performance of the night (let’s just say the winner of this category truly earned her award in this aspect).  She also gave a brilliant answer to the question actor Gerald Anderson posed to her, thusly:  “What do you think is the biggest misconception about beauty pageant contestants?”  Her answer:  “I think the biggest concept, misconception in beauty pageants today is that we’re just beautiful. But we are not. We are confidently beautiful. We’re compassionate and we’re very competent. We are in a year wherein we have surpassed odds about women. And we continue to prove ourselves in a society. We can be at home, raising a family, or an office having a career. Or just like me here, joining pageants, celebrating our femininity. Thank you!”  I totally agree with her answer.  Now, why didn’t she rank higher and win one of the crowns?  I suppose it’s simply that the judges found the ladies who ranked higher than her much prettier, that is why this is as far as she could go.

1ST RUNNER-UP:  BINIBINING 1 – Vickie Marie Rushton.  This Mutya ng Pilipinas 2011 winner has the mestiza prettiness highly prized in these shores, and she was able to parlay that and made a major splash.  I may be more impressed with Samantha Mae Bernardo’s gown, but I can understand that the judges respond to her prettiness better.  I think that prettiness helped her also outrank Samantha as she gave a pretty basic answer in the Q&A.  She was asked by basketball star Thirdy Ravena this topical question:  “Do you believe hazing and fraternities has its own good? Why and why not?”  She responded: “I believe that any violence is no good, because one person alone can stand up for herself or himself. And as a Bb. Pilipinas, I can be that influence to spread the word that violence is not acceptable. Thank you”  It’s a good answer and she did take a stand against violence and made it an advocacy, but I just wish she expounded on it a little bit.  Still, her eventual standing is well-deserved.

COMING UP:  THE TITLEHOLDERS

BINIBINING PILIPINAS 2018: DIVINITY’S PATH TOWARDS VINDICATION (PART 1)

 

There was a theme set up for this year’s edition of Binibining Pilipinas:  Beauty as Art.  So this was conceptualized with a pre-taped segment filmed at the University of the Philippines (UP) campus in Diliman, Quezon City, where the reigning queens pose for drawings and paintings made in their likeness and uttered spiels extolling how the beauty of a Filipina is a work of art.  After this serene segment, the action segued to Araneta Coliseum as the usual modern upbeat EDM music blared to usher in the 40 candidates.  I’ve been trying to Google the song and artist for that number, but found no luck.  It seems to be called “Electric”.  Whatever the case, it’s peppy and upbeat.  The opening number outfits seems a bit skimpier than in previous editions, as they are generally black-and-white sarongs draped over what seems to be black one-piece swimsuits, or a low-cut V-necked shirt-and-shorts ensemble.

The presenters for the night were Richard Gutierrez and Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach, with color commentary by Miss Grand International 2016 1st runner-up Nicole Cordoves.  I have no complaint about Richard and Pia’s hosting, though I noticed there are pageant netizens who were harshly critical of the latter, along with questioning some of her wardrobe choices (like the supposedly unflattering white gown she wore in the opening segments).  Sure Pia might have occasional diction issues but I think she did a good job overall.  Now, Nicole could be viewed the unsung hero of the night as she assumed the role of the announcer when the candidates paraded individually in swimsuit and evening gown, and she has an unsung role holding the bowl which the judges would use to select the semifinalist they would ask the question to.

Hosts Richard Gutierrez and Pia Wurtzbach

Just like last year, not all 40 candidates get to parade in swimsuit and evening gown.  After the first set of special awards, the 40 were whittled down to 25, and the contest proceeded like in years past.  Before the swimsuit segment proper, there was also a tribute to the late designer Pitoy Moreno, who recently passed away late January of this year.  I highly appreciate the salute as he was a major pioneer in our country’s fashion industry–I just only wished they also highlighted the fact that he designed EGOT legend Rita Moreno‘s Oscar gown, which gained headlines recently as she re-wore it in this year’s Oscars.

