THE PHILIPPINES has finally reclaimed its “powerhouse” status in the world of beauty pageants, after winning four international crowns and a string of placements in numerous contests last year.
The Bb Pilipinas Gold batch, touted as “one of the strongest sets of Bb Pilipinas winners in years”, played a big part in this achievement. Bea Rosa Santiago won for the country its 5th Miss International crown. Mutya Johanna Datul became the first Filipina – and Asian – to win the Miss Supranational crown. Ariella Arida gave the country its 4th consecutive runner-up finish in the Miss Universe pageant, while Joanna Cindy Miranda placed in the Top 10 of Miss Tourism Queen International.
The pressure is on the eventual winners of this year’s Bb Pilipinas edition to keep the winning streak going for the Philippines in the international pageant scene. Who among this year’s candidates deserve to represent the country in Miss Universe, Miss International, Miss Supranational, Miss Intercontinental and Miss Tourism Queen International? Here’s a list of who will likely wear the crowns on March 30.
20: Mary Ainjely Manalo (Bb 2)
Ainjely is one of the fashion show’s most pleasant surprises. She walked with confidence in casual wear and was stunning and regal in her national costume. Her height (5’6″) might be her waterloo. But her best asset is her toned body, which was the product of mountain climbing and hitting the gym, which she lists as her hobbies.
19: Julian Aurine Flores (Bb 1)
There’s always an added pressure being the first one to go on stage, but Ja sure knows how to shrug it off. She exhibited one of the finest performances in the fashion show. She has a commanding walk and her face oozes with so much charisma. She is among the most consistent since the screenings, and for that she deserves some recognition.
18: Hannah Ruth Sison (Bb 27)
Many pageant fans were surprised when Hannah failed to make it as a Top 15 finalist last year. Her performance was solid enough to have made the cut. This year she came back more prepared with a healthier body and better styling. She’s also a good speaker so expect her to ace the Q&A round if ever she makes it.
17: Aiza Faeldonia (Bb 7)
There’s no denying Aiza is a bombshell. She has a body to die for and a pretty face to complement that. She’s the most talked about candidate on Facebook mainly because she was initially excluded in the roster of candidates but was called back. I’m not a fan of her beauty, but I’d be a hypocrite if I say I wasn’t impressed by Aiza’s performance during the fashion show. She’s prepared and is definitely within the radar.
16: Ellore Noelle Punzalan (Bb 18)
Ellore surprised everyone when she cracked the Top 15 last year. She may not be the most facially stunning candidate but this 26-year-old Medicine student has a toned body and a fluid walk to boast. But what to love most about Ellore this year is she is a scene stealer. With her exaggerated white belt, over-the-top intros and a dramatic national costume presentation, you just can’t help but keep an eye out for her every move.
15: Racquel Kabigting (Bb 21)
Racquel, 22, is banking on her morena beauty and towering height for a shot at a crown. It isn’t hard for her to stand out given her height (6′) and curvaceous body, as proven during the fashion show (she was the only one wearing a one-piece swimsuit). However, she seems to be playing it safe with her subdued performance. She must work on her pasarela if she wants boost her chances.
14: Joy Antonette Diaz (Bb 9)
Being related to the country’s first Miss Universe surely has its perks, but it can only do so much to advance her chances in the competition. Antonette may not be heavily favored as there are more popular and more prepared candidates, but could also pull off a surprise. She owns a certain charm that makes her lovable especially when she smiles. She has one of the best web interviews and is definitely one of the best speakers in the batch.
13: Emma Mary Tiglao (Bb 14)
Emma is an adorable beauty and is one of the catwalk divas of the batch. Her fresh and adorable face is her strength. Her Mutya ng Pilipinas runner-up experience seems to have polished her beauty. However, it seems she’s still raw for Bb Pilipinas at 19 years old. I would love to see her back in a year or two more prepared – physically, mentally and figuratively (I’m referring to sex appeal).
12: Joy Marie Gangan (Bb 30)
Joy is one of the most underrated candidates in the competition. With a sweet face and radiant smile, it is a surprise that this girl isn’t given much attention –until the fashion show. Who would have thought this underdog could give them front-runners a good fight on stage? Joy is one of this year’s catwalk divas. Winning Best Asia Model in Best Model of the World 2012 contest in Turkey surely played a big advantage.
11: Parul Shah (Bb 4)
The first time I saw Parul was disappointing because this half-Indian beauty just blends in with the rest of the girls. But during the fashion show, I finally saw the energetic and vivacious Parul that I liked last year. She has commanding motion on stage and her well-toned body is her greatest asset. She just needs to find that perfect look for the finals to stand out.
10: Mary Anne Bianca Guidotti (Bb 22)
Mix Janine Tugonon and Bea Rose Santiago and you het Bianca. Her web interview is one of the most memorable, and it must be because she spoke in Portuguese. Simple yet head-turning is the best way to describe her. She may not have the best face, but proper styling could advance her chances. She has so much potential but needs a little work to make her catwalk skills more natural and some body toning.
