Catriona, Katarina, Ahtisa & Celeste: Winning (Manalo) Cortesi of 2 Cats

Pardon the title but I just had to do a wordplay on the names of the Philippine reps to the four biggest international pageants.

Last October 7th saw the final addition to Team Philippines for 2018 with the crowning of Katarina Rodriguez. And finally we have the quartet of Kat for Miss World, Ahtisa Manalo for Miss International, Silvia Celeste Cortesi for Miss Earth and Catriona Elisa Gray for Miss Universe.

Silvia Celeste Cortesi – winning a back-to-back challenge in your home-turf is a huge mountain to climb, I have no doubts that Celeste (like her namesake) will shoot for the skies. Celeste should make full arsenal of the fact that the country is hosting the ME pageant.
What she should anticipate for: is to have stamina for the month long competition that would test her focus. The pageant is not only glamour but real hot-under-the-sun pre-pageant activities…so she must be prepared heavily for that.
Strong Competition from: ladies from South Africa, Guam, India and Puerto Rico.
Should focus on: public speaking. Italian being her first language and English as her second language might hinder her from expressing her thoughts in a fluid manner.

Ahtisa Manalo – the baby of the group! I am worried a bit on her age being so young and fresh but I am reminded of the fact that the average Miss International winners age is around 21 years old. So what a relief!
What she should anticipate for: daily MI activities as she and the rest of her fellow candidates will be up for numerous pre-pageant activities in Japan. She gotta have stamina!
Strong Competition from: Colombia, Mexico, Panama and Poland…
Should focus on: looking fresh and young but embedded within a professionalism and confidence that we saw on Kylie Verzosa and Bea Rose Santiago.

Katarina Rodriguez – her’s was a strategic and unsurprising win as Miss World Philippines. And hopes are now pinned to her to do much better than her predecessor in MW. Kat has a steep fight ahead but I have high hopes that she could score the second blue crown for the country.
What she should anticipate for: heavy social media voting and make use of her delegation of followers who will help her in crucial voting aspects of the pageant.
Strong Competition from: the ladies representing France, Mexico and  Puerto Rico.
Should focus on: the Topmodel competition, as most MW winners fared very well in this aspect of the pageant.

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Imagining Catriona Gray on the MU stage be like… Comment/ Like if you agree that our Philippine bet is Miss Universe ready! … PS, love her styling by @ton_lao . She was styled on point from hair down to the toes. Love the eye makeup and the soft lips, it reminds us of Pia Wurtzbach's MU2015 finals look. It's very MU competition apt! @memayfrancisco did a great job making Cat look fierce and soft both at the same time. I hope Cat can replicate the eye make up for MU. Mamang @hairbybrentsales did an amazing job too. I always thought that Cat looks best from her left side, so putting her hair on her right side was a stroke of genius. Let's not forget the @maktumang gown which made everyone think of Cat's BBP gown. I am biased to think that gold is still her best color… Kudos to team Catriona @mimsqiu @harleybarleyyy @jololuarca @bragaisjojo It seems like last night was a dry run for something we all should be expecting for MU this year. We all can't wait for more! … Photo credits to @miss_universe_philippines 📷📷📷 . . . #SashesandScripts #UltimatePageantBlog #PageantBlogger #BbPilipinas #MissUniverse2018 #MissUniversePhilippines #MissUniverse #CatrionaGray #Philippines #catrionians

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Catriona Gray – save the best for last, and we have the strongest of the four competing in December 17th (morning in Bangkok). Gotta say that she is perhaps the Philippines’ highest chance of winning in an Alpha pageant this year. I’d dare say our 4th Miss Universe crown is within grasp.
What she should anticipate for: close-door interviews, it accounts for 60% of the semis. She has to come across as relatable to the judging panel despite all her personal achievements.
Strong Competition from: reps coming from South Africa, USA, Colombia, & Great Britain.
Should focus on: presenting what she could do for the MUOrg as winner.
I am with high hopes that we could bring home at least 1 major crown this year. Should we do so, the country would be the first country to bring home at least 1 Alpha pageant title for 6 consecutive years… and who wouldn’t want that?

