I used to watch beauty pageants with my family and the countries that we eagerly look forward to apart from my country India were Thailand, Malaysia, Israel, South Korea, Japan and last but not the least, The Philippines. I wasn’t sure why we had so much interest in those countries. Of course we would always like India to win every time. Those were the time India ruled the pageant world, but we were also happy to see those countries mentioned above in the top 5 or 10. As of now I have understood at least forthe Philippines beauties why I like them so much. It is the Filipinos craze for beauty pageants. They just love beauty pageants and their love for their queens and respect is quite overwhelming. Along with boxing, cock-fighting, and basketball, watching beauty contests is unarguably one of the nation’s favorite pastimes. Their appreciation for beauty contest can be seen beyond TV. There are so many ways they appreciate their beauty queens. Having said this, Filipinos beauty queens carry their sash with pride and utmost sincerity. Their hard work and determination can be seen once they landed on their respective pageants. They have such a bubbling personality and are often seen with full of energy, excitement, and cheerfulness.
So today, I write this with admiration and high regards for the Filipino beauty queens and their loyal supporters. These are some of the Filipinos representative at pageants I adore.
Maria Rafaela Yunon – Miss World Philippines 2003
Watching Maria Rafaela Yunon on stage during Miss World 2003 was such a delight. She had a certain charisma and charm that draws you towards her and commands your full attention. She and Miss India, Ami Vashi had a dress which really left me awestruck. Maria’s choice of the red gown was definitely mesmerizing. The red gown design with cuts at the bottom matched up to her bubbling and sunny personality.
When she was called on stage, she was oozing with confidence, warmth and her personality radiated when she spread her arms to show gestures of happiness on being called as a finalist.
At the final Q and A round I thought her answer was very spontaneous and precise. I just love her smile. She was so chirpy and positive throughout. My only wish was that she should have been placed either as 2nd or 1st runner up. To these days she remains one of my favourite beauty queens ever. It’s very rare to find such qualities among those who made the cut as finalists since contestants tend to get nervous under pressure.
Czarina Gatbonton Miss World Philippines 2010
Czarina Gatbonton hailed from a small island village of Pamarawan in the historic Malolos,
Bulacan. Her Mentor John dela Vega said, “it is easy to ‘fall in love’ with Czarina Gatbonton’s personality. She is like sunshine on a rainy day – an apt description since she is the daughter of a fisherman. When the storms threaten to take away the catch, she comes in with a smile and saves the day. But how could Czarina Gatbondon be so happy growing up dirt-poor? It is a miracle to be sure”
Many pageant fans and critics/experts were shocked at her win in her national pageant (Bb. Pilipinas). She was given the same strategy as given to Venus Raj where she would make a great impression by being positioned as a dusky, exotic stunner. At the Miss World Contest in 2010, it actually worked as pageant fans treated her with surprisingly high regard. But then the fast-tracks came in and she failed to place in any of them. Czarina had her fair share of detractors who felt that she was not sophisticated enough for the international level and there are parts of her still needed to be polished like her communication skills as judging from her video introduction.
Gwendoline Ruias – Miss World Philippines 2011
I have to admit I am a fan of her. I have always been a fan of people who are unconventional beauties. Once they let their inner persona light up from within and radiate it through their face, they become more beautiful and they don’t have to prove anything outwardly. I am sure Gwen has had a hard time trying to prove her detractors wrong. This is where her motto, “To never give up on dreams” make her stronger and more beautiful.
It is well known that at Miss World 2012, Gwen wasn’t a favourite of many fans or critics and I believed that she was aware of her detractors. Miss World is definitely the best platform where her unconventional brand of beauty has the best prospects of making an impression as Miss World is about celebrating the inner beauty of women whose personality shines and is reflected. Many pageant fans were shocked at her extremely high placement and even the 9th place score during the preliminaries. She might lack conventional beauty part, but she was tall, elegant, and statuesque it was her grace and charm stood out and help her, one cannot deny that she fared better in the “figure and deportment” and the “intelligence, poise, and personality” portions of the preliminary judging. Plus, her much vaunted communication skills (she was prominent providing commentary sound bites, especially during the video of the Cambridge University visit as aired during the finals even if she was not one of the selected speakers) and her expressing a great attitude and commitment to help others helped win the judges to her side.
Gwendoline Ruais nearly won the Miss World pageant in 2011, placing first runner-up to Miss Venezuela Ivian Sarcos. MWO chairman and chief executive Julia Morley said there was only a small difference between the scores of Miss Venezuela and Miss Philippines in their fight for the crown. Still, Ruais said she is happy with her runner-up finish.
