How The Philippines Became The Top Beauty Pageant Country In The World
November and December 2017 are big months for the Philippines—well, of course there was the ASEAN Summit, but we’re not getting into that. We’re talking about the four misses: Miss Universe, Miss World, Miss International, and Miss Supranational. Filipino pride surged after Teresita Marquez was hailed Reina Hispanoamericana, and so did the excitement over the upcoming major beauty pageants our fellow Filipinas are competing in. Perhaps there really is no better time to be a Filipino beauty pageant fanatic than now, as we are statistically the top beauty pageant country in the world.
Renowned website Global Beauties, which annually ranks every country based on their performances in five major international competitions aka “Grand Slam pageants”—Miss Universe, Miss World, Miss International, Miss Supranational, and Miss Grand International—announced in May that the Philippines has dethroned Venezuela as the world’s beauty powerhouse, bagging "Country of the Year" honors twice in a row. In 2016, Philippines garnered 106.02 points from the five major beauty pageants worldwide. This after the Philippines won Miss International, was first runner-up at Miss Grand International, finalists at Miss World and Miss Universe, and a quarter-finalist at Miss Supranational. Venezuela came in at second with 100.00 points.
Started from the bottom, now we’re here
While the Philippines has a combined total of 10 crowns from Miss Universe (three), Miss World (one), and Miss International (six), it’s only quite recently when the Philippines started competing in the other international pageants. Remember back in the day when all everyone knew about were the aforementioned "Big Three" beauty pageants? And then the Philippines had such a good run at Miss Universe, consecutively placing in the Top 5 from Venus Raj, until Pia Wurtzbach finally nailed the top spot in 2015.
In the same year, Parul Shah was third runner-up in Miss Grand International, Hillarie Parungao made it to the Top 10 of Miss World, Janicel Lubina also placed in the Top 10 of Miss International, and Rogelie Catacutan was a quarterfinalist in Miss Supranational. Also getting the Miss Earth crown was Angelia Ong. For 2016, though, Global Beauties decided to remove Miss Earth from the computation of the results because of some questions regarding its fairness (given that the organization behind it hails from the Philippines), and yet our country is still the frontrunner across all the involved competitions statistically. Can’t put the land of these beauties with substance and purpose down, don’t you think?
Words from the Queenmaker
In his book The Crown: Your Essential Guide to Becoming a Beauty Queen, queenmaker Jonas Gaffud, or Mama J to his mentees, paints a comprehensive picture of how the Philippine beauty pageant scene—and the quality of the queens we send to the global arena—has wonderfully evolved, much thanks to the desire of many to take the beauty and talent of the Filipina further internationally.
Miriam Quiambao placed second in Miss Universe 1999, and while there wasn’t a notable run in any pageant since then until beginning Venus Raj’s era, it’s good to note that every year, mentoring these Filipina beauties have come to be more and more serious, so much so that Gaffud and the Aces & Queens team have been doing intense studies of what each and every pageant is really looking for in a queen. “Every year, the criteria for judging for all beauty pageants change. In the same way, every year iba-iba ang panel of judges. Locally, the aim is always to find a queen that will win it all internationally,” he shares.
Public awareness has also gotten stronger, especially after Pia Wurtzbach and Kylie Verzosa’s back-to-back wins in Miss Universe and Miss International, respectively. Albeit a dismal and unexpected Miss International 2017 finish for Maria Angelica de Leon this week, we all remain hopeful for Miss World Philippines Laura Lehmann, Miss Universe Philippines Rachel Peters, and Miss Supranational Philippines Chanel Olive Thomas. As Gaffud puts it, “In the end, a beauty queen should be representative of who we are as a people. Our beauty queen is one of the best of us. She is royalty. She represents us. Her beauty? That’s our people.”
And it looks like there’s no stopping our people’s beauty from shining brightly globally.
Photograph from the Bb. Pilipinas Official website