Arnold Vegafria, president of ALV Talent Circuit and national director of Miss World Philippines Organization, made history in Philippine pageantry last year when three of their representatives came home with sashes and crowns for the first time.
Teresita Ssen “Winwyn” Marquez was crowned Reina Hispanoamerica 2017 in Bolivia, while Sophia Senoron was crowned Miss Multinational 2017-2018 in India and the last in a three-peat streak Cynthia Thomalla was crowned Miss Eco International 2018 in Egypt.
Under Vegafria’s directorship, the Philippines achieved beauty pageant milestones. Vegafria was in Bolivia, India and Egypt when they were crowned and was honored to personally crown Senoron. He also witnessed the live crowning of Miss World 2013 Megan Young when he watched the pageant in Indonesia.
From being a courtside reporter to reigning her own court, Miss World Philippines 2017 Laura Lehmann’s top 40 finish in Miss World 2017 is not to be missed. Her milk bank advocacy for babies at Jose Reyes Memorial Hospital gained financial support from the Miss World Organization.
The Miss World Philippines Organization hopes for a back-to-back win from the reigning queens of 2017 and 2018. Fashion designer and Miss World Philippines general manager Bessie Besana is confident that the newly crowned titlists can clinch the crowns since the Philippines is now making headlines in beauty pageants around the world.
On its second edition under Vegafria’s management, Miss World Philippines had 40 candidates competing during the coronation night held at SM Mall of Asia Arena on 7 October, hosted by Mister World 2012-2013 Francisco Escobar, Miss World 1993 Second Princess Ruffa Gutierrez and actress Carla Abellana.
Wearing a thigh-high slit gown by Francis Libiran, Filipino-American Katarina Rodriguez was crowned Miss World Philippines 2018 and received four major sponsor awards and a special award, Best In Long Gown.
Rodriguez, prior to becoming a beauty queen, was Asia’s Next Top Model second runner-up winner back in 2014. She is a model, cycling instructor and competitive long-distance runner from Davao, who has a double major in Business Management and Philosophy from the De La Salle University before winning Binibining Pilipinas Intercontinental 2017 and represented the Philippines in Egypt where she becane first runner-up to Veronica Salas Vallejos from Mexico.
“One should live by example and not by opinion, and I would like to admit I was one of those before until I learned more about what beauty pageants are about. One thing I can tell you is that you may think this is very competitive, but in fact, you’ll understand beauty pageants when you know that it is actually not competitive towards the other women. It’s competitive towards yourself, and it’s all about women empowerment, and you can feel that in this group of girls. Each girl knows that we are individually beautiful,” she answered confidently when asked how she can change the opinion of people who see beauty pageants as a form of exploitation.
Rodriguez will soon fly to Sanya, China, to compete, where the reigning Miss World 2017 Manushi Chhillar from India will crown her successor. Chhillar was one of the judges that night, along with Miss World 2016 Stephanie Del Valle from Puerto Rico and Miss World 2013 Megan Young from the Philippines. Chhillar and Del Valle arrived on 4 October with Miss World Organization chief executive officer Julia Morley and her entourage that includes Stephen Douglas Morley (event director), Kerry Langlois (Miss World administration head), Joseph Warwick (OB director), Nick Parry (technical production head), Donna Walsh (stage director), Vivian Grant Harris (Health and Safety head) and Francisco Escobar of Colombia (Mister World 2012-2013).
During a press conference held on 5 October at Impressions restaurant of Maxims Hotel, Resorts World Manila in Pasay City, Morley assured more extensive efforts for the organization’s advocacy and charity in the Philippines and across the world. She said, “This year’s candidates have big shoes to fill.”
From 40 candidates, they were narrowed down to 16 semifinalists and trimmed down to 10 finalists whom the judges asked the final questions to determine this year’s four queens.
There were six candidates fast-track event winners, who earned an automatic spot in the top 16. These were pre-pageant events and challenges that happened weeks before the coronation night, in which Marie Danica Reynes won in the Talent Competition when she belted a song during the Charity Gala, one of the most anticipated events of the pageant, held on 2 October at the Grand Ballroom, Marriott Hotel in Pasay. The remaining candidates who advanced as semifinalists were Kimilei Mugford (Sports), Katarina Rodriguez (Beach Beauty), Maureen Montagne (Top Model), Alyssa Muhlach Alvarez (Multimedia) and Kim de Guzman (Charity). To complete the semifinalists, 10 candidates were chosen based on the judges’ scores during the preliminary and finals nights.
