The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has become viral recently daring people to drop a bucket of ice water over their heads to raise awareness for ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Beauty queens, being the philanthropist that they are, also took on this challenge. Watch some of them here (to be updated with more).
It felt just like the coronation night of 2012 – only the Bb Pilipinas – Universe crown had not been awarded, and Lastimosa was standing beside her fellow runner-up of the previous year when the host announced, “Binibini 18 Janine Mari Tugonon!” It was a heart-breaking moment for Lastimosa.
Lastimosa must have recalled that moment, on the coronation night on March 30, just after Bea Rose Santiago crowned Mary Anne Guidotti her successor as Bb Pilipinas – International.
This was Lastimosa’s third and last attempt at going for a Bb Pilipinas crown. It was all or nothing for her.
When she was finally crowned Bb Pilipinas – Universe, her dreams came true.
Unexpected, but well-deserved
Many pageant observers didn’t see it coming that Lastimosa would be crowned Miss Universe Philippines 2014 on Sunday night. While she was among the most cheered on candidates, many thought the battle would be between last year’s first runner-up Pia Wurtzbach, Cebuana beauty Kris Tiffany Janson, and Bicolana Yvethe Marie Santiago. But the Binibini third-timer proved there’s no limit to what one can achieve.
Compared to her two previous attempts, Lastimosa looked more relaxed this year. It was obvious she was enjoying every moment, but her competitive spirit never waned. She showed off a healthy, toned body during the swimsuit competition. She was sassy and sexy, and look how she played with the fan – it was the best performance that night. Then, she sashayed with elegance in her fuchsia sweetheart evening gown. Her wide smile, good styling and fluid walk truly made her stand out.
Winning the Best in Swimsuit award was a good sign that Lastimosa would go home with a crown. But it was the Q&A portion that must have sealed the deal for her.
The crowd cheered when Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler asked her what the greatest advantage of being a woman is. She replied: “The greatest advantage of being a woman is being able to compose herself. Just like here, we’re standing in front of thousands of people, not knowing if they’re going to cheer for us or boo us. But we try to compose ourselves. We keep the emotions and show the beauty that is in us and tonight, thousands of people are standing here, celebrating the beauty of women.”
It was a heartfelt response. Lastimosa didn’t let pressure take over. She was every inch a queen.
Chances at Miss Universe Lastimosa has big shoes to fill following the Philippines’ four consecutive runner-up finishes at Miss Universe. But one thing’s for sure: if she was able to beat the odds in Bb Pilipinas, it’s not impossible for her to take home the coveted Miss Universe crown. Lastimosa is already polished, but she still needs to undergo rigid training to maintain that pageant-ready figure, improve her communication skills and personality, among many other things, in order to package her as a Miss Universe candidate.
But her greatest advantage is that she already got training from two of the best pageant camps in the country. She was formerly under Jonas Gaffud’s Aces & Queens who was behind former Miss Universe Philippines titleholders Venus Raj, Shamcey Supsup, Janine Tugonon and Ariella Arida. She is now with Kagandahang Flores, the team behind Miss International winners Precious Lara Quigaman and Bea Rose Santiago.
Other queens Joining Lastimosa as the new torch-bearers of the Philippines in international pageants are Mary Anne Bianca Guidotti (Bb Pilipinas-International), Kris Tiffany Janson (Bb Pilipinas-Intercontinental), Yvethe Marie Santiago (Bb Pilipinas-Supranational) and Parul Shah (Bb Pilipinas-Tourism). Finishing as first and second runners-up are Laura Lehmann and Hannah Ruth Sison, respectively.
Guidotti and Santiago will be facing a big challenge this year: to score back-to-back wins for the country in the Miss International and Miss Supranational pageants.
Bb Pilipinas International 2014: Mary Anne Bianca Guidotti Meanwhile, Guidotti’s win came as a surprise to me. While she was able to bag the Best in Long Gown award for her stellar performance and elegance, I thought her answer could’ve been meatier. She was asked about using the crown to push for her advocacy should she win, and she said she would “use [the] crown to influence people to adopt their own advocacies.”
Despite this, there’s no denying Guidotti is classy. Also she speaks well which is one of the qualities of Miss International winners. The Philippines seems to have mastered the art of placing in this Japan-based pageant. Winning the title is a long shot for now, but I’m confident Guidotti can give us our 7th consecutive placement.
