06 March 2009

Binibining Pilipinas 2009: Just another batch of recycled beauties?

 IF YOU were at the Binibining Pilipinas 2009 press presentation of candidates held at the Sunset Pavilion and poolside of the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel Manila last Feb. 24, you would probably ask yourself this question:

“Is our country really running out of beautiful women?”

Well, the “mother of all local pageants” established by Stella Marquez de Araneta in 1964 has a handful of experienced “conteseras” (gay lingo for experienced beauty contestants) and repeaters in this year’s lineup, for the nth time!

Then there’s also the addition of the younger sister and niece of erstwhile beauty queens as well as the daughter of a former titleholder whose age is already past the pageant’s usual maximum age requirement which is 25.

How come that 26-year-old video jock Joanne “Joey Mead” Pilar Angeles got rejected for being “too old to be a beauty queen” in 2001?

Although the presence of these special girls with familiar faces brought joy to their die-hard supporters and some friends in the media, this scenario certainly sends a wrong signal to hundreds of inexperienced yet very promising ladies out there who also dream of duplicating the feats of Gloria Diaz (Miss Universe 1969), Aurora Pijuan (Miss International 1970), Margie Moran (Miss Universe 1973), Melanie Marquez (Miss International 1979), and Precious Lara Quigaman (Miss International 2005) someday.

They might think that Binibining Pilipinas is only restricted, if not exclusive, to desperate dreamers and next of kin of former beauty queens—so they would just take a shot into newer and lesser prestigious national pageants. But Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc. did not give explanations about these things last Tuesday.

Jennifer Barrientos failed to win the Miss Universe crown in Vietnam last year. Miss World contender Danielle Muriel Castaño, despite being a heavy favorite in South Africa, still ended up as a thank-you girl. Only Patricia Fernandez figured prominently in Macau, placing sixth overall in the Miss International beauty congress. Prior to joining the Binibini, Fernandez was Mutya ng Quezon City winner and Mutya ng Pilipinas 2006 first runner-up.

Quigaman, now tagged as one of the three prodigal daughters of Mrs. Araneta—the other two being Karen Loren Agustin and Denille Lou Valmonte who were all reportedly “banned for life” for putting up their own national competition to initiate changes—joined Binibini two times after all.

And so many beauty contest analysts just surmised that la señora de Araneta, erstwhile fashion czar Pitoy Moreno and the rest of the organizers think that selecting ladies with “vast experiences” is indeed a wise decision: They don’t need to spend a lot of time and huge amounts to polish their crowned queens—“slight repairs” will already do.

Here are some of the ladies who are predicted to make their co-candidates compete harder come coronation night.

Do they really deserve to be the country’s bet to the Miss Universe, Miss World and Miss International pageants? Let’s see…

Candidate no. 2 Carasheila May Kuijipers (Parañaque), 21, is the most hyped delegate over the Internet. Carasheila, who has British roots, is a print and runway model abroad.

Candidate no. 3 Richell Angalot (Bohol) is known as Rich Asuncion, a contract artist of GMA-7. The Boholana’s claim to fame was winning First Princess in the fourth season of GMA-7’s reality show Starstruck, in 2007. A dead-ringer for Pilar Pilapil, Richell is taking up tourism at the University of the Philippines in Diliman.

Candidate no. 6 Maria Paula Bianca Paz came all the way from Los Angeles, California, to try her luck in this pageant. The 20-year-old fashion design and merchandising graduate is the current “apple of the eye” of actor Polo Ravales.

Candidate no. 9 April Love Jordan (Ilocos Sur) is a 20-year-old tourism, hotel and travel industry management senior at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila. The former flight attendant and part-time runway model placed second runner-up in Mutya ng Pilipinas 2006 and represented the country in the 2006 Miss Tourism Queen of the Year International contest in Malaysia where she was chosen as Miss Secret Charm.

Candidate no. 10 Priscilla Navidad (Davao City) is the hearing-impaired housemate who only communicates via lip-reading in the Pinoy Big Brother Teen Edition reality show of ABS-CBN last year. The 18-year-old accounting major at AMA Computer University wants to prove that her disability is not a hindrance in pursuing her goals.

Candidate no. 11 Regina Hahn (Pasig City), 26, graduated with a degree in computer science at the Ateneo de Manila University and works as a professional services consultant. She hopes to equal the feat of her mom, Rosemarie “Chiqui” Brosas-Hahn, who represented the country in the 1975 Miss Universe pageant and placed fourth runner-up.

Candidate no. 15 Pamela Bianca Manalo (Parañaque) is an advertising alumna at the Assumption College. The 22-year-old flight stewardess-cum-runway model is the younger sister of Miss World 2002 finalist Katherine Anne Manalo and the niece of Miss International 1968 semifinalist Nenita “Nini” Ramos-Licaros.

Candidate no. 17 Marie-Ann Umali (Batangas) joined this search to redeem herself and do better this time. A crowd favorite in 2007, the 22-year-old tourism graduate at College of Saint Benilde only landed in the semis after stuttering during the final interview segment, by saying, “In my own words, love cannot be defined, it should be ‘filt’ [She meant felt].” She resembles sexy actress Francine Prieto.

Candidate no. 20 Melody Gersbach (Bicol), 23, earned her degree in business management at the University of Asia and the Pacific. She manages their family’s restaurant business in Daraga, Albay. She won the Miss Bicolandia crown last year.

Candidate no. 24 Abigail Lesley Cruz (Tarlac City) is a runway and commercial model. She competed two years ago, won Best in Swimsuit, but only emerged as second runner-up. Her feats include being Mutya ng Pilipinas 2005 third runner-up, Miss Fort Ilocandia 2005 winner and finalist in the first season of ABS-CBN’s Close Up to Fame: The Search for the Next Close Up Couple. Paolo Bediones’ girlfriend wants no less than a major beauty title in the world!

Completing this year’s roster of candidates are Vanessa Johnson (Pampanga), Miss Philippines-Earth 2008 finalist Gizelle Jasmin Rivamonte (Quezon City), Diana Arevalo (Oriental Mindoro), Binibining Pilipinas 2005 and Mutya ng Pilipinas 2007 thank-you-girl Jane de la Cruz (Bulacan), Cheryl Oliveros (Pangasinan), Binibining Pilipinas 2008 semifinalist Jaysel Arrozal (Valenzuela City), Elite Model Look 1998 delegate Sandra Inez Seifert (Bacolod City), Binibining Pilipinas 2007 semifinalist Keann Mallari (Pampanga), Mary Tiffany Jones (Quezon City), Marie Loraine de Guzman (Makati City), Stephanie Señires (Cebu City), Hazel Sutch (Southern Leyte), Priscilla Mae Honorio (Cebu City), and Barbara Salvador (Marikina City).

Binibining Pilipinas 2009 coronation night will be held tomorrow at the Big Dome. The three-hour extravaganza, to be hosted by Paolo Bediones and Iza Calzado, will be telecast on GMA-7 at 9:30 p.m.

Text By Giovanni Paolo J. Yazon of manilastandardtoday.com