Homegrown candidates scored an upset at the 2015 Mutya ng Pilipinas pageant as three of the four top honors went to Philippine-based candidates even as the semifinal round was dominated by representatives from overseas Filipino communities.
With six “imported” representatives cracking the Top 10, Laguna maiden Leren Mae Bautista carried the banner for the home squad as she bested 29 other aspirants for the top plum Mutya ng Pilipinas-Asia Pacific International during Sunday night’s coronation ceremonies at Resorts World Manila’s Newport Performing Arts Theater in Pasay City.
Julee Ann Marie Bourgoin from Cagayan de Oro City and Brenna Cassandra Gamboa from Nuev a Ecija made it a three-point shot for the homegrown candidates as they took home first and second runners-up honors, respectively.
Janela Joy Cuaton from the Filipino community in Doha, Qatar, was the lone overseas-based bet to crack the winners’ circle and bagged the Mutya ng Pilipinas-Tourism International crown.
Bautista’s title came with a P150,000 prize money, while Cuaton’s crown made her P120,000 richer. Each of them also took home a royal brooch from the pageant’s official jewelry provider Hoseki, unlimited flights for one year to any destination of their choice from SkyJet Airlines, a two-year management contract with Viva Communications, plus products and services from official makeup provider Inglot Philippines, Zanea Shoes, Hana Shampoo, Lee Cooper Jeans, Mags Clothing and Robinsons Malls.
Bautista received the title from last year’s winner Eva Psychee Patalinjug. She will represent the country
in the Miss Tourism Queen of the Year International in Kuala Lumpur on Dec. 9. Cuaton will compete in the Miss Tourism International pageant in Vietnam on Nov. 28 and try to continue the Philippines’ winning streak sustained by her predecessor Glenifer Perido.
The two queens’ victories did not come as a surprise, as they received the heaviest support from the audience. Both Bautista and Cuaton also took home the lion’s share of special titles awarded in preliminary competitions and during the finals night.
Bautista was proclaimed Best in Swimsuit, Best in Long Gown, Mutya ng Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa and Mutya ng Hana, while Cuaton was hailed Best in Festival Costume, Miss Friendship, Darling of the
Press, Mutya ng SkyJet Ailrines, Mutya ng Lito Sy Photography (Miss Photogenic), Mutya ng Inglot Philippines and Mutya ng Camera Club of the Philippines.
Even the runners-up scored special citations. Bourgoin received the Best in Modern Philippine Terno, Mutya ng Rain or Shine Paints, Mutya ng Mags Clothing and Mutya ng Resorts World Manila awards. Gamboa took home the titles Mutya ng Hannah’s Beach Resort and Mutya ng Informatics.
The special title Mutya ng Pilipinas-Overseas Communities was awarded to Nina Josie Robertson from the Filipino community in Australia. Nine overseas Filipino communities sent representatives this year.
Since 2000, Mutya ng Pilipinas has recognized the lineage and ancestry of Filipino women living abroad and accepted them to the national competition. During the earlier years since the move has been implemented, several overseas-based contestants have won. But the homegrown bets stepped up their game and clinched the titles in recent editions.
During the final round of questions, Bautista said her home province Laguna is what best describes her. “I want to share the values I learned in my province, how to be responsible, being responsible for myself, being responsible to my family and being responsible that would benefit others as well,” she replied.
For her part, Cuaton was asked: “Should you have a daughter in the future, would you encourage her to join a beauty pageant?”
She said she would, “because with beauty pageants, we can show people our advocacies in life, how to gain respect. I know that she can help people be better someday.”
Bourgoin said one word that would describe the Philippines is “amazing,” because “everything we need, everything we are searching for, everything our heart desires can be found in the
Philippines—love, unity, everything.”
When asked what sets Filipino women apart, Gamboa said “all around the world Filipinas are loved because we are caring, driven and hard-working.”
Other candidates also took home special awards. Aislinn Anne Sebastian from the Filipino community in Southern California was Best in Talent, Katherine Caguioa form Tuguegarao City got the most online votes and was hailed Mutya ng Pilipinas-People’s Choice, while Cebuana Hershey Gajudo was proclaimed Mutya ng Viva and received a two-year management contract worth P500,000.
Couturier Mark Tumang, meanwhile, was adjudged “Best Designer” in the Modern Terno competition. His creation was showcased by semifinalist Jessica Rose McEwen from Central Luzon.
The 2015 Mutya ng Pilipinas coronation night was telecast on ABS-CBN and will be beamed to countries covered by The Filipino Channel.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer is a media partner of the 2015 Mutya ng Pilipinas pageant.