Mary Jean Lastimosa on her Miss Universe stint: “Wala akong regrets”

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Despite failing to sustain the country’s 4-year placement streak in the Top 5 of the Miss Universe pageant, Miss Philippines Mary Jean Lastimosa said she had no regrets.

“I was really there to win the crown. But then again, some things are out of our control. The only thing you can do is accept it, and learn from it, and move on,” MJ said in a press statement. “I was just grateful to be given that opportunity to represent the country and I hope I did well, that I really showed what a true Filipina is. Kaya ngayon, wala akong bitternes, wala akong regrets.”

MJ was a heavy favorite in the pageant and was even touted as one of the girls to beat in the competition. She made it to the Top 10 of the competition, but didn’t advance to the Final 5 — the first time for a Miss Philippines since 2010.

Don’t blame the gown
The Bb Pilipinas Charities Inc and its chair Stella Marquez Araneta were lambasted after MJ failed to secure a spot in the Top 5. Many fans attributed the loss to the evening gown worn by MJ, which was designed by Colombian Alfredo Barraza.

Prior to that, MJ’s flower-festooned national costume also drew flak for not reflecting the “true” Philippine culture. In her defense, Araneta said in an interview with news program TV Patrol, she said that she had been tapping Barraza to dress up the Filipina candidates since 1999 because “the designs that were given to us (by Filipino designers) were no good for our candidates.”

But MJ, in an interview with ABS-CBN’s Ginger Conejero, asked supporter to not blame the loss on her gown.

Happy to be home
Despite this, the North Cotabato beauty came home with pride and gratefulness, knowing how Filipinos expressed their overwhelming love and support for her during the pageant.

“I’m so happy I’m finally back after a month, di ba? Sobrang, I had a great experience in Miami, Florida, feeling ko ang tagal nag-stay doon because the people are very nice, warm yung pagkaka-welcome sa amin, sa mga candidates,” MJ said.

“It was a great experience knowing all the girls, sharing my culture, sharing what Filipinos are. And I think they embraced us, I think they love us there. It was a great experience all in all,” she added.

Photos: Bb Pilipinas FB page

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Colombia wins 2nd Miss Universe crown; Philippines fails to enter Top 5

Paulina Vega was crowned by outgoing queen Gabriela Isler of Venezuela

It was a victory 57 years in the making.

In front of an estimated one billion viewers worldwide, Paulina Vega was crowned Miss Universe 2014 at the FIU Arena in Miami, Florida on January 25, besting 87 other candidates from around the globe.

Vega is the second woman to take home the Miss Universe crown from Colombia. Born in the town of Barranquilla, the 22 year-old is a business administration student at the Universidad Javeriana in Bogota. She graduated from a German school in Colombia, and speaks English and a bit of French. She has been a model since she was eight and belongs to a big family with four sisters and three brothers.

The Top 5

Miss USA Nia Sanchez was first runner-up while Miss Ukraine Diana Harkusha finished second runner-up. Third runner-up was Yasmin Verheijen of Netherlands while crowd favorite Kaci Fennell of Jamaica ended up 4th runner-up.

The rest of the Top 10 were: Miss Argentina, Valentina Ferrer; Miss Australia, Tegan Martin; Miss Philippines, Mary Jean Lastimosa; Miss Spain, Desire Cordero Ferrer; and Miss Venezuela, Migbelis Castellanos.

Completing the Top 15 semifinalists were: Miss Brazil, Melissa Gurgel; Miss France, Camille Cerf; Miss India, Noyonita Lodh; Miss Indonesia, Elvira Devinamira; and Miss Italy, Valentina Bonariva.

Miss Philippines during the evening gown round

This was the first time since 2010 that the Philippines failed to place in the Top 5.

Miss Photogenic Universe award went to Miss Puerto Rico Gabriela Berrios while Miss Indonesia won the Best National Costume after topping the Twitter votes. Miss Nigeria Queen Osme Celestine was voted by her peers for her as the most congenial, charismatic and inspirational participant, en route to winning the Miss Congeniality Universe award.

