#Nostalgia: Miss Universe 1994 Finalist Charlene Gonzales Pt.1

Arguably the biggest name to come out of the Binibining Pilipinas roster of winners from the 1990’s is Charlene Mae Gonzales – Bonnin.
Born to actor Bernard Bonnin and model Elvira Gonzales on 1 May 1974, she was a pageant and showbiz royalty. Her mom Elvira was 1st runner up at the first Binibining Pilipinas pageant in 1964. Her dad was a known actor and her cousin JC Bonnin was an 80’s heartthrob. Charlene also has a younger brother, actor Richard Bonnin.

Even at her young age then, she deliberately omitted her famous last name so as not to get an unfair advantage being from a showbiz family. She wanted to compete in a level playing field. And compete she did as her batch was one of the most competitive batch back then.

The 1994 Binibini batch included a wide range of ladies from aspiring actresses, students, pageant veterans to supermodels the likes of Maria Sovietskaya Bacud, Caroline Subijano (Supermodel of the Philippines 1991), Alma Concepcion, Janine Barredo (cousin to Bb. Pilipinas World 1993 Ruffa Gutierrez), Abbygale Arenas (Supermodel of the Philippines 1992 & Bb. Pilipinas Universe 1997), Morena Carla Cabrera (Mutya ng Pilipinas 1995 winner)  and Shiela Marie Dizon… all of whom at least placed as a semifinalist at the coronation night.
The Binibining Pilipinas 1994 coronation night was actually held on November 1993, four months earlier than its usual schedule. The national pageant was moved due to preparations for the 1994 Miss Universe pageant.

19 year old Charlene was still a BS Psychology student at the University of Santo Tomas at that time. The 5’8″ student joined Binibining Pilipinas 1994 as a ward under Pitoy Moreno hence she was wearing a Pitoy gown for the finals. She garnered two special awards that night: Best in Swimsuit and the Miss Close Up Smile award… Back then those two special awards were thought as precursor to the Binibining Pilipinas Universe title by pageant aficionados. Charlene’s eventual husband Aga Mulach was part of the judging panel that year.

After her crowning as Bb. Pilipinas Universe, Charlene did get to shoot a movie (titled Ikaw ang Miss Universe ng Buhay Ko) with fellow beauty queens Miss Asia Pacific 1993 Michelle Aldana, 1993 Look of the Year Ana Gonzales, Janine Barredo and Bb. Pilipinas Universe 1993 Dindi Gallardo with Andrew E, Nino Mulach, Dale Villar and Patrick Guzman.
Part 2 coming next week!


Nina, Jacqueline & Molly: New MVO Executive Committee

A former Miss International, a former Miss World and a former Miss Universe winner are being tapped to be part of the new executive committee of the Miss Venezuela pageant.

After a tumultuous past weeks, the MVO is finally looking up to the light with a move that has pageant fans both relieved and pleasantly surprised. Earlier the MVO thru its official Instagram account have posted clues of three new additions to its executive committee that  will help run the pageant. Miss International 1985 Nina Sicilia, Miss World 1995 Jacqueline Aguilera Marcano and newly-wed Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler have been clued in as the new members of the MVO. The former beauty queens would be in charge of organizing this year’s edition and preparing the current winners whom will be participating in the next Miss Universe, Miss World and Miss International pageants. It is expected that all three former winners will have a hand at leading the organization together.

The three past queens are a great addition to the organization that has been beset with allegations of sex trafficking and prostitution. With these women at the helm, it is expected that these kinds of scandals are going to be minimized in the future… We say congratulations to the new MVO directors!

Cynthia Thomalla, Sticking to her Gameplan for Miss Eco International

Miss Eco International- Philippines Cynthia Thomalla is now competing in Egypt for the Miss Eco International pageant. And she is one of the standout girls in the competition.

Competing in field of 50+ candidates, Cynthia or Thia can easily best it out with the much favored Latinas in the pageant. While she may not look much of an overly standout in her early pics, she does have a gameplan for the competition. According to a person close to her, some of the candidates are throwing some attitude early in the competition and she is careful not to put a target on her back. The pageant is aware of how their competition will get mileage from Filipino pageant fans should Cynthia win, hence she really have to follow her plan with care.

Standing out while blending in. That is so far the best play she can use and deliver at the crucial activities of the pageant later. Preparation is the key and all should be well with Cynthia in the competition. Finals will be on April 27th, 7pm (that’s 1am on April 28th in the Philippines) at the Cairo Opera Theatre.

Alpha Pageant Franchise Fees

Just before you read further, a disclaimer first: the figures included in today’s blog feature are neither actual confirmed nor accurate numbers. The pageant industry is notoriously secretive on the franchise fees that they charge different national directors.