Bb Pilipinas Supranational 2014: Yvethe Marie Santiago The Big Dome went wild each time Santiago hit the stage. She had lots of supporters at the venue, and she was also deserving of the accolades. At one point, I really thought she was going to win the top title, especially after giving a good answer when she was asked about the inherent quality that makes Filipinas stand out in beauty pageants: ” I believe that the quality that every Filipina has that makes her stand out in a beauty pageant is confidence. We feel confident in our own skin and that makes us feel very beautiful.”
Santiago was at top of her game and was really among the best performers of the night. With her presentation skills, I’m confident she could keep the streak going for the Philippines in Miss Supranational.
Bb Pilipinas Intercontinental 2014: Kris Tiffany Janson
Janson was touted as the girl to beat prior to the coronation night, but her star lost its luster during the pageant. While she has one of the most beautiful faces, her performance in the first two rounds was underwhelming. However, she made up for it in the Q&A. She makes history as the first recipient of this title, but the biggest challenge for Janson is to bring home the country’s first Miss Intercontinental crown.
Bb Pilipinas Tourism 2014: Parul Shah
Shah’s overall look was perfect – the curly hair parted to one side, plus the shimmering gown. She was glowing and her presence was really commanding. She almost untied her bikini during the swimsuit round, but she still gave a solid performance. Her placement was solidified by her heartfelt response to the question given to her. Shah will surely give her co-candidates a good fight in Miss Tourism Queen International.
Surprises, upsets The two runners-up, Lehmann and Sison, were the biggest surprises of the night. Laura was breezing through the competition, until the Q&A. She raised many eyebrows when she answered Amsterdam as the city that best describes her personality.
Hannah, meanwhile, made a big comeback after failing to make the cut the previous year. She gave one of the best and most diplomatic answers. “If I were to fall in love outside of my religion, I would. Because for me it’s not about what you are, you should not condemn any person because of their religion. Love is what you need to get into a relationship and that’s why I would marry someone or I would fall in love with someone who is not even part of my religion.”
Rounding up the Top 15 were Julian Aurine Flores, Joanna Angelica Romero, Pia Wurtzbach, Emma Mary Tiglao, Zahara Mae Soriano, Mae Liezel Ramos, Kenneth Santiago, Nichole Marie Manalo.
The inclusion of underdogs Joanna Angelica Romero and Zahara Mae Soriano came as a surprise. The performances of the two were totally forgettable. Add to that that Soriano had to ask the question again during the Q&A. Many pageant fans, myself included, though Kimverlyn Suiza, Angelique Celine De Leon and Diana Arevalo were far more deserving to be in the Top 15.
The biggest disappointments of the night were the exclusion of Arevalo in the Top 15 and Wurtzbach failing to get a crown. This was Arevalo’s third try in the pageant. After placing in 2009 and 2011, she was expected to still make as finalist this year. Her face was stunning and her swimsuit performance was solid, but the black evening gown must have cost her the placement. She lost her spark and her performance was dry.
Wurtzbach was breezing through the competition, but choosing to answer in the native tongue was a risk when judge Sen Sonny Angara asked her in Filipino. To be fair, she gave a good answer and the production should have given her time to translate it in English given that there were foreigners in the panel of judges. She has been very vocal about wanting to win the Miss Universe Philippines crown, but should not lose hope. She should take inspiration from Lastimosa.
The technical side From the stage to the camera angles and the performances, the production made a huge improvement this year. The size of the stage was just right and was completely utilized. The swimsuit competition was very engaging and those fans, hats and masks gave it all a festive feel.
The decision not to have singers during the long gown competition was also a welcome move. While they could’ve chosen a better background music, the segment was regal and didn’t seem rushed.
The production numbers were good. The opening number was engaging and did a good job at setting the mood for the evening. Emin’s performance of “Amor” also made it seem like we were watching the Miss Universe final look segment.
Anne Curtis was a joy to watch, but the highlight of the night was when she sang Heart’s “Alone” during the break, when the judges were deliberating the results. Xian Lim improved compared to his first Bb Pilipinas hosting stint in 2012. The three former titleholders Raj, Supsup and Tugonon also did well as side hosts. And let me just say they wore stunning gowns that night!
This year’s winners will try to keep the winning streak going for the Philippines in their respective international pageants. The pressure is always there, but with proper training and the drive to win, nothing is impossible.
Yulia Alipova from Balakovo, Saratov region has won the Miss Russia 2014 contest, beating 49 other stunning contestants in glittering ceremonies held in Moscow on March 1. She is expected to compete in both the Miss Universe and Miss World pageants later this year.
