6 Reasons Why the Best Filipino Pageant Fans Can also be The Worst

I first listed and posted Reasons why the Filipinos are the Best Pageant Fans several months ago. However despite being that, we are also vulnerable to the pitfalls of our own shortcomings.
I urge everyone to read this with an open mind, with reflective/ pensive thought. It will not be easy to read (or in my case to write) these as we are all guilty of one or some of it (yes you and I). Here are the six characteristics that Filipino pageant fans’ best traits could be overshadowed by their worst traits.

Quick to Judgement –  at times Pinoy pageant fans tends to make judgement without knowing all facts first or without making thorough investigations. We are far more inclined to believe what others say because it is easier that way. Sometimes we do not take context into consideration and only judge by the content. We don’t bother to ask tough questions like: why does she say that? What is her perspective on it? Where is she coming from?
Mob Mentality – just because one says a person is a hypocrite/ dumb/ narrow-sighted/ unfit everyone is easy to say the same thing and jump into the bandwagon. Worst of this is how we are quick to make viral other people’s mistakes on social media without taking clear facts first. Worst of it is how we insult other nationalities without realizing that we are just as guilty of flaws as they are.
Egoists (When Pinoy Pride Goes Wrong) – ever heard of the old adage “gracious in defeat, humble in victory“? We seem to get the first part right but not the second. This is most evident when arguing with other nationalities with less crowns as the Philippines. We seem to forget that there was a time that we haven’t gotten any major titles in the past. Life is a wheel, we may have passed the bottom and are now back on top…but we have to remember that what goes up has to come down. 

Labeled for Life – case in point the matter of Mariel de Leon on the Reproductive Health issue where the country is running out of contraceptives (except for condoms). People are easy to bash her because of her previous ideology on Mocha Uson being fit (or unfit) for a 6-figure salary by the government. People tend to forget the issue was not about Mocha but RH. Then the case of Pia Wurtzbach being on the curvy side when she won Miss Universe Philippines. Of course we all know how she was called a “pig” only to be on top shape come MU. People change and evolve, that simple fact is easily forgotten by most of us.
“Them Vs Us” Mentality
– this is the proverbial “if you are not with us, then you must be against us”. For a number of Filipinos, there is no gray area, it’s simply black and white. This is very evident during the national pageants where fan groups seem to delineate those that support their girl against those who doesn’t. And if you happen to support more than one, then you must be a “spy”.
Crab Mentality – one of our worst traits as a people. We maybe the ones who would exult our reps to the highest of pedestals but we are also the same ones who would bring her down if she doesn’t suit our taste/ preferences/ ideologies. It should be a simple matter to support anyone that carries the Philippine flag or the Philippine sash because that person/s is a representation of us, collectively as a people.   

While no pageant fan can claim to be perfect, it certainly helps to know our own dark side and decide which side do we choose to be. These are all very hard pills to swallow, but we have to know both our good and bad sides to know how to balance.
This blogpost is not meant to insult or invalidate Filipino pageant fan’s contributions to pageantry, far from that. This post is to serve as a reminder that despite our good sides, we also fall prey to our own bad sides… that sometimes our worst enemies are our own selves.

Why Two Major International Pageants are Eyeing the Philippines as Host

Two major international pageants are currently serenading the Philippines to host their pageant; Miss Universe for the 2017 edition and Miss World for 2018. Why is both pageants serenading the Philippines to host their respective pageants?

