What if Miss USA 2018 Borrowed the ‘Regional Groupings’ from Miss Universe?

It’s Miss USA pageant season in the States nowadays. And in line with the spirit of the competition, we are toying with the idea of what would it look like if they copied the ‘continental groupings’ of Miss Universe and applied a ‘regional groupings’ to the Miss USA 2018 pageant.

My idea is actually to split the groups by time zones:
* Group 1 – approximately 13 states, Hawaii and Alaska with states from the Pacific time zone and Mountain time zone
* Group 2 – approximately 15 states of the Central time zone
* Group 3 – approximately 20 states plus DC from the Eastern (Atlantic) time zone
Now if it is 16 semi-final placements they can divide it to have 5 per group for the first 2 groups and the third group having 6 placements since they have more in number. Or perhaps a 4-5-7 split which seems to be more fair in terms of state distribution…  Let’s see how the MUOrg could arrange this to give equal opportunity for all states to make semis.
Of course one could argue that this idea is ridiculous (which I tend to agree and my point for this argument) but because this was done in Miss Universe 2017, I thought it would be a good idea to boomerang this back to the MUOrg and execute it in Miss USA. Just to illustrate how the ‘continental grouping’ was a terrible idea in Miss Universe and even more so in Miss USA.

But it does challenge the status quo of the pageant which seems to be what the IMG|WME is after these past 2 years of Miss Universe and Miss USA. Hopefully if they would see how ridiculous the grouping idea is in Miss USA, they might change their minds and take it out of Miss Universe…and just let the girls who are worthy of a placement earn their semifinals placement.

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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”

Thoughts on Eva and Samantha’s Bb. Pilipinas 2018 Answers

There seems to have been a general criticism over the final Q&A responses of Binibining Pilipinas Grand International Eva Patalinjug and Bb. Pilipinas 2nd Runner up Samantha Bernardo. Pageant fans keep on criticizing that they were rehearsed or that they were ‘plagiarized’. Here is my thoughts on this issue.

First let’s tackle Eva’s answer. Accusations of plagiarism is hurled at Eva over her answer as well. Now here is the thing about plagiarism, extemporaneous speaking or spontaneous speech is exempt from plagiarism because she does not gain monetary profits from borrowing a quotation or a section of a previously published content. Nor she is wrong to use a phrase or a section in what deems as appropriate in regular speech. From what we know the sections she borrowed for her q&a weren’t copyrighted material, hence everybody/ anybody is allowed to paraphrase, rephrase or repurpose its content to whatever purpose it suits them. This is where I would ask every one, when is it ever wrong to quote someone else’s words in a beauty pageant q&a? Haven’t girls and gays even at the baranggay level borrowed Pia Wurtzbach’s “confidently beautiful with a heart” phrase? Or haven’t pageant fans forgotten that even Pia borrowed GMA7’s slogan “think before you click” in her BBP2015 q&a? Double standards much? It’s okay for other to use quoted text or section but not for other?

The thing about extemporaneous speech is that it is even more difficult to use the exact same words when you are quoting someone under pressure and a time limit. Granted that Eva may have omitted to mention at that specific instance the source material as she ran out of the allotted time. But you gotta consider that her answer bore much gravitas than other girls in their respective shallow answers. This is what we writers refer to content over construction. This means that the essence of what was written, or in this case what was said,  bears more weight than how it was written. This is why writers and authors have editors.
Next we have Samantha reusing her own statement during the Bb. Pilipinas primer. I have no issue over that as we all have prepared canned responses whenever we go to a job interview. Usually, when we practice our answers for interviews our brain picks up on certain keywords and phrases (burning torch, love is the essence of life vis-a-vis the essence of being a woman, etc…) that we use as our go-to words. Hence when the occasion arise that we are in need of using them we blurt them out as if it were muscle memory. Same can be said of Samantha’s answer. She blurted a similar response to a question that is perhaps similarly asked in a previous situation. Again, what should be judged here is the gravitas of her answer not the answer itself.

