Year 2012 will surely go down in history as one of the best years for the Philippines in the international pageant arena. The country placed in all of the four major female pageants for the second consecutive year, even bagging two bridesmaid finishes. Surprisingly, it also managed to dominate the male pageant scene, with a major title and a runner-up finish. Not only that. Pinay representatives also shone in other pageants across the globe.
As 2013 unfolds, let us look back at the defining moments of the Philippines in last year’s pageants.
Upon her crowning as Miss World Philippines, Queneerich Rehman had been touted as a “girl to beat” in Miss World. Despite having only three-weeks to prepare, hopes were high that she could take home the country’s first Miss World crown. Many thought she was the perfect choice because she is a well-rounded beauty. True enough, she came to Ordos, Inner Mongolia well-prepared. She placed in the Beach Fashion Top 40, Performing Talent Top 5, and Top Model Top 46. Her Michael Cinco gown also made it to the Top 10 of World Fashion Designer Dress.
However, it was clear from the beginning that she had slim chances of getting the elusive crown given the row between China and the Philippines over the Scarborough Shoal. Despite this, she managed to standout. Her greatest weapon: beat boxing. Her video performance has gone viral over the net, even reaching the pages of The Huffington Post and TIME. She was expected to win the Talent round but lost to China’s Wenxia Yu (who eventually took home the crown).
Still, Queenee’s Top 15 finish, against all odds, is a feat for the Filipinos.
Who would have thought Filipinos will finally get noticed in the male pageant arena?
June Macasaet, 29-year old commercial and ramp model, defeated 52 other contestants at the Manhunt International pageant held in Bangkok, Thailand. He wasn’t a heavy favorite during the competition. But one can’t deny his competitiveness . He behaved well, and seemed very focused on his goal: be the first-ever Pinoy to win the Manhunt title. True enough, with his determination he shone during the finals. He even bagged the New Urban Male Award.
Meanwhile, model and athlete Andrew Wolff finished second at Mr World 2013 held in Kent, UK. His experience as a member of Philippine Volcanoes since 2007 played an advantage to him as he placed in the Sports fast track. But his main advantage came in the Multimedia fast track where the candidates were tasked to make video. He won the award “with his energetic and engaging creations on his social media pages. He was deemed to have created the most exciting, informative and inventive news stories.” Joining the pageant made us know the other side of who was once a controversial celebrity. Andrew is actually involved with Tuloy Foundation, an advocacy group that supports marginalized children.
After so long, a Filipino finally bagged a title in a pageant for transsexual and transgenders in the person of Kevin Balot. Kevin Balot bested 20 other contestants from 15 countries en route to bagging the Miss International Queen 2012 crown. Two other Philippine representatives in the pageant made it to the top 10: Michelle Montecarlo and Miriam Jimenez.
With her success, Kevin’s only one wish is “acceptance” from her family. “I’m very proud to be the first here, and I hope my dad will accept me. Because in the family I’m the only boy, and my dad has big expectations of me. I made it. I won the International Queen Pageant, and I believe that my dad will accept me not only as his son but also as his daughter,” Kevin said in an interview after she won. And her winning answer: “I believe my dear friends that all the candidates are equally beautiful and talented but the best word that describe me as a Miss International Queen is being simple because being simple makes me simply the best.”
Outside the Big4 pageants, Filipinos continued to excel.
Elaine Kay Moll, BBP 2012 first runner-up became the first Filipina to place in the budding Miss Supranational pageant. Defying beliefs that the pageant is anti-Filipinos, Kay made it to the Top 20 and even finished as third runner-up. Ayelee Dasalla was 2nd runner-up, Miss Humanity International. Angelee Claudette de los Reyes and Bea Rose Santiago made it to the top 10 of Supermodel International and Miss Tourism Queen of the Year International, respectively. Clarise Marie Obvio won Miss Teen Universe 2012 First Runner-up. And the best way to cap the year is to bag a crown! Rizzini Gomez won the Miss Tourism International 2012 title last night.
They were both heavily bashed: Janine Tugonon right after her crowning, Stephany Stefanowitz during the Miss Earth pageant. But in the end, they both proved their detractors wrong by almost clinching the crowns.
Janine could be considered as the most bashed Philippine delegate in history. Her body was a disaster when she competed earlier this year. Many thought her win was fixed. Despite the negativities, Janine focused on her goal. That is to continue the Philippines’ two consecutive years of top five placement. Her determination to prove her detractors wrong was very evident when she came out on TV weeks weeks before the MU. She has remarkably lost weight; her shoulder blades helloing. Her styling has improved as well as her catwalk skills. When in Vegas, Janine didn’t take matters sitting down. She was always in her A-game. During the prleiminaries, she showed off her well-improved body. Despite her gown not being aesthetically beautiful, she was able to work it well. Those sealed her Top 16 fate. During the finals, Janine was obviously among the best performers. Her evening gown performance was very classy. And her final answer? It will go down in history as among the best.
For the second-straight year, the host delegate turned out to be the most bashed candidate in ME. Stephany could’ve averted all the bashings had she undergone a very rigid training to tone her body. She was obviously not in her perfect form so placing second in the swimwear competition shocked and disappointed many fans. However, it can’t be denied that Stephany is a catwalk diva. She may not be the thinnest or the sexiest, but she sure knows how to work her curves when walking. She is also facially better than her predecessor. Stones may have been cast on her, but Stephany surely proved naysayers when she came out in a better body during the top 16 swimsuit presentation. She also had a decent evening gown performance. Her answer, albeit lacking in sincerity in my opinion, is acceptable.
The best way to wrap up 2012 is to remember the wise words from our candidates:
“For me, being Miss Universe is not just about knowing how to speak a specific language, it is being able to influence and inspire other people. So whatever language you have, as long as your heart is to serve and you have a strong mind to show to people, then you can be Miss Universe. Thank you!”
– Janine Tugonon, when asked if speaking English should be a prerequisite for Miss Universe.
“Peace, love, unity, these 3 words are the Miss International pageant. Having spent the past 3 weeks in Okinawa, I have witnessed the special connection it has with the world. Globalization and multi cultural diversity can exist. We can be uniquely global and globally unique. This is my mission. I want people to appreciate that we not only belong to local communities but world at large. By this understanding we can contribute to global goals. I am standing here in front of you open to offer my heritage and myself, as a strong compassionate responsible and independent woman in this quest for global harmony. And I can stand here proudly and consider myself an international citizen.”
– Nicole Schmitz’ heartwarming speech in Miss International