Favorites emerge as Bb. Pilipinas gears up for coronation night

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Clockwise from top left: Arienne Calingo, Jehza Huelar, Angelique de Leon, Sirene Sutton, Mariel de Leon, Camille Manalo, Katarina Rodriguez and Charmaine Elima. (Photos by Jill Tan Radovan/InterAksyon

Although not quite as storied as the 2015 batch that included the Pia Wurtzbach, last year’s crop of Binibining Pilipinas winners was a pretty formidable batch as it included Miss International 2016 Kylie Verzosa, Miss Universe 2016 Top 6 finisher Maxine Medina and Miss Grand International 2016 1st runner-up Nicole Cordoves.

It’s pageant season once again and the prestigious Binibining Pilipinas beauty pageant is once again leading the way in upholding the Philippines’ reputation as a pageant powerhouse. This year, there are 40 stunningly beautiful women who look ready to conquer the world, each hoping to capture one of the seven titles up for grabs.

Several candidates have, in fact, already emerged as early favorites. Not a few believe that these eight ladies will figure prominently in this year’s contest. The Grand Coronation is happening on April 30 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

# 2 ARIENNE LOUISE CALINGO

Born in California and a graduate of Georgetown University, the 24-year-old morena has lived in Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines and is representing Angeles, Pampanga. She is also no stranger to pageants. Last year, she was crowned 1st Princess in Miss World Philippines and has also won in other pageants overseas.

#10 JEHZA HUELAR

Jehza won second runner-up in last year’s Binibining Pilipinas pageant, which means that the 22-year old Davao City native was an “understudy” to the winners and underwent the same training and preparation for international competition as Kylie, Maxine and the others did. Expect Jehza to put to good use whatever advantage she gained from her stint in last year’s pageant.

#12 ANGELIQUE CELINE DE LEON

Her third time as a Binibining Pilipinas contestant could be the charm for this 26-year-old dusky beauty from Mandaluyong City. With her winning smile, arresting stage presence and 24-inch waistline, it’s hard to believe that Angelique once weighed 180 lbs. and was wearing size 33 jeans.

#13 SIRENE SUTTON

The 23-year-old Filipina-British charmer bears a striking resemblance to former actress Nanette Medved. Sirene is a professional model who is at her best element on the catwalk as a staple of print and TV ads as well as Philippine Fashion Week. She joined the Miss Global Philippines pageant in 2014 and finished 1st runner-up.

#15 MARIA ANGELICA “MARIEL” DE LEON   

No relation to Angelique, but Mariel is definitely related to showbiz power couple Christopher de Leon and Sandy Andolong who only happen to be her proud parents. As talent goes, the 23-year old Las Piñas native pretty much has it in spades. In addition to being a cookery graduate, Mariel is also an opera singer. This is her second run in Binibining Pilipinas following her Top 15 finish in 2013.

#17 CAMILLE MANALO

A gold medalist for taekwondo in the 2011 South East Asian Games, the 26-year-old Caviteña from Silang was also hailed as Athlete of the Year in the 73rd season of the UAAP. This is only her first time to join Binibiing Pilipinas, but if her sports accomplishments are any indication, Camille knows how to compete and knows how to win.

#31 KATARINA RODRIGUEZ

Best known for her second runner-up finish in ”Asia’s Next Top Model” and for her stint as an MTV Pinoy VJ, the 24-year old stunner from Davao City has one of the prettiest faces in the competition and reminds many of actress Alice Dixson. That was not necessarily an advantage for her in “ANTM” but it may do a lot of wonders in Binibining Pilipinas and maybe even beyond.

#32 CHARMAINE ELIMA

The 24-year-old dusky beauty from Binangonan, Rizal competed in Binibining Pilipinas in 2013. Back then she was a heavy favorite but only finished in the Top 15. For a while, it looked like Charmaine had already given up on pageants as it was later known that she was happily flying the friendly skies as a flight attendant. Well, she’s back and among the candidates, seems to be the only one that exudes a confident Pia Wurtzbach vibe.

Another look at the eight Bb Pilipinas favorites in their swimsuits taken during the pageant’s Parade of Beauties. (Photos by Yummie Dingding/InterAksyon)