The whole point of this issue is the fact that these two girls came in prepared. Judging them because they came in prepared is actually comical. Fortune favors the prepared and you can see that they were rewarded for it. Every pageant girl have notes and quotes that they put in their memory bank to use as conversation starters. To be able to be that well-read, well-informed and having a vast repository of knowledge at hand when an immediate need arises should command respect not criticism. Because when you are in that position, I could only imagine that these arm-chair critics could only do worse, not better than Eva or Samantha.

Special Feature: On Nudity and Future Binibining Pilipinas Aspirants

Earlier this month, there has been a very heated debate among some of Sash Factor’s correspondents and pageant experts regarding the decency clause (which pertains to nudity and posing for men’s magazines) of the Binibining Pilipinas pageant. While some may argue that nudity has to be scrapped, there are also those who argue that the decency clause is a form of protection for the girls and the pageant itself from detractors and critics calling pageants as a “flesh parade”.

Parts of the Bb. Pilipinas requirements states that the applicant should adhere to the following criterion:
* I am of good moral character;
* I have never participated in any bold/burlesque shows, plays, movies, publications or activities, or such show, play, movie, publication or activity, which, in the sole opinion and discretion of BPCI, is inconsistent with my application with the Pageant, run counter against the social and moral principles upon which the Pageant is founded upon, and/or bring disrepute or embarrassment to BPCI or any of its sponsors;
* I have not engaged in prostitution or any such act which can be deemed as similar or related thereto

I believe that these are fair points to ask any BBP hopeful. The BPCI is, after all, a private institution and can mandate / impose its own rules. However, it would also do them better if they stated a blanket rule on nudity and posing for men’s publications and specify what is and what isn’t allowed. This way, potential applicants are guided fully. And their camps/ mentors should also be fully aware should their candidacy be at risk with topless/ nude photos. Disclosure to your mentors/ handlers/ camps should be a rule so that both parties would not be at risk.
Once and for all I would like to have this debate come to rest so that we wouldn’t have to keep resurrecting this topic every Binibini season…

When Interviews and Social/ Community Involvement Counts

If you think that the 90’s era of Miss Universe has returned, you gotta think twice. It’s not just enough to nail the interviews, future Miss Universe hopeful has to stand for something and has to be able to tell a story of empowerment and triumph.

Of course beauty and presence still count in pageants. Beauty and universality still weights heavily when selecting the winner from the top 3. While it was evident in the past 2 editions of Miss Universe that the interview bears a huge weight, we also have to factor in that community involvement/ social awareness and advocacy also plays a part. Pageant girls have to add a social dimension to their pageant stories and resumes. Because this allows them to have a jump off point for conversations in the closed-door interviews. It also allows the judges and the MUOrg to see that their possible winner is not self-involved but rather one who has something to contribute to her community.
In my humble observation, the people at the MUOrg are looking for someone who is not just a manufactured doll with a pre-packaged backstory. They want someone with an authentic story and authentic advocacy. It is easily recognizable if it is inauthentic and faked just for the pageant. Even if it is said to have been established years ago, the question of consistency and sincerity are just things that couldn’t be faked. There has to be visible proof not just press releases to make it look ‘real’.
Because if it was manufactured, how it is presented would be robotic/ rehearsed… and judges would pick up on that during the interviews. That is because 80% of communication relies on non-verbal cues. Lying  would be very obvious during the close door preliminaries. This is perhaps why the interviews contribute to 60% of the preliminary scores in Miss Universe. Candidates are not just judged on confidence and speaking ability but also on sincerity. Of course if one is not sincere, how could that person represent the MU organization?

The Miss Universe is truly trying to reinvent itself to be relevant, hence their way of looking for a winner that speaks of relevant topics and advocacies is the way to go. It enables the potential winner something to talk about during her reign. Because after all the glitz and glamour of the finals night, the work as Miss Universe truly begins.