Queenierich Rehman Miss World Philippines 2012
More popularly known as the “beat boxing beauty queen,” Queenierich Rehman represented the Philippines in the Miss World pageant, where she made it to the Top 15. When Queenierich took part in Binibining Pilipinas she was my fav. to win for the main title. It was disappointing to see her not even won one of the titles. But I guess she was destined to be Miss World Philippines. I was more than happy and excited for her when she won Miss World Philippines in 2012.
For the world designer award, the red gown she wore was so exquisite, subtle and intricate. I wanted to applaud her for carrying such gown with ease and style. She was exceptionally beautiful. At the finale, during the top 15 introduction, Queenie wearing the blue gown looked so lovely, elegant, refined and alluring. I wished she had made the top 7. Though she might not have won the crown, I feel very proud of her achievements. She was one of the most talked-about candidates in the Miss World pageant with her beat box performance during the talent portion. A video of her performance went viral online, and was featured on Time magazine’s website and on the Huffington Post. She was in the top 5 of performing talent, top 40 in beach beauty and in the top 46 in the top model. It was reported that Rehman won the world designer award, but was not officiated because of the bitter relation between China and Philippines.
Megan Young – Miss World 2013
Philippines had its first ever Miss World Crown when Megan young won Miss World in Indonesia. She deserved to win the title fair and square. She was always one of the favourites, right next to Brazil, in every leader board and performed the best at the final night, therefore being the judges’ choice. Megan placed in three of the five challenge events (formerly called fast track): first in the Top Model category, fourth in the Multimedia category, and fifth among the 11 finalists in the Beach Fashion Final.
The 23-year-old Filipino-American actress and TV host presented the aura of a Miss World-in-the-making. Megan’s winning answer to the question on why she should win Miss World, “Miss World for me treasures the core value of humanity and that guides her into understanding people, why they act the way that they do, how they’re living their lives and I will use these core values in my understanding not only in helping others but to show other people how they can understand others, to help others so that as one, together, we shall help society,” is definitely one of the best in Miss World history as every year we see contestants answering this nerve wrecking questions time and again.
In my opinion, Philippines is on the correct path and will continue to top the chart for a few more if the management remains the same and I won’t be shocked if we see another Miss World from Philippines soon again.
At the Miss World, 2014, I was so impressed and excited to see her hosting the event with Frankie Cena. She did it with such an ease and simplicity that I want to see her again at Miss World. The videos in which Megan and Frankie appeared were so fun and pleasant to watch. Both their performances were flawless and superb.
Venus Maria Raj – Miss Universe Philippines 2010
She might not have won the crown and might not have given the best answer but she will be remembered for putting the country back on the Miss Universe map after 10 long years of being unplaced. And she is just more than that. Venus exuded a sensual and exotic loveliness entirely her own. She is strong and has never lost her sense of self. Her victory at Bb Pilipinas was short lived. Inconsistencies in her birth certificate which question her eligibility to represent her country led to being stripped of the crown. Not the one to give up on her dreams, she fought back to reclaim her dignity and defend her integrity. “I was up front about my information from the start,” she had said. She remained positive throughout and never lost hope. She had a strong public support which helped her reclaim the crown. It is this inherent positivity that defines Venus. Born to an Indian father she never knew and raised by her single mother in the rice paddies of her simple home with a meagre income, she was never the one to complain and her optimism made her see opportunity in poverty and beauty in the simplest things.
Venus was very popular among the Miss Universe contestants partly because of the controversy and more so because of her cheerful attitude and warm personality. She looked every bit of the exotic and sensuous queen when she walked in swimsuit and evening gown. Her calmness, aura and appealing persona manifested on stage.
Her downfall might be her answer in the final top 5 Q & A round, but she had achieved a lot for her countrymen putting back her country right up there in the Miss Universe map. Venus Raj shows the world that a person with humble beginning who sees beauty and optimism in every form without complaining, but more determined and willing to fight back for better can definitely top the world and be a major beauty queen.
Shamcey Supsup – Miss Universe Philippines 2011
Here comes, Shamcey Supsup with impeccable academic credentials, a beautiful face, part from excelling in beauty, grace and intelligence, captivates you with her undeniable stage presence and attractive personality. She exuded grace and elegance whether she is walking for her evening gown or in a swimsuit in her shapely figure. She gave a solid and strong answer in terms of honesty and conviction. This comes from the fact that she has the gift of the gab. She was asked, “Would you change your religious beliefs to marry the person that you love? Why or why not?” She replied, “If I had to change my religious beliefs, I would not marry the person that I love, because the person I love is God, who created me. I have my faith and my principles.” I am definitely on her side. She echoed my sentiments. She came fourth and Leila Lopez of Angola was crowned Miss Universe, 2011. Shamcey should have been placed higher than her 4th place.
