PhotoCollage of the Day: Bb. Pilipinas 2017 Winners for HIV-AIDS Awareness

The fight against HIV is a multi-disciplinary effort rooted in compassion, love, and a genuine desire to help others. The ever changing face of the epidemic demands a dynamism that can only be achieved with different sectors of society working together and the merging of various disciplines. Together, we can stand and make a difference. – The Red Whistle, @theredwhistle

In the spirit of love and acceptance, let us give our unwavering support to all those who are fighting the battle of HIV and those in the frontline of dealing with the crisis brought about by the epidemic. – Maria Angelica de Leon
In our commitment to forming a society free from barrier and stigma, let us encourage each other to take the bold step to make the right choices towards getting tested and finding out one’s HIV status. – Katarina Rodriguez
We shall empower each other to make the right choices – choices made in the spirit of love and acceptance for oneself, radiating towards love and acceptance for others. Empower others to know their HIV status so that more lives will be saved. – Chanel Olive Thomas

We shall tear down barriers and fight discrimination in all its forms and build a culture of acceptance of the diversity of the community. Acceptance will break the stigma of HIV and bring us closer to resolving the ever worsening crisis brought about by the epidemic. – Nelda Ibe
Let us commit our resolve in winning the battle against the HIV epidemic the Philippines is facing. Let us commit our efforts towards mitigating the spread of the epidemic and towards reconstructing the lives of those affected by it. – Elizabeth Clenci

Let us have open minds. Let us listen to each other’s hearts. Let us grow together, as a community, in love. With love, barriers collapse and authenticity is borne, and from here people can work together in synergy and achieve greatness. With love, we can solve the crisis of the HIV epidemic together. – Rachel Peters


Sashes&Scripts Special Feature: A Spotlight on HIV-AIDS Advocacy

Pia Wurtzbach, Bianca Guidotti, Katarina Rodriguez, Sam Ajdani, Reniel Villareal, Rick Kristopher Palencia, Willan Pagayon, Kevin Balot and even now Catriona Gray have spoken in awareness of the growing HIV-AIDS epidemic that is now gripping the country. 

Here is what we should know about this epidemic:
1. The Philippines has become the country with the fastest growing human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic in the Asia Pacific region
2. The Philippines recorded a 140% increase in the number of new infections… At the end of 2016, there were 10,500 Filipinos infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) up from 4,300 in 2010.
3. The Philippines has become one of the eight countries accounting for more than 90 percent of new HIV infections in Asia and the Pacific. The number of new infections in the country, however, is not as high as several countries in the region which have tens of thousands of new infections every year.
4. In 2016, 83 percent of new HIV cases occurred among males who have sex with males (MSM) and transgender women who have sex with males (TGW). Majority of these infections were reported among 15- to 24-year-old MSM and TGW.

5. Only 35% of MSM and TGW aged 15 to 24 had correct knowledge on HIV transmission and prevention. Two out of three new HIV infections were among 15 to 24 year-old men, who she said have insufficient awareness of HIV, its symptoms and treatment.
6. In May 2017 alone saw 1,098 new cases of HIV infections in the Philippines, the highest recorded number of cases since 1984 when infections were first reported.
7. Most of the men had their first sexual encounter at 16 years old and only get tested for HIV eight years later.
8. The Department of Health is now providing free antiretroviral medicine to anyone who tests positive for HIV and other out-patient services to a maximum of P30,000 per person annually. The DOH has three HIV treatment hubs in Metro Manila—Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, San Lazaro Hospital and Makati Medical Center.

Photo from Philippine Star…

Those who are 90’s babies are quite familiar with the HIV-AIDS epidemic that gripped the world in the 1970’s to the mid-90’s. This was quite a huge deal for the LGBT community back then as it further ostracized the gay community. It is just sad that despite advancement in communications and technology, the fight still lingers on with HIV-AIDS gaining an upper-hand.

