beauty pageants

[OPINION] Is it time for the PH to bid Miss Grand International goodbye?

Jairo Bolledo

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[OPINION] Is it time for the PH to bid Miss Grand International goodbye?

NIKKI DE MOURA. The 19-year-old beauty queen is representing the Philippines in the Miss Grand International pageant.

Miss Grand Philippines' Facebook

'Filipina queens deserve platforms that celebrate their perseverance and hard work. They deserve better.'

Once again, the Philippines failed to enter the first cut of the Miss Grand International (MGI) pageant. 

During the finals night on Wednesday, October 25, the Philippines’ bet, half-Brazilian Nikki de Moura, was not called to the top 20 despite her stellar performance during the preliminary round. 

Her confidence, captivating eyes, curly hair, and sultry walk solidified her strong standing in the 11th edition of the Thailand-based pageant. 

But despite these, Nikki was left out from the semi-finalists’ list. Her loss, however, was not the Philippines’ first heartbreak at the MGI pageant. 

Nicole and Eva’s fate

Remember the amazing Nicole Cordoves? She dominated her competition with ease during MGI 2016. Her toned body, her Filipina beauty accentuated by a golden Val Taguba gown, and outstanding communication skills during the pageant were enough reasons to crown her that year. 

Then the controversial question and answer round came, where the finalists were asked this: “If you had to choose one of these people to help you stop the war and violence, who would you choose between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and why?”

Nicole stood up for her beliefs, did not choose the safe route, and responded eloquently. She chose Trump, explaining that the former president should be persuaded to switch to the side of good.

If she were in another pageant, Nicole would have been celebrated because of the way she answered the question with conviction and depth. Nicole ended up as runner-up to Miss Indonesia.

Two years later, Eva Patalinjug’s exclusion from MGI 2018’s first cut also became controversial. 

Although the beauty queen-turned-lawyer literally fell during the preliminary competition, Eva’s mestiza beauty and undeniable intelligence still shone through, which should have guaranteed her a slot in the top 20. 

In an interview with pageant blogger Adam Genato in 2020, Eva finally spoke up about her unplacement and said she believed that neither the judging nor the competition was fair to her. 

And nagpaparinig si Mr. na ano, ‘Oh, I don’t like Philippines kasi kinuha raw nila ‘yong Mr. Grand International, ganon-ganon,” na sa kanya raw ‘yong title na ‘yon (During the competition, Mr. [redacted] said, ‘I don’t like the Philippines because they got the Mr. Grand International title,’ adding that that title was his),” Eva said. 

Almost there

In 2020, veteran beauty queen Samantha Bernardo rocked the MGI 2020 pageant with her beauty and wit. She walked fiercely and displayed her strong pasarela during the swimsuit and evening gown segments. 

Samantha also gave a strong answer during the question and answer round. She tied with her fellow finalists, Miss USA and Miss Guatemala, so the organization had to break the tie through another question and answer portion.

The top 3 finalists were asked who they would prioritize for a COVID-19 vaccine: a teenager or a senior citizen. Samantha was the only one to choose the senior citizen and gave a science-based answer – she said younger people have stronger stamina to fight off the ailment. 

Despite this, Samantha suffered the same fate as Nicole and was named the runner-up

Last year, Roberta Tamondong failed to enter the top 10 despite yet another strong performance. Shortly after, however, the MGI organization then announced Tamondong’s inclusion in the top 10 and was named the fifth runner-up.

The announcement did not sit well with some Filipino pageant followers, calling it the MGI organization’s attempt to appease angry fans. Roberta eventually accepted the appointment. 

Queens deserve better

Most of our MGI queens shared glaring similarities: they were strong candidates who had a big chance to win their edition or at least achieve higher placements. 

Some of them were even of Miss Universe caliber and yet failed to receive the recognition they deserved for competing in a non-major pageant. 

It’s hard to see caliber queens like Nicole, Samantha, or Nikki compete and then lose in a pageant which has no solid advocacy and programs unlike Miss Universe, Miss World, Miss International, and Miss Earth.

Should the Philippines stop sending girls to the MGI pageant? Well, after all, it is not within our power to decide on the fate of our future representatives. The decision still lies in the holder of the local franchise. 

What we can do is to remind everyone that being a beauty queen is no joke. Our Filipina queens pour their hearts, sweat, and tears into months-long preparations to represent the Philippines with pride and honor. 

Filipina queens deserve platforms that celebrate their perseverance and hard work. They deserve pageants that will give the flowers and crowns they deserve.

They deserve better. – 

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.