In recent years, more and more Filipinos have been following local beauty pageants, especially Bb. Pilipinas. Beyond the Philippines' streak of good performances (and memorable moments) in international pageants, experts and fans attribute its surging popularity nowadays to a variety of factors.
“After all, it is the biggest celebration of Filipina beauty and the most prestigious of all national beauty pageants,” says Norman Tinio, a professional blogger and pageant coach who has been following the pageant for almost four decades. Others would credit Bb. Pilipinas for producing not just beautiful candidates, but intelligent candidates as well. Who can forget the impactful answers of Venus Raj, Shamcey Supsup, Janine Tugonon, Ariella Arida, and Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach during the question and answer portion of their respective Miss Universe runs?
Sure, the pageant has faced several issues, which included disqualification of some candidates, the dethroning (and reinstatement) of Venus, and criticisms on the gown MJ wore during the coronation night, but these did not stain the pageant’s reputation. “I don't see anything bad about Binibining Pilipinas because the good things outweigh whatever intrigues are thrown at the pageant,” Tinio adds.
Here's a rundown of how Binibining Pilipinas has made our country more colorful and united despite our personal differences and struggles:
1. It sheds light on advocacies that are worth supporting.
Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach listening to HIV advocates.
Throughout the years, Bb. Pilipinas has been active in supporting various advocacies, which include Operation Smile and the Gawad Kalinga Foundation. In addition to these foundations, Bb. Pilipinas winners also have their respective advocacies (children’s rights and hunger relief for Venus, and HIV prevention and awareness for Pia).
“Even non-pageant aficionados get interested with our beauty queens as it is a good platform to have a bigger voice and a wider reach,” Besana remarks, noting that Pia’s advocacy for HIV prevention and awareness gained praises from the LGBT community.
2. Our consistent placing in international pageants.
Mutya Datul after being crowned Miss Supranational 2013.
Since 2010, the Philippines has been consistently part of the top five of Miss Universe, making us a country to watch for. Aside from Miss Universe, the Philippines is also a top contender in other international pageants such as Miss International and Miss Supranational.
“People from other countries consider the Philippines as one of the biggest threats when it comes to pageantry and that is true!” Nurse Jasel Eligio, who has been following the pageant since he was a child, notes.
From placing 4th Runner up (Venus), 1st Runner up (Janine), 3rd Runner up (Ariella), to Pia bagging the Miss Universe crown after 42 years, the Philippines has truly made its mark as a strong contender in Miss Universe. “It is also a way of showing every people in the world how beautiful, talented, and smart a Filipina is,” Eligio adds.
3. Filipino talent is highlighted further through the designer pieces showcased in the pageant.
Bb. Pilipinas candidate Angelica Alita wearing a Besana-designed gown, which is selected as among the top 6 for the best National Costume.
The criticism on MJ’s gown and national costume during the coronation night of Miss Universe 2014 had a positive effect: It called for Bb. Pilipinas to tap Filipino designers for the candidates’ gowns and national costumes, highlighting not just the beauty of Filipinas, but also the beauty of the gowns designed by Filipinos. “The change has already started this year with the use of all-Filipino designers - from swimsuits to national costumes to evening gowns,” Tinio noted.
“I am very excited and happy for this development,” Besana shares. In fact, he notes that it was an honor for him that one of his designs was worn by Miss Intercontinental 2015 1st runner-up Christi Lynn McGarry. “I never thought in my wildest dreams that my garment will grace an international beauty pageant stage,” he adds. For this year, his national costume design for Bb. Pilipinas candidate Angelica Alita is included among the top 6 Best National Costume design.
4. The pageant makes Filipinos more motivated to pursue their dreams.
Bb. Pilipinas candidates sharing a light moment with the kids.
In recent years, the life stories and persistence of candidates have become a huge part of the beauty of Bb. Pilipinas, making even non-aficionados follow the pageant. “Our representatives' life stories, dedication, persistence, and hard work inspire a lot of people to also give their best in their own battles,” editor Irish Ignacio, who has been closely following Bb. Pilipinas since 2010, says.
Whether it may be the problems Venus faced as Bb. Pilipinas-Universe back in 2019, or MJ and Pia joining the pageant more than once before being crowned Bb. Pilipinas-Universe in 2014 and 2015 respectively, many Binibini candidates have an inspiring story that every Filipino can relate to. “Bb. Pilipinas is a way of empowering women and fulfilling every Filipina woman to achieve and live their dreams,” says Eligio.
ALSO READ: Cultured!: Kanye West Is Actually Not as Bad as You Think He Is
Banner photograph by Sany Chua. Article photographs from ABS-CBNNews.com, the UNICEF Philippines Facebook page, Bessie Besana's Facebook page, the Bb. Pilipinas Facebook page, and bbpilipinas.com.