MANILA, Philippines — Kicking off the international pageant season was the first send-off press conference for Binibining Pilipinas Grand International 2019 Samantha Ashley Lo and Bb. Pilipinas Globe 2019 Leren Mae Bautista on October 2, 2019 at the Versailles Tent of Novotel Manila Araneta City.
Present at the event were Binibining Pilipinas Charities, Inc. (BPCI) Executive Committee Members Dr. Lia Bernardo and Raymond Villanueva. It was also special to see all of the reigning queens attending the event to give encouragement to the Binibinis who will be competing first.
Bernardo addressed the queens and said, “Leren and Sam, we’re sending you off with a lot of love, alot of admiration. Having seen your journey from screening til now, it’s been such a great honor to witness your evolution, your growth. What I want to share with you right now is to just be you. I’m sure you are hearing advice, left, right and center, on how you should act, how should talk, how you should behave. When in fact, there really is nothing for you to do except to just be yourselves.
"Believe in yourselves. And know that you are more than enough. Celebrate your authenticity. On behalf of Mrs. Stella Araneta, Mrs. Conchitina Bernardo, Mrs. Brinas and Raymond VIllanueva, thank you for the opportunity to have been part of your reign as queens and know that our love will go with both of you.”
For the past decade, history has shown that Filipina representatives have dominated the pageant stage. There is no doubt that this year’s queens will be prepped to perfection in styling, physical fitness, hair, make-up, pasarela, costumes and gowns.
Perhaps, it is worth noting that the overall tone of the send-off was truly about the women, about who they are as people, and about family and the truly important things in this world. What Bininibinig Pilipinas has done is gone a step further knowing that the outer package is finessed to the most minute detail. This year, BPCI has ensured that the women are fully equipped internally and emotionally to deal with the demands of not just the competitions but their lives.
Messages of love and support
Possibly, this batch of Binibinis is most self-aware of the need for self-love, coming from a place of authenticity. It was evident in the heartfelt messages from their sister queens.
Here are some of the the highlights:
Samantha Bernardo, Bb Pilipinas 2nd Runner-up said: “Just remember you are worthy and you deserve that crown. Go get that crown and we’re just here to support you. Just update us all the time so we know all the hanash and everything with your pageant.”
Bb Pilipinas 1st runner-up Aya Abesamis, meanwhile, said: “I know that you’ve both been working hard. You are both dedicated and I’ve how you’ve strived to reach that goal in your life. I’m so happy and excited. This is it! I know that you are both going to bring it home for the Philippines.”
Patch Magtanong, Bb. Pilipinas International 2019, told Leren and Samantha: “It’s been a pleasure serving as queens with you and the past weeks, I’ve come to know you. I’m so confident that they will do everything they can, they’ll do their best to bring two crowns to the Philippines. Don’t forget that this maybe the greatest experience of your life, just enjoy, sa atin yan!”
Emma Tiglao, Bb. Pilipinas Intercontinental 2019 said: “I’m so grateful that I have you guys by my side and sharing this amazing journey with you.”
Gazini Ganados, Miss Universe Philippines 2019 said: “These girls grew on me all throughout the competition and the journey we have as sisters now. I’m so happy and proud for both of you. Sending love and hugs and all the virtual hugs when you guys are there already.”
Samantha Ashley Lo is ready to give it all
Lo will be competing in Miss Grand International 2019 pageant on October 25 in Caracas, Venezuela. This is the only pageant that has eluded the Philippines, although we’ve come close several times in the past. No matter how controversial the choice of venue and the pageant’s history with the Philippines, Lo has maintained a very positive and healthy perspective.
Many Filipino pageant fans have called for this franchise to be dropped by BPCI, believing that the organization has unfairly treated our delegates in the past and have made disparaging comments about some of our queens.
The closests we got to winning the crown were in 2016 (Nicole Cordoves, 1st Runner-up) and in 2017 (Elizabeth Clenci, 2nd Runner-up).
Coming all the way from St. Petersburg, Florida was Lo’s sister, Dr. Stephanie Cojocaru who said, “Sam, I’m so proud of you. You are the epitome of resilience and fortitude. Not everybody knows your journey on how you got here. What they see is this beautiful queen in front of them not realizing there is so much depth you have in your soul… What make you guys close is your willingness to be vulnerable in the face of turmoil. If you can just enjoy the rest of your time that you have with this pageant and be yourself, everyone is gonna fall in love with you already. I’m so proud of you and I love you.”
