The PRO’s and CON’s of being an Independent Candidate Pt.1

I have spoken of how having a pageant camp nowadays is no longer the biggest advantage a pageant girl could have in joining a pageant. And I have certainly spoken about having a personal glam squad to help you out is an added advantage. This post is about demystifying the romanticized ideals of going to pageants as an independent candidate.

First off we list down the Con’s.
* You gotta be a tough nut to crack. Mental preparedness is key because things will not be easy. That kind of journey inwards should be the first step that should be your foundation for everything you have to roadmap later on.  As an independent you have to withstand being on your own first before you can have people flocking to your support. You gotta know who you are and be solid and comfortable in the person you are. Know that you are enough, and if you have doubts about that then you have to work on your confidence level.
* You gotta do your own homework on Personal Brand building. Know your own strengths and weaknesses and build plans for those. You taking ownership of your pageant journey will have to rely on how you want to be packaged and seen by the world. You would need to do your own research as you have to plan out your pageant strategies all on your own before you can add people to help you out. Having a clear sense of direction would make things easier for you an an indie candidate.
* Network like a telemarketer on crack. Because you are on your own, you would have to build your core team from ground zero. There will be a lot of NO’s before you could get a single YES. But keep knocking on doors, make sure they are the right kinds of doors for you. So you would have to rely on your connections and their connections to build a network of people that would help you for your pageant preparations.  Because this is where others can help you on your weaknesses. DO NOT be afraid to reach out to designers, media, makeup and hairstylists, pageant personalities and past queens for advise. Most of them genuinely would want to help out or would easily connect you to the right people.
* Prepare serious amount of moolah. Pageants are costly. In other countries, prospective candidates would have to pay the entrance fees and their own wardrobe and makeup for the pageant. SO if you are gonna do it on your own, be prepared that you are financially ready to shell out serious amount of money. If you aren’t that liquid, this is where your connections comes in. Prepare to make x-deals with a number of designers, photographers and fashion professionals. Build relationships with them so that they will be willing to help you out for free. But do not forget them once you won.
* Prepare earlier than anybody else. The girls with pageant camps would usually start preparing/ training on an average of 2-3 months before the application starts, as an independent you have to move that at least 2 months earlier. Because you will have to prepare for a lot of things like pasarela, hair and makeup tutorials, wardrobe planning, photoshoots, etc… Part of that time is taken up by building your own core team. So you have to decide early if you wanna join a pageant as an independent.
Those are just some of the Con’s and I am sure that there are many more that the list might not have covered. But these are the biggest ones and the most pressing of all.
Watch out for part two as we will be listing down the Pro’s of being an independent candidate.


#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!

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”

#Nostalgia: Miss Philippines Earth 2001 & Bb. Pilipinas World 2005 Carlene Aguilar

Winning two national titles and represent the country in the big four international pageants is a rarity afforded to a very few Filipinas. The first of which is Miss Philippines Earth 2001 and Binibining Pilipinas World 2005 Carlene Aguilar.

She was only a 19-year old student of  advertising and public relations student at the Assumption College when she was crowned Miss Philippines Earth in 2001. As the inaugural winner of the pageant, the 5’8″ Chinita stunner was the first Philippine representative to the Miss Earth pageant. The Kagandahang Flores trained beauty romped off with Miss Avon and Miss Ponds Perfect Skin awards at MPE. Coincidentally, she also won Miss Avon at Binibining Pilipinas when she joined in 2005 as well as Miss Philippine Airlines.

When she decided to join Binibining Pilipinas in 2005, she was one of the considered frontrunners for the title. At age 22, Carlene went on to win the Binibining Pilipinas World title. Some pageant analysts would say that in those years, the BBP would place the strongest girl in Miss World to appease the British owners who were beginning to want a separate pageant for their title. Pageant pundits to this day still debate should Carlene had been the one to break the drought in Miss Universe had she been sent there instead. Among her Binibini batch, it is only her with her fellow campmate Precious Lara Quigaman who went on to place in their international competitions.

