SCENES of disaster were associated with the Philippines in 2013 as the nation experienced a big earthquake and a deadly super typhoon. The victories of Filipinos in the international arena provided the silver lining during these trying times. As we hope for a better New Year, here’s a countdown to six of the Philippines’ glorious moments in 2013 beauty pageants.
The Philippines had a successful year in 2012 pageants with placements in all of the Big Four pageants. But Rizzini Alexis Gomez capped what was then thought as a “glorious” year by winning the 2012/2013 Miss Tourism International title on the eve of 2013. Who would have thought that last-minute win was a sign of things to come for a historic year for the Philippines in the beauty pageant scene? The Philippines has been winning pageants left and right the whole year. What a better way to end the banner year for the country than to win another crown? Angeli Dione Gomez, another Cebuana, scored a back-to-back win for the Philippines in Miss Tourism International, held on New Year’s Eve.
The Philippine beauty pageant season kicked off early this year with Bb Pilipinas Gold, which marks the 50th year of the most prestigious pageant in the country. I was blessed to have witnessed this momentous event in person. It was a magical night, needless to say, nostalgic after seeing some 70 past title-holders in walk on the red carpet one by one all glammed up and their top form. The production is undoubtedly one of the best staging of Bb Pilipinas in recent history. And what a better way to cap the celebration was to crown what pageant observers deemed as “one of the strongest set of Bb Pilipinas winners in years”.
Male pageants has always been a waterloo for the Philippines, but this changed in 2012 when model June Macasaet won Manhunt International and athlete and once-controversial celebrity Andrew Wolf finished second in Mr World. Their wins gave a boost to the male pageant industry in the Philippines, with the launch of Mister International Philippines and a more rigorous search for the next Manhunt Philippines. The Philippines road to male pageant glory didn’t stop there, as former cager Gil Wagas finished fourth runner-up in Mr International 2013 held in Indonesia. Some would say it was his towering height, good physique and winsome smile that gave him an advantage over the rest, but in one of his interviews after the pageant, Wagas said his secret weapon was his “faith in God”.
The country didn’t run out of placements this year. Aside from the semifinals placements of Cindy Miranda (Top 10) and Angelee delos Reyes (Top 8 ) in Miss Tourism Queen International and Miss Earth pageants, respectively, the country also scored three third runners-up finishes.
Ariella Arida had big shoes to fill following the Philippines’ three consecutive placements in the top five and Janine Tugonon’s first runner-up finish in Miss Universe the previous year. She was bashed to death, many thought she can’t keep the momentum going. But she shut them naysayers when she made it to the Top 16 via fan votes and easily breezed through the competition, finishing third runner-up.
Annalie Forbes, Bb Pilipinas 2012 second runner-up, also finished third runner-up in the inaugural Miss Grand International in Bangkok, Thailand. Proving that the Philippines is a force majeure in beauty pageants, Forbes made it in the Top 10 of the National Costume and Top 20 of the Swimsuit competition held prior to the finals slated on November 19. Koreen Medina, who won the top plum in Mutya ng Pilipinas, followed with another third runner-up finish at Miss Intercontinental, held in Germany. It was the highest the Philippines has ever achieved in the pageant since 1995, when Maria Sovietskaya Bacud finished second runner-up.
The best way to set the stage for the Philippines record-breaking feat this year is with a crown! Mutya Johanna Datul indeed took Belarus by storm after winning the Miss Supranational crown early September. She is the first Filipina to win in the pageant. She had a rough start: she missed her connecting flight to Moscow on her way to Belarus, she had those breakouts and lousy styling. Despite that her winsome smile and positive aura shone through, as affirmed by her Miss Personality award. But many didn’t lose hope. “She’s very genuine on stage, you can see it. Her innate charm just radiates, and you can tell she’s being true to herself,” said Bb Pilipinas runner-up Pia Wurtzbach in an Inquirer report. Indeed, showing the real her was the key to winning the crown. Recounting her closed-door interview with the judges, she said: “I first introduced myself in Russian, and then I said ‘I will go straight (to the point). I want to become Miss Supranational because this is my ultimate dream. I want to become an ambassador, a good example and an inspiration to many’.”
For Bea Rose Santiago, keeping the faith helped her win the Miss International crown. “Miss Japan told me, ‘You’re funny. Every time you go up and leave the stage, you pray.’ I told her that is my source of power,” she was quited as saying in an Inquirer report. “Even the Latina—they are all Catholics—I gathered them all and we formed a prayer circle. I speak English so I pray aloud. Prayer is a lot powerful if you do it together.” Santiago is no stranger to pageants. She was crowned Mutya ng Pilipinas Overseas Communities in 2012 and went on to place in Miss Tourism Queen International of the Year. This experience surely helped her ace Bb Pilipinas and Miss International. Aside from that, Santiago was glowing on stage and her sincere and heartfelt speech surely sealed the deal for her.
The supreme moment for the Philippines in 2013 pageants is Megan Young’s victory in Miss World. What was once a dream for Filipino pageant fans to see the actress-TV host compete in a major international pageant finally came true. Despite having only two weeks to prepare, Megan was ready for battle and was well-received by pageant enthusiasts around the globe. Different pageant sites named her as one of the girls to beat. Pageant guru Ines Ligron even tagged her as “one of the best Miss Philippines ever”. True enough, her performance proved she is the best delegate the country has ever sent in Miss World. She aced the Top Model challenge. She was fifth in Beach Fashion and was fourth in Multimedia. She also ranked second in the official Miss World poll. No wonder she topped the overall leaderboards, making her one of the Top 10 finalists during the finale. When asked why she should be Miss World, Young said “I treasure a core value of humanity and that guides people why they act the way they do. I will use this to show other people how they can understand each other … as one, we can help society.” The rest, as they say, is history. The Philippines bagged the elusive Miss World crown. But what really gave (and still gives the chills) was when Megan Young spoke in her native tongue , teary-eyed, when asked what she feels as the new Miss World: “Salamat sa mga kababayan ko. Mahal na mahal ko kayo.” One would feel the victory wasn’t only Megan’s; it was a victory for the Philippines. PageantFocus
This article first appeared on Missosology.