Pitoy Moreno: Farewell to a Binibining Pilipinas Stalwart

Sad news upon receiving the passing of Binibining Pilipinas stalwart and Fashion Czar of Asia, Jose “Pitoy” Moreno. He was 87 years old.

In memory and in salute to his contributions to Philippine pageantry, this post is a photo-collage of his works during his stint at Bb. Pilipinas.

This gown was the gown worn by Binibining Pilipinas Universe Charlene Gonzales during the Bb. Pilipinas 1994 pageant held in November 1993. The national pageant was moved earlier due to preparations for the 1994 Miss Universe pageant. The gown was later worn by Karylle during the Metro Society Tribute show for Pitoy.
Pitoy dressed up Bb. Pilipinas Universe 1993 Melinda “Dindi” Gallardo both in Binibining Pilipinas and in Miss Universe. He later revealed in a 1994 article with Inquirer that Dindi “had no business loosing in Miss Universe” that year… Dindi was a favorite in Mexico as she was seen at the front of the stage during the opening. In the 90’s most of the crown favorites and MU favorites were placed at the front of the stage.
In 2013, during the 50th Anniversary of the pageant, the #BinibiniGold candidates were dressed up in creations of the Fashion Czar during the annual Jag Fashion Show. It was said that this was the time when pageant fans noticed SMA clapping for Ariella Arida who was later to win Miss Universe Philippines.
During the Alfreado Barraza years of BPCI (circa 1999-2014) only in 2012 did we see Pitoy Moreno’s creation as a national costume in Miss Universe.  Note that the crown worn by Janine would later be used as the Bb. Pilipinas Supranational crown. Way before Barraza up until the mid 90’s, most of the Philippine reps to Miss Universe wore national costumes by the Fashion Czar of Asia.
This costume is a mix of Maranao influences with a malong ornately decorated in chinoiserie embroidery (made famous worldwide through the Manton de Manila). Not known to many, aside from Miss Universe Margie Moran (who worn this for a Philippine Tatler spread), the gown part was previously worn by Jeanette Fernando in Bb. Pilipinas 1993 and Kristine Florendo in 1997.
One of the most iconic costumes ever designed by Pitoy Moreno is this Manobo and T’boli inspired costume. Worn by Bb. Pilipinas 1st runner up Ali Forbes at the Binibini Gold fashion show, this was also paraded in a tribute show to Pitoy several months before. This iconic pageant national costume worn by Charlene Gonzales in Miss Universe 1994 is the only Philippine costume to win the Best in National Costume award in MU.



2017, A Better year for Osmel Sousa

Keysi Sayago made it in the top 5 of Miss Universe. Ana Carolina Ugarte was among the top 40 in Miss World. Diana Croce was named Miss International 2nd runner up. Former Mister Venezuela Gabriel Correa Guzman won Mister Supranational 2017. Has Osmel Sousa’s magic returned? Or perhaps it never left?

After a total non-placement of his three protégés in 2016, this year has been kinder to the main man of the Miss Venezuela pageant. It started with Diana Croce who was a favorite to win the Miss International title in Tokyo earlier in November. Croce, who failed in Miss World the year prior, managed to score a top 3 finish in Japan. Miss World Venezuela appointee Ana Carolina Ugarte fared well enough to make it to the top 40 in Sanya. It was rumored that the leggy beauty paid herself the USD20,000 franchise fee for Miss World. Keysi Sayago, who was earlier rumored to almost not being able to compete in Miss Universe, managed a high placement in Las Vegas as she made top 5.

Osmel’s Mister Venezuela 2015 winner, Gabriel Correa won Mister Supranational in Poland last December 3rd. Although the national director for the Mister and Miss Supranational in Venezuela belonged to a different person/ organization, Gabriel’s win in the Poland-based competition is also a feather in Osmel’s cap.

If this string of good placements would continue, we wonder what would his 2018 queens be bringing? Will Osmel add another international crown under his belt…

Maggie Wilson: 1st Filipina to Complete a Marathon in Antartica

Who says that beauty queens cannot be tough? Just look at former Binibining Pilipinas World Maggie Wilson -Consunji.

