After the Top 12 interview, we were treated to the farewell walk of the reigning queens. All gave well-spoken farewell messages and of course all look good.
Then came the announcement of Winners, delivered by the director of this organization, Arnold Vegafria. Now, let’s assess the performances of the members of the winners’ circle.
2ND PRINCESS: CANDIDATE NO. 37 – Casie Banks. Laura noted she’s a travel blogger so she asked her what would be her dream destination. Casie answered “The world is really big but my dream destination is Spain. I love how the history of the Philippines and Spain has always been intertwined for centuries and growing up here in the Philippines I learned and saw how Spain has greatly influenced our country through our culture, tradition [sic],and even language. So I’d really love to visit Spain, meet its people, immerse in its culture, see the beautiful architecture, and of course, food. I love paella and churros, definitely, and ot add to that, I believe that discovering Spain is our way as Filipinos to discover a part of our history as well.”
For the final Q&A, she selected Miss World Singapore director Shan Wong to ask her question. He asked, “Today, social media is affecting the lives of many. Do you think social media is a good or bad thing?” Casie delivered this answer: “Social media is still a positive thing. I would like to look at it in a more positive way because we are able to reach our message to a wider audience. We are able to connect and really send the voice and message out there. Sometimes, I admit, we do abuse social media, especially with cyber-bullying and bashing. But at the end of the day, we should always be conscious of what we do post.” There is nothing to fault at all about Casie’s performance throughout and I did bet she would place as a runner-up. I would’ve preferred her to rank a tad higher, though, than…
1ST PRINCESS: CANDIDATE NO. 40 – Shannon Kerver. She’s one of the two fast-track winners for Charity. For her casual interview, Laura noted she’s a history major, and Laura asked her what to her is the most definitive moment in Philippine history. Her answer: “Of course there are so many important parts [sic] in Philippine history. However I think the most definite [sic] moment is that we became independent three times–first, by [sic] the Spanish, we became independent from then [sic], them, and then the US, and then the Japanese, and that just shows the love and loyalty that us Filipinos have for our country, it shows the importance of standing up for our rights, for the love of our country, and for your fellow citizens.” Her answer is well-composed but I think I need to debunk the “three times” we became independent–we did declare independence from the Spanish, yes, though of course it wasn’t recognized and the Americans took over, and we didn’t become independent from the Japanese (though the Japanese set up a puppet “republic” when they occupied us), and once the Allies defeated the Japanese, that’s when we became independent from the Americans–so I only count two times instead of three.
For the final Q&A, she got former Senator Nikki Coseting who asked her thusly: “If the president were to appoint you to a position in the cabinet, which position would you choose and why?” She answered: “I would choose the position that would involve the promotion of Filipino culture. I think it’s important to promote our culture, especially with diplomatic relations. Since we’re expanding our diplomatic relations and modernizng, I think putting Filipino culture at the center is a very important thing.” It’s very appropriate to her background, so it’s a strong answer, and that helped her knock out Michelle Thorlund from the winner’s circle.
MISS TEEN ECO-INTERNATIONAL: CANDIDATE NO. 23 – Vanessa Mae Walters. She won Best in Swimsuit and the Beach Beauty fast-track, and being the only teen who made the Top 22, she already has this title by default. For the casual interview, Laura noted about her Beach Beauty win and their Zambales visit and asked asked what was the most memorable part of their experience. “I think that the most memorable part of the experience that me and my fellow 39 candidates had witnessed at Zambales was the love and duty that we had to share and offer to the children. I think that’s the most memorable and lovable moment that I could possibly offer at 19 and possibly give it to others and learn from it and cherish every moment from then on.” There is a side of me who would take a side-eye on this kind of answer, as even if this pageant is focused on charity, is it really in your heart to be giving and not take in the wonderful scenery that Zambales provides? But let’s give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she’s sincere with this sentiment.
For the final Q&A she selected Zambales Provincial Administrator Jun Ebdane, whose surname she mispronounced as “Eb-dayne” instead fo “Eb-dah-ne”. His question was: “What very important life lesson did you learn the hard way?” Her answer: “The hardest lesson in life is being true to myself. Learning to be less authentic than I ever thought I should and would ever be. The more valuable and sensitive that I have become into being in this society is the hardest lesson I’ve learned in today’s generation.” I have quibbles about this answer, too, as I wish she goes into something more specific about what she said, and the lapse into saying “less authentic” than her intended “more authentic”. But then, the judgets love her looks and figure and on top that she’s the only teenager in the Top 22, this title is a lock for her.
