MANILA, Philippines–Once again, perseverance paid off at the Binibining Pilipinas pageant when three-time aspirant Pia Wurtzbach from Cagayan de Oro City won the Miss Universe Philippines title during a four-hour spectacle on Sunday night at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
The German-Filipino actress received her crown from last year’s winner, Miss Universe Top 10 finisher Mary Jean Lastimosa. Both beauties had joined the Binibining Pilipinas pageant three times.
Wurtzbach was the first runner-up in the contest’s 50th edition in 2013, which produced Miss International Bea Rose Santiago, Miss Supranational Mutya Johanna Datul, Miss Universe third runner-up Ariella Arida and Miss Tourism Queen International semifinalist Joanna Cindy Miranda.
Last year, Wurtzbach won the lion’s share of special awards but fell short of winning any of the titles, finishing in the semifinals.
Lastimosa, second runner-up in 2011 and a semifinalist in 2012, said in an interview during the ceremonies that “you’re never too young, or too old, to start dreaming.”
Wurtzbach, 25, has always been a fan favorite since her first attempt at the title. In public activities, scores of supporters brought placards bearing her face, candidate number and name.
In Sunday night’s competition, host Toni Gonzaga acknowledged the huge support the beauty queen was getting from the crowd.
The new queen was also proclaimed Miss Cream Silk and Bb. PLDT Home DSL.
Another heavy favorite, pageant veteran Janicel Lubina of Palawan, received the Bb. Pilipinas-International crown from last year’s winner, Mary Anne Bianca Guidotti.
The 19-year-old Tourism freshman, who was also hailed for Best in Swimsuit and Best in Long Gown, was the winner of the 2013 Miss Bikini Philippines pageant. She also placed second to Megan Young in the 2013 Miss World Philippines contest.
Camarines Sur bet Christi McGarry’s coronation as Bb. Pilipinas-Intercontinental sowed confusion among pageant followers. The title makes her the Philippines’ official representative to the 2015 Miss Intercontinental pageant, a competition she already participated in 2010 as a Mutya ng Pilipinas winner. She finished in the Top 15 of the global tilt.
Mutya used to send the country’s representative to the Germany-based international contest. But last year, Bb. Pilipinas secured the franchise and sent Kris Tiffany Janson, who finished third.
Tessa Mangahas, public relations officer of the pageant, told the Inquirer that organizers would sort things out soon and hold another press conference to clarify matters regarding McGarry’s reentry in the Miss Intercontinental tilt.
Miss Supranational semifinalist Yvethe Marie Santiago passed on her title to Rogelie Catacutan from Cebu City, a semifinalist in the 2011 Miss World Philippines pageant.
Ann Lorraine Colis of Pampanga was the lone pageant rookie to bag a title. The fashion model and accounting student received the Bb. Pilipinas-Tourism title from last year’s winner Parul Shah, who was the only titleholder not sent to compete abroad.
The Miss Tourism Queen International, where Shah should have competed, did not hold a 2014 pageant. It is not clear if Colis will have the same fate as her predecessor.
Think before clicking
Veterans also copped runner-up honors.
Three-timer and last year’s second runner-up Hannah Ruth Sison of Oas, Albay province, was first runner-up, while former Miss Philippines-Air title holder Kimverlyn Suiza of Marikina City was second runner-up.
The candidates impressed the crowd and the judges during the question-and-answer round for the Top 15, which was devoid of any blunders usually associated with beauty contest interviews.
Wurtzbach earned thunderous applause for her response to Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo’s question about Internet censorship.
“We should be careful with what we post online, especially our thoughts and opinions, that we don’t hurt anybody. Especially in selfies, we have to be careful with what we post, especially our bodies. Always think before you click,” Wurtzbach responded.
How to achieve peace
Another impressive answer came from Best in Talent, Best in National Costume and She’s so Jag! winner Teresita Marquez, daughter of actors Joey Marquez and Alma Moreno and niece of 1979 Miss International Melanie Marquez.
When Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. asked what her message to Filipinos would be if she became an ambassador of peace, Marquez said: “We should learn the importance of dialogue to be able to have conflict resolution. If we all unite and will be able to talk to one another, then we can achieve peace.”
French Ambassador Gilles Garachon asked Suiza how she would describe the Philippines to a foreigner.
Suiza answered: “The Philippines is a beautiful country not only because of the beautiful places but most importantly, beautiful people. The country’s pride is the people itself because we are happy individuals. Despite all the calamities that we encounter, we are always strong and happy, and always looking forward to a better tomorrow.”
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, chair of the board of judges, asked McGarry what she would tell a child longing for his or her mother, who is an overseas Filipino worker.
“Whatever she’s doing overseas is for the benefit of their own good. She loves them very, very much and she sacrificed a lot for him or her. And one day, she will be in their arms again and everything will be all right,” McGarry replied.
The five winners each received P500,000 in management contract and P500,000 worth of wardrobe from the Bb. Pilipinas Charities Inc. (BPCI), P2 million worth of accident insurance from Charter Ping An, P500,000 worth of salon services from David’s Salon, P300,000 worth of endorsement contract with Cream Silk, P180,000 worth of training from Dale Carnegie and an endorsement deal with Jag Jeans.
Wurtzbach also got an endorsement deal with PLDT Home DSL.
The runners-up each bagged P250,000 worth of management contracts and P250,000 worth of wardrobe from BPCI, plus gifts and services from the pageant’s sponsors.
The other special award winners were Miss Friendship Toni Alyessa Hipolito of Davao City, Miss Photogenic and Manila Bulletin Readers’ Choice Caneille Faith Santos and Miss Philippine Airlines Kylie Versoza.
Gonzaga announced that BPCI was opening its doors to Filipino designers and is now receiving entries for national costume designs for the country’s representatives to international competitions.
This was the organization’s response to the pageant fans’ clamor for Filipino beauty queens to wear costumes and gowns made by local designers.
Lastimosa’s national costume and evening gowns, both executed by Colombian designer Alfredo Barraza, were blamed for her failed bid in the recent Miss Universe contest. For over a decade now, BPCI has commissioned Barraza to create the Filipino representatives’ costumes and gowns.
Instructions on how to send design entries are available at www.bbpilipinas.com.
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