Alipova, 23, is a heat power engineer and a certified Russian-English interpreter. She graduated with honors, specializing in mathematics and physics. She continued her studies at the Moscow Power Engineering University.
Anastasia Reshetova of Moscow and Anastasia Kostenko of Rostov Oblast finished first and second runners-up, respectively.
The reigning queens, Miss World 2013 Megan Young and Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler were part of the jury and assisted in crowning. Alipova was crowned by the outgoing queen Elmira Abdrazakova.
Megan Young was on the plane when the clock struck 12, but she had a wonderful time on her birthday when she arrived in Russia.
After attending to some duties for the Miss Russia 2014 pageant, where she will serve as a judge alongside Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler, Miss World was given a mini birthday celebration by the Miss Russia Organization. She was also presented with some earrings as a present.
Here’s a short video diary of the birthday girl from Moscow:
The reigning queens have finally crossed path. Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler of Venezuela and Miss World 2013 Megan Young of the Philippines are now in Moscow to attend the Miss Russia 2014 pageant which will take place on Saturday, March 1. The two were joined by Miss Russia 2013 Elmira Abdrazakova (who competed in both pageants last year) in a press conference.
Who outshines who? Here are more photos posted on Instagram.
In a press statement, the Bb Pilipinas Charities Inc said: “Gabriela will also be coming to the country to help the ongoing relief and rebuild efforts in the provinces devastated by Typhoon Yolanda through the Miss Universe Fund.” Isler will be joined by Miss Universe Organization president Paula Shugart.
Last year’s Bb Pilipinas winners is considered as the most successful after all four titleholders placed in their respective international pageants. Bea Rose Santiago was crowned Miss International 2013 in Japan while Mutya Johanna Datul became the first Asian Miss Supranationa after winning the pageant in Belarus. Ariella Arida finished third runner-up in Miss Universe pageant held in Moscow, Russia while Cindy Miranda made it in the Top 10 of Miss Tourism Queen International in China.
Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler of Venezuela will be travelling to the country to crown the next Miss Universe Philippines during the Bb Pilipinas 2014 coronation night on March 30.
This was confirmed by Madame Stella Marquez-Araneta, the matriarch of Bb Pilipinas Charities, Inc. (BPCI) in a Philstar.com report published today (Read the full article here). Miss Universe Philippines 2013 Ariella Arida, who placed 3rd runner-up in the finals held in Moscow, Russia last November, will crown her successor together with Isler.
This will be a historic coronation night as three reigning international titleholders will be in attendance in Binibining Pilipinas. Miss International Bea Rose Santiago and Miss Supranational Mutya Johanna Datul will also be crowning the new BbP-International and BbP-Supranational by the end of the pageant.
Maria Gabriela Isler of Venezuela was crowned Miss Universe 2013 on Saturday in Moscow, beating 85 other contestants from all over the world to bag the country’s seventh crown in the pageant’s 62-year history. Completing the Top Five are:
Writer’s note:As I finish writing this story, Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) is making its presence felt outside my hotel room here in Boracay Island. Electricity and communication lines are down since last night, so my apologies for posting this super late. I can’t upload graphics due to limited internet connection. Hope you are all safe wherever you are.
MANY people dream of wearing their countries’ sash in Miss Universe, but only very few are given the chance to make this dream come true. This year, 86 ladies were given the chance to become flag-bearers for their countries in the annual derby of beauty. Who will emerge victorious come coronation night? Who will wear the coveted Diamond Nexus crown and wave her country’s flag high and proud? Here’s my ULTIMATE LIST for Miss Universe 2013 and my choice for the crown.
GREAT BRITAIN | Amy Willerton She came well-prepared for battle of beauties and is the best from her country from recent memory.
Amy became my sentimental favorite from the moment she was crowned Miss Universe Great Britain. Who wouldn’t like this gorgeous and angelic lady? Comparing her back when she was still competing for Miss Asia Pacific World, one can say she’s improved a lot. She was engaging in the web interview and always wearing that winsome smile. During the prelims, she was engaging to watch in swimsuit. Just when I though she was gaining momentum, she came out in that hideous mermaid-cut gown that looked so heavy she had to pick the bottom part up just so she could walk down the stairs. Amy still has the goods to make it, but to go far in the competition, she must change that gown ASAP.
ITALY | Luna Voce I find her beauty striking and commercial. She photographs well, and her official photos are testaments to that.
