Having shed my general thoughts on this year’s production, let me now share my insights on the results. More or less, they fell within expectations. 4 out of my Top 5 picks ended up with crowns and the only one I missed was part of my Top 10 anyway. All in all, 11 out of the Top 15 were in my predictions list, with some surprises tossed in between.
UNLIKELY THANK YOU GIRLS. The first cut always sets us up for the first set of shockers. Pageant fans know this very well. This year, that axe fell prematurely on three candidates initially perceived to be major contenders. There was considerable buzz over Bb#9 Joy Antonette Diaz, whose resemblance to her aunt Miss Universe 1969 Gloria Diaz was uncanny. Despite being one of this batch’s most eloquent speakers, the incoming law student was left in the ice. With her non-placement, we are left with this unsettling implication: Can the Gloria Diaz mould still succeed in this day and age?
Bb#15 Kimverlyn Suiza made a huge sacrifice by relinquishing her Miss Earth-Air title for a shot at BBP, but despite looking radiant during the evening gown competition with her swan neck and Audrey Hepburn-esque up-do, she was also shut out.
The most shocking exclusion, however, would have to be Bb.#17 Diana Arevalo. The two-time (2009 and 2011) semifinalist had already been working as a welcome ambassadress in a hotel in Macau, and came back home for a third and, presumably, final shot at a title. Fans were optimistic that the 25-year-old would secure her best placement yet, but alas, she didn’t even make the first cut. One might attribute this to her underwhelming styling during the pageant night, but I still believe that she deserved to at least place.
Coincidentally, when the non-placers were called back onstage for the crowning moment, those three mentioned women stood front and center. Was it a silent protest on the stage director’s part? One can only digress.
THE LITTLEST MANALO. Among the candidates who made it instead, it was Nichole Manalo (Bb#23) whom I initially pegged most likely to crash the party. Lo and behold. She did prove that she could make it through her own merits apart from her pageant pedigree. The main highlight of her interview portion wasn’t her response, but rather, the cutaways to her Ate Bianca‘s frantic applauses.
DARK HORSES. Joana Romero (Bb#3), though initially not a favorite, looked her best that night and delivered when it mattered. Same goes for Kenneth Santiago (Bb#20), whose strong performance in evening gown probably gave her the edge over Joy Gangan (Bb#30) as the statuesque-girl-most-likely. She, however, earns the Merry Joy Respicio Award for citing shoes as the biggest thing she will sacrifice during her Q & A.
SEMI-FINAL SHOCKER. Zahara Soriano‘s (Bb#16) placement proved to be the most surprising. The 20-year-old Rochelle Barrameda dead-ringer was below virtually everybody’s pre-pageant radar and her fumbling semi-final interview left fans even more perplexed. Overheard: “Baka sa kanya napunta yung scores na dapat kay #15 at #17!” (In reference to her placement over eliminated favorites Suiza and Arevalo)
JUSTIFIABLE. On the other extreme, Julian Aurine Flores (Bb#1), Mae Liezel Ramos (#9), and Emma Mary Tiglao (#14) gave exceptional performances and sealed their semi-final placements, as expected.
PIA’S PAIN. The exclusions of Diana, Joy, and Kimverlyn from the Top 15 notwithstanding, the evening’s most devastating upset would be Pia Wurtzbach’s (Bb#8) failure to earn a crown.
Majority of fans attribute this controversial loss to judge Sen. Sonny Angara, more specifically, his decision to conduct Pia’s interview in Filipino. Yes, it’s only polite for to respond in the language used in addressing you, but it’s also unwise to alienate non-speakers of the language (in this case, the foreign judges) from the discourse – something which Pia realized too late, as she scrambled for a last-minute, watered-down English translation of her response.
It broke my heart seeing her compatriots from the Golden Batch crown other girls, as she stood applauding in the background, but kudos to her for handling it with grace.
For now, we can only ponder: Is fate simply patterning her journey after MJ Lastimosa’s? Can she finally clinch the crown if she gave a third try? Or is she really done with pageants, as hinted in her Instagram post? Only time will tell.
UP NEXT: My take on the winners’ circle.