Janine Tuganon – Miss Universe Philippines 2012
I admire people who work hard and never give up on their dreams. Janine is such one woman I love for her determination and resolved to come back stronger after being placed 1st runner up at Binibining Pilipinas, 2011 and in 2012 at the same pageant she was crowned Miss Universe Philippines. But she still needed to work on her herself. And she did. The result was evident in the Miss Universe competition 2012. She had poise, grace and elegance and was very eloquent too. The dusky smart girl is also known for a signature cobra walk. It’s so fascinating to watch her walk. In one of her interviews she said that she would also happily teach anyone who asks how to do her signature Cobra walk which she unleashed to maximum impact during the Evening Gown competition. How sweet!
At the Q and A round Janine was asked this question by pageant judge Nigel Barker: “As an international ambassador, do you think that speaking English should be a prerequisite for Miss Universe? Why or why not?” She answers: “For me, Miss Universe is not about being able to speak a particular language, it’s about being able to influence and inspire other people. No matter what language you have as long as you have the heart you can inspire other people.” I thought that she would be the first Miss Universe from Philippines after three decades. It was nerve wracking and I waited for the result with bated breath. I was so disappointed and I am sure the rest of her countrymen would be equally or maybe more disappointed with the result. Thought she deserved the crown more than Olivia Culpo, Miss USA. This is what she had to say about the result, “I knew that USA was strong even during the pre-pageant process. If you saw me in many shoots and interviews, you’d see her in even more of them. She was busier than I was.” “I was able to talk to her and spend time with her in some shots. She is really okay which is why I knew that she would make it through,” Janine revealed. At the press conference that though she expected the crown during the last moments of the pageant, she also harboured thoughts that it perhaps wasn’t meant to be. She felt there was a “50-50” chance that she would win.
The charm, grace, and wit, she exuded during the pageant are proof that Filipinos can stand out in the global arena. Truly, she is the epitome of beauty, brains, and Filipina empowerment.
Andrew Wolff – Mister World Philippines 2013
Andrew is not exactly a stranger to the limelight, being one of the more in-demand models in the Philippines. He was always in the list of my top 5 for Mister World 2013. He has got what it takes to be a winner. He got the Killer smile, good looks, brains, and most important of all, a heart.
During Mister World Competition, he proved his mettle by winning the Mister World Multimedia, placing in the top 12 of Mr World Sports and in the top 16 of Mister World Extreme Sports and eventually the first runner spot at Mister World.
The dashing and dapper Andrew is also a humanitarian. He is involved with Tuloy Foundation, an advocacy group that provides shelter, care and support for marginalized children. ” I want to be an inspiration to kids out there wanting to represent their country in various things,” he says in his Mr. World video.
For Andrew, he thinks a man should have integrity. A man should be dignified, responsible and carry all situations whether it be in the workplace or family.
Neil Perez – Mister International 2015
Unlike Andrew Wolff, I believe Neil Perez belongs to the unconventional looking type. There is something about him which is so intriguing. Neil Perez doesn’t have the look of the typical male pageant winners. It’s his simple and neat look cut image that draws my attention. Like I said before, I like his unconventional image. It was pretty much interesting to know that Neil was a bomb and explosives technician with the Philippine National Police’s Aviation Security Group. Before his departure, Neil said he was dedicating his participation in the competition to the 44 SAF officers killed in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, on January 25. According to Neil, 7 of those killed were his batch mates in the police academy. It was his commitment and passion that helped him win the title. The brave policeman won an international fan like me.
The soft spoken showed his courteous and modest side through the Q&A portion at the Mister International 2014. Perez was asked what his biggest disappointment in life is. He answered: “My greatest disappointment in life is when I disrespect my parents. It is very important to show respect to our parents because it is second to God’s 10 commandments of which Catholics follow.” That was definitely an honest and straight from the answer from him. He had described himself as a humble person with a humble background. I hear you, Neil.
So, in the world of beauty pageants whether one likes a representative from the Philippines or dislike them, one cannot deny or ignore their presence in beauty pageants because they come prepared like anyone else or even better than some. The Filipinos are aware of their critics too, but they let their personalities and admirable qualities do the talking and some are left with no choice but to like them. The way they walk, the way they move and the way they smile at you are enough to sway you. Philippines is here to rule the hearts and minds of beauty pageant fans.
Sources: Miss World Philippines page & site, Miss World page & website, www.rappler.com, ww.interaksyon.com, ww.zeibiz.com, www.lifestyle.inquirer.net, www.thegreatpageantcommunity.com etc
Categories: WORLD PAGEANT