MAKATI CITY — Samantha Bernardo had less than three weeks to prepare for the Miss Grand International pageant, but even her mentor was floored by her performance in Bangkok, Thailand, where the global competition is taking place.
“She has definitely exceeded our expectations, napakahusay!” Rodgil Flores, head of beauty pageant training camp “Kagandahang Flores,” told the Inquirer in an online interview after the March 25 preliminary competitions.
“Her performance makes me very happy and extremely proud of her. To sum up her [Miss Grand International] stint, Samantha is in all ways—styling, hair and make-up, personality, and presentation skills—simply grand,” he continued.
Bernardo, who was second runner-up in the 2018 and 2019 editions of the Binibining Pilipinas pageant, suddenly found herself packing her bags for an international assignment in the thick of preparations for the national pageant’s 2020/2021 edition. Earlier this year, the Bb. Pilipinas Charities Inc. (BPCI) appointed her as the country’s official representative to the 2020 Miss Grand International contest because the global competition set a March coronation, while it tentatively set its finals in April.
Despite the tight schedule, Flores and Bernardo were able to design an action plan for the Miss Grand International pageant, together with a dedicated team of stylists, trainors, and consultants.
“Everything was planned on purpose to highlight the best of Samantha. As I have known her, she’s not the type who throws caution to the air. She studied and discussed everything,” Flores shared.
Louis Pangilinan was able to provide an emerald gown with gold accents, which Flores said are the pageant’s colors, for the preliminary competition. For the coronation ceremonies, Bernardo will wear a design by Yeye Pantaleon, which Flores described as “a showstopping gown, yet very elegant and fashion-forward.”
Flores said he has always believed that “if Samantha will be given the chance to represent our country in an international pageant, she is bound to shine and soar high because she will give it her all, exactly what she is doing right now.”
Kagandahang Flores wards have had podium finishes in the Miss Grand International. Parul Shah finished fifth in 2015, while Elizabeth Clenci placed third in 2017.
So far, the highest finish for a Filipino contender was Nicole Cordovez’s first runner-up placement in 2016.
Bernardo will try to become the first Filipino woman to win the Miss Grand International crown in the coronation ceremonies on March 27. Technically, this is the pageant’s 2020 edition, held to make up for the lull caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The international organizers are planning another competition to be held later this year.