Writer’s note: This prediction article also appeared on Rappler.com. Click here.
It’s that time of the year again when the most beautiful women in the country battle it out in the annual Binibining Pilipinas.
The tilt gets even more interesting this year as the Binibining Pilipinas Charities, Inc marks its 50th year. The race to the crown has become tougher and tighter with the election of 50 official candidates. Aside from this, the pressure is more intense this year following Janine Tugonon’s bridesmaid finish in Miss Universe last December.
With three consecutive runner-up finishes in Miss Universe (Venus Raj, 2010; Shamcey Supsup, 2011; and Tugonon, 2012) and five straight semi-finals placements in Miss International (Patricia Fernandez, 2008; the late Melody Gersbach, 2009; Krista Kleiner, 2010; Dianne Necio, 2011; and Nicole Schmitz, 2012), the eventual winners of the Binibining Pilipinas’ golden edition faces a huge challenge: keep the momentum going for the Philippines in the international pageant scene.
Who among this year’s candidates deserve to wear the Philippine sash in Miss Universe, Miss International, Miss Supranational and Miss Tourism Queen International? Here’s a list of who will likely emerge victorious on April 14.
15th: Mary Rose Pujanes (Binibini 15)
She may not be a favorite, but 20-year-old Rose has the pageant experience to prove her worth. Who would have though she used to be a shy girl prior to joining pageants? At 5’7.5″, Rose walks with so much confidence on stage. Her swag just sets the stage ablaze.
14th: Merry Joyce Respicio (Binibini 25)
She’s got the height (5’11”) and the modeling advantage, gracing the runways of Philippine Fashion Week and Metro Wear. Not the best in the beauty department, but 18-year-old Merry knows how to work her angles. She already has the goods, but she needs to improve on her communication skills; her interview during the BBP Primer wasn’t impressive.
13th: Grace Yann Apuad (Binibini 34)
This pretty face has already proven her mettle at an early age when she bagged the Most Photogenic award in Ford Supermodel of the World Philippines. Standing at 5’9″, it isn’t hard for Shan to get noticed. However, she seems to be playing it safe with her subdued performance during the press presentation. She needs to work on her stage presence come finals if she wants boost her chances.
12th: Hannah Ruth Sison (Binibini 19)
The Pastor’s daughter has one of the best smiles among the ladies. Ironically, 24-year-old Hannah got really noticed for her official glamour shot where she exuded so must fierceness. Her sophisticated look makes her all the more lovable. This Isabelle Daza dead-ringer’s regal stance, slender legs and curvaceous body, not to mention her excellent communication skills, make her an obvious contender.
11th: Mercegrace Raquel (Binibini 28)
Merce, 19, is banking on her morena beauty for a shot at a crown. Her impressive academic background and towering height give her better chances. But her biggest weapon would have to be her fluid catwalk skills, which is surprisingly one of the best in the batch. She has a Theresa Licaros (BBP-Universe 2007) vibe in her beauty with brains. She’s prepared and is definitely within the radar.
10th: Ria Rabajante (Binibini 1)
As candidate number 1, Ria sure knows how to set the bar high. She was a revelation during the press presentation: her catwalk commands attention, her smile so winsome and her face just oozes with so much charisma. Pageant fans call her a cross-breed of Miriam Quiambao (BBP-Universe 1999) and Tetchie Agbayani (BBP 1978 semi-finalist). But this dusky lady impressed them with her gift of gab. At 21-year-old, she talks with so much depth. Watch out, this girl is a potential spoiler come Q&A.
9th: Cassandra Naidas (Binibini 24)
Simple yet head-turning is the best way to describe this 5’10″ half-Korean beauty. She was absolutely stunning in that black terno, but needs to tone her body more because she looks too skinny. This girl is no bimbo – she made sure she earned her Psychology degree before joining the pageant. Overall, this girl is ready to compete internationally. Miss Supranational, perhaps?
8th: Joanna Cindy Miranda (Binibini 16)
This 22 year-old Tourism cum laude graduate from UST has one of the freshest faces, not to say the healthiest bodies, too. She gave up her hosting stint at TV5’s Wil Time, Big Time to chase her dream of becoming a beauty queen. Despite the TV experience, Cindy seems a bit reserved. If this is a strategy, it’s not effective. Despite this, this girl’s face can easily light up a dark room. For that alone she deserves a spot.
7th: Pia Wurtzbach (Binibini 15)
With a stunning face to match her voluptuous body and 5’7.5″ stature, Pia definitely has a “front-runner” minted on her status. She doesn’t even need a lot of make up to stand out – her tantalizing eyes do all the talking. She made a solid impact when she worked her shiny gold terno with so much grace and sophistication during the press presentation. She could easily bag the BBP-International, given that the Philippines usually sends half-breed Filipinas there (Gersbach, Kleiner and most recently Schmitz). Her beautiful face sometimes appears too strong, so she needs to work on softening her features.
