Summer is the season for beauty pageants. First up for the year is the prestigious Bb. Pilipinas which is celebrating its golden anniversary.
Currently on a roll with the successive impressive showings of Venus Raj, Shamcey Supsup and Janine Tugonon at the Miss Universe pageant, the Binibining Pilipinas has produced a total of four semifinalists, seven runners-up and two world titlists in the Miss Universe pageant alone.
The organization has had its share of controversies, though. In its history, three Bb Universe title holders — including former actress Anjanette Abayari and TV host Tisha Silang — were also dethroned for citizenship issues.
Over the last three years in particular, however, the pageant has weathered these and other storms and has continued to be held in high regard by fans, sponsors as well as the countless hopefuls who line up for the screenings in the hopes of realizing their dreams.
This year’s batch has 50 hopefuls gunning for the titles of Bb. Pilipinas Universe, Bb. Pilipinas International, Bb. Pilipinas Tourism and Bb. Pilipinas Supranational.
InterAksyon takes a look at 10 favorites, according to the media, one of whom might just end up being the country’s next Miss Universe.
#1 RIA RABAJANTE
In most competitions, being first is usually not a good thing. In this pageant, there will be 49 others that will come after Ria, and the judges will be looking for someone better. But this 23-year old aspiring film director who hails from Bicol just might buck the odds and live up to her number. It does not hurt that she reminds people of Miriam Quiambao and Janine Tugonon—a definite plus factor for any candidate.
#4 NICOLE KIM DONESA
At a time when morenas are the flavor of international pageants, can a mestiza like Nicole win and represent the country in the Miss Universe and Miss International contests? The 18-year old Fil-Am has already made her mark in the US as a fashion and commercial model, singer, TV host and independent film actress with lead roles in the romantic drama “Moonlight Mile” and the horror thriller “Bokor”.
#8 ABBYGALE MONDERIN
As the Slimmer’s World Miss Bikini Philippines 2012, very few can strut around in a swimsuit better than Abbygale. The 20-year old Antipolo native is no slouch in a cocktail dress either as she also won that pageant’s Best in Long Gown award as well as being adjudged Miss Photogenic. An HRM major who dreams of working at the world’s best hotels, she certainly knows what it takes to achieve her goals.
#13 CHARMAINE ELIMA
A Venus Raj type, this statuesque beauty from Binangonan has already won two local titles, as Miss Rizal 2012 and Miss Mandaluyong 2013. Considered as one of the favorites to win it all, she has encountered some sort of a backlash as of late as she is one of the few candidates who is not afraid to speak her mind.
But that might actually work in her favor at the Miss Universe pageant—if 13 does turn out to be her lucky number.
#15 PIA WURTZBACH
Easily the most recognizable face among the 50 candidates, the 23-year old Fil-German mestizo from Cagayan De Oro is also known as Pia Romero, a member of ABS-CBN’s Star Circle Batch 11 who has appeared in “ASAP”, “Your Song”, “K2BU” and recently, “Aryana”. She is also a professional chef who graduated from the Center for Asian Culinary Studies.
#20 BEA ROSE SANTIAGO
If pure beauty is the only criteria needed to win this pageant, then no one will be surprised to see this 23-year old Masbate native walk away with the Bb Pilipinas Universe title. The former Mutya ng Pilipinas Overseas 2011 already did well in the international circuit by placing in the Top 10 of the Miss Tourism Queen of the Year International 2012—proving that she is a lot more than just a pretty face.
#27 VANIA VALIRY VISPO
If Ms. Triple V’s name sounds familiar, it’s because we last saw this 25-year old towering beauty from Batangas as one of the favorites in the Miss World Philippines 2012 pageant where she made it to the top 12 and actually won the Smart People’s Choice Award, which means she enjoys a loyal following. Her motivation to join Bb. Pilipinas may be more than just another special award.
#31 MARIA ANGELICA DE LEON
Daughter of showbiz couple Christopher De Leon and Sandy Andolong, Mariel certainly has the best features of her celebrity parents and is another heavily-favored contestant to win the gold in this pageant. But with no apparent “experience” in any beauty pageant, the 19-year old Batangueña only has her instincts to rely on which might just be the only thing she needs to win.
#37 MARIA TERESITA ALAINE BACCAY
After winning Best in National Costume, the only special award so far, Alaine is now considered a shoo-in as one of the top semi-finalists. But can she go beyond that? Last year, the Cabanatuan charmer also competed in Miss World Philippines 2012 but did not go very far. A year later and only 22, the runner-up of the 2011 Miss Magic Pride of Pangasinan looks even more radiant and more than ready for her close-up.
#45 IMELDA SCHWEIGHART
Unless she’s turning a year older by the time the Miss Universe pageant takes place, this 17-year old mestiza from Puerto Princesa may not be considered for the Bb Pilipinas Universe crown and may have to settle for Bb Pilipinas International. At the pageant’s talent show, she dazzled everyone with a sexy performance of Rihanna’s “Diamonds” so we won’t blame anyone if they can’t take their eyes off her come coronation night.