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Sashes&Scripts’ Favorites for Miss World Philippines 2018

Year in and year out the Miss World Philippines title would always boil down between 2-3 ladies. It has become quite predictable that those who are frontrunners remain to be the major winner come finals. What is surprising is to see that majority of the ladies in our list this year are among the facially gifted and public speaking savvy of the bunch but are all below 5’8″ tall. Petite but pretty…
The Miss World Philippines winner has traditionally been the one who is most prepared for the Miss World pageant. This year, I may not see one who would cover all bases of the MW fasttracks, but there are a number of ladies that could easily be good representatives to a number of international competitions under the MWP org.

Arienne Calingo – this MWP returnee is perhaps going to be one of the top 5 winners this year. Her 1st runner up placement a couple of years ago is an indication that she can make the requisite splash in the nationals. She might not be my main pick for the MWP crown but she will perhaps end up with one of the crowns.

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Meet one of the best faces in Miss World Philippines this year, Alyssa Muhlack This 22 year old hails from a well-know showbiz clan and is reportedly tall at around 5'6"-5'7". With a face like hers, we can see that she can also replicate Megan Young's feat in MW. … #Repost from @alyssamuhlach "Enjoy every single moment. The good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly, the inspiring, the not-so-glamorous moments. And thank God through it all." – Meghan Matt • • • Photo: @dookieducay Make Up & Hair: @jrcons Styling: @ton_lao@styledbypatrickhenry Smile: @dior_sanbuenadental Location: @creativxstudio Special thanks to: @harleybarleyyy • #AlyssaMuhlach #MWP2018 #MissWorldPhilippines2018 #MissWorld #RWManila #BYSxMWP #KF #KagandahangFlores #KFamilia #SashesandScripts #UltimatePageantBlog

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Alyssa Muhlach Alvarez –  the most commercial face in her batch and is a spoiler for the MWP crown. She is one of the more underrated ladies in the competition but she could pull a major upset from the popular frontrunners for the title. I could also see her with the Miss Eco-International crown with her very friendly face. If her fierce-side is developed, she could be a good RH representative too!

Kim de Guzman – she’s my pick for the Reina HispanoAmericana title as she has the curves that could be appreciated in the pageant. Not only does she look amazing, she also looks taller than her 5’7″ fame with her good body proportions. I think that the RH title is almost tailor-made for her as she has a similar bone structure as reigning winner Teresita Marquez, with a very Asian face and oozing with sex appeal of a Latina.

Katarina Rodriguez – the popular girl to win. She has proven her merit in an international competition and being thirsty for a win could be her major advantage among her batch. Her huge fan-base could be relied on for the internet voting/ multimedia voting. Plus her gift of the gab is also undeniable with her charm and wit. Sending Katarina would be a strategic move to be sent to MW as she can make the MW pageant relevant to Filipino fans once more.

Maureen Montagne – another crown worthy girl that may pull an win for the MWP crown. This pageant veteran is perhaps a better well-rounded option for Sanya this year. Truth be told, she might be the girl that fits the MW mold might look for in a winner. Although her being 26 years old might work against her. So far no 26 year old has won the MW title as they usually prefer girls between 18 to 24 years old. Though I wouldn’t have any issue should she win, in fact my gut tells me she might be the one for MW.

IMHO the main title is between Katarina, Alyssa and Maureen. And it will be heartbreaking to see anyone of them sent to the other pageant which we currently hold the international crowns. Let’s face the fact that back-to-back wins in Miss Eco-International, Miss Multinational and Reina HispanoAmericana is gonna be close to impossible. So whoever is sent to those three pageants will be fighting an uphill battle, after all we should have learned our lesson from the 2013/2014 scenario. I could only hope that despite those blocks, whoever we send to those pageants would still do their median best to bring home the crowns again. And hopefully a second Miss World crown is in the horizon.

Katarina Rodriguez at the Panasonic Manila Fashion Festival

If anybody had seen Katarina Rodriguez at the Panasonic Manila Fashion Festival, everybody would agree that she could still represent the Philippines in another international competition.

The Miss Intercontinental 2017 1st runner up sported a lighter brown hair when she walked the ramp of the SoFA Graduation Show under Mark Escauso. For people who saw her, we can all agree that she is indeed looking more splendid even after passing on her title. She looks so much better with her current tan and her lighter hair color. It certainly brings out the best of her facial features. And we haven’t mention how physically fit she looked, she can easily rock the swimsuits with her current bod.