This year’s Top 25 swimsuit segment featured actor/singer Iñigo Pascual singing his latest single with Filipino EDM artist Moophs, “OMW“.  The song is surprisingly a fitting soundtrack to this segment, with its laid-back tropical feel.

Inigo Pascual

 

Moophs was on-hand during the evening gown segment as he took role as DJ playing a medley of four songs while he overlays a live guitar over those tracks.  Meanwhile the LED screen pays tribute to one of the directors of the Binibining Pilipinas Charities, Inc., artist Betsy Westendorp-Brias, as her paintings flash on the screen.  The songs include:  “Glory Days” by Sweater Beats featuring Hayley Kiyoko, “One More Weekend” by Audien X Max, and “Dreamer” by Axwell & Ingrosso.

I’ll discuss more about the Top 15 question-and-answer round in the next section.  After that famous round came the traditional farewell walk and pre-taped speeches of the outgoing queens.  The most memorable is the one delivered by Bb. Pilipinas – Supranational Chanel Olive Thomas, as it’s the most refreshingly light-hearted and she made the effort to deliver it in Tagalog, albeit with an obvious “twang”.  If you’re after substance and gravitas, the speeches delivered by Bb. Pilipinas – Intercontinental Katarina Rodrigueza and Bb. Pilipinas – Grand International Elizabeth Clenci had the most impact.

The ladies who made the Top 25 are indeed worthy and competitive.  In fact, in some ways it’s like splitting hairs coming up with a ranking for the Top 25, but here’s my best attempt.

BINIBINING 13 – Kristie Rose Cequeña.  I like that she shortened her hair further for finals night–it made her stand out a bit.  Still, minor quibbles with her figure, her unconventional beauty, and her serviceable silver satin gown sealed her fate and again she didn’t advance further.

BINIBINING 4 – Ana Patricia Asturias.  I pegged her in my Top 15 list, but something about the way she looked on finals night just didn’t flatter her well, and the judges just decided to not let her advance further.

BINIBINING 39 – Trixia Marie Marana.  She’s generally solid, but solid is not enough to get you to the next level.

BINIBINING 9 – Agatha Lei Romero.  There is a regal potential in her green evening gown, but again, the issue is with a host of stronger contenders, her gown didn’t make as much of an impact.

BINIBINING 34 – Mary Joy de Castro.  Her figure is a bit on the thick side, and though her silver gown with dark green skirt is a good gown, it’s not enough for her to advance to the next round.

BINIBINING 7 – Sigrid Grace Flores.  She did a creditable enough job with her hair straight and parted in the middle and parading a nude-colored gown with sheer blue shawl.

Evening gown photo courtesy of Mike Zuniga for Sash Factor

BINIBINING 10 – Kayesha Chua.  She delivered a sleek presence all throughout, especially in her nude-colored long-sleeved evening gown.

BINIBINING 37 – Patrizia Mariah Garcia.  Her sequined applique gown with green feathered bottom made a standout impact that is why I place her close to bubbling under the Top 15 in this list.

BINIBINING 23 – Ena Louis Velasco.  It is very surprising that this lady was left out of the Top 15, despite hype that she’s a front-runner for the winners’ circle.  I noticed a warning sign at the national costume competition as her costume was very blah and she lacked impact in it.  Though no one can really find fault in her performance, she doesn’t quite generate a spark onstage and that might be the reason the final night judges decide not to let her advance.

BINIBINING 8 – Sherry Ann Tormes.  We have to give her credit that she looked great this particular night, as she was made up and styled right.  She also earned two special awards, Miss Talent (for her stirring cover of one of Aretha Franklin‘s classic hits, “(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman” and the Miss Friendship award.  But with prettier lookers out there making larger impact, there isn’t enough room for her, but garnering two awards is a big consolation as well, one lady swept up most of the special awards…

All evening gown photos courtesy of Edmund Chua for OPMB Worldwide unless otherwise indicated. All other images courtesy of Bb. Pilipinas unless otherwise indcated.

COMING UP:  TOP 15