Ms PH Earth: Ms Olongapo's long journey
MANILA, Philippines - "Never say die," seems to be the motto of our new Miss Philippines Earth winner, Angelee Claudett delos Reyes, a Marketing Department Head for Lyceum in Subic Bay. The 25-year-old Olongapo lass was crowned over 47 other contestants at SM Arena on May 19, 2013.
It is her second time to join the pageant, after she competed for Ms Earth in 2009, the year Sandra Seifert won. Claudett won Miss Talent but left the stage uncrowned. She is a veteran of the pageant stage, and has competed in at least 13 pageants before joining Miss Philippines Earth.
Claudett, as she is fondly called, has always said it was her dream to win a national crown in a major beauty pageant. That dream has just arrived. Although luck may have been on her side, it was not just good fortune that propelled her to beauty queen fame. Her catwalk skills, beauty, physique and smarts played a huge role as well.
The stand-out girl
Angelee Claudett delos Reyes is an alumna of last year's Bb. Pilipinas, the year Janine Tugonon won, when Claudett won Best in Gown and entered the Top 12. In spite of what I felt was good performance in her Q & A, she did not go home with either sash or crown.
The loss was a heartbreak for Claudett, and yet vindication at the same time. She had been rejected by Bb. Pilipinas twice, in previous years. Last year, they finally accepted her as an official candidate.
This year, she could have opted to join Bb. Pilipinas again. We all knew that 2013 was going to be a big one for the competition, since it was the 50th anniversary of the organization. There was so much excitement over this that all the handlers brought out their best proteges to try out for the pageant. Fifty girls were selected, but they weren't just any girls. They were beautiful and skilled models, trained to do maximum damage on stage. If Claudett had chosen to join Bb. Pilipinas again (joining a second time has become fashionable in recent years), she would have had to face an armada of 49 beautiful, well-honed rivals.
Instead, she opted for Miss Philippines Earth—and it turned out to be a very serendipitous move. First, since all eyes were on Bb. Pilipinas this year, Miss Philippines Earth attracted less experienced beauties—many of whom were newbies. Second, those who lost in Bb. Pilipinas 2013 could not jump to Miss Philippines Earth, because the competition began while the Bb. Pilipinas competition was still in full-swing. These two points contributed to Claudett's victory, because they ensured that she would be the stand-out girl.
Veteran of the pageant stage
When pageant fans saw the landscape of contestants in Miss Philippines Earth 2013, they saw Angelee Claudett delos Reyes and, well, the others. She was the near-unanimous choice of pageant journalists, proof of which was her winning the Darling of the Press award. Even online, catty pageant pundits who normally fight over their favorite contestants were unanimous in saying that Claudett delos Reyes was going to win this one.
Here's why. With at least 13 pageants behind her pretty behind, she is the most experienced contestant in Miss Philippines Earth by more than just a mile. The titles she has won include her first pageant, Miss Columban College 2004, with along Bb. Zambales 2007, Bb. Olongapo 2008 and Miss Slimmer's World Bikini Philippines 2011, her most important local title before joining Miss Philippines Earth.
Her minor victories include 2nd Runner-up Miss Private School Athletic Association, Top 15 Mutya ng Pilipinas 2007, Miss Real Estate Philippines' Best in Swimsuit 2008 and Miss Talent in Miss Philippines Earth 2009.
Her two biggest international achievements to date are placing twice in the semi-finals of two international pageants. In the Miss Bikini International 2011 held in Qing Dao, China, Claudette won Miss Internet Popularity and entered the semi-finals. In 2012 she was selected to represent the Philippines in the Supermodel International competition which was held in Bangkok. Not only did she place in the semi-finals, she also won the Continental Queen of Asia special award.
But I believe that Claudett did not get her strength and perseverance from winning all those contests. It was losing in pageants that made her stronger. In the year 2010, she joined the Hiyas ng Subic but left the stage as a "thank-you girl"—a favorite euphemism for pageant losers. That same year she was rejected by Bb. Pilipinas. Both were a painful shock to Claudett, who was getting used to getting pageant plaudits. But she did not stay on her knees for long. She got back up and just kept moving on from pageant to pageant.
