SINCE I started to religiously follow pageants in 2011, writing reviews and predictions for the Bb Pilipinas pageant has become some sort of tradition. It is never easy.
Trimming down 40 ladies to just 25 and/or 15 is hard. What more choosing which girl should go to what pageant? Aside from that, you also consider age requirements (for international pageants), camp affiliation and politics, pageant experience, communication skills, stage presence and most of beauty of face. But no matter how mind-boggling it could get, there is always that sense of fulfillment whenever you manage to finish your list, with fingers crossed that you get at least one of your placements correct come finals night.
This year is no different. A lot of ladies managed to standout throughout the pre-pageant activities. While there are some big names in the roster, some fresh faces also emerges as favorites, too. And after seeing the ladies in person (during the parade of beauties), watching and re-watching their web interviews, and checking their social media presence, here is my fearless prediction for Sunday’s Bb Pilipinas 2018 coronation night.
Here are 10 ladies who managed to catch my attention throughout the pre-pageant activities. They barely made it to my Top 15, however, I am not counting them out just yet.
#Binibini18 Rosantonette Mendoza
#Binibini15 Juliana Kapeundl
#Binibini28 Angelica Mae Corbe
#Binibini21 Anjame Magbitang
#Binibini33 Stephanie Joy Abellanida
#Binibini36 Loren Mar Artajos
#Binibini37 Patrizia Garcia
#Binibini24 Edjelyn Joy Gamboa
#Binibini34 Mary Joy de Castro
#Binibini40 Angelie Aubrey Asuncion
Now, we move on to my Final 15. These girls could pull off huge upsets come finals night.
15 #Binibini14 Samantha Bernardo
Samantha‘s first foray in national pageants was in Miss World Philippines 2013, won by Megan Young. Five years later, she’s back in the pageant scene with an improved physique but the same hunger for the crown. This 25-year-old model and gymnast from Puerto Princesa sometimes appear too manufactured, as if she just came straight off a pageant oven. However, her stage presence is undeniable.
14 #Binibini10 Kayesha Chua
Kayesha is one of the least popular delegates who impressed me the most during the parade of beauties. She has the charming personality and beautiful smile that could light up a dark room. This 25-year-old flight attendant comes from Bicol, a region which has produced numerous pageant titleholders. And as Miss Bicolandia 2017 winner, it won’t be a surprise if Kayesha also wins a national title.
13 #Binibini3 Muriel Orais
Muriel was a heavy favorite during her Miss Philippines Earth stint in 2012. However, she failed to grab the crown after faltering in the all-important Q&A round. Now back in the spotlight, Muriel definitely has high chances of redeeming herself. The 26-year-old flight attendant has shown marked improvement not just in the physical aspect, but also in the communication department. She’s one of most facially appealing candidates, too.
12 #Binibini26 Wynonah Van Joy Buot
Wynonah is giving me the Nicole Cordoves-meets-Jennifer Hammond vibe! Like Nicole, this 24-year-old Cebuana has impressive academic background (UP Cebu mass communications graduate, cum laude!). Meanwhile, her beauty is reminiscent of Jennifer’s, but fiercer. But she’s not all that. Wynonah can talk (has good communication skills) and walk (great stage presence). As a Miss Cebu winner in 2015, expect to see her fight tooth and nail for the crowns at stake.
11 #Binibini4 Ana Patricia Asturias
Patrik is one of the ladies who surprised me the most during the parade of beauties. Her sweet smile was a breath of fresh air from a sea of fierce ladies. She has shown improvement from last year’s Top 25 finish in Bb Pilipinas. This year, she came back stronger. With better styling and a story to tell (together with her family, she built a cafe out of scraps from Typhoon Yolanda), this 25-year-old interior designer could be the pageant night’s biggest upset.
10 #Binibini35 Sandra Lemonon
Sandra is one of the prettiest ladies in the competition, so it breaks my heart to put her in this position in my list. This 23-year-old bartender from Pasig City was a favorite during her Miss World Philippines stint (won by Catriona Gray), and since then, she has shown potential to be a beauty queen. Now competing in the country’s premier competition, I feel Sandra has been a hit and miss. She was breathtakingly stunning during the national costume competition. However, she was lacking in energy and appeal during the parade of beauties. Give her a year or two of more rigid pageant training and I’m sure will wreak havoc in Bb Pilipinas.
9 #Binibini1 Vickie Marie Rushton
Vickie is a familiar face in the showbiz and pageant scene. She was former Mutya ng Pilipinas titleholder and also joined the reality show Pinoy Big Brother. It can’t be denied that she has the beauty and brains. However, the 25-year-old model and actress has been under the radar for the most part of the pageant, at least in my opinion. Despite that, I believe she will be a great representative in any international pageant.
Best bets for the crowns
Now, onto my top bets for this year’s Bb Pilipinas. They are not necessarily my sentimental favorites, but who I think could best represent and continue the Philippines’ placement and winning streaks in the international pageant scene.
2nd runner-up: #Binibini23 Ena Louis Velasco
Ena was one of my early favorites during the screenings. She looked crown-ready from head to toe. However, as the days passed by, the 25-year-old medical doctor started to appear too manufactured. Thankfully, the former Masskara Queen started to ditch the heavy make-up and opted for more natural look in her more recent appearances. I still think she got the beauty queen look and stance, so it won’t be a surprise if she gets a crown. But for now, she’s a runner-up in my books.