Katarina had mentioned earlier in the year her willingness to enter another pageant in the future, and we all are speculating her joining Miss World Philippines. I hope she does prepare for it even as early as now, specially for the BWAP challenge of the pageant.
With this year looking like a year for crossovers, Katarina can easily claim a victory in any pageant she wants to join in.

Nelda Ibe & Katarina Rodriguez: Miss World Philippines Bound?

Both ladies has just recently passed on their national titles at the recently concluded Binibining Pilipinas pageant held last March 18th. And both ladies have hinted on wanting to compete again for a national title.

Miss Globe 2017 1st runner up, Nelda Ibe hinted on social media that she might be open to try out Miss World Philippines once more. She was MWP 2nd Princess back in 2014 with Valerie Weigmann winning the title and with Miss Universe Philippines 2017 Rachel Peters placing 5th overall. While Miss Intercontinental 2017 1st runner up, Katarina Rodriguez mentioned that she is open to compete for another pageant earlier this year upon her arrival from Egypt. Of course it is speculated that the two ladies might find each other competing again with each other in the Miss World Philippines pageant.
While I am ecstatic about these ladies wanting to continue their pageant journey, I am a bit concerned if they do so this year. I believe that their contracts with BPCI is 18 months long and if memory serves me right, their contracts would expire around end of October of this year. I hope that if they do pursue to compete again this year, they ask permission from BPCI to release them from their contracts earlier as the MWP is expected to be around September this year.

Being 1st runner up in their respective international competitions, they could possibly ascend to the title should the winners step down. So I believe it would be wise to wait another year before going back to the fray. Both ladies are in their mid 20’s (around 24-25 this year) and they have time on their side since the Miss World ceiling age has been moved to 27 last December.

Mabuhay Binibining Pilipinas Batch 2017!

As the days have now trickled down to hours, the time to bid farewell to the Binibining Pilipinas 2017 queens draws near…
Last year 40 women across the country vied for 6 national titles in a grueling 2 month period. In the end, these 6 amazing queens managed to win and represented the country well in the global stage…

2017 Bb. Pilipinas Globe & Miss Globe 1st runner up, Nelda Ibe – she almost bagged the title just 2 years after we first won it. The pilot-beauty queen was confident that a Q&A would have turned the tables to her favor. Nevertheless her runner up finish marked the three year top5 finish for the country.
2017 Bb. Pilipinas Intercontinental & Miss Inttercontinental 1st runner up, Katarina Rodriguez – two years after Kristi McGarry made 2nd place and we managed another 1st runner up finish. We are almost positive that Katarina could have been the first Filipina winner of the pageant and yet the title remains elusive. Despite that she still made the Philippines proud.
2017 Bb. Pilipinas Supranational & Miss Supranational top 10 semifinalist, Chanel Olive Thomas – aside from her top 10 finish, the bubbly lass also won the Miss Personality/ Friendship award. This is only testament to the wonderful personality of this amazing lady.

2017 Bb. Pilipinas Gran & Miss Grand International 2nd runner up, Elizabeth Clenci – the lass who started the string of phenomenal placements of her batch. Liz is the best conversationalist of the group. She blossomed amazingly during the MGI pageant and was a great follow up to her predecessors who were also runners up in the pageant.
2017 Bb. Pilipinas International, Mariel de Leon – this outspoken lass has shocked and shook social media this year. She was my personal bet for the Bb. Pilipinas International title last year and was right with my prediction. Despite failing at Miss International last year, we wish her good luck in her future endeavors.
2017 Miss Universe Philippines & Miss Universe top 10 finalist, Rachel Louise Peters – she gave her best during the finals and gave us our 8th consecutive placement in Miss Universe, the longest so far we’ve had in the pageant. She was up against a tough battle yet still delivered well to give us a top 10 finalist placement that we can all be proud of. She was my bet for the Miss Universe Philippines title last year and has rightfully won the title and made us proud with her reign.

The 2017 batch is perhaps the strongest batch in terms of communication skills. All articulate and smart, these women were no slouch in their respective international competitions. As their reign is about to end, we salute them and their achievements. Once a Binibini, always a Binibini…

Sash Factor Final SashPicks for 2017 Miss Intercontinental

I was asked to do the 2017 Miss Intercontinental Final SashPicks banner and here is what I did! I utilized the immaculate pyramids of Giza as an homage to the fact that the pageant is being held in  in SUNRISE Resorts and Cruises, Hurghada-Egypt.