Luna is no stranger to beauty pageants. She represented her country in Miss International and Miss Earth but unfortunately failed to place in both contests. But she was Top Model of the World winner. So it didn’t come as a suprise that Luna was good in motion. She worked that one-piece swimsuit well and was beautiful in that blue gown. Her winsome smile also highlighted her beauty. Many pageant followers might think she will place because Milan-based Yamamay is sponsoring the swimwear this year. But Luna’s prelims performance proves she can make it on her own merits.
FRANCE | Hinarani de Longeaux Admit it, Hinarani didn’t live up to pre-arrival expectations.
Throughout the competition, Hina was a hit-and-miss. At times she looks ravishing like Beyonce. Most of the time, she looks ordinary. Even during prelims, she was a hit-and miss. She had the fiery appeal and the spunk in swimwear. But she was mediocre in evening gown. The styling just didn’t bring out the best in her. The big question remains: can she keep France’s placement streak? Yes. But can France finally break into the Top 5 with her? The chances are slim.
COSTA RICA | Fabiana Granados Fabiana can be considered a pageant veteran, so it’s a little disappointing that she isn’t gaining much attention.
She is one of the most polished candidates, which can be attributed to the fact that she is no stranger to international pageants. She was Best in Swimsuit in Miss Earth 2011 and two years after, she still has maintained that banging figure. She walks with so much finesse and that really complemented her body. She was shimmering in that silver gown, but her overall appeal in the evening gown segment of the preliminaries was underwhelming. Despite that her unassuming beauty shines through. I have said it before, I’ll say this again: Fabiana is beautiful without even trying.
USA | Erin Brady Most of her early photos in Moscow were unflattering, to the point that some really thinks she might go miss the cut this year.
Lack of freshness – that was the criticism hurled at Erin when she arrived in Russia. Her photos were unflattering. Aside from that, she has become boring and though at times she looks really stunning, there wasn’t anything to rave about her. Then the national costume presentation happened. She was among the most talked about because of her Transformers-inspired costume. And though she elicited unfavorable reviews, that moment brought her back in the game. Her prelims performance was nothing spectacular, but her sophistication shone through especially in the evening gown segment. I also think she is a good communicator, so I’m expecting her to ace the interviews. There’s nothing to lose for Erin, but a placement remains in the bag.
POLAND | Paulina Krupinska She is touted as “the girl to beat” early on in the competition, and the odds seem to be on her favor.
Upon arrival, Paulina could be considered as one of the most in-demand candidates. She was chosen for the Mercedes-Benz TV ad and was the sole candidate to wear four dresses during the Tony Ward fashion show. She was touted as “the girl to beat” early on in the competition, but the preliminaries proved otherwise. Underwhelming in both the swimsuit and evening gown rounds, it was a bit disappointing. Despite this her beauty, which fits the emerging trend in Miss Universe winners that are sweet, simple but marketable, is undeniable. We might still see her making it.
RUSSIA | Elmira Abdrazakova Being the host delegate surely has its perks.
How a clapper in Miss World could make it as a semifinalist in Miss Universe is no tough question. The answer: be the host delegate. To be fair, Elmira seems more relaxed now than in Miss World. Also, she was stunning in her red evening gown during the prelims. Her beauty is still mediocre for my taste, but it can’t be denied she is a natural charmer. But will she place had Miss Universe been held in another country? I don’t think so.
ISRAEL | Titi Yityish Aynaw I can’t say she is the best black delegate in the competition, but her sophistication and unassuming beauty is undeniable.
Titi made history as the first Black Miss Israel, which gave her the privilege to meet US president Barack Obama. This gave her an advantage prior to the competition, as she’s been talked about, with her story being featured in CNN. Titi didn’t disappoint when she set foot in Moscow. She’s always aptly dressed. She was good in both rounds of the preliminaries, but one thing can’t be denied: her sophistication was shining through. She is, in my opinion, the most stunning black delegate this year.
VENEZUELA | Gabriela Isler Her performance in the fashion show was a testament that Gabriela is a force majeure in the competition.
When Molly set foot in Russia, I was impressed by her class and stature. And her performance in the fashion show was a testament that she is a force majeure in the competition. She didn’t disappoint in the prelims, too. She was a sight to behold during the swimsuit round with her sassy walk. However, her crystal studded gown must have been too heavy she had a hard time walking on stage. Yet Molly’s elegance can’t be denied. She may not be as strikingly beautiful and charismatic as Irene Esser but her sophistication and flexibility makes her a real contender.
COLOMBIA | Lucia Aldana Lucia needs to find that defining moment for her to move further in the competition.
