THE TIME has come again for the most beautiful ladies in the country to battle it out in the annual Binibining Pilipinas pageant.
This year, 40 ladies from all walks of life are vying to represent the Philippines in Miss Universe, Miss International, Miss Supranational, Miss Intercontinental, Miss Grand International and Miss Globe competitions.
Trimming the list from 40 to just 15 was tough. I could still name at least 5 ladies who deserve to make this list. After seeing all the ladies in person and observing them, here’s a list of who are likely to emerge victorious on April 30.
15: #Binibini35 Thoreen Halvorsen
Sounds familiar? Thoreen was crowned Miss Philippines Fire in 2012. This 25-year-old consular and diplomatic affairs student from Palawan crossed over to Bb Pilipinas with her previous pageant experience as her advantage. She is always under the radar but her good communication skills and natural charm could work to her favor in the important interview portion.
14: #Binibini24 Dindi Joy Pajares
Dindi is banking on her previous pageant experiences for a chance to win a crown. She first joined Miss World Philippines 2011 and Miss Bikini Philippines 2013 before trying her luck in Bb Pilipinas last year, where she finished in the Top 15. Now back for another chance, it seems 23-year-old Dindi has lost her spark. Her styling wasn’t as on point as last year. She is lacking in star appeal and her public speaking skills seems the same. She remains as one of the favorites, however, and the great stage presence is still there.
13: #Binibini39 Elizabeth Clenci
She first joined Bb Pilipinas in 2011 together with her sister, Sarah. The latter made it to the Top 15, while Elizabeth went home with the Best in National Costume award. Fast-forward to 2017, the 26-year-old session bassist from Cebu is back better and prettier. Although underrated, she managed to standout during the parade of beauties with her unassuming beauty and elegance. She is also one of the good speakers in the batch so watch out for her come finals night.
12: #Binibini30 Mae Liezel Ramos
Another familiar face in the competition is Liezel, a 26-year-old nurse from Naga. She was Top 15 finalist in her first try in 2014, then went home unplaced the following year. Now back for a final shot at a Binibini crown, Liezel is not wasting every moment. Her styling are always on point and she’s one of the most photogenic candidates.
Here are the alternates to the crown-contenders.
11: #Binibini18 Nelda Ibe
This 23-year-old English literature graduate was a surprise during her Miss World Philippines 2014 stint where she finished 2nd princess. But this time around, it won’t be a surprise in case she bags any of the crowns at stake. This cadet pilot has been impressive in the last few weeks leading up to the finals. Her inclusion in the Top 10 Best in National Costumes is also well-deserved as her hand-painted terno is magnificent.
10: #Binibini2 Arienne Louise Calingo
Arienne, 24, perfectly fits the mold of Miss Universe Philippines winners of the 2000s. She has resemblance to former Bb Pilipinas World Mafae Yunon, too. With an impressive educational background, it would be easy for this Georgetown University honor graduate to clinch any of the crowns at stake. In addition to that, she’s lethal in the Q&A department. No fan of her beauty, but she is perfectly styled since Day 1.
9: #Binibini31 Katarina Sonja Rodriguez
Probably the face of the competition, Katarina was the clear standout during the parade of beauties. She doesn’t even need a lot of make-up to standout because her charm comes out naturally. However, this 24-year-old business management and philosophy still seems raw for pageants now. Give her another year of training to improve her walk and figure and she will be a force to reckon with next year.
2nd runner-up: #Binibini12 Angelique Celine De Leon
Angelique’s non-inclusion in the set of semifinalists in 2014 and 2016 inspired her to unleash the better version of herself. Angelique came back this year stronger than ever, and with a legion of supporters behind her, she is set to claim what is rightfully hers: a Bb Pilipinas crown. Her presentation skills, styling and communication skills are all waiting to be shown in the international arena. A 2nd runner-up finish a modest prediction, but Angelique deserves a lot better!
1st runner-up: #Binibini28 Juliana Kapeundl
Many thought this 25-year-old Fil-Austrian beauty is just another candidate, but event after event, Juliana’s star started to shine. She reminds me of Laura Lehman during 2014 who started as a nobody but became a contender at the homestretch of the pageant. She could walk and talk and with her winsome smile and unassuming beauty, who knows she might bring home one of the crowns!
And here are the best girls who could best represent the Philippines in international pageants.
