Each year, the Binibining Pilipinas pageant aims to search for the finest women to represent the country in the best international pageants.
Thursday afternoon two weeks ago at “Bahay na Puti” mansion at Araneta Center, I was with over 40 Binibining Pilipinas titleholders during the “Reunion of Queens”—a first-ever exclusive tea party hosted by Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc. chairperson and former Miss International Stella Marquez-Araneta. It is just one of the many activities celebrating 50 years of Binibining Pilipinas.
Among the beauty queens in the reunion were Gloria Diaz, Miss Universe 1969; Ruffa Gutierrez, Miss World 1993 Second Princess; Miriam Quiambao, Miss Universe 1999 first runner-up; Precious Lara Quigaman, Miss International 2005; Venus Raj, Miss Universe 2010 fourth runner-up; and Shamcey Supsup, Miss Universe 2011 third runner-up.
Also at the event were the reigning titleholders Janine Mari Tugonon, Miss Universe 2012 first runner-up; Nicole Schmitz, Miss International 2012 semifinalist; Katrina Jayne Dimaranan, Binibining Pilipinas-Tourism 2012; Elaine Kay Moll, Miss Supranational 2012 third runner-up; and Annalie Forbes, Binibining Pilipinas 2012 second runner-up.
I also saw Isabella Manjon (Binibining Pilipinas Tourism 2011), television host Patricia Fernandez (Binibining Pilipinas-International 2008), Image Enhancement speaker Karen Agustin (Binibining Pilipinas-Universe 2002) and Velvet Salon spokesperson Mafae Yunon-Belasco (Binibining Pilipinas-World 2003).
It was a delight to see Binibining Pilipinas-Universe 1976 Chiqui Brosas, and Fortune Aleta Ledesma, Miss Philippines-International 1973 first runner-up—both still very stylish and elegant.
Knowing that countless young ladies aspire to be in their shoes one day, I randomly asked some of the beauty queens to share some pageant wisdom:
Binibining Pilipinas-Universe 1985 Joyce Anne Burton Titular on the basics:
“First of all, you really have to have the look. Once you have that, please do not leave your brains behind. And if you’re not objective, you need to look for someone who is, who will tell you if your type of beauty belongs to the right pageant. There are many different levels and types of beauty; and you need to know your place.”
Binibining Pilipinas Maja-International 1985 Izza Gonzales Agana on preparing for the audition:
“You have to prepare for it. It’s not just going to an audition and when you don’t get it, you get sad. When you know you are prepared for the auditions, at least you know that you’re ready for anything.”
Binibining Pilipinas-Universe 1971 Vida Doria on having the qualifications:
“You have to look healthy. Well, now you’d have to be tall. I’m sure I wouldn’t have won if I joined now. Of course, you have to learn etiquette and be intelligent. Don’t pretend to be someone else and just be your beautiful self, inside and out.”
Miss Universe 1984 third runner-up Desiree Verdadero Abesamis on what to expect once you’re in:
“Other than your makeup and clothes, there are three things to prepare: a good supply of vitamins, your good luck charms and a bundle of Band-Aids! Candidates go through photo shoots, pre-pageant tapings, sponsor visits and various social events. The rehearsals alone will be a test of strength and endurance for a candidate. They will only have enough time to prepare their things for the next to-do and some rest. All these take a toll on your body and mind. You will feel exhausted and dehydrated, and yet you have to look your best all the time. The Band-Aids are for your toes, because it’s really no joke walking and standing in high heels for hours on end. During the time I competed, I always had my rosary near me to give me additional strength. I went as far as placing a 25-cent coin inside my pageant shoe so I wouldn’t make a mistake or trip on stage!”
Binibining Pilipinas International 1981 Peachy Sacasas on the Q&A portion:
“There’s really no definite advice, but just enjoy. Especially in the Q&A, just be witty and funny.”
Miss Universe 1999 first runner-up Miriam Quiambao on gratitude:
“Put God first. Before I decided to join, I prayed for a decision and God told me to go for it. So when I won, I gave the credit to God. When I asked Him for what purpose I would join, He answered, ‘to help people.’ Be grateful. It’s not every day that women are given the opportunity to be part of Binibining Pilipinas and go through all the trainings and traveling. I encourage the candidates to enjoy every moment, because for sure there is something they will learn and bring with them for the rest of their lives. When they find the value of being grateful, they would have already won.”
Miss Young-International 1982 Sharon Hughes on not being afraid to try again:
“You really have to prepare through experience. If you notice, most of the winners are experienced pageant candidates when they joined Binibining Pilipinas. Some are even former Binibini candidates who had already won titles when they joined again.”
It was truly a pleasure to be with these remarkable women who had evolved into fulfilled mothers, successful businesswomen and achievers in their fields. The best part was when we had our group photo taken so everyone could have a souvenir shot of that special day.
We shall see each other again on pageant night and, after that, we go on with life, our heads held high knowing that we had been part of a great event.
As we all say—Once a Binibini, always a Binibini!
The Grand Coronation Night is on April 14 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum and aired live on ABS-CBN.