The evening’s musical performers included: multi-talented, platinum-selling solo artist, Nick Jonas who sang a three-song medley during the evening gown competition from his self-titled album that includes the first smash single and radio hit, “Jealous,” in addition to “Chains” and “Teacher;” American musician singer-songwriter Gavin DeGraw performed his hit songs “Fire” and “Finest Hour” from his new album “Best of Gavin DeGraw,” during the pageant’s Final Look; and during the swimsuit competition, twenty-time Latin Billboard Award winner, multi-platinum singer-songwriter Prince Royce performed his new English-language single entitled “Stuck on a Feeling” as well as Spanish-language hit song “Darte un Beso.”
The judges who sealed the fate of this year’s winner included: Kristin Cavallari, TV host and shoe designer for Kristin Cavallari by Chinese Laundry; Rob Dyrdek, Dynamic serial entrepreneur and star of MTV’s Ridiculousness and Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory; Emilio Estefan, 19-time Grammy Award winning musician and producer; Nina Garcia, Creative Director of Marie Claire Magazine, Lifetime’s hit show “Project Runway” judge, and fashion industry expert; DeSean Jackson, Washington Redskins wide receiver and return specialist; three-time Pro Bowler; William Levy, TV and film actor who was previously named People En Espanol’s Sexiest Man Alive; Manny Pacquiao, Fighter of the Decade, eight-division world champion and Filipino Congressman; Louise Roe, Fashion journalist, author, host of “Plain Jane” on MTV International and the upcoming TLC fashion series, “Style By Jury;” Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins celebrated right fielder, two-time major league baseball All-star and recipient of the biggest contract in sports history; and Lisa Vanderpump, Star of hit show “Vanderpump Rules” and “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”

The Top 15

63rd Miss Universe pageant: Top 20 Web Interviews

The official web interviews for the 63rd Miss Universe pageant were made available earlier today on YouTube. The change in the format was a welcome move because we get to know more about the girls instead of just asking them a two or three random questions (from previous editions).

After watching all 88 girls, I would want to share my favorite Web Interviews.

What were my criteria for picking these 20 girls? First, they should be able to get the message across without going around the bush. Second, there should be an air of genuineness in their manner of speaking. Finally, they must be remarkable.

Here they are:

1) Australia

2) British Virgin Islands

3) Serbia

4) Jamaica

5) Philippines

6) Venezuela

7) USA

8) South Africa

9) Colombia

10) Ireland

11) Argentina

12) Costa Rica

13) Ecuador

14) Guyana

15) Malaysia

16) Mexico

17) Dominican Republic

18) Ghana

19) Italy

20) Austria

Miss Universe Philippines Mary Jean Lastimosa is ready for battle

Miss Universe Philippines Mary Jean Lastimosa faces great pressure following the country’s four consecutive runners-up finishes in the Miss Universe pageant.

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“The pressure will always be there, but I channel it to fuel me to become more competitive and focused,” the 27-year-old beauty from North Cotabato said in a press statement. “I don’t let the pressure get to me. The Miss Universe is a once in a lifetime event, and I hope to treasure every moment, be grateful for the experience and just showcase the beauty of the Filipina the best way I can.”

Under Binibining Pilipinas MJ took courses on personality development and cultural immersion, had Q&A practice sessions and also focsed on toning exercises at the gym.

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She also got valuable insights from former beauty queens, including her best friend Shamcey Supsup.

“Shamcey told me to know myself better, to know my values and where I stand in life. It’s easy to be consumed by the competition, but knowing myself gives me confidence that allows me to shine,” MJ said.

She added that Venus Raj, Ariella Arida and Janine Tugonon advised her to just “look natural, bubbly ans show off the real me”.  (This article first appeared on Missosology.Org)

Before the send-off party, Bb Pilipinas 2014 queens led by Lastimosa spent an afternoon with kids from the Diocese of Novaliches.

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Mary Jean Lastimosa hopes to win the Miss Universe crown

Last week, I got the chance to interview Miss Universe Philippines 2014 Mary Jean Lastimosa for Missosology about her preparations for the upcoming Miss Universe pageant. Finally, the article is now up on the pageant news website. So here it is!

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Beauty Talks with Mary Jean Lastimosa
By Drew Francisco for Missosology

She still has two months to prepare before the Miss Universe pageant kicks off in Doral, Florida, but Mary Jean Lastimosa is not slacking.

While she said she is “more relaxed” now because she is given the longest time to prepare, she said she is “learning a lot” from the intensive training she and the rest of the Bb Pilipinas 2014 girls are undergoing.

“Nowadays, beauty queens are on another level. You have to be well-rounded and good in every aspect,” Lastimosa told Missosology at the sidelines of Yvethe Marie Santiago’s send-off event. “In every session that I have, be it in personality development, question-and-answer or putting on make-up everyday, I have to be focused in it.”