MISS TOURISM PHILIPPINES: CANDIDATE NO. 4 – Glyssa Perez. She won the Beauty with a Purpose fast-track for her breast cancer advocacy and Laura asked her if there anything else she wanted to say about her advocacy. “Yes,” she replied, “Earlier, I was actually very overwhelmed by seeing the video, just so many people behind putting the video together, and just the foundation itself, we work really closely with breast cancer patients, and one thing I wanna share with everyone is that despite sickness, despite challenges you are able to overcome it if you just have that heart, that determination, and I learned that if you have the love from other people you can overcome everything, and that is what I learned from my mother, who defeated breast cancer twice, and all the strong women up there who are survivors of breast cancer and they taught that if you have something in your heart and love for family, you can really overcome everything.”
For the final question, she selected Dr. Amaal Rezk, chairperson for Miss Eco-International, who asked her this question: “From your opinion, what is the most sad environmental problem that happened this year and why?” Glyssa delivered this answer: “It was the most recent Amazon. Everyone knows that the Amazon happened and I feel like the awareness is still there but there should me more than just awareness. There should be action. I believe as a community we should be united together. If we work together as one, we will be able to cooperate and make a change in our environment.” I have a feeling she was on-track of clinching the Miss Multinational title, as she’s totally on-point on all aspects, especially being a picture of elegance in her pine-green satin gown. But she’s pipped out of the Multinational slot by the answers delivered by…
MISS MULTINATIONAL PHILIPPINES: CANDIDATE NO. 1 – Isabelle de Leon. Glyssa is prettier than this lady but Isabelle delivered glamor and polish that propel her to make a play for the winners’ circle–especially going sexy with that red gown witht he low-cut neckline. But clinching the deal and pulling off a major upset was the poetic way she delivered her answers. For the casual interview, Laura rattled off the fact that she is already an accomplished actress, having won a FAMAS award as best child actress*4 and singer/musician, so she asked why did she join a beauty pageant. “I’ve always been active in certain advocacies and charities before joining the pageant,” Isabelle began, “and this is the chance for me to grow as a woman. So, I believe in what it stands for which is Beauty with a Purpose. To be honest, it took a lot of courage for me to join the pageant, so I encourage every one of you here to not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, cause you’ll never know what strength you have until you’re in a situation where you will be tested. So I encourage everyone to not let your fears become bigger than your dreams and always listen to that voice that whispers in your heart, that says ‘you’re fearfully and wonderfully made.'”
*4 For the 2003 film Magnifico.
For the final Q&A, she got actor/model Bryce Ramos, who with his plummy British accent asked her, “If the eyes are the windows to the soul, what would we see if we looked into your eyes?” Isabelle gave this answer: “That is a beautiful question. What they will see in my eyes is love, eyes that see the good in people. My lips that seek to speak words of kindness, and ears that listen to the needs of other people, and hands that nurture and build other people’s dreams. That’s the kind of beauty and light that shines from within.” With the eloquence and poetry of her answer, she overtook Glyssa to garner the Miss Multinational Philippines honors.
REINA HISPANOAMERICANA FILIPINAS: CANDIDATE NO. 30 – Katrina Llegado. She wasn’t in my radar as a frontrunner, but I suppose her pretty native features along with a strong performance onstage was her key to be granted the Top Model fast-track and ultimately getting this title. During finals, her yellow evening gown helped her nail the Best in Evening Gown special award. For the casual interview, Laura noted her Top Model win and asked if she modeled before. Her surprising answer: “It’s my first time walking for a fashion show and showcasing my beauty on the stage in Araneta. It feels so beautiful to present the beauty of the Filipina, and I am very excited and happy to be here right now, and I’m thankful for my supporters and for everyone who helped me to be here right now.” All the winners happen to belong in the Aces & Queens camp, by the way, and it did generate wonders for her.
For the final Q&A, she got Christine Lim, AVP for Brand Marketing of Suyen Corporation, the parent company of Bench. Christine asked, “There have been debates in the legislation of divorce in the Philippines. Would you advise divorce to a couple having a troubled relationship?” This is Katrina’s answer: ” That’s a very hard question. But I must say, if the two agree to have a better life for their children, we should respect and understand the two. No matter how hard it is, we should have proper communication to resolve conflict. That is the most important thing that couples should know.” I’m torn a bit by this answer as she didn’t actually take a stand but gave a vague answer. But then again, it could also be read as brilliant that she didn’t take a definitive stand as indeed it’s a very touchy topic in this society, and it’s actually a good dodge, almost at the level of how Jesus navigated the trap question posed by the Pharisees about who do you serve, Caesar or God–remember Jesus applied the same approach, pointing out a Roman coin and whose it belongs to, and gave the immortal answer “Give unto Caesar what is to Caesar and unto God what is to God.” After Alyssa’s unsuccessful stint, I think she can give us a strong standing and become a finalist–she can parlay her looks as an exotic presence that could work well in the Latin milieu.
