Catriona Gray: All or Nothing

When we all saw Catriona Gray finally jumping into the Binibining Pilipinas fray last January 8, we all knew that hers was the biggest gamble in the pageant. Having made top 5 in Miss World, we all knew that should she join Bb. Pilipinas, it was Miss Universe or nothing for her.

Those are the thoughts that she relayed in her latest newspaper feature. Here are some snippets of Catriona’s Philippine Star feature:
Recounting her experience during coronation night, Catriona bursts into giggles. “It was such a weird sensation on coronation night, I’ve been trying to explain to my team and parents and my friends. I was roommates with Michele Gumabao, we were together and I was like, ‘Wow it’s coronation night!’ and she was like, ‘Yeah it is.’ And I said, ‘I don’t feel like it’s coronation night!’” The 24-year-old stunner hardly broke a sweat during the event — not even during that Richard Gutierrez moment. And the rest was history.
Yet as the newest Binibining Pilipinas-Universe winner reveals, she almost missed out on the title. “I had so much clamoring from fans and everyone to join (Binibining Pilipinas), and at the time I kind of just dismissed it like, ayoko, I really didn’t feel like I was ready to even consider that,” she shares. After winning the local crown of the other major beauty pageant in 2016, Catriona landed an impressive podium finish at Miss World’s international stage as third runner-up, a feat that she was content with. But with the deadline for applications looming and the incessant “what if” questions gnawing at her, Cat threw her hat into the ring, where she soon made waves as the first woman to represent the Philippines in both grand-slam beauty competitions.
Continue reading “Catriona Gray: All or Nothing”


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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Catriona Gray, Why She is the Bb. Pilipinas #GameChanger

A year ago I have written about the shift that I am foreseeing in Philippine pageantry, that is having a pageant camp is no longer enough and that it should be augmented by having your own glamsquad. This year, that has been realized with Catriona Gray who won the top title in Binibining Pilipinas with only her glamsquad as her main source of help.

In a news report from, Catriona said “I just feel… because I have experienced being with a camp before, so I just wanted to try something different. I’m actually so happy working independently ‘coz I’ve been able to kind of cherry-picked the people I wanted to work with—whether they be stylist, make-up artist, designers. I’ve been learning from people from theatre, from dance, from passarela [catwalk], so I was able to mix it up… the people I’ve learned from, and I enjoyed it so much.

It is to no surprise that Catriona would thank her squad angels on one of her first post-crowning Instagram updates:  “To my angels who have dedicated their passion to training me but wish to be anonymous, you have transformed my stage performance. Thank you to the moon and back for all of your time, effort and especially friendship.
To kuya  @ton_lao@harleybarleyy and @bragaisjojo for taking me under your wing. To be surrounded by amazing people like you through the craziness that has been this competition has been both reassuring and uplifting. To mamang @hairbybrentsales@jellyeugenio @memayfrancisco@momoisupe and @mimsqiu for making me glow throughout the competition. ✨✨✨ To @jearsond and @maktumang what an amazing experience it is to collaborate with such talented artists!!! Thank you for your amazing talent and making me feel like a queen.

This is why Catriona’s win is a game-changer. It no longer means that not having a pageant camp meant that winning the top title is impossible. Catriona just proved that it is achievable.  Being an independent candidate means having to hustle on your own. It is hard work and involves months and months of forethought and planning. A two month preparation is not enough anymore. And certainly, when Catriona’s angels agreed to prepare her as if she is already competing in Miss Universe it paid off.
We are not saying that the pageant camp system is obsolete, no far from that. We are saying it is no longer enough as each pageant hopeful nowadays have a camp. With Catriona winning Miss Universe Philippines there is certainly a shift towards having a squad of your own that would help you focus your gameplan to fit your vision. Girls who would want to train independently could directly go to professionals (designers, stylists, makeup and hairstylists, interview coaches, catwalk trainors, etc…) that they are comfortable to work with. It also unbinds them on some camp rules on which designer to wear, what hair or makeup to do, or be treated as secondary girls to their frontrunners. It means having ownership of your pageant journey despite obstacles that would come ahead and selecting people that you can trust to help you up and not hold you down.

