MANILA, Philippines – On July 31 at 1pm, Solaire Resort and Casino’s Eclipse Bar came alive with the press presentation of the 26 official candidates of Miss World Philippines (MWP) 2013.
MWP is organized by CQ Global Quest, Inc, helmed by beauty and fitness icon Cory Quirino.
The program opened with a short dance number from the candidates followed by their introduction. Early standouts include actress Megan Young and candidates Mercegrace Raquel, Ria Rabajante, Zandra Flores and Henna Kaizzelle Nicole Cajandig, who also joined this year’s Binibining Pilipinas pageant.
Flores was also a candidate in the recently-held Mutya ng Pilipinas.
Candidate #5 Zahra Bianca Saldua also stood out because of her sarong during the swimwear portion. Rappler learned from Quirino that Saldua is a Muslim candidate.
“For the first time, we are including a Muslim girl because she chose to join the pageant with the permission of her parents,” Quirino told Rappler’s Giselle Tongi-Walters and Kai Magsanoc. “So we agreed to meet them halfway. Out of deference for her religion, we allowed her to wear a sarong.”
The Miss World 2013 international pageant will be held on September 28 in Jakarta, Indonesia. “It’s such a big controversy there for the swimsuit portion,” said Quirino. “So Miss World agreed, alright, we’re going to let the candidates wear sarong.”
Quirino added that she was inspired by Julia Morley, chairperson of the Miss World Organization. “We finally allowed Zahra to join the pageant. It’ll be the first time in the history of any pageant where a Muslim girl joins.
“How can we turn her away? She represents the new woman. She wants to be part of this world and yet hold on to her tradition.”
“This year, we will win the crown. It’s as simple as that!” Quirino said, laughing. “There’s no other way but to win that crown. It goes with a lot of prayers, too.
“I’m hoping that our countrymen will be praying very hard for the Philippines. The crown has eluded the Philippines for 61 years. Hopefully, the crown will go to the country this time.”
An addition to the 2013 national pageant is the Sports Challenge, a phase included in the international competition. “We are patterning our local pageant this year after Miss World’s. It’s going to be tougher and tougher,” said Quirino.
The Philippine representative will compete with 119 women from around the world for the Miss World crown. Who do you think is our best bet among this year’s candidates?
Here are Rappler’s photos from the press presentation:
Despite the fact that an actress and pageant veterans are competing, Quirino told Rappler that they are all on equal ground. “No one candidate is above any other. They’re all the same,” she said.
Quirino also acknowledged the fact that the world — on social media — has become more critical of beauty pageants. The question-and-answer portion is now a much-awaited part of any beauty pageant, not just the long gown and swimwear competitions.
She said that the same goes for Miss World. “The minute [the candidates] arrive in the competition, they are whisked into a room before an internal panel of judges and they are grilled almost every day. They are graded every day leading up to the [coronation night].
“We have to send a candidate — a winner — who is smart yet sweet and simple in her ways, because that’s what Miss World is looking for. It has to be someone who speaks from her heart, someone spontaneous and natural.” – Rappler.com