Rundown: Bb Pilipinas 2014 top 40 candidates

Drew Francisco

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Coronation Night is on March 30. Who is your favorite to win the crown? Read up on the candidates now

MANILA, Philippines – 2013 was one for the books for Binibining Pilipinas. Bea Rose Santiago and Mutya Johanna Datul were crowned Miss International 2013 and Miss Supranational 2013, respectively. Ariella Arida finished 3rd runner-up in Miss Universe, while Joanna Cindy Miranda made it to the Top 10 of Miss Tourism Queen International.

The pressure is now on the next set of Bb Pilipinas queens to match their predecessors’ victories. It’s a tough act to follow, but the ladies, both newbies and returning, seem up to the challenge.

As we count down to the coronation night on March 30, read up on your favorite Binibinis and don’t forget to vote for your favorites here.

Vote for your favorite candidate here.

Returning runners-up

They were so close to winning in previous Bb Pilipinas editions, but Mary Jean Lastimosa (Bb 25) and Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach (Bb 8) ended up as runners-up. Now armed with more experience, the two are back to hopefully snatch the coveted titles. 

Mary Jean first joined in 2011 (she was under Aces & Queens) where she placed 2nd runner-up. A year after, she decided to join again and became an instant favorite for the crown. Hopes were high she would go home with a crown after winning special awards from major sponsors but surprisingly failed to make it to the Top 5. 

Pageant fans thought it was the end of the road for this 26 year-old Filipino-Arabian beauty, but she generated buzz late last year when she confirmed she would be joining Bb Pilipinas again. She’s now under Kagandahang Flores, the team behind the reigning Miss International.

Pia Wurtzbach might have been the only crownless girl last year after finishing 1st runner-up, but she received the same amount of training as the other ladies. Now that she has decided to join again, this definitely gives this Fil-German girl an advantage over the first-timers.

With former Bb runners-up ending up as titleholders in recent years (like Diane Necio in 2011 and Janine Tugonon in 2012), we might just see Pia crowned this time around.

Former candidates

Aside from Lastimosa and Wurtzbach, there are 5 other former candidates who are vying to become the next Bb Pilipinas.

During her first two attempts in 2009 and 2011, Diana Arevalo (Bb 17) was always on the favorites list, but always ended up as a finalist. She took a break from pageants and worked as a welcome ambassador at a hotel in Macau, until she finally decided to give Bb Pilipinas a third (and possibly, final) try. Will lady luck be on this Mindoro native’s side this time? 

Half-Indian Parul Shah (Bb 4) was born and raised in Dubai. A nursing graduate, this 25-year-old lady debuted in Bb Pilipinas last year, where she placed in the Top 15, together with med student Ellore Noelle Punzalan (Binibini 18).

Hannah Ruth Sison (Bb 27) was luckless in her first attempt. She was among the favorites last year and also applauded during the finals, but she failed to make the cut. Hannah is a freelance multimedia artist.

After failing to make the cut in 2011, Ladylyn Riva (Bb 39) tried out in other local pageants. She was 1st runner-up in Miss Resorts World and won Miss Casino Filipino. Now armed with more pageant experience, this Aklan native is determined to finally land in the Bb Pilipinas top 5.

The crossover ladies

Did you know that Ariella Arida first joined Miss Philippines Earth 2012 but went home empty-handed? She then decided to try her luck in Bb Pilipinas and, as they say, the rest history. Just like her, some of these year’s candidates had luckless campaigns in their first national pageants but are determined to turn their dreams into reality.

The last year’s Miss Philippines Earth battle was neck-and-neck between Kimverlyn Suiza (Bb 15) and Angelee Delos Reyes. Then a pageant neophyte, Kimverlyn lost the crown to the veteran and settled for a runner-up finish. This didn’t kill her pageant spirit. Other candidates who tried it out in MPE are UST graduate Sarah Jireh Asido (Bb 12), computer engineering student Krystal Alonday (Bb 36) and nursing graduate Janine Asanion (Bb 38).

No stranger to pageants, Mae Liezel Ramos (Bb 19) has won in local pageants in Bicol, most recently as 1st Runner-Up in Mutya ng Magayon 2013. Her first national pageant was the 2011 Miss World Philippines, but she failed to make the cut.

Bea Rose Santiago first joined Mutya ng Pilipinas before she became Bb Pilipinas International. Now following her footsteps in hopes of clinching a crown are Emma Mary Tiglao (Bb 14), Ednornance Agustin (Bb 24) and Gabrielle Erika Tilokani (Bb 33). Emma, 19, was Mutya first runner-up in 2012 and hails from Mabalacat, Pampanga. Ednornance, 23 works as a professional model. Gabrielle, 22, was a runner-up in Miss Mandaluyong 2009. She works as a tour management consultant.

The callback queens

The exclusion of Aiza Faeldonia (Bb 7) and Carla Jenina Lizardo (Bb 28) in the initial roster of official candidates came as a shock to avid pageant fans. Their return was met with cheers. 

Aiza was ready to return to her pre-Bb Pilipinas life the day after she wasn’t included in the top 40 – until she got a call from the organization asking her to report to the office.  She used to sell vegetables with her grandmother back in the province, but is currently in Manila for work. Now, this 24-year-old model from Isulan, Sultan Kudarat is ready to bring her A-game to the competition. 