Catriona, from MWP to MUP…

Catriona just opened a floodgate of possibilities for girls who would want to join Binibining Pilipinas as independents, and that is why she is a game-changer.

Binibining Pilipinas 2018 Review Pt. 2 – The Winners & Placements

This is part two of the four-part Binibining Pilipinas 2018 review . And today we will be talking about the 8 winners and their respective placements. In terms of predictions, I got 2 out of the 6 crowns correctly with Eva and Catriona..and 21 out of the 25 semi-finalists. Not bad considering this batch was a very competitive one!

I would say that I am a bit skeptic at first with some of the placements of this batch. After a very solid 2017 batch of strong communicators, two of the girls that had strong q&a were relegated only to runners up. But looking at how the girls with crowns are placed with their respective international competitions, I see that this was a strategic move.

Bb. Pilipinas Globe,  Michelle Gumabao – I guess my assessment on my crown-contender series was correct, she did end up with the Miss Globe title! She follows the same pattern as Nelda Ibe (pilot beauty queen vis-a-vis sportswoman turned beauty queen). I think she is a strong contender for the Miss Globe title.
Bb. Pilipinas Intercontinental, Karen Gallman – another case where my crown contender assessment was correct! Karen may have not been able to communicate fluidly her point during the finals but she was able to get her message across. I have a feeling that she would continue our placement streak at Miss Intercontinental.

Bb. Pilipinas Supranational, Jehza Huelar – third times a charm! Finally Jehza has been crowned! She may have had a rocky start but she did finish with a bang! Her good bone structure on her small frame would be very appreciated in the Polish pageant.
Bb. Pilipinas Grand International, Eva Patalinjug – she was my MGI bet on the final Sashes&Scripts leaderboard and she ended up landing that title! The Thai-based pageant will surely love this mestiza looking Cebuana specially with Eva being a multi-hyphenate (beauty queen- registered nurse- law student).

Bb. Pilipinas International, Ahtisa Manalo – the youngest among the winners this year and she has to cast a bigger shadow than her predecessor. And it would be easy for this doll-like beauty. All she needs to do is to behave well and find a formula that would gel well with what the Japanese pageant is looking for.
Miss Universe Philippines, Catriona Gray – she is the girl that was MUP in both my crown-contender assessment and in my final leaderboard. Was there ever a doubt that she would win this title? Nada, at least for me. She was the girl to beat from day 1 and she never wavered in her lead.

I still would have wanted those who did well at the Q&A grab some crowns had there been more franchises but in totality I think this is a solid batch of queens. I would even say that the Philippines has a handful of international crown-worthy queens in this group, can’t wait to see them in action for their respective competitions abroad…

Binibining Pilipinas 2018 Review Pt. 1 – What You Didn’t See at the Telecast

This is the first time that I have ever watched the Binibining Pilipinas pageant live!

And I came in without any expectation whatsoever. Unlike the rest of the pageant fans in the venue, I was relatively calm throughout the experience. We will be having a four-part review of the pageant finals. Today’s blogpost is going to be more of a recap of the things that you probably didn’t see during the telecast.

Here are a number of things that were unforgettable in the pageant that wasn’t necessarily obvious or seen at the telecast:
* After the Q&A session, Catriona came to Sandra and comforted her after not being able to answer her question. This is no surprising as they are actually best of friends since their Miss World Philippine days.
* During the opening billboard of the 2017 queens, one of the reigning queens was booed by the audiences at the Araneta Coliseum. Since I was seated at the Patron area, it could be easily heard that it came from all over the different corners of the venue.
* At the opening spiel of the hosts,  Richard Gutierrez’ microphone had issues. I am not sure if it was shown on the telecast as perhaps it was able to record his voice and just didn’t gotten heard on the venue’s speakers.

* The atmosphere seems to be less frantic than that in Miss Universe. Since the ABS-CBN had a delayed telecast of the pageant, I wasn’t able to experience too much tension. But I could feel the intensity from the rest of the audience in the Coliseum.
* After a very politically-laden Q&A of 2017, there seemed to be less ‘aggressive’ questions against the government. Is it perhaps because ABS-CBN isn’t at a good standing with the President?