Sashes&Scripts Year-End Special: The Changing Ideals in a Beauty Pageant Winner

2017 saw a full change in what takes to win a beauty pageant. These days a new type of beauty queen is seen emerging among national and international pageants. It is no longer enough that you possess the face, height and body for beauty contests. International and national pageant organizations are looking now for far more than the proverbial “face that could launch a thousand ships“.

Changing body ideals: small bust, wide hips, thick thighs and short legs…they don’t matter anymore…

Personal Achievement – whether you are a breadwinner from an early age, or managed to get your masters degree while juggling 2 jobs, or a household helper who succeeded in getting a degree of her own, or survived sexual assault, or an orphan who was raised by nuns, you gotta have a personal story or personal achievement to tell. That is part and parcel of being relate-able. Yes, other girls wouldn’t look as gorgeous as you but at least it gives hope that life can be better for them. This is what pageant orgs seem to be looking for a winner. Someone that is admirable and aspirational to make pageants be more current and modern.
Communication Skill -smarts trumps surface beauty, that should always be one that pageants should move towards for. Gone are the days when we would cringe at pageant winners who falter at the dreaded q&a. Nowadays, beauty pageant winners are expected to be able to hold conversations and speeches in public. Being able to communicate is something that all winners required to as they are de facto spokespersons/ ambassadors of the pageant org. Just look at the bumper crop of 2017 Binibining Pilipinas queens. All of them are capable of holding conversations and look stunning both at the same time.
Community Involvement/ Advocacy – done nothing for your community? Have nothing to show in terms of charity projects? Then have one even before you think of joining a national pageant. Even as a beauty queen aspirant, you have to stand for something and show up for it. You gotta be involved in your community or in a passion project that speaks to you….whether that be a regular clean up drive, standing up against bullying, HIV-AIDS awareness, humane treatment of animals, fight against human trafficking or cancer research. You have to be less self-absorbed and more involved in the world around you.

Pageant Buzz Words: Having compelling backstory and timely advocacies are a must in a pageant girl’s resume nowadays…

Market Appeal to Strengthen the Brand – it is no surprise that every pageant has made adjustments in how they select their winner in hopes to appeal to a larger world market. The latest move is how the MU pageant copied the ME’s continental grouping in selecting their semi-finalists. MW and MI have the continental queens to cover their bases. Hence this translates well into selecting its winners. Each pageant would select a queen that could further their agendas. Hence we saw a medical physicist representing the scientific community in global warming issues, an advocate of self-defense as an empowered and confidently beautiful winner, a medical student as the face of what is beautiful with a purpose… Each winner has to have market appeal to strengthen the pageant’s brand image to a worldwide audience.
Pageant Organization Favorite – this is a little bit difficult to quantify compared to the other points discussed. Nowadays, pageant organizations exert a little (to full) influence on who makes it to the semis and eventually win. They are, after all, the ones who would work with the eventual winner for a year’s duration. They might as well select one that they could work with in a professional capacity. Diva attitudes and bad behaviour are not tolerable. So it pays that pageant hopefuls be professional and courteous. This is the way to endear yourselves to the organization and get noticed. Remember that a pageant is not won during the finals but during the everyday you step out and face the day’s pageant activities.

Heard, not just Seen: Winners should be able to carry a conversation as they are spokesperson of the organization…

It is safe to say that winners should cover all of these bases to be successful at a pageant. Yes, physical beauty still counts for a lot but in a line up of very beautiful women, those that have the above points covered will most likely stand out.

Pageant Tourism: Is it Good/ Bad for the Philippines?

In just one calendar year, the Philippines has hosted two of the international Alpha pageants in the world: the 65th Miss Universe in January and Miss Earth 2017 in November. Plus we also hosted the Miss Asia Pacific International, Mister Grand International, Mister Tourism Universe together with a plethora of other minor international competitions that are too many to even mention.

