The first time watching the Binibining Pilipinas pageant, was still living in the United States and one of the first questions that came to mind was why were over half of them from Quezon City? Are there no other places in the country that produces beautiful women? Being born in Bacolod City and raised by two Hiligaynon parents, it was seldom (if ever) a contestant was seen announcing a city or town in Negros Occidental – or Negros or Panay at all.
Grew up watching the Miss America and Miss USA pageants, where a representative from each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia competed for the crown. Audiences get to see 51 beautiful women vying to represent the country in an international pageant – in the case of Miss America, it is the opportunity to support a specific platform chosen by the contestant herself, along with earning scholarship money for college.
The contestants in American pageants got to their positions after winning state pageants; often times, before that, there are even regional or county competitions they have to compete in just to qualify for the state competition.
In the Philippines, and other national pageants as well (this is not exclusively a Filipino standard), the contestants are put through an audition process with talent scouts and representatives from the pageant organization – a less organic process.
Have there been quality candidates that have come through the process? Of course, but with a process that takes a more aesthetic and “Hollywood” approach, the country rarely gets the opportunity to see a genuine landscape of the entire country.
“Eat Bulaga,” the country’s longest running noontime variety show, has been showcasing, over the past couple weeks, contestants in their upcoming Miss Millennial pageant, a competition sponsored by the tourism bureau of each candidate, who represents her province or city and shows the unique qualities of where she is from – presenting everything from food to history to tourism sites.
The competition is comprised of 38 contestants, around the same number one would see in any of the major national pageants; however, instead of half of them representing the same city, this competition includes contestants from across the country, from Ilocos Norte to South Cotabato – there are also candidates from Negros Occidental, Aklan, and Antique.
One of the draws of pageants is getting to see everything a locality has to offer. Getting to see the variety of food and sights from across the country, there is no doubt the travel bug springs up with every episode.
While a pageant can send any candidate, or the pageant winner, to any place within the country to enjoy everything it has to offer, there is a big difference when it is a local presenting their home.
The contestants in the Miss Millennial pageant also have a wide variety of looks, including skin color, along with knowledge of local languages and dialects – and they are all beautiful.
While most in the media praise those of multiracial backgrounds (mestizas), along with the endless commercials suggesting white skin is the key to being beautiful (with television advertisement setting the picture contrast to such an extreme, the spokesmodel’s facial features are no longer discernable from the white background), this pageant embraces everybody.
Featuring contestants both fair-skinned and dark-skinned, along with a mix of “mestizas,” the diversity of this pageant is another trait that separates it from the typical pageants in the Philippines.
While the traditional pageant system in the Philippine has been effective, winning several Miss Universe and Miss International titles in the past, along with the country considered a “powerhouse” among international pageant circles, there is something more appealing about the approach “Eat Bulaga” is taking with its Miss Millennial competition.
Beyond the competition showcasing diversity in looks and local backgrounds, the contest also suggests there is an opportunity for any woman who strives to compete in a national pageant. Without the necessity of standing before a panel of subjective judges, it shows one can be a winner by truly being a representative of their place of origin./WDJ