This is why there is a need for this post, a need for beauty queens  and pageant fans to spread awareness of how this disease is a huge risk to Filipinos, specially to the LGBT community. It is timely, it is relevant (as Pia Wurtzbach said back in Miss Universe 2015), even more so now that the Philippines seems to be at the eye of the storm. The Filipino pageant community should help to their part, not just our beauty queens to spread awareness.
Below are some of the available links for HIV-AIDS awareness and support in the Philippines:
Don’t be another statistic in the HIV epidemic. Protect yourselves and your partner, be in the know, get tested, spread the word… 


Katarina Rodriguez: Also Competing in November for Miss Intercontinental?

Binibining Pilipinas Intercontinental Katarina Rodriguez has always had a great relationship with the camera. She always register well in photos and today’s post is a proof of that. She is snapped by photographer Edward Keeler for a series of photographs as seen below. 

But enough of that, today’s post is actually focused on the rumors going around that the 5’7″ beauty is gonna compete in the month of November. And the pageant is likely to be held in India this year.  While we are waiting for an actual confirmation on the dates and full schedules from the organization itself, let’s just say that the pageant will have its finals in a packed beauty pageant calendar of November. How will that impact Katarina’s support system in the pageant?

With fans’ attention being split between Miss Earth, Miss Universe, Miss International and Miss World how much support is left for her? Well, there is nothing to worry about as she has her dedicated core of pageant fans, the KATroopers. I am 100% sure that she would be getting full support for Mobstar voting or any other online voting platforms the pageant will take into this year.

The pageant calendar for November is quite full this year. I personally hope that Katarina’s competition be moved to December or October to give fans a breather from the 1-2-3-4 punch combo of the Alpha pageants in November…

Bb Pilipinas 2017: A Fashion Review Pt.1

Buckle up ladies and gents as for today’s #Fashion Friday we are gonna review several key people’s wardrobe during the Binibining Pilipinas coronation night. This is gonna be a sweet and spicy review that would make Joan Rivers roll in her grave.

Pia Wurtzbach – her three outfit changes was a hit or miss. Her first outfit was perfect from the waist up, her purple gown was ruined with the wrong hairstyle and the ice blue outfit was perfect from head to hem. Overall Pia coasted safely fashion-wise.
Ruffa Nava – she wore a unique gown and carried it well. This is one of the few cape gowns that didn’t look too dated. I was quite flabbergasted that she didn’t advance forward, nevertheless she scored a fashion win in her EG presentation.

Dane Felise Marasigan – that yellow gown by Rau Uson-Ablaza was reminiscent of the Dior haute couture collection by John Galliano where he sent models wearing origami-like gowns. It was one of the few high fashion risks that paid off. Dane should have had her hair up for a bigger dramatic impact.

Rachel Peters – the tangerine gown looked like a copycat of an Ellie Saab gown used in his perfume commercial which was done around 2012/2013. I have seen similar looking gowns in several other pageant girls both in local and international competitions (notable of them was Catharina Choi in Miss Earth 2013). Thankfully Rachel was able to carry the gown and punctuated her presentation with a twirl.
Chanel Olive Thomas – her pink confection of a gown was typical, in fact it reminded me of the red gown that Edgelyn Gamboa wore last year that was also worn by Shamcey in the finals. The pink gown looked a bit too long for Chanel and would have been better if it was shortened or added with horsehair at the hem to allow some stiffness to create a more flared out effect.

Shamcey Supsup – she hosted the red carpet PLDT even and she looked smashing. The red gown fit her really good and she wore her hair down in curls with her trademark million-watt smile.
Katarina Rodriguez – she wore a lovely Libiran couture looking gown that looked 2 sizes smaller than her. Was it just me who noticed that her stomach area looked bloated in the gown? That was because it was too tight on her. The design itself was masterfully done. Overall the gown was okay except for the fact that it was too tight.

Part two coming up shortly…

The Binibining Pilipinas 2017 Review Pt2

This is the second and final part of my review of the recently concluded Binibining Pilipinas pageant.

