EXCLUSIVE: The Binibining Pilipinas 2021 Queens Share Their Post-Coronation Night Thoughts And Experiences
They joined us for an exclusive livestreamed interview on Metro Chats via Kumu's FYE Channel
We're getting closer to seeing the country's new set of Binibining Pilipinas beauty queens compete internationally!
It's only been a couple of weeks since Hannah Arnold, Samantha Panlilio, Cindy Obeñita, Maureen Montagne, Gabby Basiano, and Meiji Cruz were welcomed into the elite circle of Binibining Pilipinas queens, but excitement among pageant fans is already brewing for how each of the girls will do on their journeys to the crown.
As Metro celebrates their big wins, we also got to know each of them. There are so many stories the girls have to tell about what happened backstage at the coronation night, the friendships that were formed, the people who helped make their pageant dreams come true, and the thoughts and feelings they all have as they undertake such a massive task of representing the country in global events.
Bb. Pilipinas International 2021 Hannah Arnold, Bb. Pilipinas Grand International 2021 Samantha Panlilio (who unfortunately experienced technical difficulties and was disconnected from our livestreamed interview), Bb. Pilipinas Intercontinental 2021 Cindy Obeñita, Bb. Pilipinas Globe 2021 Maureen Montagne, Bb. Pilipinas 2021 1st Runner-Up Gabby Basiano, and Bb. Pilipinas 2021 2nd Runner-Up Meiji Cruz joined us for an exclusive Metro Chats interview on Kumu's FYE Channel.
We rounded up the highlights of our exclusive interview below!
Their first official photo shoot as reigning Binibining Pilipinas queens
The first big thing the girls did after the Binibining Pilipinas 2021 coronation night was do a photo shoot, their first official one as queens! "That was the moment when we realized we are the queens for 2021," says Hannah. It was the first time she and her fellow queens wore their crowns and sashes for an official engagement, solidifying the fact that they'll soon represent the country on different international stages very soon.
Cindy described the day as a mini reunion with her sister-queens plus the other binibinis who won special awards. It was also their chance to pay tribute to the designers, glam teams, photographers, and videographers who helped make their journey to the crown a shining success.
It wasn't all seriousness, though. "It was the perfect day," described Maureen, and the girls even called it a "princess party," all thanks to their outfits and the glamorousness of it all.
This Binibining Pilipinas edition was the first of its kind; it ran for more than a year, with some girls dropping out of the race because of age disqualifications/COVID-related concerns taking precedence. For the girls who did stay in the competition, they were tense for a long, long time. The wait for the coronation night was the longest it's ever been because of multiple delays, so when the new queens were finally announced, you can bet that the winners celebrated to the maximum!
Hannah, for instance, had burgers and fries with some of her lucky fans who were camped outside the Smart Araneta Coliseum, hoping to catch a glimpse of her. Gabby was all about sharing her success with her pageant team whose hard work contributed to her crown just as much as her own performance did—and then they had samgyupsal! Meiji met up with mentors and friends to have some good old fashioned talk over a super satisfying fast food meal. Cindy caught up on sleep. Maureen enjoyed a double celebration, what with her birthday coinciding with her pageant victory.
Most surprising for pageant fans to learn was that these girls weren't on strict diets during the peak of the pageant, so food was always at the center of their days!
Memories to keep now and for always
Whether or not you win a crown at Binibining Pilipinas, the experience still leaves a mark on you. But for winners of the competition, it becomes a life-changing experience whose memories will stay with someone for life. Here's what each of the girls say their best memories from their Binibining Pilipinas journey are:
Hannah: "The whole experience itself, it really allows you to figure out the parts you need to work on. For me, it's always my communication skills. I really get nervous talking in front of a crowd and trying to [look] put together, like now! One of the great things about the pageant... you really get to have conversations with the girls and hear their stories, and it somehow helps you strengthen your weaknesses."
Cindy: "I think one of the best things about this competition, this journey, is really about the sisterhood. It's very powerful and I think we built a very solid foundation... We've been delayed for so many times, and during those breaks, I think the girls really kept on checking up on each other on how they were feeling... For you, it may be just some simple gestures, but to someone, it feels more than enough. This kind of friendship, it's really worth preserving and it's really worth fighting for."
Maureen: "It would have to be just the dedication. So many of the girls had to balance work, financial issues, and just the pandemic in general. Being able to overcome and finish through was just such a joy. And it really just taught me that pageantry is just near and dear to my heart that I'm willing to fight for."
Gabby: "I really loved everything... Sa pageant, hindi na siya naging competition, more on naging family 'yung mga candidates. 'Yung madadala ko talaga... 'yung experience, and I'm willing to share that with everyone. Lahat ng mga natutunan ko, 'yung mga hindi dapat gawin, siguro i-she-share ko rin siya in the future."
Meiji: "It helped us to cultivate friendships. And also, 'yung stage experience itself. It really felt different na you're walking onstage, you're representing your city, your loved ones, your supporters are there for you. [It was] very surreal and very memorable for me."