After winning the top prize in Amazing Race Asia with Miss Grant International 3rd runner up and former Binibining Pilipinas Tourism Parul Shah, the ever young looking Maggie completed another milestone by becoming the first Filipina to complete a full marathon in the freezing cold of Antartica. Here is what the beauty queen had to poston her Instagram account on her feat:
-20 degrees, strong winds and snow. It was a constant battle with my mind and body. I survived without getting frostbite and hypothermia in one of the most remote locations in the world. I may not be considered a “full” Filipino at times but I stand at the finish holding the Philippine flag as the first Filipina woman to complete a full marathon on Antartica.” 💙 #ProudToBePinoy #Antarctica #HusbandIsLuckyIDidntKillHimForMakingMeDoThisMarathon #GoodNewsWeAreStillMarried #GuessImOfficiallyAsNutsAsHeIs
Now you know the kind of mental toughness that Filipina queens are made of. Even if Maggie wasn’t able to bring home the Miss World crown almost a decade ago, she continues to be a victor in other aspects of life.

2,019 Shades of (Catriona) Gray?

A lot of pageant friends and acquaintances have been asking me the same questions: Is Catriona Gray joining Binibining Pilipinas 2018? Even when I was covering Miss Universe in Las Vegas, I still get that question by pageant fans… And I give them the same thing I have said over and over again:  I am not sure but perhaps in 2019.

I say that in hopeful longing because if she is indeed has plans, then we would have heard some news from her camp Aces & Queens about any murmurs of joining. From what I have heard in Las Vegas, the heads of the camp is trying to convince her to join Binibini but with not much updates if they were successful in doing so.
In fact, there is a prevalent rumor that she is about to switch camps to Kagandahang Flores. Not a bad move considering that among the Binibining Pilipinas queens of 2017, KF trained girls managed to snatch 1st runner up in Miss Globe, 2nd Runner up in Miss Grand International and a top 10 finalist in Miss Universe. This is in contrast to the top 10 finish of A&Q in Miss Supranational and a non-placement in Miss International (our bet in Miss Intercontinental is yet to compete come January due to postponement of the pageant). If indeed Catriona jumps ship, there wouldn’t be anything wrong with that as pageant girls have been noted to change camps every now and then.

And these would just be another rumor until Catriona would finally shut down speculations by a confirmation. She had the busiest reign as Miss World Philippines with public appearances left and right. She earned a break, both from her tirelessly working schedules and even from pageants. As fans, we should allow her that time to decongest. She is just 24 years old and she can always return to pageants and give Binibining Pilipinas a try when she’s 25. After all some of the oldest Miss Universe winners Pia Wurtzbach and Brooke Mahaelani Lee were 26 when they sought the title of Miss Universe.
For now, let’s just wait for her to be ready mentally and physically. Do you think I might get to talk to her and convince her to join in BBP2018? #HopeSpringsEternal… Who knows, if I get to chat with her again in the future I might be able to ask her to put the final nail to the question: 2018 or 2019?

Rachel Peters and her Miss Universe Top 10 Finish

At the heat of the debate regarding Rachel Peters’ top 10 finish, I have refrained from posting my own thoughts and feelings on the said outcome. Now that I have had more than enough time to ponder thru it, here are my thoughts on the matter…

Despite a strong performance during the finals (swimsuit and evening gown) what we should have to consider is that the judges are all briefed on what the Miss Universe organization is looking for in a winner. So it is unfair to solely blame Pia Wurtzbach alone on the outcome as all the judges are briefed accordingly by the org. By the time the judges were introduced, they may already have a winner picked in their minds and they probably stuck through their favorites throughout the telecast. Not to mention that the highest and lowest scores by the judges are cancelled to get the median scores.
We should also consider that the judging panel is heavily comprised of Americans and that their perception of beauty may be different from ours. Their perception on the girls could have easily been influenced by the sexual harassment issue enveloping the US right now and hence they chose someone like Demi who was speaking in behalf of self-defense for women.

We cannot fault the gown as well since Rachel’s Val Taguba gown was immaculate onstage. Because if we fault the gown, then how can we explain Jamaica’s yellow gown that didn’t look very chic onstage. Personally, the Val Taguba powder blue confection is the best evening gown that a Miss Universe Philippines worn on the MU stage since 2010. Rachel carried the gown with an elegance and she didn’t have to over-do her facial expressions (yes I’m looking at you Laura, even Shandy Finnessey called you out on it). Here are several recorded videos of Rachel during the Miss Universe from Instagram… and I couldn’t see a flaw on Rachel’s overall performance.