Carlene finished among the top 10 of the first Miss Earth pageant in 2001 a same semifinals feat that she would replicate in Miss World 2005. Her stint in Miss World in China was an amazing one as she was considered as a front runner for the title. She was among the top bets to win actually as she was also number 1 in the worldwide SMS vote. Seeing her fail to make the top 5 was alluded to the urban legend that no Filipina is ever gonna win in Chinese soil even if we send a Chinese-Filipina to compete.

To her credits, she has won and placed in every international pageant she went on. From her stint at the first Miss Earth pageant to her 2nd runner up finish in Miss Chinese International 2004, her Miss World semi-final finish down to her Miss WWW Internet 2006 title, Carlene proved to be the quintessential pageant girl who is also a tough cookie to crack.

Nowadays, the 36 year old former beauty queen works as a part-time actress and a full-time mom. She has definitely blossomed more time passed.

Why Binibining Pilipinas Still is the Best Org to Handle the Miss Universe Franchise

Until now the rumors of having the Miss Universe franchise taken by other organizations would not die down. So we have heard that this is supposedly the last year that BPCI would be holding on to the MUP franchise and that it might change hands come next year. So we ask ourselves if after 55 years of handling the franchise, is it time for other organizations to take over the Miss Universe franchise?

1. The Bb. Pilipinas Charities Inc. is headed by a woman, a former beauty queen. Which means she is more likely to know what are the issues that the queens would be facing. With the current political atmosphere in the US with the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement, it is only a matter of time before this movement hit Philippine shores. With a woman at the helm of the BPCI, it is more likely that SMA would be more sympathetic and protective of her queens. In fact, she is very much concerned for each of her ward that she makes sure that each one of them is taken cared of.
2.  BPCI has held the franchise for 55 years. And that means it has built a reputation of professionalism and stability throughout the highs and lows of the industry. More than that, the name Binibining Pilipinas itself is a recognized heritage brand and it is difficult to erase its history from the minds of Filipino fans. And in that span of time, the BPCI has been able to sustain their pageant franchises and fees, maintain strong relationships with the international pageant owners, and has kept its name as prestigious and untainted as ever.
3. BPCI is a part of a bigger corporate family, the Araneta group. Unless a serious mismanagement occurs, the BPCI will keep itself afloat as it is part of a larger corporate group. This is important because the pageant will not easily go belly up after all this time. It will remain stable as long as it has a parent organization that will continuously steer it towards being self-sustaining. And so far, we haven’t heard of major losses in revenue for the 55 year old pageant.
4. Business connections and partnerships it has established. Let’s face it, putting up a pageant is financially exhausting, in more cases it operates at a loss for the owners unless it has major sponsors. With BPCI having been in the industry for so long, big brand names would not shy away from becoming major sponsors. Just take a look at other pageants and their sponsors, not all of them have high profile sponsors that would invest money for ads during their telecasts. Continue reading “Why Binibining Pilipinas Still is the Best Org to Handle the Miss Universe Franchise”

Catriona’s Mak Tumang Evening Gown

The journey of Miss Universe Philippines Catriona Gray had many interesting side stories. From her preparations to her training down to her wardrobe, each had a special tale to tell. Today’s post is just one of those, it’s about her evening gown by designer Mak Tumang.

Mak was approached by Catriona herself to create an evening gown for her for the Binibining Pilipinas pageant. Not a stranger to dressing up Catriona, the designer have dressed Catriona back in 2016 in Miss World with a gorgeous burgundy number that she wore at the victory ball following the coronation night. So with the second time around Mak was supposedly the only designer considered to do the Bb. Pilipinas gown.

This is the post of the designer about his design as posted on his Facebook account: “Going back to the time when the newly-crowned Bb. Pilipinas-Universe 2018 Catriona Gray messaged me in December 2017 and told me about her intention to join a national pageant as an independent candidate and she wanted me to do her evening gown.
I must admit that I was adamant to commit at first, blame it to my bad experiences in the past from a particular camp and certain individuals. However, after our exchanges of messages and felt her sincerity that made me decide to give it a go.

