Predictions: Bb Pilipinas 2014 winners
Last year was a great year for the Philippines, when it comes to pageants. I think the Philippines has finally reclaimed its “powerhouse” status in the pageant world, after winning four international crowns and a string of placements in numerous contests last year.
Last year's Bb Pilipinas Gold batch played a big part in this achievement. Bea Rose Santiago won for the country its 5th Miss International crown. Mutya Johanna Datul became the first Filipina – and Asian – to win the Miss Supranational crown. Ariella Arida gave the country its 4th consecutive runner-up finish in the Miss Universe pageant, while Joanna Cindy Miranda placed in the Top 10 of Miss Tourism Queen International.
The pressure is on the eventual winners of this year’s Bb Pilipinas edition to keep the winning streak going for the Philippines in the international pageant scene. Who among this year's candidates deserve to represent the country in Miss Universe, Miss International, Miss Supranational, Miss Intercontinental and Miss Tourism Queen International? Here are my predictions.
Contenders for the crowns
Miss Universe Philippines: Kris Tiffany Janson (Bb13)
Kris, 24, is undeniably one of the best bets for any of the crowns at stake with her marketable beauty. Her calm aura is a breath of fresh air from a sea of fierce faces.
Despite possessing one of the most beautiful faces in the competition, I was initially disappointed with Kris. Her styling was off, her smile a bit awkward. She looked raw and unprepared. But as they say, it's not over till it's over. She exudes so much sophistication and finesse during the national costume competition. That must have won her the Best in National Costume, fortifying her status as a front-runner.]
She is a bit lackluster in presentation so she needs to work on her pasarela (pageant walk), but she can do real damage in the Q&A round, as she is articulate and sincere. Given that Filipinos love beauties with brains (Read: Shamcey Supsup, Theresa Licaros), it won't be a shock if Kris wins it all.
Bb Pilipinas-International: Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach (Bb8)
Being a runner-up to the Gold queens surely has it perks, and this definitely gives Pia an advantage, making her an instant front-runner, now that she has decided to join again. With that stunning face and a year of training to back her up, Pia can do no wrong.
During the fashion show, Pia gave everyone a good show. She can easily transform from fierce to elegant. Although she has the tendency to overdo her performance, Pia is the complete package, making her one of the strongest candidates of this year. You just can't deny she’s hungry for a crown.
Bb Pilipinas-Supranational: Mary Jean Lastimosa (Bb 25)
She was the heavy favorite in 2012 but unfortunately failed to crack the Top 5. Now back for another round, MJ has matured a lot. As she has one of the best bodies in the competition, a lot was expected of this lady during the fashion show. To everyone's delight, she didn't disappoint. Her wide smile, well-toned body and fluid walk make her a shoo-in for any contest out there.
(In Photos: Bb Pilipinas 2014 swimwear press presentation)
Being a repeater means double the pressure because you have to outdo your previous performance (She was 2nd runner-up in 2011 and a Top 12 finalist the year after). But it seems MJ is not allowing pressure to take over on her third attempt as she seems more relaxed now. A lot of criticism has been thrown at her, but she still remains unfazed. It's about time she gets rewarded for all her hard work.
Bb Pilipinas-Intercontinental: Laura Victoria Lehmann (Bb 11)
With a pretty face to match her sexy body, Laura definitely has a bright future ahead of her in beauty pageants. She doesn’t even need a lot of makeup to make her stand out – her eyes do all the talking. She delivers both on and off stage and is very consistent. With her good communication skills and impressive academic background (she's taking up Psychology, Neuroscience and Spanish Studies in the US), Laura could give the front-runners a run for their money.
Bb Pilipinas-Tourism: Angelique Celine De Leon (Bb 31)
She may not be your initial bet but Angee wins hearts with her natural charm. Her performance was one of the most striking during the fashion show. A diamond in the rough, she's definitely someone to watch out for as the pageant progresses. I won't be surprised if she gets any of the major crowns.
Picks to round out the top 15:
This girl gets a free pass for being the sister of two former titlists: Katherine Manalo (Bb Pilipinas-World 2002) and Pamela Bianca Manalo (Bb Pilipinas-Universe 2009). Many fans underestimated this girl, but Nichole is determined to prove them wrong. She was effortless at the swimsuit presentation with her glowing skin and well-shaped body. She was unstoppable on the runway.
While many pageant observers believe she isn’t on the same level as her sisters, it can't be denied that this girl can transform.
I'm on the fence with Yvethe. Her face is okay, but when properly styled, she transforms to a beautiful lady. But this 21-year-old accountant has a good body and towering height, as well as a string of experiences in local pageants (she was Miss Bicolandia 2012 and Mutya ng Magayon 2011 1st runner-up) to boost her chances. Don't count her out just yet because she will deliver her best on stage, where she makes the magic happen.