IMHO, I still believe that Rachel deserved a top 5 spot during the Miss Universe finals. She could have given the Philippines at least another runner up placement in the pageant. Too bad that the judges didn’t see her as Miss Universe potential as we did… I believe that it all boiled down to luck. Former Miss Universe Gloria Diaz once summarized it briefly saying that winning is a matter of luck, of being in the right place at the right time with the right judges.

Special Spotlight on Miss Universe 2nd Runner-up, Davina Bennett

I had written and posted on Miss Universe Jamaica and Miss Universe 2nd Runner-up, Davina Bennett even before she competed in Las Vegas. So to me, to see her go far into the competition was no surprise.

During the Miss Universe finals, a lot of people booed the 3rd place finish of Davina because the majority of us felt that she deserved to be in the top 2. The booes in the Axis Theatre were so loud that the audio during the telecast was lowered to minimize it. What people also didn’t see in the telecast was how more candidates flocked to greet Davina than those that went to congratulate Miss Universe winner Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters. Then when a moment later, Davina was ushered to stand in the front of the stage where the audience gave her warm round of applause!

Davina may not have been the girl that everyone initially saw as a potential Miss Universe but she ended up as the one that won the hearts of many with her authenticity, wit and spontaneity. And even this blogger believes that she is worth a top 2 finish in Miss Universe…

Here below is a special video of her during the Miss Universe 2017 pageant’s contestant introduction video…

Qualities that Make Rachel Peters Miss Universe Material

It is a rarity for the Philippines to have a Miss Universe Philippines that have the perfect combo of brain, body and beauty. And that is what Rachel Peters exactly is. For the most of the past 2 decades, we have been sending  gorgeous ladies that have some weak areas. Not with Rachel, as she covers all areas quite strongly: height, body proportions, intellect and articulateness, face, strong background and personal achievements, and most importantly presence.

1. Interviews and Public Speaking Skills– with Miss Universe looking for an effective spokesperson for the organization, the old formulaic beauty over brains gets a new incarnation. It’s beauty and brains nowadays. An alleged 60% of the preliminary scores in MU taken from the one-on-one interviews. Rachel interviews and speaks quite well so there are no worries on that aspect. She won’t clam up when the crucial moment arrives.
A good conversationalist, Rachel has the ability to speak without sounding rehearsed or insincere. This is an important quality in the age when MU values ‘real-ness’ over the manufactured dolls that dominated the 2000’s.
2. The Miss Universe Body – I don’t get tired of saying this but Rachel truly has the Miss Universe body. Just look at similarities in her proportions with those of Dayana Mendoza, Gabriela Isler and Paulina Vega. Rachel has mile long legs that looks great in a swimsuit. When was the last time we sent a 5’10” beauty in Miss Universe? The tallest we ever sent in the past decade are perhaps Venus Raj and Bianca Manalo at 5’9”. With Rachel’s statuesque height, she won’t easily get dwarfed by the rest of the Latinas on the P group.

3. An Arresting Face – she is often compared to celebrity Solenn Heusaff in terms of her facial features. Both are blessed with faces that is considered ‘alta sociedad’ or very high society. Both are uniquely beautiful in the sense that they do not fit into the cookie cutter mold of what is considered pretty by the masses. But both are considered high caliber beauties by those people who can identify girls with X-factor.
While she may not be very photogenic as her previous predecessors are, she nonetheless has the same facial qualities of Iris Mittenaere, Nina Ricci Alagao and Gabriela Isler. All of them have defined jawlines, prominent cheekbones and arresting eyes. IMHO, Rachel should utilize her eyes more often to project a sense of confidence and warmth. I would also want her to create fuller lips through lining the edges of her lips like how Maxine did last year. But most importantly, I would want her to shine and be unique despite all these references to past beauty queens.
4. Personality and Stage Presence – warm and friendly, she is a delight to converse with. And I am witness to that. People close to her say that she has no hang-ups and is easy to get along with. This is something that is going to be handy in the competition proper. Being a diva no longer has a place in the IMG|WME era of the pageant. The MUorg wouldn’t want to have another nightmarish experience with a difficult MU winner.  In MU, a good personality comes a long way, just as professionalism bolster a career.
I would be confident to say that Rachel is arguably the most well-rounded rep the Philippines will send to the Miss Universe pageant. And we would have to wait what she will be delivering come Miss Universe finals this November 27th (Manila time)…