MISS ECO-INTERNATIONAL PHILIPPINES: CANDIDATE NO. 24 – Kelley Day. She is also a fledgling GMA talent, so Laura asked her what made her decide to venture into pageants. Kelley plumbed into her background and advocacy as she answered, “You know, I am someone who is into a lot of different things, I always say like ‘jack-of-all-trades, master of none’. I want to be a ‘master-of-some’, I’ve been a model since I was six years old, I’ve done a Hollywood movie, a very small role, and I moved on to commercial modeling and fashion modeling, and when I moved to the Philippines I then joined showbiz and became a dancer, and became a host like you [referring to Laura Lehmann], a wonderful host, and then I became an actress, and now I’m doing pageantry hoping to become a beauty queen because I think I have so much to offer to the world. I think I’m more than just a ;pretty face’ and I know people judge me for that. I have my own imperfections that I want to be so open about so I can inspire each and every single one of you, especially those who are close to me, that suffered from similar situations to me as you may have seen on my video on auto-immunity. So this is for my family and I just really…I’m here for you guys, and I love you. And I love everyone.” Like in her introduction video, she got emotional and choked up, but let’s face it, she’s very articulate and it’s a great answer.
For the final Q&A, she got Cabalen restaurant CEO Maritel Nievera to ask her question, and Maritel’s question was food-related: “Filipino food is among the best in the world. Which Filipino dishes would you showcase in a dinner – from the appetizer, main course, to dessert?” Here’s Kelley’s answer: “The appetizer would definitely be tokwa’t baboy, because its my favorite. And it’s healthy too! The starter would be sizzling sinigang. My main course would be adobo and rice, and dessert would be caramel… it’s my favorite one.” Despite struggling to figure out the right name of the dessert, there is a sweet sincerity in her answer that her standing in the winner’s circle was secure. For those better in-the-know (especially those who watch the Asian Food Channel), it’s called in non-Filipino circles as “creme caramel”, we Filipinos (and Laura pointed it out) call it leche flan. Again, her strong communication skills are not in question so it’s obvious she’ll garner a plum prize, albeit not enough to oust the big favorite…
Anyway, I’m optimistic that she could sustain the superb showings delivered by Thia Thomalla (who won) and Maureen Montagne (1st runner-up)–yes, I think it’s even possible she can bring our second win at Miss Eco-International.
MISS WORLD PHILIPPINES: CANDIDATE NO. 21 – Michelle Marquez Dee. I have to say Michelle delivered on her status as the one to beat onstage as she evokes her famous mother’s modeling chops onstage, but adding that dusky Asian twist on top of that. I think they want to make the competition appear to be more closely fought that is why they only make her win the Sports fast track and not win both Best in Swimsuit and Best in Evening Gown as in my reckoning she was tops in both and I feel she easily clinched Top Model and possibly even Beach Beauty fast-tracks too. For the casual interview, Laura of course referenced her mom, Melanie Marquez, and asked her the most important advice Melanie gave. She kept it short and simple: “The most important advice that you gave me [apparently addressing Melanie in the audience], or my mom, is to be yourself. I’m not trying to be a replicate of her and I try to shine as my own woman. And that taught me how to be strong, how to be confident in myself and to embrace every single part of my being. So thank you Mom, and thank you for everyone for being here.”
For the final Q&A, she got GCOX (a crypto-currency trading company) CEO Jeffrey Lin, who asked, “In this age of digital technology, what invention from the last century do you think should make a comeback?” Michelle’s answer: “If I were to choose one invention from the last century, it would be polaroid film. I am an avid lover of art, I love photography. I love the kind of energy and feels that polaroids give me. Being able to lay everything out and to go through memory lane is such a different feeling.”
I’ve observed that she has this deep voice and her delivery is on the calm, chill side that sometimes might be misinterpreted as monotonous. But even if she doesn’t sound as animated as other ladies, she actually made that delivery work for her as she creates this mystique and intrigue with her range of interests and background (being raised in a cattle ranch in Utah, having keen interest in the visual arts…). I hope Julia Morley and company sees it this way and let her recover from Katrina Rodriguez’s non-placement last year.
Another reason for me to be bullish is that she evokes the vibe of Miss World 2003 finalist Mafae Yunon. Mafae also has pedigree going for her, being the niece of Miss Universe 1984 3rd runner-up Desiree Verdadero, and her dusky complexion and outgoing personality did turn heads that time. Though Michelle doesn’t necessarily register as “outgoing”, I think she can parlay “intriguing” and “interesting” into recovering our standing in Miss World.
All in all I do find this edition of Miss World Philippines well-produced, and the choice of winners very satisfying. I’m bullish on their prospects in the international arena. Congratulations and best of luck to the winners in their endeavors!