After her semi-finals finish in both the 2009 and 2011 editions, 25-year-old Diana is back with vengeance. It can't be denied that Diana is has the universal beauty and an endearing personality. While she is among the most experienced in the batch, she is inconsistent and that makes her star shine less bright. She needs to improve on her presentation skills and needs to gain more confidence when speaking. It's bumpy road ahead for Diana, but with sheer luck and determination, she might just finally win a crown.
She’s a chameleon. In one photo, she looks like an anime character, in another, she’s a doll. From the innocent-looking girl in Miss Philippines Earth last year, Kimverlyn has transformed into a fierce beauty for Bb Pilipinas. Her performance during the fashion show was one of the best. This girl is peaking at the right time, and she might be the coronation night's biggest surprise.
Mix Janine Tugonon and Bea Rose Santiago and you get Bianca. Her web interview was one of the most memorable, and it might be because she spoke in Portuguese. Simple yet head-turning is the best way to describe her. Proper styling could advance her chances. She has so much potential but needs a little work to make her catwalk skills more natural, plus some body-toning.
The first time I saw Parul, I was a little disappointed because this half-Indian beauty sometimes just blends in with the rest of the girls. But during the fashion show, I finally saw the energetic and vivacious Parul that I liked last year. She has commanding presence on stage and her well-toned body is her greatest asset. She just needs to find that perfect look for the finals to stand out.
Joy is one of the most underrated candidates in the competition. With a sweet face and radiant smile, it is a surprise that this girl hasn’t been given much attention – until the fashion show. Who would have thought this underdog could give the front-runners a run for their money onstage? Joy is one of this year's catwalk divas. Winning Best Asia Model in Best Model of the World 2012 contest in Turkey must be an advantage, too.
Emma is an adorable beauty and is one of the catwalk divas of the batch. Her fresh and adorable face is her strength. Her Mutya ng Pilipinas runner-up experience seems to have polished her beauty. However, it seems she's still raw for Bb Pilipinas at 19 years old. I would love to see her back in a year or two more prepared – physically and mentally.
Being related to the country's first Miss Universe surely has its perks, but it can only do so much to advance her chances in the competition. Antonette may not be heavily favored as there are more popular and more prepared candidates, but could also pull off a surprise. She has a certain charm that makes her lovable especially when she smiles. She had one of the best web interviews and is definitely one of the best speakers in the batch.
Racquel, 22, is banking on her morena beauty and towering height for a shot at a crown. It isn't hard for her to stand out given her height (6') and curvaceous body, as proven during the fashion show (she was the only one wearing a one-piece swimsuit). However, she seems to be playing it safe with her subdued performance. She must work on her pasarela (pageant walk) if she wants boost her chances.
Ellore surprised everyone when she cracked the Top 15 last year. This 26-year-old med student has a toned body and a fluid walk to boot. But what’s to love most about Ellore this year is she is a scene-stealer. With her over-the-top intros and dramatic national costume presentation, it’s hard not to keep an eye out for her every move.
There's no denying Aiza is a bombshell beauty. She has a body to die for and a pretty face to complement that. She's one of the most talked about candidates on Facebook mainly because she was initially excluded from the final roster of candidates but was called back. I'm not a fan of her type of beauty, but I'd be a hypocrite if I say I wasn't impressed by Aiza's performance during the fashion show. She's prepared and is definitely on the radar.
Many pageant fans were surprised when Hannah failed to make it as a Top 15 finalist last year. Her performance was solid enough to have made the cut. This year she came back more prepared with a healthier body and better styling. She's also a good speaker so expect her to ace the Q&A round if ever she makes it.
There's always additional pressure being the first one to go on stage, but Ja sure knows how to shrug it off. She exhibited one of the finest performances in the fashion show. She has a commanding walk and she’s oozing with so much charisma. She has been among the most consistent since the screenings, and for that she deserves some recognition.
Ainjely was one of the surprises at the fashion show. She walked with confidence in casual wear and was stunning and regal in her national costume. Her height (5'6") might be her waterloo. But her best asset is her toned body, which is the product of hours of mountain climbing and hitting the gym, which she lists as her hobbies.
Don't forget to head over here to vote for your favorites! Tell Rappler who gets your vote for most photogenic, best in swimsuit, and best in national costume.
Drew Francisco, 24, works as a web production journalist for a financial newspaper. He is a forum moderator and social media content creator for Missosology. He also maintains Pageant Focus, a blog dedicated to beauty pageants.