Sashes&Scripts tries to uncover why the Philippines is enjoying such attention from both the Miss Universe and Miss World pageants. It all may just boil down to two factors. Here are two of the biggest reasons why…
The Filipino Fanbase – the Philippines is perhaps the biggest market for pageants outside Latin America. You cannot go anywhere to have your pageant if there is no such clamor for it. It would be foolish to establish a base where you are not welcome. And the Philippines is very welcoming to pageantry. 
With Filipino communities spread throughout the world, tapping to the Philippine market would be tapping to a global audience. It is estimated that at least 2.4 million Filipinos* are working outside of the Philippines, this statistic does not take into account their families who are living with them abroad or the Filipinos who are carrying non-Filipino citizenships. That number could possibly double up or more. That is a huge number to cater to and once you get the loyalty of Filipinos, it’s as good as its weight in gold.
In addition to that is the power we have over social media. We can make any topic or pageant for that matter the trending topic on any social media platform on a massive worldwide scale. A clear strong point (or weak point, depending on your perspective) among Filipinos is the mob mentality that we could swarm any socmed platform to promote what we love (or the negative side of it, what we dislike or even hate). Such illustrates the power of the Filipino fanbase.
Let’s also mention how the Filipinos can support girls from other countries besides the Filipina rep. In fact, any of the Miss Universe candidates are given warm welcome by the Filipino people. Such display of hospitality is second nature to Filipinos, ever wonder why the “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” slogan has gotten a supplement line: “When you’re with Filipinos, You’re with Family.” Because of the world renowned Filipino hospitality, there are 100 million reasons why tourists would want to come back to the country. Why do you think the Miss Universe pageant wants to have it again in Manila within the span of less than 12 months? Any pageant candidate is treated like a celebrity. Even the heads of the pageant, pageant officials, judges, are treated as such.

Asia is the new Economic Power – yes you heard it right. Asia is where the money is and you have to follow where the money is. Asia as of the moment is a neutral market (Africa and Europe are MW territories while North & Latin America are dominated by the MU) which makes it a prime demographic to conquer.
The Philippines is posed strategically at the entryway of Asia (figuratively and literally) which is ideal to get a foothold of the Asian market. Gaining a strong base in the Philippines would give any pageant an advantage over the Asian Market. Expansion wouldn’t be difficult if you gain a foothold on the Philippines… Thailand, Indonesia, China, India, Vietnam, etc… are easily within reach once you get a foothold in the Philippines.
This is possibly why China is such a MW favorite, the only problem is that China is seen more as a political threat to any country rather than an ally. You can possibly survive with China as a major sponsor but it wouldn’t get you so far (long term planning wise) as it can make you hostage to its whims. Which is a far contrast with the friendlier/ pacifist nature of the Philippines in general. Pageants couldn’t acquire more stable grounds if it tries to go the route of Indonesia (which is a hardsell for MU considering the swimsuit competition) despite a bigger population as the pageant system is relatively young. Thailand is a close second possibility next to the Philippines, but the frivolity of hosting a major pageant might still be too close for the mourning period from its late venerable king; though I have reason to believe that soon as a foothold in the Philippines is established, the next possible goldmine would be the Land of Smiles. Far more developed countries such as Singapore, South Korea and Japan are difficult markets to conquer as general interest is relatively low compared to the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia or Vietnam.
The Philippines is not a poor country as some may think, never underestimate the 7,107 islands of the country or its 100 million population. And while we are talking about numbers it is said that Php180.3 billion* is remitted back to the Philippines by Overseas Filipino Workers in 2015. There is also a marked growth on the GDP from US$199.6 billion in 2010 to US$292 billion in 2015**. Which says a little bit about Filipinos’ purchasing power. There are also reports of how Filipinos are the “most optimistic spenders” in Southeast Asia***. This means that aside from the basic necessities, Filipinos “would spend on holidays, home improvements, and out-of-home entertainment” as Rappler reports. Domestic tourism increased steadily at 14% over the past 5 years compared to foreign tourism at only an average of 8%****. Which goes to show that Filipinos are a huge potential market to mine. The potential is endless.

Pageants like any other industry follow economic and political trends. You might decry it as unfair but such is the reality in business, after all pageants are part of the entertainment industry. No matter how hard pageantry tries to put ‘charity’ on its face, it still involves a huge amount of money. Hence, it only makes sense to go where the rising economies are and that is in Asia. Couple that with a strong fanbase with a huge market potential and voila! You get the Philippines… a place where potential gains is found with a very open and receptive market. Now you know why the two biggest international pageant rivals, Miss Universe and Miss World, are competing for the affection of the Philippines. Question is who gets to have a stronger foothold?

* https://psa.gov.ph/content/total-number-ofws-estimated-24-million-results-2015-survey-overseas-filipinos
** http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.CD
*** http://www.rappler.com/business/industries/100760-nielsen-survey-filipino-optimistic-consumers
*** http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/domestic-tourism-hot-as-summer/

The Changing Ideals of a Miss Universe Winner

It is clear by now that the Miss Universe organization is clearly looking for a different kind of winner for Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA. With the focus on a more diverse set of semifinalist, more articulate finalists, and more accomplished winners, are we truly ready for what these changes might bring about?