The 25-year-old, Filipino-American model and host Maureen Montagne won Miss Eco Philippines 2018 and will fly to compete in Egypt. Montagne competed in Miss USA 2015 and was part of the Top 15. She represented the state of Arizona, where she was born. She was Miss World America 2017 first runner-up and the Female Century Tuna Superbods 2018 Grand Winner prior to winning the Miss Eco title and four major sponsor awards.
Just like Rodriguez and Montagne, Reina Hispanoamericana Filipinas 2018 Alyssa Muhlach Alvarez bagged four major sponsor awards. The 22-year-old accomplished singer is the daughter of actress Almira Muhlach and former PBA star Bong Alvarez. Both came to the arena to support their daughter. The niece of actor Aga Muhlach and Miss Universe Philippines 1994 Charlene Gonzales wore a stunning and scene-stealing, royal blue gown by Benj Leguiab IV with a Philippine map detail at the back. She is currently competing in Bolivia but missed the press presentation due to flight delay.
Apart from being crowd favorites and front runners, Rodriguez, Montagne and Alvarez won all the sponsor awards either individually or on a tie.
Miss Multinational Philippines 2018 is Kimilei Mugford representing Ontario, Canada, who competed in Continental Miss Philippines 2018 earlier this year. She will fly to India later this year.
Chanel Morales is this year’s First Princess. Standing at five feet and four inches, the Artista Academy alumna also appeared in Ipaglaban Mo, Wattpad Presents, Ang Probinsyano and in the movie, The Debutantes. Morales was awarded as Miss Photogenic.
The 24-year-old entrepreneur from Palawan, Pearl Hung is this year’s Second Princess. This young millionaire is an inspirational and motivational speaker to the youth.
Two weeks after Rodriguez was crowned, her male counterpart was crowned at the coronation night on 23 October at the Newport Performing Arts Theater of Resorts World Manila. JB Saliba of Olongapo City was named Mr. World Philippines 2018.
The former baseball player of the University of the Philippines Maroons Baseball Team bested 15 other male candidates to win the coveted title in the first edition of the male pageant.
Saliba also bagged four special awards, Mr. Bench Body, Best Skin, Mr. Blue Water Day Spa and Mr. TechnoMarine. A crowd favorite during the competition, Saliba is an actor with his first movie to be released soon.
Marco Poli, the winner of Best In Formal Wear and Mr. Gamboa Coffee awards, is currently an off-season football player for the Philippine National Team U23, but plans to pursue his career in football. The 25-year-old, Filipino-Italian hunk from Matabungkay, Batangas, was named Mr. Supranational Philippines 2018.
Ginoong Laguna 2018 Robin Hanrath was hailed as Mr. Eco Philippines 2018 and was awarded Mr. Photogenic. Hanrath, a 20-year-old Agricultural Economics graduating student from UP Los Baños, represented Bay, Laguna. This Filipino-Dutch hunk received thunderous applause from the crowd after answering the question confidently and fluently about LGBTQ.
Mr. Bench and Mr. Multimedia Challenge winner, Denver Hernandez, emerged as Mr. Multinational Philippines 2018. The 24-year-old, who grew up in Italy, represented Malvar, Batangas, decided to come back to the Philippines to reconnect with his roots because he was born to Filipino parents.
Ameen Sardouk from Parañaque, is a 27-year-old graduating student from the College of St. Benilde. He was named as first runner-up, who played as a Blazer for the NCAA team of St. Benilde during his younger years.
The 27-year-old Wilfred Placencia from Dumaguete City is second runner-up. He was once a Siliman University varsity player before earning his Political Science degree.
The 16 desirable men opened the night by parading and dancing shirtless. With good looks and good credentials, these men competed in swimwear, formal wear and question-and-answer segments.
Saliba will compete in Manila early next year for Mr. World’s 10th edition where Indian model and actor Rohit Khandelwal, the first Asian to win Mister World in 2016 and holds the record as the longest reigning Mr. World, will crown his successor.
Khandelwal and Chhillar are the reigning Mr. and Miss World both from India. Over 100 of world’s most desirable men are expected to compete in fashion and style, extreme challenge, multimedia, sports and talent from which the final top 10 will be chosen.