6th: Parul Shah (Binibini 33)
Not to be forgotten, this Wilma Doesnt dead-ringer literally owned the fashion show with her commanding presence. Parul may not be very photogenic but her stage motion is unparalleled. She may not have the most beautiful face but she has a big smile to warm people’s hearts. This half-Indian beauty’s well-toned body accentuated by her sun-kissed skin and vivacious personality sets her apart from the rest. Parul is X-factor personified.
First runner-up: Ariella Arida (Binibini 41)
She’s gaining strength as the pageant progresses, and who knows, she might become the coronation night’s biggest surprise. This Chemistry graduate from UP Los Baños is an experienced ramp model. She went home empty-handed in last year’s Miss Philippines Earth. It was understandable because she was out of shape back then. But when she appeared during the press presentation, she showed off the result of her patience and determination: a sexy wnd fit body. She also has a stunning faces. Her fierce and feisty look make her stand out. With very expressive eyes and delectable lips, shes too good for a runner-up finish or so it won’t be a surprise if Ariella snatches the top plum.
Binibining Pilipinas – Supranational: Bea Rose Santiago (Binibini 20)
Her beauty resembles that of Amelia Vega (Miss Universe 2003), but with an Asian flavor. She has the most refined walk. Her sophisticated body movements made her stick out among the rest during the press presentation. She was crowned Mutya ng Pilipinas Overseas Communities last year and went on to place in Miss Tourism Queen International of the Year. This experience could help her ace the competition. But she could do real damage in the all-important Q&A round with her excellent communication skillsg. Her glamorous beauty and model-ish stature at 5’9″ perfectly fits the Supranational prototype.
Binibining Pilipinas – Tourism: Charmaine Elima (Binibini 13)
By merely observing her actions, you’ll know that Charmaine knows what she is doing and has mastered it well. Among all the candidates, this 20-year-old lady is most ready to conquer the international pageant scene. Her fierce looks, wide smile, and well-toned body make her a shoo in for any contest out there. Local pageants have become Charmaine’s playground and winning the Miss Rizal and Miss Mandaluyong crowns seems to be working much to her advantage. She’s among the most talked about delegates because of her Asian-Latina features (South American beauties traditionally dominate pageants). However, she sometimes look too pageant patty to the point that even her answers to interview questions don’t appear natural. She needs to work on that. Despite this, Maine remains a strong contender for a title. You’ll love to see that gorgeous face promoting Philippine tourism.
Binibining Pilipinas – International: Maria Angelica De Leon (Binibini 31)
She is the most talked about delegate, mainly because she is the daughter of actors Christopher De Leon and Sandy Andolong. At 19 years old, Mariel seems too raw for pageants. Her body isn’t on top form, her styling a hit and miss. She may not be the most facially beautiful, but proper styling could work wonders for her. Pageant followers heard it through the grapevine that this girl is most favored to win a title. And having the most exposure during the fashion show seems a confirmation. She didn’t disappoint, however, because she sashayed grace and class on the runway. She has the breeding and the doll-like features that recent Miss International winners possess. She can do opera singing for the talent competition. Lastly, she exudes sincerity when she talks – something a candidate needs to win the judges’ nod. If she’s indeed the “anointed one”, the International crown fits her well.
Miss Universe Philippines 2013: Mutya Johanna Datul (Binibini 39)
People might mistake her for Aphrodite, because every encounter with Mutya is an encounter with inimitable beauty and charm. Right from the start, this girl has been considered as a front-runner. Compared to her stint in Mutya ng Pilipinas last year, this 20-year-old lady looks fresher and more polished now. Her body is more curvaceous, not to mention her well-toned legs that give her the svelte look. She has the effortless charm that could warm anyone’s hearts. But her best weapon is her winning smile. However many doubt her chances because she’s not that fluent in English. But in a web interview, she said she’s open to using an interpreter if ever she gets the chance to compete internationally. It must be remembered that Venezuela gained its powerhouse status in the world of pageantry not because its delegates are well-versed in English (most of them actually used interpreters), but because they are stunningly beautiful. It’s about time the Philippines reconsider this. After all, not all Miss Universe winners are fluent in English. Aside from this, Mutya perfectly fits the mold of recent Miss Universe winners: the sweet chick aura. It would be a crime to waste this beauty.
Photos from Binibining Pilipinas Facebook page. Graphics by Drew.