Lucia was lackluster early in the competition. While her official photos were a hit for me, she was bordering boring most of the time. So when she came out in that silky straight hair and toned body during the national costume presentation, I was blown away. That was the defining moment I was waiting for Lucia to be back in the game. And he didn’t disappoint in the prelims. She was fiery in swimsuit. But I loved her evening gown presentation more. She looks immaculate in that white number. It accentuated her pretty face. She reminds me so much of Shamcey Supsup, and I’m sure she can also go far in the competition.
TURKEY | Berrin Keklikler She has all the goods and could make the cut. That is if she gives a more-than-memorable performance come finale.
And Berrin game more than just a memorable performance in the prelims. She was a revelation! She had the right mix of sexiness, sweetness and unassuming exquisiteness. Her natural charisma blends well with her beaming smile and positive aura. She may have a weak sash, but she could go places with that beauty alone. For me, she could be this year’s Jessica Scheel. And I wouldn’t mind seeing her penetrate the Top 5. She’s a breath of fresh air.
PUERTO RICO | Monic Perez Monic is one of the most prepared delegates in the competition, ready to slay her competitors.
Monic has been a clear standout since day one. Since winning in her national pageant, Melinda has engaged herself in intensive training to gear up for this year’s battle of beauties. And her preparations are paying off because she is obviously one of the most prepared delegates this year. Though at times she may appear overdone (her performance during the fashion show was bit too much for my taste), it can’t be denied that she is a force to reckon with in the competition. With her solid swimsuit presentation and very elegant evening gown round, Monic just proved that. From a dismal finish last year, Puerto Rico seems to be on the right path this time.
UKRAINE | Olga Storozhenko That gorgeous face and shapely body shouldn’t be wasted.
Olga, in my book, gave the most sensual prelims presentation. Just the proper mix of elegance and sex! That gorgeous face was just so flirty and magnetic, one can’t just take his eyes off it. Those arched eyebrows, tantalizing eyes and pouty lips may appear strong for some, but that’s what I like most about Olga. Forget about how she sometimes appears underwhelming because this beauty for sure won’t be ignored. She was perfectly styled during prelims and if she remains so in the finals, this gorgeous lady might just become her country’s first Miss Universe.
PHILIPPINES | Ariella Arida She has attracted haters because of her strong fan base, but if you have haters, it only means you are a threat.
Just like Janine Tugonon last year, Ariella had her share of bashings this year. But having haters only means you are a threat. Haters gonna hate, but Ariella is undeniably well-trained. Being chosen in the Tony Ward fashion ans the Mercedes-Benz TV ad mean the organization is keeping an eye on this girl. A lot of criticisms have been thrown at her, but she remains unfazed. And her fluid swimsuit performance is a testament to that. Her body has indeed improved a lot. She also wore one of the best gowns worn by a Miss Philippines in the last decade, but her hairstyle was a disaster. She should keep the silky straight hair as it looks better on her. Amid criticisms, I’m pretty confident she can give the Philippines it’s fourth consecutive placement.
BRAZIL | Jakelyne Oliveira Though not the most stunning facially, I think her universal beauty is enough to bring her closer to the crown.
Underestimated, but determined to leave a lasting impact. Not a lot believed that Jake can be a threat in this year’s pageant. Some may have forgotten this girl is no stranger to pageantry. She is a former titleholder of a minor pageant. She had years of preparation for Miss Universe, that’s why her solid prelims performance didn’t come as a surprise to me. Her pasarela complements her shapely body aside from the fact that she is always well-styled. Her overall packaging reminds me of a more refined Zuleyka Rivera. If plans to host the Miss Universe pageant in Brazil next year push through, that will seal the deal for this 20-year-old lady.
SPAIN | Patricia Rodriguez Though at times she is giving me some Deborah Henry vibe (they were both Miss World semifinalists), I’m confident Patricia will have a different fate in Miss Universe.
Patricia delivers both on and off stage and is very consistent. She surely makes her presence felt. She exudes so much sophistication, which is very evident in her official evening gown portrait. She nailed every official photo with her natural charm and class and is also one of the most in-demand candidates in the competition. If there’s one girl who I can say nailed the Tony Ward fashion show, it was Patricia. Her jawline was a killer, her walk was very appropriate. She also exceeded expectation during the prelims. Her body isn’t the best, but when coupled with a polished catwalk, she surely becomes a head-turner. Patricia indeed gives them girls a run for their money. If there’s someone from this batch who first comes in mind when I hear “Miss Universe”, it is Patricia.