09: Kimverlyn Suiza (Bb 15)
She’s a chameleon. In one photo, she looks like an anime character, in another, she’s a doll. From the innocent-looking girl in Miss Philippines Earth last year, Kimverlyn has transformed into a fierce beauty for Bb Pilipinas. Her performance during the fashion show was one of the best. This girl is peaking at the right time, and who knows she might be the coronation night’s biggest surprise.
08: Diana Arevalo (Bb 17)
After her semi-finals finish in both the 2009 and 2011 editions, 25-year-old Diana is back with vengeance. It can’t be denied that Diana is has the universal beauty and an endearing personality. While she is among the most experienced in the batch, she is inconsistent and that makes her star shine less bright. She needs to improve on her presentation skills and needs to gain more confidence when speaking. It’s bumpy road ahead for Diana, but with sheer luck and determination, who knows she might just finally win a crown.
07: Yvethe Marie Santiago (Bb 35)
I’m on the fence with Yvethe. Her face was just okay, but when properly styled she transforms to a beautiful lady. But this 21-year-old accountant has a good body and towering height, as well as a string of experiences in local pageants (she was Miss Bicolandia 2012 and Mutya ng Magayon 2011 1st runner-up) to boost her chances. Don’t count her out just yet because she will deliver her best on stage, where she does the magic.
06: Nichole Marie Manalo (Bb 23)
This girl gets a free pass for being the sister of two former titlists: Katherine Manalo (Bb Pilipinas-World 2002) and Pamela Bianca Manalo (Bb Pilipinas-Universe 2009). Many fans underestimated this girl, but Nichole is determined to prove them wrong. She was effortless in bikini with her glowing skin and well-shaped body. She was unstoppable when she hit the Fashion Show runway. While many pageant observers believe she is a downgrade from her sisters, it can’t be denied that this girl is transformable.
THE CROWN CONTENDERS
Bb Pilipinas-Tourism: Angelique Celine De Leon (Bb 31)
For someone who admits she was “tomboy-ish” growing up, Angee has bloomed into a fine lady. She may not be your initial bet but Angee could definitely win your heart with her natural charm. She has one of the most striking performances during the fashion show. A diamond in the rough, she’s definitely someone to watch out for as the pageant progresses. I won’t be surprised if she clinches any of the major crowns.
Bb Pilipinas-Intercontinental: Laura Victoria Lehmann (Bb 11)
With a pretty face to match her sexy body, Laura definitely has a bright future ahead of her in beauty pageants. She doesn’t even need a lot of make up to make her stand out – her tantalizing eyes do all the talking. She delivers both on and off stage and is very consistent. With her good communication skills and impressive scholastic background (she’s taking up Psychology, Neuro Science and Spanish Studies in the US), Laura could give give them front-runners a run for their money.
Bb Pilipinas-Supranational: Mary Jean Lastimosa (Bb 25)
She was the heavy favorite in 2012 but unfortunately failed to crack the Top 5. Now back for a final hurrah in beauty pageants, MJ has matured a lot. Having one of the best bodies in the competition, much was expected of this lady during the fashion show. And to everyone’s delight, she didn’t disappoint. Her wide smile, well-toned body and fluid walk make her a shoo-in for any contest out there. Being a repeater means double the pressure because you have to outdo your previous performance (She was 2nd runner-up in 2011 and a Top 12 finalist the year after). But it seems MJ is not allowing pressure to take over on her third attempt as she seems more relaxed now. A lot of criticisms have been thrown at her, but she still remains unfazed. It’s about time she gets rewarded for all her hard work.
Bb Pilipinas-International: Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach (Bb8)
Being a good runner-up to the Gold queens surely has it perks, and this definitely gives Pia an advantage, making her an instant front-runner, now that she has decided to join again. With that stunning face and a year of training to back her up, Pia could do no wrong. During the fashion show, Pia gave everyone a good show. She could easily transform from fierce to elegant. Although she has the tendencies to overdo her performance, Pia is a complete package making her one of the strongest candidates of this year. You just can’t deny her hunger for a crown.
Miss Universe Philippines: Kris Tiffany Janson (Bb13)
Kris, 24, is undeniably one of the best bets for any of the crowns at stake with her marketable beauty. Her calm aura is a breath of fresh air from a sea of fierce faces. Despite possessing one of the most beautiful faces in the competition, I was initially disappointed with Kris. Her styling was off, her smile a bit awkward. She looked raw and unprepared. But as they say, it’s not over ’til it’s over. She exudes so much sophistication and finesse during the national costume competition. That must have won her the Best in National Costume., fortifying her status as a front-runner. She is a bit lackluster in presentation so she needs to work on her pasarela. But she can do real damage in the Q&A round with her articulateness and sincerity when speaking. Given that Filipinos love beauties with brains (Read: Shamcey Supsup, Theresa Licaros), it won’t be a shock if Kris wins it all.
This article also appeared on Rappler.