1. Balance between surface beauty and substance – in the debate between facial beauty and intelligence, there will always be gray areas that is gonna be tricky to walk about. Finding a good balance may prove to be difficult as there are always be girls who are more articulate than others or is more regarded as beautiful by pageant fans. Looking for smart, good-looking spokesperson for the MUOrg is tough but doable, just look at former Miss Universe winners Pia Wurtzbach and Gabriela Isler who were among the most hardworking winners in recent years that certainly fit the mold.  
2. Changing body ideals – beauty pageants have to promote health and beauty no matter what shape you are. It is fine to be curvy, athletic or skinny if you are naturally that type, but it has to be on the confines of healthy parameters. There is a thin line between promoting positive body image and promoting unhealthy physiques. The pageant cannot be seen to allow obesity and unhealthy living under the guise of the politically correctness of positive body image. Nor be seen promoting winners with unhealthy eating habits or disorders to maintain a certain weight. While we cannot see ourselves supporting an overweight/obese/anorexic winner, we can nevertheless an embracing of women with different body types (top heavy, curvy, skinny, bottom heavy, athletic, etc). Again, there has to be a balance on that aspect. The body can be transformed thru proper diet and workout coupled with discipline and determination.

TRIVIA: these are the last three Miss Universe winners to be photographed with MU pin/ brooch on their official portraits…

3. Performance over potential – this poses the question of whether a girl should be selected because of her performance or from her overall potential to be the right fit for the organization. Janine Tugonon and Olivia Culpo is a good illustration of this point. Janine was the runaway winner in terms of her performance during the finals but it was Olivia that had the potential to represent best the organization (as seen on how she handled a tough Russian interview-slash-interrogation). So its not just the finals night that is being judged. This is a grey area as it may not fit a certain criteria in judging and could be very subjective. 
4. Diversity – the Miss Universe pageant has to encompass different types of beauty, something that is lost during the Trump era (specifically in the 2000’s). During those days, winners tend to fit only the Caucasian mold of what is considered beautiful: small aquiline noses, almond shaped eyes, prominent jawlines and cheekbones, modelesque proportions. In the 18 years of the Trump leadership, 13* of them were either Latina or Caucasian with only 6 women of color (3 with Asian ancestry and 3 dark skinned winners). Surely there are women who represent different kinds of beauty, it just so happens that the selection of winners was a “one note samba”.

On a personal note, it is highly unlikely that this debate will get a resolution that will appeal to all. At best is that we can hope for a girl that has the perfect balance of facial beauty with a fit and healthy body, oozing with confidence and self-assurance on who she is and who she represents that would fit the bill of becoming the spokesperson of the organization. Quite a tall order of qualifications if you ask me, but this is where the old adage applies one that says: if you are looking hard for something, you are bound to find it.

* We included dethroned Miss Universe winner Oxana Fedorova of Russia.

Has Miss USA/ Miss Universe Lost its Showmanship?

After the recently concluded Miss USA pageant, fans are left wanting more from the pageant. And with the changes in both Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, we ask the question: Has Miss USA/ Miss Universe Lost its Showmanship?

In a report by Variety.com, the Miss USA has suffered a double digit decline in ratings:
The 2017 Miss USA pageant saw a significant decline in the broadcast ratings for the second straight year, according to Nielsen overnight data.
Airing on Fox from 8-10 p.m., the pageant drew an estimated 0.8 rating in adults 18-49 and 2.9 million viewers. Compared to last year (1.1, 4 million), that is a decline of over 27% in both key measures. Last year’s pageant was down a similar percentage compared to when it last aired on NBC in 2014.
We ask, why is that? Sashes&Scripts would like to try what the two pageants this year have missed and why loyal followers of the MU pageant system feel alienated with the changes that the MUOrg is doing.