Back in January, there were only two colors that were considered for Catriona’s Binibini wardrobe: white and gold/ yellow. So it was no shock to see her in a gold colored gown. The evening gown was a closely guarded secret by her team together with her national costume. Not everyone involved has seen a glimpse of the design and those that did had to be mum about it. Even when I saw by accident the detailed sketch of the gown, I had to keep my knowledge of it under wraps. What was agreed to be kept inside the vault had to be kept inside the vault. And that was admirable of her squad as everyone knew how to keep their silence in time for the pageant finals.

What I knew about the gown was that her team wanted something different, something not yet done in Philippine pageantry in terms of the design. The general idea was that she should be wearing something that was very chic, modern and one that had ‘visual texture’. And that was exactly what Mak Tumang’s gown delivered. The gown moved and sparkled and gave a collective gasp to everyone who has seen it in person (or so I’m told) during the internal shoot for the gown. Mak, who is a very couture designer, used at least 4-6 different colored Swarovski crystals to provide for the visual spectacle that was further enhanced by see-thu insert which added more texture to the gown.

Winning Best in Long Gown was such a topping on the proverbial cake. And surely Mak is one who can proudly claim a type of ownership to it. This feat was truly only possible with the type of vision and expertise a real couturier can deliver, thankfully Mak Tumang is one hell of a designer…
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#Nostalgia: Bb. Pilipinas World 1994 Caroline Subijano

One of the tallest Filipinas we ever sent to any of the Alpha pageants is Binibining Pilipinas World 1994 Caroline Subijano. Today we reminisce on her pageant journey in Bb. Pilipinas.

Standing statuesque at 5’11” this Supermodel of the Philippines 1991 alum still remains as one of the most remembered Bb. Pilipinas winners from the 1990’s. Cara, as she was nicknamed, was one of the two Supermodel of the Philippines winners who competed during the 1994 pageant. The other was eventual 1st runner up Abbygale Williamson Arenas who would later rejoin in 1997 and romp away with the Bb. Pilipinas Universe title.
Cara was 22  years old when she joined Binibining Pilipinas and was a favorite for the top titles by pageant enthusiasts. A student of AB Political Science & Journalism in the University of California Berkeley, she glided over the interview portion with ease. She was the last to be called winner that year as they announced the three top titles alphabetically. She was the third woman to win the Bb. Pilipinas World title and was crowned by Miss World 2nd princess Sharmaine Ruffa Gutierrez.

At the finals, it was speculated that she only failed to get the Best in Swimsuit title because her near perfect measurements of 34 1/2-24-35 was not match to Charlene Gonzales’ ideal vital statistics of 36-24-36. Cara did get, however, the Best in Evening Gown special award with her simple Raymond Lontoc white off-shoulder gown.
Cara competed against 86 other candidates from all over the world in South Africa that year. She was the first to be called among the top 10 semifinalist but failed to advance any further. Her blue Valentino evening gown was said to have pulled down her scores despite strong showing in swimsuits. She clarified later that she was supposed to wear a white Bob Mackie gown but got dirtied and had trouble with the zipper. Personally, I would have preferred if she brought her Bb. Pilipinas gown and wore it instead for the finals in Sun City.

Nevertheless, Cara did good in the pageant and can boast to be one of the few people to have the privilege of shaking hands with former South African President Nelson Mandela. That year was the only time in the history of the national pageant that all top three titleholders made it to the three biggest competitions in the world at least as a semifinalist while BPCI held the franchise of Miss Universe, Miss World and Miss International.

After passing her crown to the next Binibining Pilipinas World, Reham Snow Tago, Cara continued modeling and became a board member of the Professional Models Association of the Philippines (PMAP). She was also chosen to be one of two first CalCarries models to be sent to Asia, and had several commercials and fashion shows in Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Hong Kong. Later she would use her political science and journalism studies to become an anchorwoman in ABS-CBN. She is now based in California with her family.