Bb. Pilipinas pageant lures more ‘major, major’ beauties
MANILA, Philippines—Are there many more Venus Rajs out there? Organizers of the Binibining Pilipinas beauty pageant believe so.
If in recent years only 24 candidates were selected by pageant organizers, 40 candidates were presented on Tuesday to members of the media at Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay City.
Jose “Pitoy” Moreno, cochair of Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc. (BPCI), said the organizers increased the number of participants this year “to give a chance to more deserving applicants.”
Binibining Pilipinas selects the country’s representatives to the Miss Universe and Miss International pageants.
The winners will be proclaimed on April 10 at Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
Gines Enriquez, spokesperson of BPCI’s parent company Araneta Group, said: “There was an influx of beautiful applicants this year, perhaps because of Venus’ exceptional performance in the Miss Universe contest.”
Enriquez added: “There were a lot of deserving applicants who should be given a shot at the title.”
Raj made a splash in August last year when she finished fifth in the 2010 Miss Universe pageant, bringing her not only instant fame but also glory to the Philippines.
Her victory had apparently posed a challenge to other Filipino women to duplicate, if not surpass, her “major-major” accomplishment.
Earlier editions of the Philippine pageant, particularly those before the mid-1990s, had 40 candidates as well. Then came the tradition to select only 24 candidates, with the exception of 2007, when the competition drew a formidable number of aspirants.
Enriquez said BPCI founder and chair Stella Marquez de Araneta considered reverting to the 40-candidate format when the pageant moved to the ABS-CBN Network from the rival GMA Network this year.
Good for TV, too
The move to select 40 candidates was justified by the bevy of competitive aspirants who filed their applications, Enriquez said.
The deadline for submitting applications was even extended twice because of the high quality of women declaring their intention to participate in the annual beauty pageant.
Seeing the strong crop of applicants, the BPCI pushed through with its plan to increase the number of candidates.
“Having more ladies could also contribute to a more entertaining [television] production,” Enriquez said.
Swarm of beauties
Raj’s fourth runner-up finish in the Miss Universe contest raised such an interest in the Binibining Pilipinas pageant that it even attracted former contestants in rival beauty contests.
Among this year’s aspirants are resigned Mutya ng Pilipinas winner Zephorah Mayon, runners-up Arabellah Hanesh and Suzette Hernandez and semifinalist Carolyn Ty.
Miss Philippines-Earth alumnae Patricia Tumulak, Krystle Ann Grant and Monique Manuel have also joined the circle.
Cluster of returnees
That the Binibining Pilipinas crown is apparently highly coveted is evidenced by the participation again of last year’s runner-up, Diane Necio. The 18-year-old Bicolano gave up her runner-up spot, along with her prizes, so she could join again.
Former runners-up waited one to two more years before enlisting anew.
Necio is joined by returnees Diana Arevalo and Maria Bianca Paz, who both participated in the pageant’s 2009 edition.
Campus beauty queens Kristina Marasigan, Janine Tugonon and Sabrinne Al-Tawil, and former “Deal or No Deal” briefcase lady Chloe McCully have also laid claim to the prestigious title.
Challenge from newbies
But these more experienced women face tough competition from newbies, including University of the Philippines magna cum laude graduate Shamcey Supsup (who also topped the architecture licensure examination) and statuesque Jet Noguchi, who studied in the United States.
Other competitors, Isabella Majon and Camille Baltazar, possess impeccable features, while Mary Jean Lastimoso has an enviable figure and arguably the best body in the competition.
The more notable products of Binibining Pilipinas are Miss Universe winners Gloria Diaz and Margie Moran, Miss International titleholders Aurora Pijuan, Melanie Marquez and Precious Lara Quigaman, and Miss Universe runners-up Miriam Quiambao and Raj.
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