THE nerve-wracking question-and-answer portion on Sunday’s Binibining Pilipinas coronation night definitely found a winner among the 15 finalists of the highly anticipated pageant this year.
She is Candidate No. 19, Filipino-British lass Rachel Peters from Camarines Sur, who was schooled in Thailand and Australia. The 25-year-old beauty and brains is the successor of Miss Universe Philippines 2016 Maxine Medina, who had been criticized for her poor performance in the Q&A of January’s Miss Universe pageant in Manila.
European Union Ambassador Franz Jessens asked her: “This week, the Philippines hosted Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Summit. If you were invited to speak, what would have been your message to the leaders?”
Peters confidently responded, “I believe that one of the biggest problems of our country is divisiveness – in politics, religion, and culture. I believe it is the same across the world and that is something I would like to address. If we can learn to tolerate each other’s differences and respect each other, then we will be a stronger nation and world.”
The newly crowned Miss Universe Philippines’ flowing and insightful reply to her most challenging question has thus renewed hopes that the Philippines might just get back its winning streak when her turn comes to compete in the international arena.
Besides Peters (who also won Best in Swimsuit, Miss Photogenic and the Jag Jeans Denim Queen Special Award), the following candidates were crowned for the remaining titles:
• Candidate No. 15 Maria Angelica de Leon, daughter of multi-awarded actors Christopher de Leon and Sandy Andolong, Binibining Pilipinas-International, Best in Long Gown and the Binibining Creamsilk Special Award [see related story on C8];
• Candidate No. 22 Chanel Olive Thomas, Binibining Pilipinas-Supranational, Miss Friendship, and Best in National Costume;
• Candidate No. 39 Elizabeth Clenci, Binibining Pilipinas- Grand International;
• Candidate No. 31 Katarina Rodriguez, the Davaoeña who competed in the reality show Asia’s Next Top Model, Binibining Pilipinas-Intercontinental and Philippine Airlines ambassador; and
• Candidate No 18 Nelda Ibe, a cadet pilot from Tarlac, Binibining Pilipinas-Globe.
• First Runner-Up was Candidate No. 32 Charmaine Elima, while Candidate No. 40 Kristel Guelos was Second Runner-Up.
Completing the rest of the 15 finalists were Sirene Sutton, Christagale Borja (Manila Bulletin Reader’s Choice), Maria Camille Manalo, Gabriela Pattricia Ortega, Larah Grace Lacap, Jehza Huelar, and Juliana Kapeundl, whose slot came from the pageant’s online votes.
Also given special awards outside the Top 15 was Dane Felisse Marasigan as Miss Talent.
The coronation night was held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, with a two-hour delayed telecast on ABS-CBN.
The announcement of winners went live at 12:30 a.m. after those in the venue were made to watch the Road To The Crown reality show on the annual pageant, hosted by Robi Domingo.
Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach hosted the pageant with actor Xian Lim, and delighted the crowd when she said it was her fifth consecutive year to be in Binibining Pilipinas—the first three as a candidate, the fourth when she passed on her crown, and Sunday night’s hosting, her fifth.