Coronation night thoughts and feels
It's always a barrage of emotions when coronation night approaches. The girls are terrified but also pumped with adrenaline, then they're also nostalgic about the months that have passed yet excited for the future to come should they bag a crown. Looking back at what it was like for each of them, the girls shared what was going through their minds during the coronation night.
Hannah says her thoughts were with her family and she was incredibly emotional (read: she was crying in the makeup chair). Her family was in Australia while she was here in Manila competing, so all she had to keep her going were messages of encouragement and love from them that she'd received over chat.
It was happiness for Cindy, on the other hand, but also fear—happiness that it was finally all unfolding, but also fear that she might mess up after wanting this for so long.
And then there was Maureen who was overcome with so many other non-pageant related thoughts like missing her family and losing her job. But despite the misfortunes that came her way, she found the gratefulness that propelled her to perform well enough to win her a crown.
Gabby's biggest emotional memory was feeling that kind of nervousness for the very first time in her life. There were physical sensations that accompanied the tension, but she concentrated on telling herself this was the culmination of all the sacrifices she'd done in the last months.
For Meiji, she tried her best to cry things out before rehearsals! She carried such big thoughts with her, because this moment was nine years of preparation for her. She started her pageant life way before she sent in her Binibining Pilipinas application, so she was always in tears when she remembered how long it took her to get to where she is now.
Not-so-secret beauty secrets
Due to popular demand from fans watching their Metro Chats livestream interview, the girls shared their best kept beauty secrets! According to each of these queens, here's what they do to take care of their complexions, one of their biggest investments as pageant forerunners:
- Take off your makeup thoroughly as soon as it's not needed anymore.
- Use tea tree oil facial cleanser; she uses this to make sure her skin isn't irritated by moisture that may cause problems from constant face mask-wearing.
- Don't use conditioner if you know you're going to be using a hot tool for styling.
- Don't overdo your beauty regimen because it's not a matter of quantity.
- Be in touch with your derma or any skincare specialist.
- Rest is essential.
- Cleansing is the step you can't live without.
- Explore hypoallergenic products.
- Eat clean and avoid inorganic food.
- Eye cream is your holy grail.
- Get enough sleep.
- Observe basic facial hygiene.
- Start your skincare routine at a young age; she started hers when she turned 20.
- Observe your skin's needs and know which products are suitable for it.
- Combine moisturizer with vitamin C-based products.
- Use retinol-infused products.
- Be grateful because it shows.
Looking back at their Q&A performances
If the girls had the opportunity to change their Q&A answers, would they? It's a worthy question to ask considering how highly-anticipated the segment is and how it can really shake the candidates to their core! As the girls prepare for more experiences like this before they compete internationally, they shared their own thoughts about their Q&A performances.
Hannah admitted to getting a little lost with how she was going to incorporate everything she wanted to say. She definitely had more than one opinion about the question for her, so it proved to be a challenge to stitch everything together in just a few seconds.
Cindy was the only queen who went over the time limit, so being concise is her next challenge for herself. Exceeding the time limit could be points against her in the international pageant, after all.
Maureen would have wanted to add a call to action to stir the audience to do more, rather than just be inspired by her answer.
Gabby's one regret was the two-second pause she had before answering her question. The more fluidly you respond during Q&A, the better.
Meiji would definitely redo her performance and would probably utilize a quote to end on a much stronger and more cohesive note.
The women who've inspired them
Behind every great woman is another great woman. Just ask any of the pageant winners this year, and they'll agree! They recognize the importance of pointing out the influence of other powerful women in their lives as beauty queens, as so much of pageantry has changed to highlight women empowerment.
Hannah talks about her older sister Angela whose example as a responsible and mature role model helped her get through adolescence and young adulthood. Angela helped Hannah with school, learning independence, and was always her biggest cheerleader in whatever she chose to do.
Cindy shares the spotlight with cervical cancer survivors, many of whom she's worked with through her advocacy and have shown great bravery. She's lost loved ones to cancer, so working with women who have been diagnosed with cancer is a cause close to her heart.
Gabby's mom is her number one; her crown is a dream she shares with her mom, the woman who helped her regain her self-confidence after experiencing a childhood that was peppered with instances of bullying.
It's the same for Meiji. Her mom has worked overseas for 10 years, but it's this sacrifice that she admires so much because it's evidence to Meiji that dedication to family can allow a person to overcome any and all difficulties.
For Maureen, once again, it's her mom—the first to graduate from university in their family whose own boundary-pushing life taught her to keep pushing forward.
Their advocacies, in their own words
One of the most important things a beauty queen can ever do is use her popularity and platform to raise awareness and elicit action from the public to further a cause. They're in the positions they're in to help enrich the lives of underserved groups, and many of them have been doing so way before they were crowned at the Binibining Pilipinas pageant!
Hannah's is all about sharing the privilege and pleasure of reading books (especially for children). Cindy hopes to get more people to care about cervical cancer among Filipino women. Maureen is championing the battle against HIV/AIDS in terms of both the disease and the stigma. Gabby is working towards more youth-focused support in terms of providing them with mental health resources. Meiji is the queen who advocates for the SOGIE bill and the need for laws to advance gender equality in the Philippines.
Lead photos by @bruce.casanova via @bbpilipinasofficial