The last time I rooted for the Philippines' candidate in the Miss Universe was around a decade ago in 2000 during the reign of Binibining (Bb.) Pilipinas Universe Nina Ricci Alagao. Nina was a model at that time and just graduated from the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman. The first time I saw her on TV, I thought, "You go girl! Show them how it's done." Nina was very sassy during the pageant night. She moved and behaved like a winner and looked like she was just having fun. I totally loved her personality. I loved her so much that for an undergrad class at UP, I insisted we interviewed Nina. She was a riot in person. She was funny, cheeky and really smart. I was very sad when her name was not called among the 10 or 15 semi-finalists during the Miss Universe pageant in Cyprus. One of the hosts said they were expecting to see Miss Philippines make the cut. But alas, Nina didn't make it.
After Nina, nobody who held the Bb. Pilipinas Universe crown caught my fancy. I felt that most of the girls were too boring and too washed out (no offense) until this year when I saw Pamela Bianca Manalo (see her pic above) bag so many awards that it was but fitting for her to win the crown and represent the Philippines in the Bahamas.
Pamela is 22 and works as a flight attendant. She is 5'10" and almost 150 lbs., something that I really like about her. She's not reed thin. Although the pre-pageant footage of her in the Miss Universe preliminaries show that she has lost a little weight. Her middle body is tighter. Moreover, whereas during the Bb. Pilipinas, she wore curls, this time in the Bahamas, her hair is dead straight just like mine. I do not mind this image change but I hope they do her some good. Some pageant commentators say that what we really need is a contestant with a big personality and a sharp wit backed by great catwalk moves and a really good wardrobe (read: name designer for her evening gown and other accessories). I agree. After all, it is a pageant and you need to wow the crowd. Nina was perfect for this and according to her, she was also one of the judges' favorites. I don't know what went wrong during Nina's time but she would have aced the question and answer portion had she been given the chance. I hope Pamela will be dazzling come pageant night in a designer gown that will make her stand out. Also, I hope she answers all the questions thrown her way way well.
She really did not give the best answer during the Bb. Pilipinas and I was not impressed with how she answered her final question. It was cliched and you could see that she was struggling to put her ideas together. Sometimes I wish the Bb. Pilipinas would allow its contestants to speak in Filipino or their regional languages and not just English. It is unfair to expect these girls to answer in perfect, flawless English when they are not there for that purpose. They're also not there to be tested on linguistic ability. If they are allowed to express themselves in languages that they feel comfortable in, I am sure we will hear profound and well-thought out opinions. In the same vein, our bets in international pageants should be allowed to speak in Filipino and have an interpreter translate their answers. The other countries are doing it, why can we not have the same option?
Anyway, come Sunday I will be rooting for Pamela. I hope she becomes the third Filipina to reign over the Universe. It's about time.