Miss USA 2017 started out with a very exciting premise yet it was within that premise we all saw the hints of the decline in the entertainment factor. Michael Jackson One gave a major boost in the energy levels with a spectacular opening performance, then went donwhill when the 51 girls weren’t given enough camera time as they only paraded the stage while their states are called. I thought that is was a poor way of not showcasing the ladies as it looked like a cattle-call of livestock before they are butchered. After the first slaughter is done, or rather after the first cut is finished, the 41 girls who did not make top 10 would only have a split second of exposure on the tube during the swimsuit and evening gown performances… that  is if they are lucky enough to get caught by the camera. None of them would get a moment to shine onstage as no congeniality or photogenic awards are announced during the live telecast.
Even the top 10 are subjected to the same treatment by not giving enough airtime to the SS and EG portions. Pageant fans know that the org is looking for a spokesperson for their winner, but they shouldn’t be denied to see an actual competition happening onstage. This treatment is nothing short of the Miss World would just parade the girls in their gowns and then just call in the next girls who made the next cut…  

Unlike the Miss Universe 2013 pageant in Moscow, the Miss Universe 2016 pageant in Manila (though aired on January of 2017) had only two musical performances that night and was subjected to the same rushed pace from opening to swimsuits and gown. The Moscow edition of the pageant gave something that was decidedly missing in the two MUOrg pageants this year: entertainment with major showmanship. The 2013 edition became memorable because several factors: 1) local flavor on the marvelous stage design which allowed the viewers to “experience” Russia, 2) musical guests (with more than enough airtime if I may add) of international caliber like Panic at the Disco, Emin and Steve Tyler or Aerosmith, and 3) enough stage exposure of the girls while competing in their swimsuits, evening gowns and Q&A. 

This is why the 65th Manila edition of the Miss Universe pageant didn’t live up to the Moscow edition in terms of finals night production, it did not have all three elements present from the 2013 pageant. Thankfully the local audiences were able to carry every pre-pageant activity with such energy that coursed through up to the finals… and thankfully Boyz 2 Men had a great following that it saved the musical production of the show.
Then we should also talk about how all those redundant videos and interviews ate up precious airtime. If the MUOrg really wanted to re-brand the pageant to have empowered and outspoken women, then they should just remove the redundant video intro of the candidates during the announcement of the semi-finalists and just do a good ol’ fashioned one-on-one interview. Because having three Q&A segments (even if you rename the final Q&A as the “final word”) doesn’t fool the audiences one bit… you have 3 Q&A’s, we get it…

Miss Universe 2016 finals felt rushed and even more so in Miss USA 2017. While pageant fans may be welcoming of the fact that the MUOrg wants to make the pageant more relevant by selecting smart, empowered and articulate women, the same pageant fans also expect a great show out of the finals.
Final word: pageant fans go watch to see the girls onstage and not more of pre-taped videos or a 3-5 second exposure in their swimsuits and gowns. If the production team finds how to incorporate that into their new formula, then all will be good. All we want is simple: A good show with the girls competing for the title.

TV Ratings: Miss USA Pageant Tumbles Again in Second Year on Fox

A Change in Binibining Pilipinas Criteria of Judging?

Beauty of Face – 50%
Beauty of Figure – 30%
Poise & Personality – 10%
Intelligence – 10%
For the longest time that has been the criteria of judging for Binibining Pilipinas. That is about to change as was reported during the Bb Pilipinas press presentation. If BPCI is giving a huge importance on speaking and communication skills, we might be seeing a leap in weights of this criteria in this year’s selection of winners.

If the beauty of face, figure and intelligence are equally given 30% weight and poise/ personality at 10%, this might be the ideal equation for the criteria for judging. After all, to be competitive internationally you cannot crown a lady who is all personality but no beauty, nor one who is all beauty but no intelligence. It has to be a combination of these qualities in a balanced equation. 
Does this mean a return on selecting beauties like Karen Loren Agustin, Teresa Licaros, Lia Andrea Ramos and Nina Ricci Alagao? Not necessarily. It only means that the pageant is looking for one with both surface beauty and substance. And unless BPCI will inform the public of the actual changes, all we can do is speculate… One this is for sure, the next set of winners should be able to talk the talk and not just walk the walk.

Pageant Age: Move to 29 years old Age Limit (?)

