By Anna Mae Areja
Manila - Except for Karen Ibasco’s victory in Miss Earth 2017, the Philippines failed to win in any of the other international pageants last year. Although it took a minor hit, the country’s reputation as a pageant powerhouse was still reinforced by three impressive runner-up finishes in Miss Globe, Miss Intercontinental and Miss Grand International.
This year’s batch of Binibining Pilipinas candidates are hoping to improve on the performance of their predecessors. But before they do that, six of them will have to first win on the national stage.
Formidable may be an understatement to describe the 40 girls competing in this year’s pageant. Predicting the outcome of these competitions is never easy. But based on what we’ve witnessed in the last few weeks, at least several names have managed to cement their hold as pre-pageant favorites and are likely to take home the six crowns up for grabs.
The grand coronation night of the 55th (Emerald) edition of the Binibining Pilipinas beauty pageant will take place this Sunday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Catriona Gray for Miss Universe Philippines
The former Miss World Philippines and Top 5 placer in the 2016 Miss World pageant became the candidate to beat when this year's candidates were introduced. Even as other contenders emerged in recent weeks, it would be considered a shocker if Catriona somehow falters on pageant night and loses the Miss Universe-Philippines crown.
Michele Gumabao for Bb. Pilipinas-International
Although it's her first time to join a national pageant, Michele was one of the immediately familiar names in the competition, thanks in large part to her being a volleyball superstar and a sought after TV sports analyst. She's been making a lot of waves as of late and her competitive spirit should make a lot of waves in Japan where she can another Miss International crown for the Philippines.
Aya Abesamis for Bb. Pilipinas-Supranational
The daughter of Miss Universe 1984 third runner-up Desiree Verdadero is considered as another formidable contender and possibly the one that may upset Catriona for the Miss Universe-Philippines crown. If she ends up competing for Miss Supranational, she should be a good bet to snatch the country's second crown in that emerging pageant.
Jehza Mae Huelar for Bb. Pilipinas-Grand International
Despite placing 2nd runner-up in the 2016 edition of Bb. Pilipinas, Jehza is considered a dark horse in this year's competition. Being under the radar may actually work to Jehza's advantage not only on the national stage but also in Miss Grand International where the Philippines has frequently came close to winning that elusive crown.
Vickie Rushton for Bb. Pilipinas-Intercontinental
One of the prettiest faces in this year's batch, Vickie should be a worthy successor to Katarina Rodriguez who almost clinched the Miss Intercontinental crown last year. It doesn't hurt that taking time off from pageants after winning the Mutya ng Pilipinas-International title in 2011 has only allowed her to blossom further.
Eva Patalinjug for Bb. Pilipinas-Globe
Eva is another Mutya ng Pilipinas alumna is also facing a tough act to follow after Nelda Ibe placed first runner-up in last year's Miss Globe contest. It has been three years since the Philippines last won Miss Globe and this competitive Cebuana just might be our next source of pride.