1st runner-up: #Binibini17 Ma Ahtisa Manalo
Ahtisa is one of the most refreshing faces in the competition. She managed to standout in the press presentation despite her disaster hairdo. Her national costume presentation in her her canary yellow dress was a bomb, too! Ahtisa’s doll-like features would be a sure hit in Miss International, but I feel she’s still too raw for Bb Pilipinas at 20 years old, so she’s in my runner-up slot. A diamond in the rough, she’ll be a force to reckon with in Bb Pilipinas in two to three years time.
For Bb Pilipinas Globe: #Binibini31 Jehza Mae Huelar
Jehza is following the footsteps of MJ Lastimosa and Pia Wurtzbach, and is hoping to have the same result as the two queens on her third try. Compared to last year, the 23-year-old beauty from Davao is taking things slowly but surely this time. Just when everyone thought she’s being sidelined, she emerged as one of the Top 10 finalists in national costume. She has always been ready for her crowning moment. With her preparations and pageant experience, a minor international pageant like Miss Globe would be just a cakewalk for her.
For Bb Pilipinas Intercontinental: #Binibini11 Maria Andrea Abesamis
Aya is probably the most bashed candidate this edition and all for the reason that she’s the daughter of Desiree Verdadero-Abesamis, former Miss Universe Philippines. That’s unfortunate for someone who has always been in pageant fans’ wish list. I remember seeing her in Miss UST in 2010, and since then I’ve seen the potential in her. This 25-year-old artist might not have the prettiest of faces, but with great styling, she looks amazing. Her professional modeling experience will also work to her advantage. However, I feel she’s too raw for a big, major pageant.
For Bb Pilipinas Grand International: #Binibini38 Karen Gallman
Karen. That’s the name I’ll give you if you ask me who the most beautiful face in the competition is. After her semis finish six years go, the 25-year-old Fil-Aussie stunner is back to finally clinch a crown. Karen started slow in the competition, but is now peaking at the right time. With that effortless beauty and improved speaking skills, it won’t be a surprise if Karen finally gets crowned. It’s time to finally send a facially stunning beauty in Miss Grand International, and Karen is the perfect fit for that gold crown.
For Bb Pilipinas Supranational: #Binibini19 Michele Gumabao
Michele is a familiar face for sports fanatics as a competitive volleyball star. But the 25-year-old sportswoman put her jersey to a temporary rest for a whole new different ballgame: Bb Pilipinas. Michele’s transformation has so far been impressive, that if this were a different Bb Pilipinas season, she could easily win the top title. She’s facing tough competition from my top pick, but that doesn’t mean Michele is not up to par. With her spontaneity when speaking, she could slay the all-important Q&A. Her towering height would be a great advantage, too. If no Miss Universe, I believe her celebrity status will be a good sell in Miss Supranational.
For Bb Pilipinas International: #Binibini32 Eva Psychee Patalinjug
Eva is a pageant veteran. For some, she might be treading under the radar. But with her previous experience in Mutya ng Pilipinas, this 23-year-old registered nurse surely has something up her sleeves come finals night. This law student talks with sincerity and walks with finesse. Her biggest waterloo is her inconsistent styling, but with a winning look (like in her recent photo shoots) she could do great damage during the finals. With the guidance of her training camp, which has produced two Miss International winners for the country, Eva is the best choice to compete in Japan.
For Miss Universe Philippines: #Binibini20 Catriona Elisa Gray
Catriona is a cut above the rest. No one else in this batch comes close to her in terms of popularity, training and pageant experience. If these are an indication, she has the highest probability of bringing home the most coveted Bb Pilipinas crown. She was a trending topic on Twitter when she submitted her BBP application. She previously trained under A&Q for the Miss World Philippines pageant. She was a Top 5 finalist in Miss World 2016. What an impressive resume if you may say.
However, knowing how unpredictable Bb Pilipinas can be, I was half-hearted when she decided to join the country’s top beauty pageant. What if she gets disqualified? What if she goes home empty-handed? What if she fails to win the Miss Universe Philippines crown? I was afraid she will go through another painful pageant experience, after her Miss World stint. But I realized, it was a long wait to finally see her compete in a pageant. And like what she said, there’s an “unfinished business” that she needs to fulfill.
Since the day she appeared at the BPCI office, Catriona has been unstoppable. She experimented on different looks, veering away from her sweet Miss World aura. She transformed into a chameleon: fierce and sexy or sweet and lovely when the need arise. Despite having a not-so-toned body, she managed to standout during the press presentation. She brought the house down with her show-stopping national costume performance. But most of all, she was glowing during the parade of beauties.
Naysayers claim she’s out of shape and even sounds scripted when speaking. But these criticisms can be worked on. But the charisma and the dedication can’t be learned; it has to be innate. And that has always been inside Catriona’s heart ever since the day she decided to enter the glamorous but dangerous world of pageantry.
Sure, there are other girls who can snatch the top plum from her, but it would be an injustice to give her less than the MUP crown. It is hers to lose. Haraya
Parade & 2017 queens photos by Drew Francisco/Missosology; Head shots from Bb Pilipinas Facebook page