Fearless forecast: Binibining Pilipinas 2019 front-runners

C. Mendez Legaspi - Philstar.com
Fearless forecast: Binibining Pilipinas 2019 front-runners
Coronation night on June 9 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum will be the most nail-biting in years.
Philstar.com / Jonathan Asuncion

MANILA, Philippines — In 2018, the Miss Universe Philippines crown was Catriona Gray’s to win. She was the undisputed front-runner for the top plum that other candidates were relegated to competing for the rest of the titles.

This year, however, the field is so deep, the quality of contestants so rich that it’s anybody’s game. So many women are qualified to win any of the titles---Miss Universe Philippines, Binibining Pilipinas International, Binibining Pilipinas Supranational, Binibining Pilipinas Intercontinental, Binibining Pilipinas Globe and Binibining Pilipinas Grand International.
Over three months, the 40 candidates have competed in Talent, National Costume and fashion shows for Jag and World Balance, but these have no bearing on their scores. They have been assessed in their swimsuits during the press presentation and were grilled in closed-door interviews before the national costume show. From those instances, the top 25 were chosen.
Coronation night on June 9 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum will be the most nail-biting in years. Every fan, every pageant pundit and every pageant blogger have made their own choices. 

But there has been no universal agreement on which candidate will win which crown, especially when video clips of the “Free Speak” segment, an obvious offshoot from the Miss Earth portion when candidates were given a topic and asked to elaborate on them, were released. 
The general consensus, though, is that the following girls are most likely to fight it out on finals night. Incidentally, Binibining Pilipinas did away with the number system. Candidates now bear sashes representing the localities where they hail from.

Maria Andrea Abesamis of Pasig City 

Abesamis is a legacy, a daughter of a former Binibini winner, Miss Universe 1984 third runner-up Desiree Verdadero. The only other legacy to compete was Regina Brosas Hahn, second  runner-up in 2009 and daughter of Miss Universe 1975 fourth runner-up Rose Marie Brosas.
Her godmothers are former Binibini queens (who will be at the front row cheering) who have a group called Beyond Beauty, “a gathering of beauty queens, fashion designers and top stylists who 1) love to get together 2) love to do things for others 3) love God with all their might.” Interestingly, this year’s pageant catchphrase is #beyondbeauty.

Bea Patricia Magtanong  of Bataan

Newly minted lawyer Bea Patricia hopes to follow in the footsteps of Miss Universe 2012 first runner-up Janine Marie Tugonon, a fellow dusky beauty from Bataan. She’s well-versed and well-spoken, but needs improvement in her “pasarela” (catwalk). She’s regarded as highly qualified to be MUP, but so was equally articulate as Nicole Cordoves, who was Miss Grand International 2016 first runner-up.

Leren Mae Bautista of Laguna

An international winner, Leren Mae Bautista, is Laguna’s best bet. Her triumph at Miss Tourism Queen of the Year International in 2015 means that she is an impressive representative of the country.

Emma Mary Tiglao of Pampanga

Tiglao, pageant veteran from Pampanga, is this year’s Queen of the North. She was Mutya ng Pilipinas 2012 first runner-up, Top 15 at Binibining Pilipinas 2014 and Miss World Philippines 4th Princess in 2015. She has paid her pageant dues and is overdue for a crown.

Julia Saubier, Louisielle Denise Omorog, Maria Isabela Galeriaof Bicol Region

Bicol Region, the bastion of beauty queens, has three compelling candidates: Daraga, Albay’s Julia Saubier, Louisielle Denise Omorog of Catanduanes and Sorsogon’s Maria Isabela Galeria. 

Highly cerebral half-French Saubier is a niece of Miss International 1979 Melanie Marquez. Omorog is a supermodel-in-the-making. Galeria is this year’s Fashion Girl, usually decked in eleganza by Mara Chua and mentored by model-discoverer Yeoh Egwaras. 

Hannah Arnold of Masbate

Masbate has produced Bea Rose Santiago, Miss International 2013. Arnold, a gorgeous half-Australian like Catriona Gray, aims to replicate this accomplishment for her province. But have candidates with striking Caucasian features become too cloying? 

Gazini Ganados, Ilene de Vera, Samantha Lo of Cebu

Ever since Pilar Pilapil won Binibining Pilipinas 1967, Cebuanas have fared well in the pageant. This year, there are three stunners competing for titles: Gazini Ganados from Talisay, Ilene de Vera from Mandaue City and Samantha Lo from Cebu City. 
The 2019 Cebuanas have had previous pageant experience, a definite advantage. Ganados, a combination of Miss Universe Thailand 2016 Chalita Suansane and Miss Universe South Africa 2018 Tamaryn Green, was Top 13 at Miss World Philippines 2014. De Vera was fourth runner-up at Miss Asia Pacific International 2017. Lo, propelling herself to the front-line after her refreshingly effortless “Free Speak” performance, was Binibining Cebu Tourism 2017.

April May Short, Resham Saeed  of Mindanao

Mindanao’s most outstanding candidates are April May Short, Miss Zamboanga 2018, and Resham Saeed of Maguindanao, was Miss Philippines Canada 2017. Zamboanga hasn’t had a Binibini winner since Gladys Dueñas was Top 15 at Miss International 1995, and Short is a long shot but deserving to win a crown. Saeed, a half-Pakistani, hopes to be another Mary Jean Lastimosa, a half-Arab beauty from North Cotabato who was Top 10 at Miss Universe 2014.

Samantha Mae Bernardo, Jessarie Dumaguing of Palawan

Palawan, always on the list of the world’s most beautiful islands, has two beautiful Binibini contenders: provincial rep Samantha Mae Bernardo, last year’s second runner-up, and Puerto Princesa’s Jessarie Dumaguing. Both are finalists for Best in National Costume with Bernardo also in contention for Best in Talent.

Vickie Marie Rushton of Negros Occidental 

A showbiz stint worked to Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach’s advantage. The cutthroat industry builds character, confidence and chutzpah, and the ravishing Vickie Marie Rushton of Negros Occidental has harnessed these qualities for her campaign to win a crown.  
As always, never trust predictions and forecasts because everything will shift once the candidates are in front of a rabid, live audience. One thing’s for sure, though: whoever wins the crowns will also win the love and support of every Filipino as they represent the Philippines at their international pageants. 

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