The Telecast – to be honest, it was neither exceptional nor it was atrocious. It was just okay and  it still has areas of improvement. I was just a bit on the fence regarding the ‘no online updates’ policy that was imposed this year by ABSCBN. Though I understand their reasons, it would have been an additional income generator for them had they made a “pay per view livestreaming” of the coronation night. In terms of production, I didn’t see any major flaws as it looked decent overall.
I am just listing some pet peeves that I noticed on the production: 1) the unnecessary audience shot when the girls are doing their pasarela, hope this is removed in the future and should be reserved during the opening dance while girls are changing tableaus or formations on stage or when panning towards the stage as the pageant comes back from commercials, 2) Daniel Padilla’s amazing singing (note on the sarcasm there), this is the first time I saw someone lipsynching without exerting effort to make it look like he is actually singing, 3) the special awards, do they really have to include the sponsors’ head honcho on the awarding? They take too much airtime, having their names flashed onscreen should be enough. More so, the flashing of their brands during the telecast should have been adequate exposure.

Xian Lim has vastly improved in his hosting skills as compared to the first time that he acted as host of the pageant several years back. He has matured immensely with his hosting skills. Former Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach did quite well as a host and provided additional pageant glamour to the event. Together they delivered well as a pair though they lacked the rapport we once saw with Andy Cohen and Giuliana Rancic when they hosted the Miss Universe 2012 pageant.
Another point observed by those in the actual venue is the somewhat subdued  atmosphere in the stadium compared to the 2014 or 2015 editions. While we could not gauge that on the tv screens, it can be noted that there were more vacant seats this year as compared to previous years. It is no wonder that I knew several people who still were giving out tickets the day of the finals night.

The Stage – I have a hard time appreciating initially the stage this year. I felt that we had seen something like this before, it reminded me of the circular props of BBP Gold. Not that it was bad or anything, it’s just that it could have broken out of the box and offered something new for pageant fans to enjoy. The saving grace of the stage however is its ability to put those on stage to the forefront instead of taking over the entire visual of the spectacle. It didn’t overpower the eyes so I give the stage a higher than average score for that.

The Musical Performers – I have already mentioned several months back during the 65th Miss Universe pageant that I wanted Sia’s “Move Your Body” as a possible music wishlist. That came true during the Bb. Pilipinas coronation night’s opening dance. I believe that overall, this year’s music soundtrack was just okay. The trio singing of R&B Prince, Jay R, Daryl Ong and Jason Dy was a good follow-up to the opening sequence only to be let down with Daniel Padilla’s singing (I see he was trying to look suave but it ended up otherwise).

The Winners – In one of my last posts before the Bb. Pilipinas coronation night, I named two ladies that I am practically torn for the Miss Universe Philippines title…and I was right to name them as Rachel Louise Peters became MUP for 2017 and Charmaine Elima ended up with the 1st runner up title. Then my only crown contender for the Bb. Pilipinas International title was Mariel de Leon who won that exact same title! Among my final list of crown contenders and crown spoilers, 7 out of 13 went on to comprise the winners circle. Only Kristel Guelos was out of my radar!

Now let’s talk about the individual winners:
Kristel Guelos2nd Runner up, she was the true underdog from the very beginning of the competition. Nobody saw her coming and it was refreshing to say that she did perform consistently throughout the evening. I see promise on this lady, I just think that a better styling would have made her stand out much better.
Charmaine Elima1st Runner up, her runner up placement is deemed low by her fans but it was IMHO a better placement than being given a minor title. It seemed as if she was ‘reserved’ as a runner up than to be sent to a lesser pageant. At age 24, she still has time to do a comeback if she chooses. I would hate to think that such a universal face would be wasted…

Nelda IbeBb. Pilipinas Globe, I have a hard time thinking if this is the best possible title for Nelda. Perhaps it would have been better if she got the Intercontinental title who seems to favor taller girls. Nevertheless Nelda can bank on the guidance she can get from fellow KF sister and Miss Globe 3rd runner up, Nichole Manalo.
Katarina RodriguezBb. Pilipinas Intercontinental, personally Katarina would have been a great match for Miss International or even Bb. Pilipinas Grand. She would have made a killing in the Thai-based pageant however she can be trained to conform to what the German-based pageant looks from a winner.
Elizabeth ClenciBb. Pilipinas Grand, she looks like Parul Shah in some angles and she has the same gift of gab like Nicole Cordoves. I have high hopes that at least a runner up finish will be in the works for her in Miss Grand International. 
* If I had my way, I would have Nelda for Intercon, Katarina for Grand and Elizabeth for Globe that is if we are to place them strategically within their strengths. However I believe that the judges and BPCI might have seen something on each of the girls that warranted their placements.