Aware that she couldn’t please anyone, Lastimosa said that she also takes into consideration the comments she receives from people.

“I look at it on a positive way that maybe there’s a point why they are saying that (negative comment) so I evaluate myself as well. If they say something that I need to improve on, I focus on that and try to be the best that I could be,” she said.

Enjoying the reign
The good thing about being the last to compete, she said, is that she gets to enjoy her reign as Miss Universe Philippines. “Unlike the previous queens who only enjoy their reign for like three months before they compete, I get to travel around the Philippines, meet and inspire a lot of Filipinos along the way,” Lastimosa said.

She also gets herself updated with the latest from the expected Miss Universe candidates through social media, as fans keep on tagging her on photos of the other candidates. Asked who she thinks could be her toughest competition, she said Misses USA and Venezuela are among the ones to beat.

“All the girls are gorgeous and beautiful in their own way … but you wouldn’t know because some of [the contestants] will step up when they get there (Doral),” she said.

Claiming victory
Lastimosa shared her excitement about the upcoming competition and hopes to be able to make the Filipinos happy if she wins the Miss Universe crown.

“I’m positive and I’m praying like I did during Bb. Pilipinas and I will claim it. It’s the power of the universe,” Lastimosa said. “I’ll just do my best and enjoy the competition … and just be the best representative for the Philippines.”

Watch the complete interview here:

 

This was first published on Missosology

Bb Pilipinas 2014 queens take part in culture and language exchange sessions

If you think the training for Bb Pilipinas queens are all about pasarela, projections and hair and make-up sessions, think again!

Last week, the Binibinis had a chance to partitipate in a small culture and language exchange session with Couch Surfing Quezon City group. The girls gained new learnings about Germany, Belgium, Austria, and Japan.

They also had a focused Japanese culture sharing with the UP Japanology Society. Bb Pilipinas International 2014 Bianca Guidotti surely learned a lot from this as she will be competing in Tokyo for the Miss International pageant next month.

Check out some photos during the session (special thanks to former college paper college Phoenix Wright and former blockmate Geci Dela Cruz for allowing me to share these photos here):

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Beauty queens take Ice Bucket Challenge

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).

Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler

Miss Universe 2006 Zuleyka Rivera

Miss Earth 2013 Alyz Henrich

Miss Universe Philippines 2014 Mary Jean Lastimosa

Miss Venezuela 2013 Migbelis Castellanos

Miss World Puerto Rico 2014 Genesis Davila

Miss Universe Puerto Rico 2014 Gabriela Berrios

Miss Universe Puerto Rico 2011 Viviana Ortiz

Miss World 1993 Lisa Hanna

Bb Pilipinas 2014: Post-pageant review

Mary Jean Lastimosa gets emotional as she was proclaimed Miss Universe Philippines 2014. ALL PHOTOS FROM RAPPLER
Mary Jean Lastimosa gets emotional as she was proclaimed Miss Universe Philippines 2014. ALL PHOTOS FROM RAPPLER
Mary Jean Lastimosa, center, gets emotional as she was proclaimed Miss Universe Philippines 2014. ALL PHOTOS FROM RAPPLER

THERE was only one crown left to be awarded and Mary Jean Lastimosa was there, standing beside last year’s runner-up, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach.

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

Lastimosa during the long gown competition

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.”

The Top 15

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.

Russian pop star Emin

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 sings “Alone”

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.


This article also appeared on Rappler.

Mary Jean Lastimosa is Miss Universe Philippines 2014!

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THIRD time’s a charm indeed for Mary Jean Lastimosa as she finally bagged the Bb Pilipinas Universe crown at the conclusion of the pageant held Sunday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. She also won Best in Swimsuit award and PLDT Ambassador.

Lastimosa finished 2nd runner-up during her first try in 2011. She returned the following year but only made it to the Top 12.

Here’s the complete list of winners:

  • BbP-International: Mary Anne Bianca Guidotti
  • BbP-Intercontinetal: Kris Tiffany Janson
  • BbP-Supranational: Yvethe Marie Santiago
  • BbP-Tourism: Parul Shah
  • 1st RU: Laura Lehmann
  • 2nd RU: Hannah Ruth Sison

Relive the crowning moment here:

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.

 

Bb Pilipinas 2014: My fearless prediction

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.

ALMOST THERE
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.

TOP FIFTEEN
HARAYA11-1515: 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.

HARAYA6-1010: 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
HARAYA1-5Bb 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.