Bb Pilipinas Globe: #Binibini10 Jehza Mae Huelar
She was one of the pleasant surprises last year after finishing 2nd runner-up. Now back for another shot, this 22-year-old Dabawenya is ready for a crowning moment. She was one of the most impressive ladies during the press presentation, where she showed her improved physique and fiercer but sweet aura. Making it to the Top 10 national costumes is an indication that she is doing well so far. With her preparations and pageant experience, a minor international pageant like Miss Globe would be just a cakewalk for her.
Bb Pilipinas Grand International: #Binibini32 Charmaine Elima
After her disappointing Top 15 finish in 2013, Charmaine is back with vengeance. The 24-year-old flight attendant started the competition really strong. By merely observing her actions, you’ll know that she studied what she is doing and has mastered it well. However, as the pageant progressed, her old weaknesses became apparent. At times, she looks too pageant patty to the point that even her answers to interview questions don’t appear natural. Despite that, her fierce looks, wide smile, and well-shaped body make her a shoo-in for any contest out there. Who knows, she might just bag our country’s first Miss Grand International crown.
Bb Pilipinas Intercontinental: #Binibini22 Chanel Olive Thomas
She’s gaining strength as the pageant progresses, and who knows, she might become the coronation night’s biggest surprise. This 25-year-old Fil-Aussie is an experienced ramp model and was runner-up to Angelia Ong in Miss Philippines Earth 2015. It was quite surprising that she wasn’t an early favorite given her previous pageant experience. But Chanel made sure she will make an impact before the coronation night. She was the most charming during the parade of beauties, and the most eloquent in the BBP primer. The Philippines has sent a excellent candidates in Miss Intercontinental in the last three years, and Chanel could keep the streak going.
And now, we’re down to the Final Three candidates. Three girls who are all equally stunning and deserving to represent the Philippines in any of the Big5 beauty pageants. This trio reminded me of the Wurtzbach-Lubina-McGarry tandem in 2015. It was a tough act assigning them to each pageants, but I has to be done.
Bb Pilipinas Supranational: #Binibini19 Rachel Peters
Not to be forgotten, Rachel literally owned the press presentation with her commanding presence! She may not have the most beautiful face but she body to die for. This 25-year-old beauty is no bimbo, too – she has business, tourism and events degree from a university in Australia. She was a one of the heavy favorites during Miss World Philippines 2014 but the nerves kicked in during the final question round. She was 4th princess then. Rachel has the gift of gab and just needs to relax come the Q&A round during the finals. Her glamorous beauty and model-ish stature at perfectly fits the Supranational prototype. Poland, make way for this super-beauty!
Bb Pilipinas International: #Binibini15 Maria Angelica De Leon
Mariel first joined Bb Pilipinas in 2013. She was rumored to be the “favored” one but ended up only in the Top 15. She was very raw back then, and in dire need of training. Four years later, Mariel is back with a better styling and a clearer objective: to win a major Bb Pilipinas crown. Back then, she was the most talked about delegate, mainly because she is the daughter of actors Christopher De Leon and Sandy Andolong. But now, people are talking about Mariel because they see her as a legitimate crown contender. And the parade of beauties was the deciding factor. Mariel didn’t disappoint as she sashayed grace and class that day. In 2013, I had her as my BbP-International and it doesn’t change until now. She has the breeding and the doll-like features and exudes sincerity when she talks – something a candidate needs to win the judges’ nod. Kylie Verzosa would be happy to have Mariel as her successor.
Miss Universe Philippines: #Binibini13 Sirene Sutton
People might mistake her for Aphrodite, because every encounter with Sirene is an encounter with inimitable beauty and sophistication. Compared to her stint in Miss Global Philippines in 2014, this 23-year-old model looks fresher and more polished now. She might not have the best walk or the sexiest body, but Sirene is transformable, which is a must for a potential Miss Universe candidate. What is important is that Sirene can speak her mind and compose her thoughts well. Most of all, she has a beautiful face, because after all, this is still a beauty pageant.
Some might see her lack of beauty camp affiliation as a weakness, but I see it as her advantage. Sirene winning the top title in Bb Pilipinas is like breaking the status quo. While I do recognize the contribution and importance of beauty camps in honing the Philippines’ queens, an independent candidate winning MUP will be a good precedent for the premier pageant in the Philippines. It will no longer become a battle between beauty camps. In case Sirene competes in Miss Universe, it will be all about her own merits and achievements. Most of all, the focus will be on Bb Pilipinas as a powerhouse producer of international pageant titleholders. Haraya