Chanel Olive ThomasBb. Pilipinas Supranational, seems like she is tailor-fit in what the Polish pageant is looking for: lovely with a strong ramp skills. Never-mind that her evening gown presentation was subpar, I chalk that to her gown that seems to need a little less hem length. 
Mariel de LeonBb. Pilipinas International, I believe she is best suited for this title from the moment she was rumored to join BBP. Several of my insiders recently have told me that she was eyeing the Miss International title all along. I have high hopes that she could break the Mikimoto curse and could possible end with a top 3 finish in Tokyo later this year.
Rachel PetersMiss Universe Philippines, she was the complete package in this year’s batch. For most pageant fans she was not considered a frontrunner but for me she was. I always knew that she was a heavy contender for Miss Universe Philippines and I was not mistaken.
While there are those who are still divided by the results of the pageant,  I urge Filipino pageant fans to unite in supporting the new queens. It will be our country that they will be representing in the international arena when the international pageant season comes. I also encourage everyone to be kind to those that did not end up in the lucky 8 winners’ circle. Each of the girls did their best and that is more than what we can ask from them.  

The Binibining Pilipinas 2017 Review Pt1

This year my pageant review has a little bit more “spice” to it than usual as I feel the need to be truthful and honest to my opinions, though I will try to put them as nicely as I could. I hope no feelings are gonna get hurt because this is going to be a whole lotta eyeful to read…

The Top 25 Semi-finalists – 12 from KF, 12 from A&Q and 1 independent candidates comprise the top 25. The shocker of the year is the non-inclusion of Liezel Ramos, Angelique de Leon and Dindi Pajares. While we couldn’t really pinpoint what went wrong, we can all guess that the closed-door interview might be the culprit or perhaps they weren’t what the org is looking for this year. It is said that the questions during the closed-door interview were very difficult with topics ranging from current events, religion to politics. I am really impressed with the inclusions of Dane Felise Marasigan, Ana Patricia Asturias and Nelda Ibe on the semis. I also see that the top 25 comprised of women from different backgrounds.

The Outfits – This year, I am very much impressed in how far along we have gone in terms of the wardrobe for the local pageant. It was only 3 short years ago that fans are complaining about the lack of Filipino talents in the wardrobe of the pageant. Opening dresses were made by Bing Cristobal. This year we have Domz Ramos and Jeffrey Rogador doing the swimsuits for the pageant (Domz created the ones for the parade and Jeffrey for the finals). I only wished that the Jeffrey Rogador swimsuits used during the press presentation was switched for the finals instead. I believe that the dark colored swimsuit wasn’t a good match for the finals and the neon colored ones would have made a better impact onstage.

Shoes were made by Jojo Bragais as it was for the past couple of years. I just hoped that the powers at be decided to make the girls wear same colored shoes as their opening outfits as the gold was too high a contrast on the green and purple outfits. Let’s not mention the evening gowns who are all made by Filipino designers.

The Swimsuit – this portion is definitely nailed by Rachel ‘the Killer Bod’ Peters. Her performance in this round was almost perfect. Though I would give this round to Ruffa Nava with what was an effortless glide onstage.
The Evening Gown – while I have nothing against Mariel winning this award, I thought the evening gown performance of Charmaine Elima then followed by Sirene Sutton were superior to hers. Mariel still has to polish her walk.
Before I go unto the next segment, I really wished to have seen Ruffa Nava making top 15. It would have been interesting to see and hear her speak in the top 15.