The (unconfirmed) Franchise Fee estimates of the Alpha Four Pageants…

So with that out of the way, here is the estimated approximation of the franchise fees for the four biggest international pageants.
Miss World – they charge around a measly US$ 10k for every national pageant but there is a catch, each pageant franchise are said to require to have a national pageant where its main winner goes to MW.
Miss Universe – one of the highest fees in the pageant circuit as the pageant is the most competitive among the 4. Newbie countries are supposedly charged around US$ 10k while bigger and more competitive countries like Venezuela and Thailand  are rumored to go beyond 100k.
Miss International – UPDATE (April 18, 12noon) according to some sources close to a ND, the MI has a ‘franchise fee’ that starts from US$1,000 up to US$ 10,000. However each of the franchise holders/ national directors can choose how much they can pay for the franchise fees.
Miss Earth – with the third biggest participants among the four pageant the ME  franchise fees are relatively smaller although not as much as MI.

Vickie Rushton & Why She Should Give Bb. Pilipinas Another Shot

Among this year’s Binibining Pilipinas candidates, one of the ladies that I have placed in my top 2 prediction was Vickie Marie Rushton. While she eventually was named 1st runner up in the competition, I thought that she among the recent runners up in Bb. Pilipinas should give the pageant another shot.

Aside from being drop-dead-gorgeous, Vickie has that special ability of having people respond to her positively. She looks and feels very genuine and a lot of people who I have met that have dealt with her in person say the same thing. She has that positive effect on people and that is a huge advantage on her part. I have never heard anyone among pageantry friends who has or had a bad thing to say about her. No negative comment, no attitude or shade. In fact, everything I heard about this young lady is quite positive and light.
Add to this point is the fact that Vickie has a story to tell and an advocacy that ring close to her heart. That is what I find admirable about her. Her advocacy of wanting to have better treatment for PWDs (Persons with Disability) comes genuinely from personal experience. And that packs a powerful punch. Just look at reigning Miss Universe Demi Leigh Nel-Peters and her PWD sister. That mirrors Vickie’s relationship with her brother and mom. Even if we ignore all of Vickie’s wonderful physical traits, you would still be left with a person with a beautiful heart.

Continue reading “Vickie Rushton & Why She Should Give Bb. Pilipinas Another Shot”

Miss Philippines Earth Soundtrack Wish-List

It’s Miss Philippines Earth season and we are starting to drum up excitement for the coming pageant.

The Opening Song
* This tech-house remix of Kylie Minogues’ latest song “Dancing” would allow the candidates to dance and at the same time have less audio to allow them introduce themselves during the opening. This would be a good follow up after the opening billboard of the candidates. What more is that this remix itself could be shortened to suit the pageant’s time allotment.

The Swimsuit Song Selection
* The first option is a bit different as it has some reggaeton, latin, electro-house vibes to it. But it has a good base beat for the swimsuit presentation. It’s the song “Mad Love” by David Guetta and Sean Paul featuring Becky G.

* The second option pays homage to the fact that the Miss Philippine’s Earth has always had a violin cover in its choice of soundtrack. But I thought that instead of doing it on the EG segment, why not do it at the swimsuits. Here is a sample of what I am referring to:

The Evening Gown Song Selection
* It would really add a level of finesse if the evening gown would feature a toned down singing to add glamour and class to the EG presentation. Just take this acoustic rendition of the song “Baby, If you Leave me Now” by Charlie Puth and Boyz II Men.

* Another option that I like for the MPE production team to consider is this song by Kygo featuring Miguel titled “Remind Me to Forget”. This song sound magical specially with some parts that is purely melody. Surely the sound engineer could find a instrumental song for this song to extend and remix the song for the evening gown competition.

What do you think guys? Are these songs good for the MPE pageant?

Katarina Rodriguez at the Panasonic Manila Fashion Festival

If anybody had seen Katarina Rodriguez at the Panasonic Manila Fashion Festival, everybody would agree that she could still represent the Philippines in another international competition.

The Miss Intercontinental 2017 1st runner up sported a lighter brown hair when she walked the ramp of the SoFA Graduation Show under Mark Escauso. For people who saw her, we can all agree that she is indeed looking more splendid even after passing on her title. She looks so much better with her current tan and her lighter hair color. It certainly brings out the best of her facial features. And we haven’t mention how physically fit she looked, she can easily rock the swimsuits with her current bod.

Katarina had mentioned earlier in the year her willingness to enter another pageant in the future, and we all are speculating her joining Miss World Philippines. I hope she does prepare for it even as early as now, specially for the BWAP challenge of the pageant.
With this year looking like a year for crossovers, Katarina can easily claim a victory in any pageant she wants to join in.