Miss Universe Philippines 2023 Candidate Round-Up, Part 2 (Cebu City to Occidental Mindoro)

CEBU CITY – Dianne Padillo. In this contest’s existence thus far, it’s this sash that proved to hold most weight. And lest we forget, it’s this city which earned the system its best Miss Universe placement to date. To be blunt, however, this is one year the Queen City of the South isn’t top of mind, but this SK chairperson still has the competitive edge to score high. Sash factor might also help.

CEBU PROVINCE – Emmanuelle Vera. Look, it’s not like fans didn’t see this coming, and it’s not just the timing of her Iron Heart character being written out. This singer-actress reportedly took a shot at entering last year’s race via Kumu and, in effect, joining her sister, Danielle, who was Miss San Juan. Of course, we all know the fast track was eventually granted to someone else and, besides, she was still completing a reign back then; forcing it would have raised eyebrows. Well, thankfully, the timing is now more opportune, and given her lofty previous international placement, the clamor and hype are indeed justified. She exceeded expectations in both online challenges and preliminary performances and has now secured her shoo-in status. It sure feels calculated that she seems to be specifically gunning for Miss Supranational, and not the plum title. Nothing wrong with that at all, but with Khun Anne’s sudden call for franchise exclusivity, fans worry that the strategy might backfire. 

DAVAO ORIENTAL – Klyza Ferrando Castro.  As Mutya ng Pilipinas titleholder, this proud Mandaya tribe member stalled in the Top 25 of Miss Asia Pacific International 2019. Four years later, she enters this race as the most dramatically improved Crossover Queen and is more unstoppable than ever. In what’s perceived to be a potential neck-and-neck battle for the winners’ circle, she’s expected to fight for a spot or, perhaps, even topple a frontrunner.  

EASTERN SAMAR – Airissh Ramos. Just like Agusan del Norte and Bulacan, this model from Arteche placed in the Top Five in all Online Challenges. And, frankly, had the contest remained in Leyte, they might as well have given her the crown, given that she won both the National Costume competition and the Tingog ng Filipina – Visayas award. Those accolades indeed bode well and, after that preliminary performance, a breakthrough feels increasingly likely.

 GUIMARAS – Vanessa Tse Weng. It’s rare to see this island province in pageants, so it’s quite refreshing to see this Environmental Management graduate gain traction. Sure, the stiff competition offers no guarantees, but this petite charmer can still fight for a slot.  

ILOILO CITY – Chloei Darl Gabales. True, this city’s track record in this pageant isn’t exactly spotless, but we did witness a double Ilongga placement last year. This high school graduate may not be as highly touted, as, say, maiden titleholder, Rabiya Mateo, but she has sleeper qualities that might help her pull a surprise – much like her predecessor, Dorothy Gemillan.

ISABELA – Kimberlyn Jane Acob. Despite fielding decent representatives tirelessly since 2020, this province has yet to catch a big break. This Tourism Management graduate has the stage chops, but might struggle to buck that trend in this fierce battle.  

LAPU-LAPU – Clare Inso. This out-and-proud influencer from Mactan has a sweet, winning face and strong fanbase going for her. Will there be enough room in the Top 16, given her preliminary evening gown risk?

MAKATI – Michelle Daniela Marquez Dee. Given that she was the one holding hands with last year’s eventual winner, it’s easy to assumer her as the next in line. And, yes, she’s definitely upped her A-game since all her previous stints combined. But there’s a reason the clamor isn’t as unanimous as one would expect. Aside from the presence of other formidable contenders, new and experienced, alike, her co-titleholder from last year, likewise, has compelling reasons to finally earn her due. Qualified as she is, the final reckoning will still be a nail-biter.

MANDALUYONG – Iman Franchesca Cristal. It’s great to see this communications graduate finally in action, as she notably withdrew from Bb. Pilipinas last year. She may not be heavily favored, but she does have striking qualities and a compelling back story of how she once overcame self-harm. Her interview skills might bolster her standing. 

MARINDUQUE – Christine Joyce Salcedo. This entrepreneur may be no frontrunner, but she shows considerable presence for a national pageant first timer and exudes great confidence in her interviews. She’s a dark horse if ever there was one, and is expected to blossom over time.

NEGROS ORIENTAL – Vanessa Yuson-Matzeit. In a way, she’s the antithesis to Pauline Amelinckx: an angel-faced Eurasian, but with subtle rebellious edge. See, there are pros and cons to simultaneously looking the part and bending the archetype. But in the case of this half-German, it works – even if buzz is frustratingly minimal at this point. 

NORTHERN SAMAR – Layla Yousif Adriatico. This businesswoman and singer represented the Filipino Community of Bahrain in Mutya Pilipinas 2019, which explains her Arab middle name. She’s blossomed into a more viable contender since then, and bear in mind: her region hosted the National Costume competition. Her Eastern counterpart may be enjoying more hype, but homecourt advantage might still play a role. 

OCCIDENTAL MINDORO – Laicka Implamado. While the Oriental counterpart of her province competed twice before, this marks the Occidental side’s grand debut. It’s great seeing this statuesque young lady herald this milestone, but this might not be MIMAROPA’s year. 

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