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Sisterhood of the traveling crowns

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All the winners of Bb. Pilipinas 2019 came over one sunny afternoon and bedazzled the staff at Daily Tribune, not only with their beauty but also their wit and humor.

For the first time since their triumph at Araneta Coliseum, all ladies were together for the livestream webcast “Straight Talk with Daily Tribune” on 2 July 2019.

Bb. Pilipinas Universe Gazini Ganados, International Patricia Magtanong, Supranational Resham Saeed, Grand International Samantha Lo, Globe Leren Mae Bautista, Intercontinental Emma Tiglao; with Aya Abesamis, first runner-up, and Samantha Bernardo, second runner-up, gamely faced the Tribune panel.

The eight beauties were relaxed and enjoying their downtime after the hectic daily schedules during the pageant.

After their win, they all went back to spend some time with their families, catch up on sleep and eat as much burgers, fried chicken and pizza as they wanted.

Wearing the crown, they all agreed, changed their lives in different ways.

“It is life-changing,” affirmed Emma. “When we are in the mall, and then people will ask… I think a lot of people watch Bb. Pilipinas right now, unlike before, so even the tricycle drivers (recognize us)! Everyone watches Bb. Pilipinas and they’re excited for their representatives of the Philippines.”

Gazini added, “That is true; we’ve been busy lately…like we are having interviews and a lot of video greetings,” to which the ladies laughed.

“I didn’t know that it was the trend,” the Miss Universe contender admitted, “and you can’t decline even if you’re so tired already because you know, they’re supporting you and also when we went to Davao this weekend, and I was in hoodie and my cap plus shades, kulang na lang magpayong ako (the only thing missing was an umbrella), they still recognized me. I said ‘I don’t have makeup,’ and they said, ‘Oh, that is not a problem.’ It’s just really different that they recognize us.”

Patch, who was later teased for being the only one in the group who does not have a boyfriend, said, “Actually I’m getting used to not having Binibini activities every single day. I don’t know because during the pageant, our call time was 7 a.m., 8 a.m. and then we got home at night. So, we were busy every single day and then every free time we had, we used to train, to fit our dresses, to meet our designers. Things like that. Now, we’re still busy but a bit more chill because the pageant is done, so I don’t know what to do with myself!”

Resham interjected, “I would love to go to the gym a little more, spend some more time with my family. All my family members had gone back to Canada already and they are going to be waiting there for a visit. But I’m hoping I have enough time before the international pageant to go visit them because you know, with our busy schedules, it’s important that I make time for everything and everyone, especially myself, but Patch is right, we have a lot of free time compared to the pageant, but if she jinxes it, I will find her,” she laughs.

DURING the course of the interview, the girls showed their wacky and witty side. DAVID CUBANGBANG

‘United and diverse’

Looking at the way they behaved toward with each other, a surprising element was the genuine harmony that pervaded their interactions.

This is “unusual” in pageant circles around the world as there have been horror stories in the past of missing or ruined gowns or thinly veiled hostility among a number of girls competing fiercely for the crown.

Asked if there was such an air of competitiveness in their batch, Samantha Lo simply said, “We forget, honestly.”

“Yes… a lot of the friends we made… especially like, for example, some of us are from different camps; some of us are, you know, independent — but it was funny because I thought this year was a little different especially with #beyondbeauty. I think it really pushed all of us to work together, to climb up that ladder. I mean we are “stronger together,” right?
So I think this year’s theme and this year’s general morale was different from all other years.
I think you can feel it even now, right?  Like we’re all very conversational, we’re all very in tune and united, outspoken,” Resham noted.

“United and then diverse at the same time…,” Gazini added.

“Yes. That’s exactly what brings us together. And at times I think we would forget that we’re competing with one another. Because we’re fixing each other’s hair, clothes. Sometimes we tell the girl, not those lashes, try your other lashes, your lipstick’s on your chin, this is showing, not showing. I’m pretty sure that that’s why it was tough decision for the judges here because we were all so united on the stage,” Resham expounded.

“That’s what the pageant is all about: we are sisters off stage but you’re competing on stage,” Emma opined.

“But at the same time, we were supportive, like everyone was screaming backstage, ‘Go kill it!’” Samantha Lo quipped.

The other Samantha quickly added, “Like on coronation night… a lot of girls were screaming for Gazini when she won Miss Universe.”

BINIBINIS at play: After the livestream, the ladies made the most of the lighting and mood at the studio. DAVID CUBANGBANG

The real deal

As the girls prepare for the next phase of their pageant journeys – stepping onto the world stage – the way they prop each other up is a joy to behold.

In many ways, this batch of millennial beauties are exemplifying how pageants have evolved.

Although still essentially a beauty competition, many other qualities of womanhood are uplifted and emphasized. This 2019 batch of Binibinis, for one, is an exemplary group of intelligent, well-spoken and real women who seem to be in touch with who they are as a person and their place in the world.

“You guys get to see the real me with or without the crown. I’ve gotten some comments like, you know, you can be a queen like yeah, a super queen. But this is me. I have a hard time moving myself into someone else and I promised myself before this journey would start that I wouldn’t let the title change who I am. And I think that most of us, if anything, have been empowered to be our authentic selves with the crown on. Yes, of course, we are a little more poised, we have makeup on and we look glamorous all the time, but I mean, catch us doing grocery shopping and I… we don’t look like this 24/7,” Resham mused.

“You don’t have to be glamorous and put together and be perfect all the time to be a queen.
On stage, we are given the titles and we are queens, but we want to encourage everyone to be their authentic version, their authentic selves. So like, if I’m here, creating jokes, and you know, laughing with everyone, is because this is who I am all the time,” she added.

Gazini, for her part, shared, “What you see is what you get, and it’s more into capitalizing what we have, most especially getting to know each other as well as letting the people know who we really are… And we are approachable, we are all approachable — that’s what I really love the most about them… so I guess vulnerability and beauty also whenever we don’t have our makeup on or whenever that we are just in the airport having our sunglasses and caps, we’re still approachable.”

Lo added, “I think if you go to Cebu, you can get two different stories. They’re gonna be like, “That’s not Sam.” I’m very boyish, you know. If anything, my everyday look would be a pair of the same ripped shorts — jean shorts that I’ve had for the past seven years, they’ve survived — and a T-shirt, and you know kinda like my hair thrown in a bun, with no makeup and kinda slouched a little bit (laughs), but I will always maintain good posture. The girls have trained me well. They really transformed me. Think of them as my emotional cocoon right now; I feel like a butterfly now.”

The Binibinis, that afternoon, wore their crowns with grace and poise even while they were letting their hair down, so to speak.

They proved that being honest with oneself and as natural as possible are best in a world that tends to be filled with plastic, literally and figuratively.

As the Philippines’ contender in the Miss Universe 2019 advised those who want to try their luck in the pageant world: “Just speak from the heart, Most especially, be yourself and just dive… you’re already there, you put so much effort and time (into it) and I guess what you can do is just to give it your all.”

Interview by Dinah S. Ventura, Jojo Silvestre and Kim Sancha
Transcription by Elmer Manuel

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