Lo’s Bb. Pilipinas sisters have seen her transformation and they unanimously agree with Stephanie's observations.
Ganados said: “Samantha Lo, I’ve know her for quite a long time. The first time that we had training together in Cebu, the duck walk, she didn’t understand and I was her guide. Up until then, I didn’t realize we would be in the same pageant which was Bb. Pilipinas. It’s nice to know and have that piece of home in Bb. Pilipinas. Seeing her happily doing things on her own showed how she’s an inspiration to everyone. I am just so proud.”
Magtanong said: “Sam is, I’m not kidding, maybe the most hardworking, most determined person I’ve ever met. She works so hard, she will not stop. And she’s so competitive. And that’s a good thing for us. If there is anyone we should send to Venezuela, it’s Sam. Hindi siya mag papa-api doon.”
Bb Pilipinas Supranational Resham Saeed said of her friendship with Lo: “I’ve known Sam since the day we handed in our papers. I’ll try not to cry right now. We’ve been friends ever since. Literally, I do not know anyone more hardworking than you. I love you so much and I know you’re going to do so, so well. I know you have your doubts some times. I just want you to know, I have never doubted you, ever!”
Leren Mae Bautista around the Globe
Bautista will be leaving for the Miss Globe 2019 competition to be held in Albania and Montenegro on October 21. BPCI has produced Miss Globe 2015 Ann Colis and Miss Globe 2017 1st Runner-up Nelda Ibe. Last year’s representative, Michele Gumabao, finished in the Top 15 in Albania.
Leticia Bautista, Leren’s mother, attended the send-off and said, “Leren, good luck sana madala mo sa PIlipinas ang Miss Globe 2019. Good luck anak. I love you.”
Her mother knows that she can do it because she's done it in the past. Among the queens, Bautista is the only one who has previously competed internationally and won. In 2015, she won the Miss Tourism Queen of the Year International.
Tiglao said, “I first met you when we had an event in Pampanga. I thought you’re the masungit kind of girl kasi hindi mo ako kinakausap. But then, when we won, I think nag click talaga kami. I think you will be the buena mano of this batch. You will bring the first crown for the Philippines (this year).”
Ganados said, “I’ve worked with Leren in an international fashion show with Mama Renee Salud. Back then, I didn’t know who she was but she was that girl who always laughed and gives you that optimism. Up until then, I always wondered how is she like as a person. I was never wrong, she was that kind hearted person who cares for her sisters.”
Go the distance
Both Lo and Bautista will literally travel far and wide (with a number of suitcases befitting a beauty queen). Lo will be travelling to Caracas, Venezuela via London, England. Bautista will be going to Albania via Dubai before heading to Montenegro. Travelling for leisure is tiring enough – one can only imagine how much more stressful it can be for someone who will be competiting. Their contests are not only of beauty and brains, but also of endurance and will power.
This Binibining Pilipinas edition started the hashtag “#beyondbeauty." As the queens start to embark on their international competitions, it seems that the hashtag has become much more than a slogan or catchphrase. With every word uttered, there is an underlying message of love, support, encouragement and uplifiting each other for a greater purpose beyond their personal glory.
The queens were very candid when they spoke of their relationships with one another – how wrong first impressions turned into lifelong friendships, or how each one helped in on aspect or another in their training or their growth. For each one of them, being part of a successful line of queens in the past decade, there are enormous pressures placed on each one of them. Yet, aside from their own preparations, they are never too busy to help out their sister. For these genuine acts of kindness and sincere friendships, they have already won even before they’ve left.
This is also a testament to the legacy of the Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc. who have always been driven by passion for pageantry and uplifting the Filipina. It's a legacy that goes beyond pageantry, beyond crowns and reigns. That is what makes BPCI and the Binibini queens forever beautiful. —Rappler.com
Voltaire has 10 years experience in the fashion industry. He previously worked with a luxury clothing and accessories brand in Los Angeles, CA. He graduated magna cum laude from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, major in Fashion Design. He also holds a BS in Applied Economics and BS in Marketing from DLSU. He is now doing real estate but finds ample spare time to pursue his passions.