Mutya Pilipinas 2019: Saan ka?
Mutya Pilipinas had a very promising kick off. Cory Quirino was announced the new President and partnerships were forged with the DILG and PMAP (Professional Modeling Association of the Philippines) in March. Quirino was enthusiastic in saying that they were looking for the "hometown girl."
Quirino said, "my heart, my dream, my wish was really to give a chance to that young lady in a barangay who's saying to herself 'paano naman ako? (what about me?) How will I be discovered? Yun din ang aking layunin, ang aming layunin dito sa Mutya (That's my purpose, our purpose in Mutya).”
So they conducted their provincial searches, resulting in the 40 official candidates along with candidates from overseas communities.
It is ironic that Mutya Pilipinas’ hashtag of “#saankamutya” is actually a question worth asking the pageant after the Finals last Sunday night, August 18. Although social media bashing has unfortunately been commonplace after pageant night (usually by disgruntled fans of losing candidates), the onslaught of online criticisms hurled at the pageant were not just from pageant fans.
There were posts of alleged unfulfilled promises and poor treatment towards fashion designers and reigning queens, shoddy production and staging, dismal performances in the Q&A, and a feeling of that it was a step back from the previous year’s 50th edition.
Many were left wondering what happened to this once prestigious title and what will happen to it.
Mutya’s Identity Crisis
As this new management tries to get its bearing, this transition year is proving to be more complicated by an unnecessary action of rebranding and the lack of a strong pageant franchise.
Mutya ng Pilipinas is one of the oldest pageants in the country which celebrated its 50th year in 2018. The removal of the “ng” in “Mutya ng Pilipinas” was intended to breathe new life into the brand.
However, it did quite the opposite and killed the legacy and history that should be proudly associated with it. Aside from sounding grammatically incorrect, the strong name recall of this legacy brand was disregarded for no significant benefit. (Photo recap: Mutya Pilipinas 2019 coronation night)
Franchise power brings quality candidates
Mutya Pilipinas lost its luster because of the lack of quality international pageant franchises. Beauty queen aspirants are not motivated to join a pageant that won’t send them to any big and reputable pageants.
The Binibining Pilipinas Beauty Pageant attracts the best candidates because it has the top pageant franchise in the world: Miss Universe. Since there can only be one Miss Universe Philippines, the rest of these high caliber beauties end up with the other titles, thereby creating winners with very high standards for what may have otherwise been lower tier pageants.
Mutya’s goal should be to get the next best thing to Miss Universe and Miss World. These pageants are Miss International, Miss Grand International, Miss Supranational, or possibly bring back Miss Intercontinental into their court.
Mutya Pilipinas World Top Model and PMAP
The best thing out of Sunday’s finals was April Short winning the Mutya Pilipinas World Top Model title. She was undoubtedly the hands downs winner from the beginning of the competition.
But combining this model search into a beauty pageant may prove troublesome in the future.
First, the World Top Model has a strict height requirement of 5’9". What happens when there is only 1 candidate who meets the height requirement? This was a very short batch of candidates and only about 3 girls towered over the rest of the candidates. Second, what if the candidates that meet the height requirement aren’t aspiring models, do not look like models or do not possess modelling skills?
In the case of April Short, she did very well in all rounds of the competition and was aiming for this title. But what if she did not answer the Q&A properly, would she still be qualified to be Mutya World Top Model regardless? Unless PMAP sends candidates to join the pageant but are, in essence, pre-selected to be World Top Model, then why bother having them compete?
This is why combining this title with a beauty pageant is not entirely fair or beneficial for the organization.
If there was one thing that other national pageants might be envious of Mutya, it would be the 17 special awards from the pageant sponsors. Many of these sponsors were giving at least P50,000 cash prizes.
However, the winners were quite spread out and some of the special award winners did not even make the semifinals. It makes me wonder about the selection process or if all the candidates were present at the sponsor visits.
Disastrous Q&A rounds
In my pageant reviews, I am very forgiving with candidates when it comes to the Q&A. Nerves, lack of experience, and communication skills can all be quite limiting to many candidates, especially when it is spontaneous. But it's a different story when the question pertains to the basic mission of the pageant and contestants were given several minutes to think of their answers. In fact, they should have known the answer to this even during their initial screenings. There is no excuse for not having a substantial and convincing answer.
If Mutya Pilipinas will stick to its mission of finding the "hometown girl," it would be nice to have a video or visuals of the candidates’ hometown as she talks about her hometown. Promoting it, nationally or internationally, presupposes that you are inviting people to visit. Answers should be delivered in a very lively, heartfelt, exciting and very descriptive manner. Places of interests, foods, shopping, culture, the arts, festivals get people interested. It was really ridiculous to hear answers about government services, education, and advocacies because those do not encourage people to visit.
The final Q&A did not do much to redeem the candidates who were bad in the earlier round.
Cyrille Payumo of Pampanga seemed to be the obvious choice to be the top winner, along with April Short. But after Cyrille botched both her Q&A rounds, there was no justifying a win for her – unless the judges purely went on beauty alone. If she is able to improve her Q&A skills, she is definitely one to look out for in future pageants.
Many netizens were commenting about whose fault it was that the candidates gave such horrible answers. Was it because most recent pageants overemphasized advocacies? Was it because their trainers did not teach them how to answer these types of questions?
Ultimately, it is the candidates’ fault; I have seen it many times. Despite being told not to use advocacies as a crutch, they are sometimes too stubborn to listen.
Passion or Profit?
As with any creative endeavor, the balancing act between passion and profit is the most difficult. Cory Quirino may have the passion and experience in pageantry. But she needs financial support in order to make her vision a reality. What may be good enough for some may be substandard for others. Staging and production may have suffered in the process and execution of the plans may not have been smooth. There were shortcomings that can be corrected in the future.
The first edition of Mutya Pilipinas under this new management is done. What is important is make a careful evaluation of where things went wrong even from the smallest details like the missing “AL” on the “Mutya Pilipinas Asia Pacific InternationAL” sash.
Just imagine the uproar if such a faux pas was committed in Bb. Pilipinas or Miss World Philippines.
There was a time when Mutya ng Pilipinas was the second most prestigious beauty pageant in the country. From 1977 to 1991, the country’s representatives to the Miss World Pageant came from the Mutya ng Pilipinas beauty pageant.
Mutya Pilipinas is positioning itself to reclaim this prestige and glory as it sets to bring in new titles for next year’s pageant.
Saan ka Mutya? Were some of the damage done irreparable? The answer is no.
If Mutya Pilipinas rediscovers itself as Mutya ng Pilipinas, acquires major pageant franchises, selects a better set of candidates and winners, and Quirino builds a team of people who are passionate about pageantry who can deliver and have its creative and financial backers working towards the same vision, then it just might come back with a vengeance. Everyone loves a winning comeback story.
Hopefully, Mutya Pilipinas finds itself in time for next year’s pageant. — Rappler.com
Voltaire has 10 years experience in the fashion industry. He previously worked with a luxury clothing and accessories brand in Los Angeles, CA. He graduated magna cum laude from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, major in Fashion Design. He also holds a BS in Applied Economics and BS in Marketing from .
DLSU. He is now doing real estate but finds ample spare time to pursue his passions.