MANILA, Philippines – The official candidates of Binibining Pilipinas 2017 were introduced to the media on Wednesday, March 22, and this year’s batch is composed of ladies from different professions, from college student to professional models.
The batch also has some familiar faces. Among them are Mariel de Leon, Katarina Rodriguez, and Chanel Olive Thomas.
Rappler caught up with the 3 ladies after the press presentation and ask for their thoughts on joining the competition.
Mariel de Leon: Showbiz daughter out to make a name
A candidate making her return to Bb Pilipinas is Maria Angelica “Mariel” de Leon. Mariel is the daughter of veteran actors Christopher de Leon and Sandy Andolong, making her a child of showbiz royalty.
After competing in 2013, Mariel signed up with Viva Entertainment in 2015. She’s an accomplished singer, and is part of a group called The Opera Belles.
Asked why she decided to join again after competing in 2013, Mariel said: “It was this just this year when I realized that I should try again. I was definitely inspired by Pia [Wurtzbach] and I felt something in my heart. It was like a spark that just went off.”
In an interview with Pep, Mariel’s mother Sandy initially said she was not keen on the idea of her daughter joining again.
“Nung nagpaalam siya sa amin ni Christopher, ayaw ko sana talaga. Si Boyet (Christopher’s nickname), okay sa kanya, pumayag siya agad. Pero gusto kasi ng anak ko, kaya suportahan ko siya. Buo ang suporta ko sa kanya, kasi yun talaga ang gusto niya, eh. Basta sabi ko sa kanya, ‘Your walk with God is very important,'”
(When she sought permission from me and Christopher, I really did not want her to join anymore. But Boyet, it’s fine with him, he allowed it right away. But my daughter wants it, so I will support her. I’m giving her all my support, because she wants this. I just told her, ‘Your walk with God is very important.’)
Mariel said that she and a lot of the ladies are now focused on their personalities when it comes to training.
“It’s about inspiring and influencing other people. So that connection is very important,” she said.
Katarina Rodriguez: from ‘Top Model’ to beauty queen aspirant
Katarina is no stranger to competitions. The 24-year-old model from Davao previously competed in Asia’s Next Top Model, where she placed 2nd runner-up.
When asked why she decided to join Bb Pilipinas, Katarina said: “This time I decided to join Binibini because for the last two years, I’ve been asked to join and people would always ask, ‘When are you going to join, when are you going to enter the pageant world, you’re modeling?’ And I was kind of shutting it [out] a little bit and over time, I realized that I was interested in it. I would watch, I would Google different beauty queens, not only just here in the Philippines but internationally.
“And I love the industry, I love the craft of acting, you know, I love doing the dance workshops, all of that, the things that come along with showbiz. But I felt I needed something that had a platform for the advocacy I envisioned to bring it to life. Like how can I do this now separately from being an artista (celebrity),” she said.
Katarina said her prayers were answered when she met up with Aces and Queens head Jonas Gaffud. What was supposed to be a 90-minute meeting became 4 hours long because she kept asking questions.
“I had more questions to follow and I ended up liking what I heard, and I’m almost guilty for having been ignorant to the beauty queen world because it is beauty and intelligence with a purpose. I’ve grown a lot since I started training with Aces and Queens. I’ve learned a lot since becoming an official candidate of Binibini, and I want to keep growing and hope that I win, of course, so I can use the platform given to make my advocacy come to life,” she said.
Katarina’s advocacy is HIV/AIDs awareness through the group The Red Whistle and its #SaveSexy campaign, which she’s been active in since 2016.
“That’s actually the advocacy I had early and put a lot of my time into. Last 2016, Niccolo Cosme, the fashion photographer [and] also the founder of the org, handpicks the ambassadors very precisely, and I ended up falling in love with what he’s doing, his cause, his enthusiasm, his passion, it inspired me a lot. And when I graduated from La Salle, I decided you know what, I want to be 100 percent on with this guy and on what he’s doing. And I like what he doing, and I like how he reaches out and he’s making it available all over the Philippines to be able to get the chance to be tested for free,” she said.
As a philosophy and business management graduate, Katarina advises young beauty pageant aspirants: “Really deliberate taking up philosophy in university. Because philosophy is definitely the degree to take up for beauty queens. Q&A – I believe that I’m very strong there, because of my Philosophy background. I love it, I love the Q&A portion,” she said.
Chanel Olive Thomas: Empowering women
Chanel is no stranger to beauty pageants. In 2015, she competed in the Miss Philippines Earth pageant, where she was crowned Miss Philippines Air. That year, Angelia Ong won Miss Earth Philippines and went on to win the international title.
Chanel has made her own name in the industry as a model, but is also known for previously dating actor Jake Cuenca.
“Actually, I was never a pageant girl before, and then this was the pageant that tested it out for me,” Chanel told Rappler in a previous interview, when she was still competing in Miss Philippines Earth. “So I really like what it stands for. I wanna create that change in our environment.” (READ: Runner-up Chanel Olive Thomas on Miss PH Earth experience)
On trying her luck again with Bb Pilipinas, the Filipino-Australian beauty said: “I really believe this is an amazing platform for me. My advocacy, really, is about empowering and inspiring young girls and women to wholeheartedly believe in themselves and to follow their dreams. It’s an amazing opportunity to work really hard and represent the country.”
As for being a modern beauty queen, Chanel has this to say: “I really believe that for me, communication is so big in pageants now. And I could see when Pia won, her voice was really being heard and people were listening to her. So that’s what made me wanna join, and now I believe that I have that opportunity where I can reach out not only to just thousands but also millions of girls.”
Who among the 39 candidates are you rooting for to win Bb Pilipinas? Let us know in the comments! – Rappler.com