Miss Universe Philippines 2023 Candidate Round-Up, Part 1 (Agusan del Norte to Cavite)

AGUSAN DEL NORTE – Jannarie Zarzoso. This accounting technology graduate from Cabadbaran has an inspiring back story as she’s been battling psoriasis for the past five years and now advocates for Filipinos suffering the same disease. As it stands, her debuting province seems ripe for a breakthrough.  Apart from making the Top Five in all three online challenges, she also bagged the Tingog ng Filipina – Mindanao award during the National Costume competition and the Miss Kingston International College sponsor award.

AKLAN – Avery Mariane Sucgang. After three years of placing with veterans, it’s refreshing to see the country’s oldest province field a neophyte this time. Much as this student athlete’s a solid performer, though, sustaining the streak might be a struggle.

APAYAO – Kristeen Mae Boccang. With Pangasinan’s early exit, doors opened for this Cordillera province to make its debut. That in itself is already a milestone. Other than that, this psychology graduate is overshadowed, and her timid interviews don’t exactly bolster her cause.  

BACOLOD – Jan Mari Bordon. The province of Negros Occidental has seen action here before, but it’s the first time for its capital to reach this stage. This tourism student has the smile to live up to her city’s moniker, but in this fierce roster, her best shot is to pull an upset. 

BACOOR CITY – Alexandria Bollier. Since an esteemed veteran is already donning the Cavite sash, this volleyball player joins the fray under its gateway city*. She’s no slouch in the looks department herself – think  Miss Universe Charity 2021 Victoria Velasquez Vincent  (another Caviteña), but edgier and with a prominent pawikan tattoo on her right hip. Whether or not the panel will gravitate towards that overall look remains to be seen, but she’s within shooting distance.

*- The unwritten rule is that whenever a component city (meaning, not classified as “highly urbanized”) competes, the province fielded multiple representativesThough, yes, there have been oddities such as Roxas City and Victorias joining in lieu of Capiz and Negros Occidental, respectively, last year.


BAGUIO – Krishhah Marie Gravidez. Granted there’s truth behind Shamcey Supsup clones being favored, then this youth empowerment advocate may have an edge. Not that it’s her only ace, mind you, as she’s been serving looks by the day and even bagged that Tingog ng Filipina – Luzon award with ease. Suffice to say, the Summer Capital is due for a back-to-back placement. And if she refines her interview skills when it counts, she might even usurp a crown. 

BATANGAS – Karen Joyce Olfato. You’d think this province would have made a mark at this point, but, so far, it isn’t the case. Apart from the missing the cut in Year One, their short-listers from the last two hybrid editions all stalled in the online challenges. High time they’re back in the running, and this industrial engineer does impress. But, again, in this competitive bunch, a reversal of fortune’s not entirely set in stone.

BENGUET – Joemay-an Leo. Aside from being one of three moms making history this year, this youth leader is also the only wife. While reserved in initial appearances, she made more risks as weeks progressed and garnered Second Place in the National Costume competition with her spectacular salad bowl number. And, after that raw and emotional preliminary interview, expect sentimental votes to swing in her favor.  

BOHOL – Pauline Cucharo Amelinckx. No one can deny that she’s the system’s Poster Girl of Persistence. And, even when she didn’t join, she served the contest as a backstage correspondent. Such is her affinity and association with the brand at this point and nothing screams “Let me represent the country” than giving it another go one year after winning a supplementary title. Well, the other frontrunners won’t make this third round easy. But judging from those 10 sponsor awards, the powers-that-be might finally be heeding her call.  

BULACAN – Princess Anne Marcos. This industrial engineer has one of the smaller frames in the bunch, but she’s by no means dwarfed by her competition. She has powerful presence, and if her Top Five placement in all online challenges were any indication, her province might finally advance. 

CAPIZ – Shayne Glenmae Maquiran. On the other extreme, here we have one of the most full-figured. Well, clearly, fans are buying the body positivity angle and her Top Five placement in the Swimsuit Challenge does send a progressive message. Too bad, she opted out of the Talent Competition due to health concerns, but that shouldn’t inhibit her from pulling more surprises.    

CAVITE – Samantha Alexandra Panlilio. Of this year’s Crossover Queens, this Bb. Pilipinas alumna endured the most heartbreak and, obviously, she has no qualms alluding to her Miss Grand International 2021 shutout. Well, seeing her back in action does feel reassuring, but, at the same time, it’s also a huge gamble. There’s no doubt that she’ll fight until the end, but the presence of other frontrunners makes the plum title feel less assured. Either way, she does deserve another global shot, but is this the time? Let’s just hope there really are more crowns. 

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