Sash Factor Final SashPicks for 2017 Miss Interontinental

Despite being delayed from being held in India last year, the pageant has continued without a glitch in Egypt. Here is what the pageant experts of Sash Factor have listed and predicted to make it in this year’s pageant…
Darkhorses list : France , Costa Rica, Italy, Denmark
16. Slovak republic
15. Czech Republic
14. Germany
13. Mexico
12. Malaysia
11. Vietnam
10. Russia
9. India
8. Venezuela
7. Korea – winner of online voting
6. Australia
5. Canada – North America & Caribbean
4. Kenya – Africa
3. Brazil – South America
2. Netherlands – Europe
1. Philippines -Asia and Oceania

Sashes&Scripts Year-End Special: The Philippines’ 2017 Performance

It is said that if we tally all the titles that the Philippines has won this year (from Alpha to Omega pageant) it tallied to a total wins of 50 crowns. Quite a remarkable feat for this pageant obsessed country.

Notable wins among the minor pageants this year is Teresita “Winwyn” Marquez as the first Asian to conquer the Reina Hispanoamericana title. She bested aroung 20+ ladies for the title. KF-trained Sarah Bona also scored a win via the Miss Nature Intercontinental title. Just recently, Jannie Alipoon won the title of Miss Tourism International. The Mutya ng Pilipinas winner scored the country’s 4th crown in the Malaysia-based pageant.

As for the Beta Pageants, the Philippines fared quite well too. It started with a 2nd runner up finish for Elizabeth Clenci in Miss Grand International and was followed up immediately with a 1st runner up finish of Nelda Ibe in Miss Globe. Aces & Queens trained Chanel Olive Thomas managed a top 10 finish in Miss Supranational as well as bagging the Miss Congeniality special award. Her compatriot Katarina Rodriguez’ pageant has been moved to January of 2018 and we can’t wait to see her perform.
The Alpha pageants is a different ballgame altogether. Our Miss International quest for a back to back win ended when Mariel de Leon failed to make it into the semis. Laura Lehmann managed a top 40 finish, the Philippines’ lowest since 2011 but at least was one of the 5 winners of the Beauty with a Purpose challenge. Despite looking spectacular and giving a strong performance at the Miss Universe finals, Rachel Peters didn’t go further than the top 10. Karen Ibasco’s Miss Earth win on the other hand continued  the winning streak of the Philippines in the Alpha pageants. Her win marks 5 consecutive years of winning one or two of the Alpha pageants since 2013.

With the 2017 pageant season about to close and the 2018 national pageant season about to start, we can’t help but get excited for what is next. Binibining Pilipinas 2018 and Miss Philippines Earth 2018 should be getting a head start soon!

Will Katarina Rodriguez Spend Christmas in the Philippines?

When I personally asked if Binibining Pilipinas Intercontinental would she be spending Christmas in Manila as her competition cuts close to December 25th, she cheekily said it might depend on her winning the crown.

Katarina will be competing in Sri Lanka for the 2017 Miss Intercontinental title in December 21st. And if indeed she wins, she might have to extend her stay a little bit before coming back home. The mestiza beauty is in high spirits during her send-off last November 6th as she gamely answered questions from a number of press and pageant media. I also was able to ask her besides herself, who does she think is her biggest competition in the pageant. She was witty to answer back that it would be difficult to gauge her competition on social media as they might be different in person. That made me smile as if she knew exactly what I wanted to hear from her.

Will she be the first Filipina to win the title? I surely hope so… but we’ll know the definitive answer to that question come December 1st wouldn’t we?

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:
www.aidsphil.org/
* http://www.loveyourself.ph
* http://www.theredwhistle.com/
* http://pafpi.org/
* http://theredwhistle.com/
* https://www.facebook.com/pg/bchangenow/about/
Don’t be another statistic in the HIV epidemic. Protect yourselves and your partner, be in the know, get tested, spread the word…

SOURCES:
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-aids-philippines/philippines-has-highest-hiv-infection-growth-rate-in-asia-pacific-u-n-idUSKBN1AH3CW
* http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/08/01/1723570/report-philippines-has-fastest-growing-hiv-epidemic-asia-pacific