Miss International pushed their age limits to 25 a couple of years ago, Miss World pushed their age requirements to 27 last year, Miss Universe is confirmed to have moved the maximum age requirement to 28 earlier this year….

Earlier during the Binibining Pilipinas screenings Miss Earth-Air 2012 Stephany Stephanowitz was removed from the roster of screnees due to her age (Bb Pilipinas only accepts up to ceiling age of 26, Stephany was 27). With this talk of age requirements, I thought it is high time to write about my thoughts on the ceiling age for pageants.

One of the oldest Miss Universe to win the title was Brook Mahaelani Lee of the US. The Hawaii native was already 27 years old when she won the title in Miami and became one of the most celebrated winners of the pageant’s history. In the recent history of the Miss World pageant, a standing rumor has it that no pageant girl at the age of 25 will ever win the title. One of the youngest to ever win the Miss International title was Melanie Marquez at the age of 15 years old (alleged age). While I have no qualms crowning winners in their 20’s, it is my opinion that the ceiling age for pageants should be pushed to 29 years old on the year that they are competing for the international title. Why is that so?

It is simply because women who are past 25 years have more maturity and more focus in their careers. Women on those ages have achieved something on their professional and personal lives and have a better understanding of life and the celebrity that follows. They are most probably to treat the duties and responsibilities of the title with utmost respect.
Miss USA 2015 and Miss Universe 2nd runner up Olivia Jordan sums it all nicely in one statement: No to Ageism.

Why the Filipinos are Among the Most Important Pageant Fans in the World

In our guesting with CNN Philippines’ On the Record: Winning the Crown special, one of the things that the panel have discussed was how the Filipino pageant fans are the best pageant fans there is, if not most spoiled fans in pageantry even. Come to think of it, we are spoiled because we are the best pageant fans…. and why is that? Here are some of my thoughts.

The Filipino pageant fans are:
1. Global Citizens – with the Filipino Diaspora to the four corners of the world, there is a Pinoy pageant fan anywhere you go. There is what you can call the ‘Kabayan’ spirit that exists in most Filipinos abroad, that kinship of sorts anywhere you might possibly be. Geographically diverse/dispersed, that is one of the advantage of the Filipino because there will always be people who will cheer for Miss Philippines in any pageant anywhere she goes.
2. Marketing Machines – the Filipinos are arguably the one nationality whose appetite for social media outlets is the most voracious. Our presence virtually online eclipses any other nationality. And that is huge machinery for marketing and PR thru word of mouth promotions. If the Pinoy fans unite and come together, we can make anyone the trending topic on any social media platform: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (the SocMed Trifecta), even on lesser known Mobstar.
3. Solid Block Voters – we call this the ‘Bayanihan spirit’ that innate urge to help one another simply due to their Filipino roots. And we can do this on a massive scale being global citizens that we are. Just look at how the pageant fans supported Pia Wurtzbach thru online voting or how Filipinos rallied for Catriona Gray on Mobstar (it actually took 2 countries voting for a candidate plus and endorsement of a movie star for Mongolia to beat Catriona via the Mobstar voting). These are proof enough that the Pinoy fans are not to be trifled with.
4. Fair Supporters – bring any pageant to the Philippines and there is a fair chance that other candidates will get support from Filipino fans. In the recently held Miss Universe pageant, you can see that support given to girls from Sierra Leone, Venezuela, Malaysia, Haiti, etc… Each of the girls is given fair share of cheers and applause, all the candidates have to do is to be nice to the fans.

While there is a danger for Filipino fans to be overly boastful and rude, a vast majority are actually passionate and well-mannered. It is my hope that such power and influence isn’t abused. Nevertheless, it would be a huge mistake to ignore such a crowd.
The Philippines is one of the biggest consumer-market of pageants in the world, if not possibly the biggest and loudest both as live audience and online. Those are possibly the main reasons why international pageants love the Philippines so much. It is no wonder that the Miss Universe pageant offered the pageant to be hosted once more in the Philippines this 2017 edition… a pageant loss that the Miss World just let pass. This is perhaps the reason why international pageants could not afford to ignore Philippine reps, because aside from the fact that they come in prepared and ready, they are also backed by the best pageant fans in the world.