This begs the question, is the Philippines getting branded for its pageant tourism approach? Does this give off a negative connotation/ association to the Department of Tourism’s effectiveness as a government agency? Is there a good/ bad trade-off for this branding?
There are pros and cons to this situation. A definite pro is that Pageant Tourism is something that has never been done by any country in the world. It would something that could strategically appeal to the pageant loving communities all over the world. And this could be a initial ‘come hither’ call for tourists that could be a segue to the bigger tourist destinations. This can even be further developed by having the pageants’ finals held in other major cities like Cebu and Davao to push more tourists into these cities and the nearby scenic locales. The DOT can even give its endorsement and get more publicity and sponsorship for these pageants. Or even perhaps allow a incentive or tax break for such prestigious pageants to be held in the Philippines.

A con, however, is the over proliferation of pageants and it would be difficult to pick which ones would be of good reputation. With a lot of fly-by-night pageants that sprung up like mushrooms, there should be a certain criteria that must be met to be included into the roster of DOT-endorsed national/ international pageants. Another con is the fact that tourist spots in the country are spread out and it would be a logistics nightmare to feature them all in the pageant’s program. This doesn’t include the fact that some tourist areas may not have the necessary infrastructures to hold a finals night that could further highlight other Philippine tourist destinations aside from Metro Manila.

How about you? Weigh in the matter on the poll below…

Sashes&Scripts’ Thoughts on the New Miss Universe Format

It has been circulating for more than a day that the Miss Universe format would be somewhat similar to that of Miss Intercontinental. Although we have reliable sources that confirmed this news to us, we opted to get more information on the matter before dipping our toes in the pool, so to speak. Being in Las Vegas to watch the rehearsals live and getting to seat alongside national directors in the rehearsals allowed us to get more accurate info on the proceedings.

Earlier I have published an article update on how the top 16 semifinalists are chosen. The top 16 will comprise of 4 girls from North and South America, 4 from the Europe, 4 girls from Africa and Asia-Oceania with the last 4 wildcard girls coming from any of the continents. This new format is met with hesitancy by pageant fans.
And these are my thoughts on it:
* Biggest disadvantage of the new format would be the girls from the Americas (North & South America plus the Caribbean). They have strong representation this year with Canada, USA, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Panama, Jamaica, Paraguay, Brazil, Colombia, & Venezuela. It would be a bloody torture to see some of these strong girls clap behind the stage come finals.

* Biggest advantage of the new format would be Europe because they only have a handful of strong girls (Russia, Spain, Great Britain,  Sweden & Iceland) who performed strongly at the preliminary swimsuit and gown competitions. IMHO in this group, they should have also added Lebanon, Turkey and Israel since they are mostly Caucasian looking and these countries are part of the Mediterranean.
* Aside from the major frontrunners of Asia & Africa (South Africa, Philippines, & Thailand), there are other strong competitors from this group such as Ghana, Tanzania, Mauritius, Cambodia, Indonesia and Korea.
* It would be interesting to see if the wildcards will mainly comprise of girls from Asia and the Americas. Because this is where I believe the girls who are so thirsty to win are grouped.
* I also think that allowing the weakest group more slots into the semis is just a play to make that group get interested more with the Miss Universe pageant. Which I would say not much of a good investment. In my humble opinion, Asia should be afforded a separate grouping since it is Asia that has a growing market for pageants.

You may or may not agree with my thoughts on this matter but I wanna get you thinking more critically. I welcome this new innovation from Miss Universe but I am not much of a fan of how the girls are grouped. I believe there is a much better way to group them much more evenly to level the playing field.

MU, MW and MI: The Heritage Brands of Pageantry

When we speak of luxury heritage brands in fashion, we speak of the history, craftsmanship and tradition of long withstanding brands like Louis Vuitton, Hermés, Chanel, Dior or TAG Heuer. Some of these brands have been in existence since the 1850’s to the 1950’s and carries with them a sense of timelessness and longevity.
For international pageants, only three has come close to be called such: Miss World, Miss Universe and Miss International. Among the most popular international pageants, these three has withstood the test of time being in existence for at least 50 years.  Continue reading “MU, MW and MI: The Heritage Brands of Pageantry”