This pageant battle-axe has mastered the trick of improving with every pageant she joins. From her walk to her talk, she just gets keeps better and better. This pageant stuff that we take with a grain of salt is serious business for Claudett. From what I heard, the second she entered the Miss Philippines Earth 2013 fray, she unknowingly antagonized the rest of the girls—except Nagcarlan's Kimverlyn Suiza, her BFF—with her business-like attitude and jazzed-up Latina look. Claudett admits it was tough making friends in the first few days but by the end of the pageant they were all like sisters.
A good heart
I knew that the Q & A portion was going to be the tipping point for Claudett. My belief was that the minimum for her to win was a decent answer that made sense. Even if other girls answered better, I felt that she'd still win. After all this is a beauty pageant and not an IQ contest.
Out of the Top 10 semi-finalists, the two girls who gave the best answers—in my humble opinion—were Claudett and Alma Cabasal from West Coast Fil-USA. Nagcarlan's Kimverlyn Suiza gave my third favorite answer.
Claudett's question came from Judge Laurence Pena, GM of the F1 Hotel. He asked—and I paraphrase—Beauty pageants usually choose winners based on beauty of face and body. If you could add another criterion, what would it be?
Claudett answered—a good heart.
Right after that answer, I knew she had the title clinched. I even jokingly posted on my Facebook profile that I would walk out if Olongapo didn't win. But there was no need for any such drama on my part, because Claudett, as predicted by pageant seers, became the next Miss Philippines Earth.
Now, Claudett will be swapping her Olongapo sash for one that says "Philippines" in the coming Miss Earth 2013 international beauty tilt (country, venue and date to be announced). My honest opinion is that it will be an uphill battle for her, not because she isn't pretty enough but because other countries (and even Filipino pageant fans) have been complaining that Filipinas always place high even if other candidates are seemingly more deserving. The founders of Miss Earth happen to be Filipinos, therefore the perceived favoritism.
Pinoy fans who are happy that our contestants do extremely well in Miss Earth say that this is just like Miss Universe, a United States franchise where Miss USA almost always places high. They say no one complains about that, so why should anyone complain about Filipinas doing well in a Filipino-created international pageant?
They do have a point.
But the more critical Pinoy pageant fan says when our contestants always place high it affects the credibility of the franchise and is a turn-off for other countries. But the organizers of Miss Earth have always said that the scores lie completely in the hands of the judges (with a tiny percent of input from the chaperones) and that they don't ever meddle with that. Furthermore, MPE is not seeing countries backing out or lodging protests.
Whatever the case, this blogger believes that Claudett can make it into the Top 5 of Miss Earth and maybe snatch the main title. At the very least, I'm counting on her to make it into the semi-finals. This smart girl has the weaponry to win Miss Earth 2013. She's got the smarts, stunning Latina-flavored looks, a bombshell body, and a good heart.
Congratulations to Angelee Claudett delos Reyes for winning Miss Philippines Earth 2013 and best wishes for the big battle in Miss Earth 2013! - Rappler.com
Joyce Burton-Titular is a Filipina beauty queen with two Binibining Pilipinas titles: Miss Young Philippines 1980 and Binibining Pilipinas-Universe 1985. She currently keeps a beauty queen blog called Adventures of a Beauty Queen.
Joyce has more than a decade of experience as a news presenter with her most recent job being the anchor of RPN News Watch which sadly closed shop in October 2012. But her main work is voicing — Joyce is a brand voice for beauty products like Dove and Pond's. She is the continuity announcer for cable channel 2nd Avenue, and hers is the voice that reminds you to fasten your seatbelt and turn off your cellular phone when you fly Cebu Pacific.
Joyce is a mother of two, wife of one, and the slave of 7 dogs and 7 cats.