N. Cotabato beauty tops Binibini pageant
Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - April 1, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Crowd favorite Mary Jane Lastimosa, 26, topped the 2014 Bb. Pilipinas pageant, beating 39 hopefuls for the much-coveted Bb. Pilipinas-Universe crown Sunday night at the three-hour colorful affair held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum witnessed by an SRO audience and millions throughout the country.

Asked by reigning Miss Universe Gabriela Isler (one of the judges) what the greatest advantage of being a woman was during the crucial Q&A portion, the half-Arab/half-Filipina third-time contestant said with confidence, “The greatest advantage of being a woman is being able to compose herself. Just like here. We’re standing in front of thousands of people, not knowing if they’re going to cheer for us or to boo us. But we try to compose ourselves. We keep the emotions and show the beauty that is in us and tonight, thousands of people are standing here, celebrating the beauty of women.” 

Lastimosa, who placed first runner-up to Shamcey Supsup in the 2011 Bb. Pilipinas pageant and finished among the Top 12 in 2012 won by Janine Tugonon, will represent the country in the 2014 Miss Universe pageant in a venue to be announced later.

Mary Anne Guidotti, 24, won Bb. Pilipinas-International. A European Studies graduate from Ateneo de Manila, Guidotti was asked by judge Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo how she would, if she won, use her crown for her advocacy.

Guidotti answered, “If I win the title, I would use my crown to influence people to adopt their own advocacies. I want people to be passionate about it, something that is really close to their heart. I will someday hopefully make an NGO of my own.”

The three other winners were:

Yvette Marie Santiago, 20, Bb. Pilipinas-Supranational, a CPA and former Miss Bicolandia who joined the Miss World University when she was 17;

Parul Shah, 25, a registered nurse from Pangasinan, who was joining the pageant for the second time, Bb. Pilipinas-Tourism; and

Kris Tiffany Janson, 24, a finance analyst from Cebu, Bb. Pilipinas-Intercontinental, a new title.

This year’s Binibinis face a big challenge as they compete in their respective contests abroad because last year’s batch came back winners, making the Philippines the country to beat in international contests – Bea Rose Santiago, Miss International (the fifth for the country after Gemma Cruz in 1964, Aurora Pijuan in 1970, Melanie Marquez in 1979 and Precious Lara Quigaman in 2005); Johanna Datul, 2013 Miss Supranational; Ariella Arida, Miss Universe third runner-up; and Cindy Miranda, finalist in the Miss Tourism Queen International.

Another big winner last year was Megan Young (from another contest here), the first Miss World for the country.

Those who finished runners-up in last Sunday’s pageant were Laura Lehmann, first; and Hannah Sison, second.

The event, covered live by ABS-CBN, was hosted by Kapamilya stars Xian Lim and Anne Curtis, with former Binibinis Supsup, Venus Raj and Tugonon as co-hosts. Bea Rose hosted a segment. Guest performer was Russian pop star Emin.

Among the other judges were Korina Sanchez, basketball star Jeron Teng, Mexican Ambassador to the Philippines Julio Camarena, Sofitel general manager Adam Laker, Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, ABS-CBN channel head Cory Vidanes, Megaworld’s Kevin Tan, SKYCable’s Carlo Katigbak and Hon. William Christopher.

Among the resource persons who asked questions during  the Q&A were Melanie Marquez, 1973 Miss Universe Margie Moran-Floirendo and designer Michael Cinco.


Cotabato daughter


In North Cotabato, a rousing welcome awaits Lastimosa when she returns wearing the crown that made her the country’s representative to the 2014 pageant. 

North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza said preparations are now underway for the welcome rites to be extended to the beauty queen. 

 â€“ With John Unson


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