Images by Teddy Pelaez
It was a grand outing for pageants fans on Sunday night when the country’s biggest beauty tilt crowned its new queens—modern Filipino women who would wear the Philippine sash on the international pageant stage —in a glittering event that highlighted Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray’s influence among today’s crop of beauty queen wannabees.
Every candidate had an army of loud rabid fans who trooped to the Araneta Coliseum to cheer for their bets. They were so loud that one of the front runners, the most decorated Binibini that night, got distracted during the Q and A round and it caused her a crown.
During the first part of the competition, Bataan’s BeaPatricia Magtanong was one of the candidates who drew deafening cheers from the crowd along with Pampanga’s Emma Tiglao, Masbate’s Hannah Arnold, and Negros Occidental’s Vickie Rushton.
The same kind of reception from the audience continued during the swimsuit competition when the same set of girls were wildly applauded.
It was only during the evening gown competition when one candidate stood out. While each candidate had group of supporters trying to subdue each other with banners and whistles, she received everyone’s approval present at the venue.
She sashayed across the stage in a red Cary Santiago gown with overflowing confidence. She slightly flipped her hair using her right hand after managing the stairs and as the camera was capturing her moment. She paused in the middle of the stage, gave the audience on her left a fierce yet charming look then faced the judges with a big smile.
No wonder she won best in long gown with her “enthralling performance,” and took home another award, the Miss Photogenic.
Her name was Gazini Christiana Ganados.
The 23-year-old Filipino-Palestinian model from Cebu advocates for women empowerment and elderly care. She snagged the coveted Miss Universe-Philippines 2019 title and was crowned, no less, by last year’s winner, Catriona Gray.
During the crucial Q&A round, the 5-foot-9 Tourism graduate of University of San Jose-Recoletos was asked by judge Bobby Barreiro, ABS-CBN events head, what she will do to get more women in the workplace, if she wins a crown.
Ganados answered, “If I win a crown tonight, what I will do is to promote my advocacy. My advocacy is for us women to fight for our rights and for the elderly women, for us to know that someone is loving us, someone is pushing us to whatever ambitions that we have. We will be able to rise from our decisions, to whatever dreams and goals that we have, and we will achieve it because of those values, those wisdoms [sic] that they gave us.”
Bea Patricia Magtanong, a 24-year-old Lawyer from Bataan, was named Bb. Pilipinas-International 2019 succeeding Miss International 2018 first runner up Athisa Manalo. She also bagged the Best in Swimsuit award.
The crucial Q&A portion proved nerve-wracking to one of the Top 15 finalists. Vickie Rushton, who earlier bagged various sponsors-special awards, buckled with her answer, pausing a couple of times and ran out of time. A top favorite, Rushton, who was first runner up last year, came out empty handed. Samantha Bernardo, last year’s 2nd runner up, ended up with the same placement, a first in the history of the pageant.
Other winners were Bb. Pilipinas-Supranational 2019 Resham Saeed, a 25-year-old Fil-Pakistani host and modelfrom Buluan, Maguindanao; Bb. Pilipinas-Grand International 2019 Samantha Ashley Lo, a 26-year-old model and former Miss Cebu Tourism 2017; Bb. Pilipinas-Intercontinental 2019 Emma Mary Tiglao, a 24-year-old Tourism Graduate from Pampanga, who won Best in National Costume; and Bb. Pilipinas-Globe 2019 Leren Mae Bautista, a 26-year-old graduate of Colegio de San Juan de Letran Calamba and former 2015 Miss Tourism Queen of the Year International.
The four new queens were crowned by their outgoing predecessors, Jehza Huelar, Eva Psychee Patalinjug, Karen Gallman, and Michelle Gumabao.
Gray gave an impassioned farewell speech, expressing gratefulness to the love and support of the 104 million Filipinos she said she felt throughout her journey in Miss Universe, along with her BPCI family headed by Stella Marquez-Araneta, and proclaiming she will be forever a Binibini. She also talked about the hardships she went through, including overcoming her own fears, and conquering doubts and challenges for a purpose.
“There were so many times that people told me that I would fail. I was told that it was too soon for another Miss Universe from the Philippines. I was body shamed and I was outdone. But I conquered others,” she said in her emotional speech.
“My heart is overflowing with gratitude because here, on this exact stage, I was given the chance to pursue this dream. This journey has been made even more meaningful because every single step of the way, I felt each and everyone of you right there with me,” she added.
Maria Andrea Abesamis, 27-year-old Fine Arts graduate of University of Santo Tomas and daughter of 1984 Miss Universe 3rd runner-up Desiree Verdadero, was named first runner up. Marie Sherry Ann Tormes, and Cassandra Colleen Chan won Miss Friendship and Best in Talent, respectively.
Making the Top 15 were April Short, Joahnna Carla Saad, Jessica Marasigan, Marianne Marquez, Maria Isabela Galeriaand Hannah Arnold. Rounding out the Top 25 were Jessarie Dumaguing, Kimberle Mae Penchon, Malka Shaver, Martina Turner Diaz, Joanna Rose Tolledo, Marie Sherry Ann Tormes, Jane Darren Genobisa, Denise Omorog, Honey Grace Cartasano, and Larah Grace Lacap.
The board of judges, led by newly elected Quezon City mayor Joy Belmonte as chairman, included Miss Universe 1969 Gloria Diaz, actors James Reid, Daniel Padilla, and Nadine Lustre, PBA player Christian Standhardinger, Grab Philippines president Brian Cu, Italian Ambassador Giorgio Guglielmino, Spanish Ambassador Jorge Moragas.
Kapamilya stars Anne Curtis and Richard Gutierrez hosted the event.
READ: Standard's Choice: Who will be crowned Binibining Pilipinas winners?READ: Binibini pays homage to Philippines’ rich culture and heritage
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