Consider this the Christmas and Year-End Report of normannorman.com for pageantry in 2019.
2019 will go down modern pageant history as the year the Filipinas were clearly shut out of a win or top placement (read: Top 5 at least) in all the important international pageants worldwide. Sure, there were pinches of happiness when Leren Mae Bautista grabbed 2nd Runner-Up honors during The Miss Globe or Cyrille Payumo being crowned – albeit under less excitable circumstances – as Miss Tourism International or Gabrielle Basiano getting proclaimed as 1st Runner-Up in Miss Friendship International or Liz Mabao’s 2nd Runner-Up ranking in Miss Scuba International 2019 or Kayesha Chua topping Miss Asia Awards 2019 or even Daena Resurreccion making Top 5 in Miss Eco Teen. But ask any Pinoy pageant fan and they would instantly snap back and say that these are not enough to compensate for the tough time we had in winning any of the more highly-regarded “Alpha” crowns.
Let us count the rough moments one by one:
Miss Universe 2019
This could be considered a deep cut. For starters, the Philippines has consistently placed in the Top 10 from 2010-2018, with a Top 6 entry in one, runner-up positions in four editions and the crown itself in two. It was a collection of achievements that upgraded the Filipinos’ sense of pride. Along with it, the level of expectations shot through the roof year after year. Last December 8, we had to be contented with the inclusion of Gazini Ganados in the Top 20 and the Best National Costume award (which was even announced during the telecast with both a stage and backstage hiccup when host Steve Harvey called the right country winner and the production pulling in the wrong candidate – Miss Malaysia – to stand beside him).
Miss World 2019
This did not bruise as much compared to our placements the past two years. Michelle Marquez Dee made it to the Top 12 semifinalists before bowing out of the competition. Her telecast exposure gave us considerable time of excitement in watching the proceedings. The victory of Jamaica did draw mixed reactions from many, but it wasn’t hard taking in the results after Zozibini Tunzi’s Miss Universe accomplishment a week earlier.
Miss International 2019
Now what happened in Tokyo, Japan was something else. When Atty. Bea Patricia Magtanong reached the Final 8, she was in the company of three other ASEAN delegates (Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam) which undeniably gave all the Pinoys watching automatic anticipation that entering the magic circle of 5 was in the bag, if not clinching the Mikimoto crown itself. But after the dust settled, Sireethorn Leearamwat of Thailand nosed out the three remaining contenders (including our own). It was the kind of result that made us question whether the speech of our bet came on too strong for the taste of the predominantly Japanese panel or the judges (and organization) were simply charmed by the Thai delegate from start to finish.
Were we feeling extra superior here? You bet we are. Patch deserved a better recognition than what she was left to console herself with.
Miss Earth 2019
For our homegrown international pageant, it wasn’t difficult to accept the fact that Janelle Tee placed below the Top 10. While she would have been a shoo-in to make it far up the ladder, the judges felt otherwise. But it should not be a big letdown in my opinion. After all, Miss Earth is the one Big 4 crown that saved us from a shutout last 2014 – on top of getting an almost guaranteed inclusion among the four winners year after year. 2019, sadly, is not one of those editions when some kind of glory was within arm’s reach.
Miss Supranational 2019
The Poland-based contest is one where the country’s “halo effect” started its unsteady swings after Mutya Datul was named big winner last 2013. Except for the Top 10 finishes of Chanel Olive Thomas in 2017 and Jehza Huelar last 2018, the best placements we received were either Top 20 or Top 25. And Resham Saeed’s turn last December 7 added up to the unwritten mandate of “making-the-first-cut-at-least” for a Miss Philippines. What was more stinging, though, was Thailand winning another recognizable crown after Miss International 2019 that continued their dominance in the global pageant arena this year.
Miss Intercontinental 2019
The freshest of all rough outcomes took place just earlier this week in Egypt. And while our bet was going for a back-to-back win in Miss Intercontinental 2019, it wasn’t a blow to the moon to expect that Emma Tiglao had all the makings of a potential successor to Karen Gallman. Unfortunately, things just didn’t go our way when Thailand was favored once again to get the Top 5 nod for Asia-Oceania. This effectively dashed the hopes of the Kapampangan beauty to enter the winners’ circle.
Someone reliable whispered to my ears that Emma should have been the rightful Asia-Oceania pick (and this person was surprised when someone else got the Top 5 spot instead). But everything is finished and the irrevocable decision was already in place. Move on, we must.
Miss Grand International 2019
Don’t get me started with Miss Grand International 2019. It was simply the most controversy-laden as far as our representative is concerned. It was a mission that read like a lost cause for Samantha Lo from the time that she departed from the Philippines, got detained at Charles de Gaulle Airport, deported back to the Philippines and then flew back abroad to reach Venezuela using a “safer” flight route.
Pageant owner Nawatt Itsaragrisil may not be a favorite of many, but the circumstances that surrounded the journey of Miss Philippines just to make it to Caracas gave him at least one good score of goodwill when he welcomed the latter with open arms after everything she went through. It may be all for show, but a positive deed nonetheless.
Aside from the cited pageants above, the performance of Klyza Castro during Miss Asia-Pacific International 2019 added the proverbial salt to the wounds. But I will stop here because the one-two punches have gotten too many that they can rival the famous nonstop jabs of the late FPJ in all of his action movies.
Has the Philippines become a “feeling-entitled” participant in all the major international pageants? Perhaps to a certain extent, yes. And not just because we have been performing wonderfully left and right from 2010-2018. But our representatives come fully prepared to fight for the country. They start their respective outings provided with all the “required armaments” to win or achieve a good finish.
But is it in our destiny to win crowns year after year? Are we fated to secure at least a runner-up spot year after year? I say no. When a soldier goes to battle, he/she should always be prepared for the worst, regardless of tactics and preparations. And 2019 is when the Year of Losing Dangerously came into play. Is it a wake-up call to Filipino pageant fans? Not entirely. Because if all of us can move on from defeat and rise stronger the next, then we should be on our way towards maturity in this industry we have grown to love (and follow) for many decades now.
There is definitely hope in 2020. With a clearer vision and disposition in mind and heart, we should be more than watchers and critics. We can manage our losses better and be more acceptant of whatever results come our way.