A new set of Bb. Pilipinas — Universe, World and International — will be chosen from a batch of 27 candidates (“One of the best batches,” said Madame Stella Marquez-Araneta, lady boss of the Bb. Pilipinas Charities, Inc.) in the grand finals on March 7 at the Big Dome.
Funfare’s “other beauty expert” Celso de Guzman Caparas (now working in Saudi) has compiled the following binibini “juicy bits” and anecdotes:
• 1964 Bb. Pilipinas-Universe Myrna Panlilio and the country’s other top ramp models appeared in a travelogue fashion show, Sights & Sounds of Pacifica ’68, a Honolulu TV format aired every Sunday, filmed in Hawaii, New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Mexico City. Myrna was a finalist in the 1964 Filipina Maid of Cotton.
• 1964 semi-finalist Edna Keyes was introduced in Lalaine, Mahal Kita (1964, topbilled by Lalaine Bennet, 1963 Miss Philippines and 1963 Miss Universe third runner-up). Edna was also Miss Luzon, first runner-up to 1964 Miss Philippines–International Gemma Cruz.
• 1965 Bb. Pilipinas-Universe Louise Vail Aurelio, an American mestiza, was a track-and-field athlete from Iloilo. She appeared with 1964 Miss International Gemma Cruz in Sunduan which was featured in the Sampaguita movie Romansa sa World’s Fair (1965, topbilled by Susan Roces and Romeo Vasquez).
• 1965 second runner-up Sehba Mulok (real name: Georgie Reisland), a Muslim princess by birth from Kiamba, Cotabato, appeared in People’s Pictures movies using Soraya as her screen name. Her film credits include Captain Barbell Kontra Captain Bakal and Hong Kong 999 (both in 1965).
• Other Muslim princesses who have joined the pageant include Emraida Kiram (1966 candidate and later Miss RP-World 1966), Yasmin Kiram (1968 semi-finalist and later 1970 Miss Caltex finalist) and Ava Quibranza (1979 Bb. Pilipinas-Maja).
• 1967 Bb. Pilipinas–Universe Pilar Pilapil was crowned by Claudine Auger, 1958 Miss World first runner-up who became a Bond Girl. Neil Sedaka was the special guest during the pageant.
• 1968 third runner-up Tina Artillaga entered showbiz eight years after the contest, first in Hoy Mister, Ako Ang Misis Mo (1976) starring Joseph Estrada and Elizabeth Oropesa, and then in Mga Sekretaryang Walang Silya (1976).
• 1968 Miss Philippines-International second runner-up Fortune Aleta is presently the honorary Consul of Monaco to the Philippines. She’s a cum laude Optometry graduate from CEU. Fortune was also 1968 Mutya ng Pilipinas first runner-up (to Jane de Joya).
• Nineteen days before she was crowned 1969 Bb. Pilipinas–Universe, Gloria Diaz was one of the seven finalists in the 1969 Quest for a Model search won by Maricar Azaola who became Gloria’s third runner-up in the Bb. Pilipinas pageant. It was 1963 Miss Caltex Elsa Payumo who tapped Gloria to join the Bb. Pilipinas contest.
• 1970 Bb. Pilipinas-International and 1970 Miss International Aurora Pijuan was one of the members of the 12 Young VIP Council of Rustan’s in 1968 (along with Camay Girl-actress Maritess Revilla and 1969 Queen of the Pacific runner-up Emma Ruth Yulo).
• 1970 first runner-up Imelda Pagaspas was in the cast of the longest-running afternoon soap, Flordeluna (1979-1983), starring Janice de Belen.
• 1972 second runner-up and Miss Photogenic Polly Penson was paired with Dolphy in Bornebol, Special Agent (1974). She was crowned Mutya ng Pilipinas in 1974 and placed second runner-up in the Miss Asia pageant that year.
• 1975 Bb. Young Pilipinas Jean Saburit made her acting debut in an episode of Habang May Buhay on Channel 13 after her reign. Leroy Salvador was impressed and included Jean in the cast of Tang Tarang Tang for three seasons. Her first movie was Kapten Batuten (1977), first starring role was in Kaladkarin (1980) and first title role was in Babae Sa Ulog (1981). Jean won the Miss Yukata (Best in Summer Kimono) Award in the 1976 Miss Young International.
• 1976 first runner-up and Best in Swimsuit Celita de Castro portrayed the young Vilma Valera in Rosa Negra (1962, topbilled by Lolita Rodriguez). Celita was crowned Miss Hawaii-USA in 1977 and was one of the semi-finalists in the Miss USA 1977 (for Miss Universe) pageant. She also appeared in Eddie Romero’s Banta ng Kahapon (1977) and had a supporting guest role in Charlie’s Angels (starring Jaclyn Smith, Farah Fawcett and Cheryl Ladd) Season 2/Episode 3 Pretty Angels in a Row which was aired on Sept. 28, 1977. Celita was also 1974 Miss Oahu Filipina and 1975 Miss Hawaii Filipina.
•1976 semi-finalist Azenith Briones did a few movies between 1977 and 1979 including Omeng Satanasia (with Dolphy, her first movie), Patayin Si Mediavillo (with FPJ), Mission: Terrorize Panay (with Ramon Revilla), Magapatuka Na Lang Ako Sa Ahas (with Chiquito) and Sabotage II (with Tony Ferrer), among others. She was also 1975 Miss Tourism (Mutya) second runner-up.
•1977 Bb. Pilipinas-Universe Anna Lorraine Kier starred in top-rating sitcom Duplex as the love interest of Al Tantay, played the nurse of Dindo Fernando in Flordeluna and did hosting chores in Business Talk. Anna was also 1976 Miss Teenage Philippines.
• 1977 Miss Maja Pilipinas and Artist Choice Award winner Bambi Arambulo got her break in showbiz three years after her reign when she was introduced in Temptation Island (1980) in which she shared top billing with fellow beauty queens Azenith Briones, Jennifer Cortez, Dina Bonnevie. She also appeared in Ang Agila at ang Falcon (1981, with FPJ and Tony Ferrer) and Alfredo Sebastian (1981, with Ramon Revilla Sr.) Bambi was also 1976 Filipina Maid of Cotton.
•1978 Bb. Pilipinas–Universe Jennifer Cortez was persuaded by award-winning cinematographer Romy Vitug to join the Bb. pageant while she was shooting her first movie, Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak (1978, directed by Celso Ad. Castillo). Her other movies include Tatak Angustia, Daniel Bartolo, Tatlong Hari and Temptation Island, all in the early ‘80s.