Carla ventured into beauty pageants in 2010 when she won the Mutya ng Pilipinas Intercontinental title. But her duties as a student-athlete in Ateneo de Manila University prevented her from partaking in the international pageant. She decided to give pageants a second go in 2012, but only finished in the Top 12 of Miss World Philippines. She’s a news anchor and a disc jockey, too. No wonder she’s one of the best speakers in the batch.

The fresh faces

Pageants never run out of fresh faces, and the premier pageant in the country is a testament to this. Here are some of the national pageant neophytes whom fans are welcoming with open arms.

Ateneo de Manila graduates Hannah Mariz Dela Guerra (Bb 5) and Mary Anne Bianca Guidotti (Bb 22) are also in competition for the crowns. A self-confessed tech geek, 22 year-old Hannah holds a degree in management information systems and works as a technical consultant. She was Miss Mandaluyong 2011.

Meanwhile, European Studies graduate Bianca works for a non-government organization that helps people affected by conflict, natural disaster and violence before she decided to give Bb Pilipinas a try. Pageant fans are going gaga over her because aside from English and Filipino, she can also speak Portuguese. Miss Universe 2014 will reportedly take place in Brazil, a Portuguese-speaking nation.

For someone who admits she was “tomboyish” growing up, Angelique Celine de Leon (Bb 31) has bloomed into a fine lady. She impressed the public with her hip-hop moves to a Beyonce medly during the talent show held last February 14. A nurse by profession, Mary Ainjely Manalo (Binibini 2) surprised everyone with her toned body during the press presentation, thanks to mountain climbing and hitting the gym which she lists as her hobbies.

Two others who performed at this year’s talent show have lots of fans: Kris Tiffany Janson (Bb 13) is new to Bb Pilipinas, but she was Miss Cebu 2009, and there’s also half-Scottish, half-Igorota Shauna Indra Salina Curran (Bb 10).

Tourism student Zahara Mae Soriano (Bb 16) is no stranger to local pageants, having joined Miss Resorts World Manila and Miss Bikini Philippines last year. Meanwhile, 19-year-old Joy Marie Gangan (Binibini 30) has already represented the Philippines abroad. She was named Best Asia Model in Best Model of the World 2012 contest in Istanbul, Turkey. 

Other Binibini first-timers are freelance model Julian Aurine Flores (Bb 1), art teacher and a restaurateur Anabel Christine Tia (Bb 6), Philippines softball team member Laura Victoria Lehmann (Bb 11), financial management graduate Hanna Sheena Manuel (Bb 26), med student Krischelle Halili (Bb 29), CPA and college instructor Leonalyn dela Cruz (Bb 34), and tourism student Vanessa Saliba (Bb 37).

Ladies from Bicol, Bulacan

Some pageant observers consider Bicol as the “powerhouse” region in pageants, mainly because it has consistently produced beauty queens, with Bea Rose Santiago, Venus Raj, Diane Necio and the late Melody Gersbach to name a few. This year, the region offers more representatives to Bb Pilipinas.

Joanna Angelica Romero (Bb 3) represented Naga City in Miss Bicolandia 2010 where she finished 3rd runner-up. After graduating from Ateneo de Naga University, Joanna traveled to Manila to work for a hotel. It was hard to live alone and support herself financially, but this didn’t stop her from pursuing her dream of joining Bb Pilipinas.

Another fan favorite is Yvethe Marie Santiago (Bb 35), an accounting graduate from Bicol University. Before Bb Pilipinas, she was Miss Bicolandia 2012 and Mutya ng Magayon 2011 1st runner-up. She also represented the country in World Miss University 2010 held in South Korea where she was awarded Best in National Costume. 

Pageants could also be a battle among regions, and here are two ladies from Bulacan who are ready for battle. On one hand is Hagonoy native Jeslyn Santos (Bb 32), who holds a broadcast communication degree from Bulacan State University. She placed second in Reyna ng Bulacan 2013. On another hand. Vessica Sambo (Bb 40), is the reigning Binibining Bulacan.

From a family of beauty queens

Pageant fans are saying that Joy Antonette Diaz (Bb 9) has it easy as candidate because she is related to Miss Universe 1969 Gloria Diaz. But Joy, 22, has a string of achievements to prove she made it on her own merit. She holds a political science degree from University of California-Irvine and was Miss Philippines USA Tourism 2012.

Nichole Marie Manalo (Bb 23) is following in the footsteps of her sisters Katherine Manalo (Bb Pilipinas-World 2002) and Pamela Bianca Manalo (Bb Pilipinas-Universe 2009) and her aunt Nini Ramos-Licaros (Bb Pilipinas-International 1968). The road is challenging for her (she had to sacrifice up job as a nurse in order to join the pageant) and the expectations are high, but Nichole’s advantage is that she gets good advice from her sisters.

The towering beauties

Kenneth Santiago (Bb 20) and Racquel Kabigting (Bb 21) are here to prove that height is really an advantage. After finishing her studies with honors, business-minded Kenneth started designing shoes and selling them online. While she carries a name of a man (mainly because her father wanted to have a son), Kenneth says she is “girly.”

Meanwhile, 6-footer Racquel is the sporty type. She is into bowling, swimming, biking, and mountain climbing and enjoys activities like rappelling, river crossing, and roping. 

Who will win the right to wear the Philippine sash in Miss Universe, Miss International, Miss Supranational and Miss Tourism Queen International pageants? We will find out on March 30, and Rappler will live blog. –

All photos by Mark Cristino / Rappler






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