The first question to answer in making my Final Predictions for Miss Universe Philippines 2022 is this: will another fresh-faced out-of-towner or a polished pageant veteran be crowned tomorrow night at the MOA Arena?
You see, some pageant followers have been saying that there are slim pickings in this year’s roster of Finalists. That may be so if one focuses more on looking for a good majority of ladies who measure up to the high level of standards we Filipinos have been accustomed to. As a certified pageant powerhouse of a country, it can’t be helped. But once you get to know each one of the Top 32 gunning for the crown, revelations will surprise many – in terms of the quality of candidates, that is.
But enough of the misgivings. Personally, I opted to look for potential winners who I can visualize as wearing the country’s sash in the next edition of Miss Universe. This is not an easy task if one has to sift through all comers. But after weeks of observation (including precious feedbacks from people whose opinions matter), I have decided on this Top 16 lineup who will make the first cut:
In the photo grid above, one finalist will qualify as the winner of the LazadaPH voting which will end today. As of this writing, Jewel Alexandria Palacat of Ilocos Sur is leading the popularity votes. If she continues to do so until time’s up, then we have our 16th spot already filled. And I believe that she deserves a place, by way of voting or own personal merits.
With that out of the way, I will now set my sights on those in the lower eight. This is an excellent group, with the inclusion of Ivylou Borbon of Pangasinan, Dorothy Gemillan of Iloilo City, Vanessa Caro of Iloilo Province, Ghenesis Latugat of Baguio City, Julia Saubier of Albay and Jeanne Nicci Orcena of Davao del Norte. Even the beautiful Anjeanette Japor of Lucena can slip into placement. One or two among them can make inroads in the competition depending on how the breaks favor them. I can see the two Ilonggas doing it, or perhaps a combo of Julia and Ghenesis. But have they actually gained the silent nods of the organization?
Going now to the upper eight, this is where the barda (bardagulan, if you will) should happen. Weeks back, picking a Top 5 was not as hard – just get the so-called “power trio” of Michelle Dee of Makati, Celeste Cortesi of Pasay and Katrina Llegado of Taguig, add Pauline Amelinckx of Bohol then shoot for the fifth with either Lou Dominique Piczon of Cebu Province or Annabelle McDonnell of Misamis Oriental. These days, the spoiler-ish roles of Angelica Lopez of Palawan and Chantal Schmidt of Cebu City can come into play. And this could make for a spicy turn of events. This is where I would consider asking: “which ladies will the organization love to work with?”.
Good work attitude is of paramount importance to MUPH. They will want someone who will give each of the pillars the least headaches (or none at all) – a lady who is a breeze to deal with. Filling in the shoes of Beatrice Luigi Gomez will be a hard act to follow in terms of professionalism and dedication. And this could be where a fresh-faced find will shine. The likes of Lou Dominique, Angelica Lopez, Chantal Schmidt and Annabelle Mcdonnell fit the mold to a T.
Top 5 going into Final 3
But hey, Pauline Amelinckx is a real sweetheart. Michelle Dee (according to some production people and backstage teams) is down-to-earth as opposed to the high-strung persona we all associate with her. Katrina Llegado is very nice, while Celeste Cortesi is said to have greatly matured compared to years back when she won Miss Philippines Earth.
So what is left to do? Trust that fate will favor the most deserving one and make the climb to the “La Mer En Majesté” crown a relatively smooth one. The Top 5 Q&A will easily make or break.
L-R Michelle Dee, Pauline Amelinckx and Celeste Cortesi
By now, I can definitely see any one among Michelle Dee, Pauline Amelinckx and Celeste Cortesi representing us in Miss Universe. The vision is clear in my head. So if had to do my final rankings, the two runner-up positions are likely to be taken by Katrina Llegado and Annabelle McDonnell. Pauline Amelinckx is a shoo-in for the Miss Universe Philippines Charity title, with Michelle Dee settling with Tourism.
This time, I went for someone who “returned” with a much-improved version of herself. Back in 2018, she won another national pageant but caused controversies in that organization when she was unable to complete her reign. She kept a low profile for more than three years. In the process, she grew older and wiser, built a strong support group around her and associated herself with a different beauty camp that poured their exclusive training and preparations in firming up the loose ends. For weeks into MUPH, she gave everyone something to be excited about. In the end, she sustained her consistency in all segments of the competition (Swimsuit and Evening Gown Preliminaries included). There is still room for improvements. But that is something the MUPH Organization will diligently work on in the coming months.
Makeup by Guilly Valenzuela
Silvia Celeste Cortesi of Pasay is my choice to win Miss Universe Philippines 2022. All-around, she has what it takes to at least duplicate our placement in the 70th Miss Universe, or even better. More than serving face, she could be ready to charm us with her Fil-Italian ways even more, just like in her Preliminary Interview below (with restored sound).