The theme of this year’s Bb. Pilipinas pageant was “Game of Crowns“, an obvious play on Game of Thrones, as if the scoring and treatment of the opening billboard didn’t emphasize that enough. Fortunately, the proceedings were devoid of blood and gore even if deliberations reportedly took more than an hour. And, as far as I know, everyone left the venue intact. Nevertheless, there were shocking twists to spare.
The search for Pia Wurtzbach‘s successor is on! And for obvious reasons, so is the pressure. And, if there’s one thing we’ve learned about the Bb. Pilipinas screening process, that is to never take the initial roster as final!
Because of previously-scheduled commitments, there’s a cloud over my attendance in the Bb. Pilipinas 2015 pageant tonight. Thus, I’m left with no recourse but to catch the telecast as soon as I get home.
If last year was akin to Survivor: Fans VS. Favorites, the 2015 edition can be compared to Survivor: All-Stars. The roster of frontrunners consists of acclaimed three-peaters and highly-touted veterans from other local pageants. There’s also a tinge of showbiz royalty tossed in. Needless to say, expect this to be another tight race. (I know I say that almost every year, but this time, I mean it.) Here’s a quick rundown of my picks:
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 AteBianca‘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.
The words “determination” and “vindication” echoed across the Twitterverse last night, as Mary Jean “MJ” Lastimosa bagged the highly-coveted Miss Universe Philippines title at the 51st Bb. Pilipinas Pageant held in Smart Araneta Coliseum. This is hardly the culmination of a journey for the 26-year-old North Cotabato native, who already saw action in this pageant twice before. She will now undergo heavy training in preparation for Miss Universe2014, which will be held later this year in a yet-to-be-confirmed venue.
Save for a few shockers , this year’s results were more or less within the realms of expectation. All five winners were touted as crown favorites at one point or the other. The other new titleholders are:
Bb. Pilipinas-International: Mary Anne Bianca Guidotti (Bb#22)Bb. Pilipinas-Intercontinental: Kris Tiffany Janson (Bb#13) Bb. Pilipinas-Supranational: Yvethe Marie Santiago (Bb#35) Bb. Pilipinas-Tourism: Parul Shah (Bb#4)
Rounding up the circle of winners are Laura Lehmann (Bb#11), who finished 1st Runner-Up, and Hannah Ruth Sison (Bb#27), who finished 2nd Runner-Up.
Completing the Top 15 were Pia Wurtzbach (Bb#8), Emma Tiglao (Bb#14), Mae Liezel Ramos (Bb#19), Julian Aurine Flores (Bb#1), Nichole Marie Manalo (Bb#23), Johanna Romero (Bb#3), Kenneth Santiago (Bb#20), and Zahara Soriano (Bb#16).
It was my second time to watch the pageant live. The first was last year’s celebrated Golden batch, which yielded our country’s best international results in recent history: 2 winners, 1 Top 5 finish, and 1 Top 10 semi-finalist. Surely, expectations for this year were high, and fortunately, they did carry on with that momentum. From the strong roster of candidates and magnificent stage to the colorful production numbers and fiesta-themed swimsuit portion, this year’s pageant was an eye-popping visual feast.
Adding even more prestige to the proceedings was the presence of reigning Miss Universe Gabriela Isler in the judging panel. There was an initial rumor that her trip here together with MUO President Paula Shugart would lead to an 11th hour announcement of our country as this year’s Miss Universe host country, but it turned out to be just that: a rumor, instigated by fans who hoped that our 20-year hosting chain would continue this year (The Philippines hosted MU in 1974 and 1994, if you may recall). Nonetheless, that didn’t make the Venezuelan beauty queen’s visit any less fruitful. Prior to pageant night, her 4-day itinerary included a press conference and a visit to Yolanda-ravaged Coron. The icing on the cake for Pinoy pageant fans (including myself) was when “Molly” shared the stage with two other reigning international titleholders, Miss International Bea Rose Santiago and Miss Supranational Mutya Datul, during the crowning moment.
The pageant was generally fast-paced, but not without its share of lulls. Look, it isn’t hard to fathom why they flew in Russian pop star Emin as musical guest, despite being a relative stranger to Philippine shores. His wife’s family, after all, was instrumental in bringing last year’s Miss Universe pageant to Moscow, hence his now-strongly established ties with the MUO. Obviously, he was part of Shugart’s contingent. But while his post-evening gown serenade was adequate, his second performance had “filler” written all over it.
Fortunately, Anne Curtis and Xian Lim did a decent job as hosts. Same goes for former queens Venus Raj (stunning with short hair), Shamcey Supsup, and Janine Tugonon as co-hosts.They all managed to manoeuver through the lulls smoothly without steering the attention away from the candidates. Even Anne’s impromptu reprise of Heart‘s Alonebecame an entertaining distraction during the deliberation gap.
Anyway, I know a lot of fans are extremely elated over MJ’s victory right now. It was a crowning moment 4 years in the making; her rampaging emotions were palpable when her name was announced. I shall elaborate my take on the results in a separate entry. For now, it’s back to the daily grind for me. Later!