Catriona Gray: A New World Order Pt.2

Continuing with our guest writer’s editorial piece today…
Catriona Gray: A New World Order
by Emmanuel Castillo
If I may be so bold as to offer a prediction on the shape of things to come in Philippine pageantry. There’s the ongoing rumor of a Miss Universe franchise takeover by the LCS group but these are rumors at best. No one can just topple 55 years of Bb. Pilipinas.

Bb. Pilipinas is a big non-stock, non-profit corporation (read: tax cushion) that provides for a string of orphanages and other local and international charities of the Araneta Group of Companies. It is a well-oiled machinery and because of that it doesn’t intend to disappear any time soon from the world of pageantry. Unless Don Jorge and Madam Stella have decided they’re too old for this and would much rather quit while their ahead, with 4 Miss Universe, 5 Miss International  winners and a host of other minor pageant titleholders. But that is something which I doubt very much.
Continue reading “Catriona Gray: A New World Order Pt.2”


Catriona Gray: A New World Order Pt.1

Today’s post is a special post from a contributor. His name is Emmanuel Castillo and he offers a different perspective on Catriona’s victory as Miss Universe. I must say this is a very interesting read…

Catriona Gray: A New World Order
by Emmanuel Castillo
IS A NEW WORLD ORDER in local pageantry just around the corner? It can no longer be denied that despite having won under the tutelage of Bb. Pilipinas, Catriona with the help of a few friends practically ran the show immediately after she won Bb Pilipinas-Universe, with very little if any support and guidance from them except maybe to give her some insider info regarding Miss Universe protocols.
Continue reading “Catriona Gray: A New World Order Pt.1”

Should Philippine Reps be Able to Speak Filipino?

Journalist Karen David asked the 2018 Miss World Philippines winners one loaded question during their guesting in GMA7’s “For the Record”: How can you represent the Philippines properly if you don’t speak the language?
That is today’s blog topic. Should being able to speak Filipino or Tagalog be a requisite for all Philippine representatives?

This topic on language, and to a certain extent culture, is a heated topic of discussion among Filipino pageant fans. I remember clearly criticisms on Mister World Philippines winners John Spainhour and Sam Ajdani on how can they represent the country when they don’t even speak the language. And that was way back in 2014. That is the same question that we are pondering now as a number of our reps in international pageants this year are ‘halfies‘.
While Filipino reps who grew up in the Philippines are questioned whether they are ‘intelligent’ enough to speak English fluently, today’s question is hurled to Philippine reps who are halfies. *Note that language intelligence is just one aspect of the entire intelligence spectrum (as there are different kinds such as intra-personal, interpersonal, musical, logical-mathematical, spatial, etc…).

In recent years, there is a rise in the number of Filipino halfies winning national pageants that other countries are questioning why do we always send ‘foreignays/ foreignoys’ (a play on the words foreigner and Pinoy/ Pinay) in pageants abroad. Most notable are our recent reps in MW. From 2011 to present, almost all of our reps have been halfies with non-Filipino/ Spanish sounding surnames(Ruais, Rehman, Young, Weigmann, Gray, Lehman, Wolff, Spainhour, Ajdani…) vis-a-vis Hillarie Parungao and Katarina Rodriguez. Our reps in Miss Universe on the other hand seemed to be more diverse in terms of both looks and heritage (Raj, Supsup, Lastimosa, Tugonon, Arida, Wurtzbach, Medina, Peters & Gray).
The question of knowing how to speak the language is deeply rooted on Filipino pride of his/her heritage, not just of its people and its language. Filipinos by heart are a proud race who take pride in their cultural identity but could stand shoulder to shoulder to the rest of the world. It explains why most of us would question halfies if they know our culture and language… because if we are to be represented by one who don’t look like the majority of our population, they damn-well be able to know about the country on a level that is more than just skin-deep.

Language is a manifestation of our identity and culture and that is why I understand why most non-pageant fans ask the question: can our reps speak Filipino. While we would argue that it’s the ‘Filipino at heart‘ that matters in the end of the day, we do have more affinity (generally speaking) to those who knows our culture, our food, and more so our language.
If there is something I would like to add to this debate is that reps who have grown outside of the country should take a page from Miss Universe Philippines Catriona Gray’ playbook. I admire Catriona for extending out to a Philippine historian for lessons to know more about the Philippines deeply. Not only that, she also took Tagalog lessons prior to joining Binibining Pilipinas in preparation for criticisms on her ability to speak the language. Now, even with an accent, Catriona is able to communicate in Tagalog in an effort to go to the level of the fans who aren’t comfortable speaking English. That is what you call Major Major effort!

As far as I could remember Valerie Weigmann and Andrew Wolff were also conversant in Filipino to which endears them to Filipino pageant fans. Something that is deeply admirable. Knowing the Filipino language isn’t a requirement in pageants but it is a must to win over Pinoy pageant fans. After all, it will be the fans who will be showing you support in your campaign for a title.
To all Filipino pageant reps, whether born and raised in the Philippines or foreignoys raised abroad, get to know the country that you are representing at a deeper level of understanding: its people, the culture and traditions, it’s own brand of pop culture, and language even more importantly. Once you get that appreciation and the ‘feel’ of the people, only then you can say that you can adequately represent them in an international competition.

Top 5 Reasons Why the Miss Universe & Miss USA Should Keep the Swimsuit Competition

There has been a huge commotion in the US recently, specially with pageant fans in the US, with the Miss America announcing that it will no longer have a swimsuit competition. Pageant fans of course are quick to ask, is Miss Universe/ Miss USA gonna follow suit soon?

Here today at Sashes&Scripts we list down the top 5 reasons why the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants should keep the Swimsuit Competition… Continue reading “Top 5 Reasons Why the Miss Universe & Miss USA Should Keep the Swimsuit Competition”

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.

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

There has been a very heated debate among some loyal fans 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.