MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines’ three-year streak of making it to the Miss Universe pageant’s Top 5 may be difficult to sustain but the country’s bet to this year’s competition is up to the challenge.
“I can handle [the pressure],” Ariella Arida said in a press conference in the VIP room of the Smart Araneta Coliseum immediately after she was proclaimed 2013 Miss Universe Philippines.
Arida beat 49 other aspirants in the Binibining Pilipinas pageant at the Big Dome on Sunday night, aside from bagging the Best in Swimsuit award.
The 24-year-old from Alaminos, Laguna, told reporters the pageant pushed her to give her best. “I used to be just an average person. I usually don’t work too hard because I get depressed if I fail in the end. But now, in this pageant, I really worked hard physically, mentally and emotionally,” she told the Inquirer.
During the question-and-answer round, Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima, a judge in the competition, asked her to name a lesson in life that women can teach men.
“One lesson in life that women can teach men is being sensitive, because we all know that men are more logical when it comes to decisions. They’re usually more rational, straightforward. We women use our hearts and tend to get emotional in some of our decisions. Sensitivity is something that we, women, can teach men,” replied the 5-foot-7 tall chemistry graduate from the University of the Philippines Los Baños.
Her answer earned Arida a round of applause.
Arida, the first candidate to be called to the Top 15, said she believed the question was a good sign that things would turn out in her favor.
“I felt so lucky because it was one of the questions I practiced to answer,” she said.
Arida said some people may think her response was a little out-of-the-box for a science graduate. “When it comes to real life, I tend to use my heart when making decisions, and that’s where my answer came from,” she said.
“I already saw chemistry as something that’s fun and interesting when I was in high school. So I decided to take up chemistry in college, also to challenge myself. I knew chemistry would be a tough course. I wanted to prove something to myself and to make my parents proud,” she said.
Arida also participated in but failed to win the Miss Philippines-Earth pageant last year.
Also proclaimed winners Sunday were Bb. Pilipinas-International Bea Rose Santiago of Masbate and Bb. Pilipinas-Tourism Joanna Cindy Miranda of Nueva Ecija.
Santiago, who was also proclaimed Bb. Avon, was an international model of the Ford modeling agency and has traveled to different parts of the world in the job. Her family moved to Toronto, Canada, when she was 14. She came back to the Philippines to try her luck in the pageant.
“I’ve never been so dedicated. I flew all the way from another country, left my life there. I went on a very strict diet. I had to focus. Every day I had to dedicate my personal life, everything, just for the sake of winning Binibini. So I dedicate all my eight months of stay here in the Philippines to Binibini,” said the 20-year-old communication student of York University.
When Miss International Beauty Congress president Hirofumi Hashimoto asked Santiago to complete the sentence, “The ideal Filipino is…” in the final round, Santiago replied, “… both proud and happy.”
“We love the Philippines so much that we are willing to come back here every year. We’re willing to spend our Christmas, holidays every year just to be here in the Philippines, because we Filipinos will always feel at home here,” she said.
She will represent the Philippines in the Miss International pageant.
Hashimoto was assisted by Nicole Schmitz in crowning Santiago. Schmitz won last year’s Binibining Pilipinas-International crown and cracked the semifinals in the global contest.
Miranda, who is set to compete in the Miss Tourism Queen International pageant, also bagged the Binibining Petron and Cream Silk Beyond Beautiful Woman awards.
She competed with 2012 Miss Universe first runner-up Janine Tugonon in the Miss Thomasian Personality contest when they were both students at the University of Santo Tomas. Tugonon won the crown and Miranda was first runner-up.
In the final round of the competition, judge Liliana Zawadzki asked Miranda what personal quality people remember about her.
“One word that can describe me is ‘unstoppable.’ Everything I wanted in life, I did, even if I didn’t have permission from my parents, from my friends or from people around me. If I know that what I want to do is right and good for me, I will do it. And in the end, I know people around me will be proud of me.”
The three titleholders each took home P500,000 in management contracts from Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc. (BPCI), plus products and services from sponsors.
The BPCI awarded the Bb. Pilipinas-Supranational crown to pageant veteran Mutya Johanna Datul.
The 20-year-old student from Isabela, who also bagged the Miss Photogenic and Best in Long Gown awards, received her crown from 2012 Miss Supranational third runner-up Elaine Kay Moll, who was last year’s Bb. Pilipinas first runner-up.
German-Filipino Pia Wurtzbach rounded up the Top 5 and was proclaimed 2013 Bb. Pilipinas first runner-up. The former ABS-CBN TV personality also won the Binibining San Miguel Zero Fit and Sexy Body awards. The BPCI did not say if she will be sent to an international competition, but as a runner-up, she may still join the pageant in the future.
The five winners are expected to undergo intense training for their respective international competitions and make official appearances for the pageant’s charity work.
The 50th edition of the Binibining Pilipinas pageant also paid tribute to all its past winners, many of whom paraded in glamorous evening gowns during the opening number.
Stella Marquez-Araneta, BPCI chairperson, received a tribute during the ceremonies.
Thanks for support
In her speech, Araneta said it was the first time she stepped on the Binibining Pilipinas stage after 50 editions. She expressed her gratitude to the Filipino people for the support that the pageant has been getting since it was established in 1964.
Araneta is a Colombian who was a semifinalist in the 1960 Miss Universe pageant and the first woman to be proclaimed Miss International in the same year. She married Filipino Jorge Araneta, whom she thanked when he joined her on stage.
Gerard Salonga conducted the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra, which provided musical accompaniment to the ceremonies.
Martin Nievera teamed up with Dawn Zulueta to host the pageant, along with 2010 Miss Universe fourth runner-up Venus Raj and 2011 Miss Universe third runner-up Shamcey Supsup, who manned the satellite stage.
ABS-CBN beamed the 2013 Bb. Pilipinas coronation night on the same evening, and will air the show on the global television network The Filipino Channel.
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