It was a Binibining Pilipinas journey that started in 2018, and three years later all the hardwork of Palawan’s Samantha Bernardo is paying off!
The very first time that we have written about this Palawenya was back in January of 2018. Even then she has this Bea Rose Santiago and Angelee delos Reyes vibes to her that we felt that a national title will fit perfectly on her head. Two consecutive 2nd runner up placements later, we were still on the high hopes that a Binibining Pilipinas title would fall on her lap. And it did in the most gratifying way!
On her first try, Samantha is up against a formidable line up of Binibinis that included eventual Miss Universe Catriona Gray and Miss Intercontinental Karen Gallman. Shoe designer Jojo Bragais actually was the first to introduce us to this 5’8 stunner form Palawan as one of the possible ladies to look out for in the pageant. Definitely not a greenhorn even then, Samantha showed a certain thirst for the crown that you will see from past national titleholders. Even back then, Samantha has shown herself to be a fighter.
To say that Sam is the penultimate performer is no understatement. A rhythmic gymnastic athlete and a dancer, Samantha has always been conscious of the way the body moves. It is not a surprise that she has always been admired for her ability to turn up the heat on the ramp. But that energy doesn’t always translate well into the finals.
Our observation on Samantha was that she was ready to pick a title back in 2019. She deserved one. She delivered steadily in every major pre-pageant activity of Binibining Pilipinas 2019. We thought she was ready at that time to receive a Binibini title. She would have been a great rep to the Miss Grand International or Miss Supranational competition back then. Days before the finals we were invited in her meet and greet by her fans, the SamBer Nation, we were sure then on that night that a crown is on the way.
However that didn’t materialize. She look burdened and underperformed and ended up once again as a runner up. Her pitfall was how she would over-think and second guess herself, forgetting to enjoy and relax in the experience. Things that we feel crucial to every pageant campaign.
But that did not derail her from performing her duties as a runner up. Despite several non-appearance during the early start of the 2019 post pageant activities, Samantha later turned up to support her Binibini sisters in their send-offs.
Then 2020 came and her hashtag #SamBer became #iSamBesesPa. Noting giving a shot at the BBP titles one last time so that she can retire from pageantry with no regrets. After all, you don’t get someone that is loyal to the Binibining Pilipinas pageant like she is. After placing as a runner up for two consecutive years, any lesser woman would have called it quits or packed up her gowns and tried with the newly formed Miss Universe Philippines pageant.
Not Samantha. She knew where her loyalties lie. Seeing her alongside the 40 candidates for the BBP 2020 batch gave us a renewed hope for a fighting chance. Then Covid happened.
The global pandemic put everything to a grinding halt. Pageants were postponed or cancelled. The supposed March finals was pushed to May and later postponed indefinitely. But when the Miss Grand International began its online rounds with buzz of a pushing through of the Bangkok-based competition, fans were delighted. Suddenly, speculations begun on who will the Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc., be sending to compete.
As early as January, we all became witness to Samantha’s proud declaration that she would like to become the Philippines’ first Miss Grand International winner. When Binibining Pilipinas Grand 2019, Aya Abesamis was denied to compete due to the ceiling age requirements, it only made sense that the 2019 2nd runner up would step in to become Binibining Pilipinas Grand 2020. Hence Samantha, was announced on February 5th as the Philippine rep to the contest.
Imagine spending over three years hoping to clinch a Binibining Pilipinas title only for it to fall on your lap in the most opportune moment is like destiny finally having its way. It is like what was said in the move “Under the Tuscan Sun” where the character of Katherine was looking for lady bugs and couldn’t find any. Only to find them crawling on her waking after a nap when she stopped looking.
Looking back at our 2018 Crown Contender series, we mentioned that Samantha will likely be a Binibining Pilipinas Grand or a runner up. Turns out that she would be both! Miss Universe Catriona Gray once said that “you are never denied, only redirected.” This sums up Samantha’s journey aptly. She was always destined to be a queen. It only took time for destiny to catch up with her.