Bb. Pilipinas 2013: Will the Golden Year bring home the Miss Universe crown?

Ed Uy

‘Once a Binibini, always a Binibini.’ Past queens pose for a “class picture” at the ‘Queens Reunion Party’

This Sunday will mark the 50th anniversary Bb. Pilipinas pageant, and despite the years, the contest of beauty and intelligence has not aged a single day.

As the most prestigious beauty pageant in the country, the Bb. Pilipinas has managed to preserve its youthfulness and relevance, in a world where the perception of beauty has changed with the times.

Like many of its former titleholders in its illustrious history, the Bb. Pilipinas continues to showcase the best qualities of a Filipina—that beyond the height and facial features is a beauty that exudes from within.

As it celebrates its golden anniversary, all eyes are on the pageant once again, as Filipinos eagerly anticipate who among the 50 carefully chosen candidates will earn the right to represent the country in the Miss Universe tilt in the hopes of finally bringing the coveted crown after four long decades.

Beautiful beginnings
Before the Bb. Pilipinas, aspiring lovely young women joined Miss Philippines, for a shot at the annual Miss Universe pageant since 1952.

All that changed when Colombian Stella Marquez (the first Miss International title holder) met and eventually married business tycoon, Jorge Araneta.  Marquez-Araneta would eventually use her experience as a beauty queen to organize the Bb. Pilipinas Charities Inc. (BPCI) and acquire the exclusive rights from the Miss Universe Inc.

 Madame Stella Marquez Araneta with 1969 Miss Universe Gloria Diaz

Since then the Bb. Pilipinas organization has been tasked to choose the country’s representative to the Miss Universe, eventually becoming the benchmark for all local beauty pageants.

The Bb. Pilipinas has since brought home three Miss International titles: Aurora Pijuan (1970), Melanie Marquez (1979) and Precious Lara Quigaman (2005); and two Miss Universe crowns: Gloria Diaz (1969) and Margie Moran (1973).

The year 1969 will be remembered as the year when man finally landed on the moon, but for Filipinos it was the time when then 18-year-old Gloria Diaz was officially recognized as the most beautiful girl in the universe.

Shortly after her coronation, astronaut Neil Armstrong, who was still in outer space at that time, asked what the latest news on earth was. The interviewer replied, “For the first time, a Filipina, Gloria Diaz, won the Miss Universe title.” This interview, which was broadcast via satellite, made Diaz even more popular around the globe.

It didn’t take long for another Filipina to follow in Diaz’s footsteps as Margie Moran managed to attain an equally unforgettable feat by winning the Philippines’ second Miss Universe title in 1973.

But while the Miss Universe and Miss International titles would be quite elusive for the next few years, Bb. Pilipinas would prove to be an invaluable source of talents with names such as Alice Dixson, Patty Betita, Abbygale Arenas, Ruffa Guttierez, Charlene Gonzales and many others making waves in the modeling and showbiz industry.

Tea Party (40) – Madame Stella Marquez Araneta with Miss Universe 2011 3rd runner up Shamcey Supsup, Miss Universe 2012 1st runner up Janine Tugonon, and Miss Universe 2010 4th runner up Venus Raj.

‘R, S,T, Universe’ theory

When Miriam Quiambao won First Runner Up in 1999, many were optimistic about the country’s chances of winning the big one again.

It would however, take another decade before the Philippines finally regained its lofty status as a strong contenders for Miss Universe with the three consecutive runner up finishes of Venus Raj (4th Runner Up, 2010) Shamcey Supsup (3rd Runner Up, 2011) and Janine Tugonon (1st Runner Up, 2012)

The initials of their last names Raj, Supsup, Tugonon would eventually give birth to the “R, S, T,” theory of many pageant observers, who believe that a candidate whose last name begins with “U” may be the “one” to finally bring home the crown.

Unfortunately, no one in this year’s batch has a last name that starts with “U.”

50 for 50
From over a hundred applicants, the pageant organizers meticulously chose the top 50 candidates that will make up the “Golden Batch” of Bb. Pilipinas.

The 2013 roster of candidates includes local pageant winners, cum laudes from top schools, experienced performers from the entertainment industry, working professionals and models.

Among those who quickly emerged as early favorites in the competition are familiar faces because of their ties to show business. They are: (31) Mariel de Leon, daughter of revered actors Christopher De Leon and Sandy Andolong; Filipina-German Pia Wurtzbach (15) a.k.a Pia Romero from Star Magic; Pinoy Big Brother alumna and former Wil Time Bigtime co-host Cindy Miranda (16); StarStruck avenger Rhea Nakpil (43); and Viva and TV5 talent Imelda Schweighart or Imee Hart (45).

Other standouts who made quite an impression during the preliminary rounds are Amanda Navasero (46), Hannah Ruth Sison (19), Mutya Datul (39) Charmaine Elima (13), and Ara Arida (41).

According to the pageant organizers, the 50th edition of the Bb. Pilipinas promises to be a big one that will break a lot of tradition.

A few weeks ago, the official candidates showcased a myriad of talents in the talent competition held at the Gateway Mall Activity Area where judges and audiences were impressed by the participants’ varied abilities in singing, dancing, magic, and yes, even hoola-hooping.

The grand the coronation night will be held on April 14 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, and will be hosted by Concert King Martin Nievera and award-winning actress Dawn Zulueta. The ceremonies will be telecast live on ABS-CBN.

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