The Top 15 Q&A – this is where the best girls emerged. Kristel Guelos did quite well here and I thought I would have switched her with Elizabeth Clenci in terms of placement. Elizabeth was conversational in her Q&A but delivered it with just enough confidence. Charmaine rambled initially but was able to pull off a strong finish to her question about cursing. Had she edited her answer to only say the last portion, she could have nailed a crown. Nelda Ibe flubbed her answer and she could have done better, perhaps flustered nerves were the culprit. I would have replaced her with Christagale Borja instead. Christa’s answer to the ‘best day’ question merited a much higher placement in my opinion. Nevertheless I am happy for Nelda’s title. Gabriela Ortega gave a strong answer as it was quite relatable, although her thick Spanish accent made her sound unsure in her delivery. Katarina Rodriguez was given a ‘standard pageant question’ to which she responded well, had she been given a tougher question like that of Rachel Peters then I think she could have gotten a higher title. Rachel had a difficult question as its nature is about current political events. She nailed her question saying divisiveness in religion, politics and culture is something that she would like to address to the ASEAN leaders. Juliana Kapeundl was a revelation that night and I thought she would possibly end up as a runner up. However her lack of conviction while she was speaking was probably the main culprit of her not making top 8. Mariel was also given a ‘standard pageant question’ though I give props to her for injecting a little bit of humor to her response.

Watch out for the 2nd part of the Binibining Pilipinas pageant review coming soon…

The Binibining Pilipinas 2017 Recap!

The Binibining Pilipinas coronation night has come and gone and now we have a new set of winners that will represent us in several international competitions later this year! So before we do a full review of the pageant here is a quick recap of the coronation night…

Opening Number – the girls went out onstage wearing Bing Cristobal identical dresses in red, greed purple and gold. They came out in 4 batches of 10 each to the tune of Sia’s “Move Your Body” (which coincidentally was one of my music wishlist for the 65th Miss Universe pageant).

Special Awardees – they were split into batches. Early lead went on to Chanel Olive and Rachel before Katarina and Mariel catched up on their respective awards…
Miss Friendship – 22 Chanel Olive Thomas
Miss Photogenic – 19 Rachel Peters
Best in Talent – 1 Dane Felise Marasigan
Best National Costume – 22 Chane Olive Thomas
Manila Bulletin Readers Choice – 20 Christagale Borja
Jag Denim Queen – 19 Rachel Peters
Miss CreamSilk – 15 Mariel de Leon
Best in Swimsuit – 19 Rachel Peters
Best in Evening Gown – 15 Mariel de Leon
Miss PAL – 31 Katarina Rodriguez

The top 25 Semi-finalists – this year there was two major cuts before going to the winners circle. First was the cut to the top 25 which comprised of the following (in order of call out):
2 Arienne Calingo
27 Beatrice Valiente
1 Dane Felisse Marasigan
37 Sammie Anne Legaspi
6 Ma. Benjieleen Nama
7 Jennyline Carla Malpaya
9 Vanessa Saliba
33 Kristi Rose Cequena
26 Ruffa Nava
38 Ana Patricia Asturias

After the top 15 competed in the swimsuits and evening gowns, they were then narrowed to the top 15 where each of the girls were asked by the panel of judges a question. They were split into two batches of question and answer. 
The Top 15 – 6 from KF, 1 independent and 7 from A&Q.
10 Jehza Huelar
13 Sirene Sutton
20 Christa Gale Borja
17 Camille Manalo
34 Gabriela Ortega
16 Sarah Grace Lacap
28 Juliana Kapuendl – People’s Choice winner (automatic top 15)

The Winners
2nd Runner up – 40 Kristel Guelos
1st Runner up – 32 Charmaine Elima
Bb. Pilipinas Globe – 18 Nelda Ibe 
Bb. Pilipinas Intercontinental – 31 Katarina Rodriguez
Bb. Pilipinas Grand International – 39 Elizabeth Clenci
Bb. Pilipinas Supranational – 22 Chanel Olive Thomas
Bb. Pilipinas International – 15 Maria Angelica De Leon
Miss Universe Philippines – 19 Rachel Peters

Congratulations to the new winners!