*  Nawat Itsaragrisil was in the finals and I have noticed that he wasn’t in his seat when the judges had their deliberation of winners. Rumor has it that the Thai pageant owner ‘singled out’ Eva Patalinjug for his pageant.
* According to one of the candidates, the reason why only a handful of candidates went out onstage during the announcement of the winners was due to two things: 1) some were so disappointed that they had immediately changed out of their gowns and 2) other were just so exhausted that they no longer had energy after not making the cut.
* In relation to that, the girls were only able to sleep at around 2am in the morning before being woken up at 5am to prepare for the rehearsals during the day of March 18. In fact they were rehearsing and had the final run-through that same day and only finished around 6pm. So it was understandable that the girls were really exhausted with the whole day rehearsals and 3-4 hours of sleep.

* Some fans after the pageant could be heard discussing the 4-3-1 results. 4 of this year’s winners came from Kagandahang Flores (Samantha Bernardo, Vickie Rushton, Karen Gallman and Eva Patalinjug), 3 from Aces (Michelle Gumabao, Jehza Huelar and Ahtisa Manalo) and 1 independent candidate (Catriona Gray). Some noted that it was the girls from KF that collectively  slayed the Q&A portion of the pageant. And I tend to agree, the KF girls seemed to have meatier and more substantial answers to their respective questions.
Stay tuned for part 2!

Sashes&Scripts’ Final Leaderboard for Bb.Pilipinas2018

40 ladies…
6 crowns…
1 nerve-wracking finals night…
With a very competitive batch of ladies I can name at least 20 ladies that should make semis and it still wouldn’t be enough to fairly squeeze in the strong girls in the competition. So this year, my final leaderboard follows a different format. I took away the ranking of the semifinalists as it would not matter who makes #15 vis-a-vis #9.

Alternate Semifinalists – one way or another, these ladies have left an impression on this blogger. Each girl could easily sneak into the top 16 semis this year. But I am sure that these ladies will make top 25 in the finals.
* Loren Mar Artajos
* Sarah Joson
* Shane Tormes
* Aubrey Asuncion
* Wynonah Buot
* Kristie Cequeña
* Janette Sturm
* Patrizia Garcia
* Anjame Magbitang
Semifinalists – no surprises here as these ladies have continually made a mark in the course of the competition. However, these ladies at some point lost consistency along the competition. Some had a strong start, other had their moment on the latter parts of the competition. But they are still a threat for those in the upper half of the list
* Agatha Romero
* Ahtisa Manalo
* Samantha Bernardo
* Ana Patricia Asturias
* Karen Gallman
* Sandra Lemonon
Continue reading “Sashes&Scripts’ Final Leaderboard for Bb.Pilipinas2018”

BBP2018: A Loaded Binibining Pilipinas Batch

Binibining Pilipinas 2018 is almost at a finish and yet we barely scratched the surface on each of the candidates. Initially, this batch was tagged by pageants fans to be a weak batch but were proven in time to be anything but. In fact, this year’s batch have collectively brought meatier resumes and backstories than previous batches.

Nowadays, having a backstory is something that is almost required in pageants more so with an advocacy that showed how one has helped in the community she is in. That is why these couple of aspects are considered one of the requirements that aren’t explicitly indicated but weights heavily in the selection of queens. Now on to the seven ladies that have a fully fleshed-out stories to tell and advocacies they promote.
Vickie Rushton – her mother is blind and her brother has Down’s syndrome and that is why her advocacy on better understanding and treatment for PWDs (Person/s with Disabilities) rings true and authentic. She acts as one of the hands-on caregivers to her sibling and credits her BBP journey to her brother, Kian. Nothing would ring true than that what hits close to the heart.

Janice Roman – has one of the best resumes of the batch. A professor of communications, philosophy, world literature, media and information literacy, etc… this lady brings a heavy dose of what a careerwoman and an empowered professional looks like. Her background as an educator is one of the most impressive in this batch as she is able to help mold the minds of future leaders and movers of the country.

Michelle Gumabao – a sportswoman turned pageant girl, she advocates for sports for kids and has summer sports clinics for children. She hopes to have sustainable sports programs for kids that live away from Metro Manila. Add to her sports advocacy is being an advocate for Habitat for Humanity. Continue reading “BBP2018: A Loaded Binibining Pilipinas Batch”