Theories Why Bianca Manalo Failed to Make it to Miss Universe Semis

Filipino pageant fans and pundits all over were heartbroken when our very own Bianca Manalo failed to make it to the semi-finals of Miss Universe 2009.

The well-loved pageant of Filipinos and the most prestigious one at that has been snubbing the Philippine delegate for 10 years now! No Filipina was able to place in the semi-finals since Miriam Quiambao won first runner up in 1999. No Filipina was able to break the curse so to speak.

60 pageant experts of Global Beauties believed that our delegate Bianca Manalo is a semi-final material. They based their judgment on the preliminary competition of Miss Universe for swimsuit, evening gown and interview. They came up with their list of Top 15 who are most-likely to make the cut and Bianca is at no. 11.

Bianca was a crowd favorite in Bahamas. She rocked the swimsuit competition with her excellent catwalk skills and confidence that she emerged as the most applauded contestant of the night. But how come she was snubbed in the Top 15?

Here are my theories:

The Gift-Wrapper Blue Evening Gown. Every year, Filipino pageant enthusiasts get disappointed with the evening gowns of our delegates. The gowns are below mediocre and borders in hideous, old fashion and sometime hilarious. These gowns are even recycled by the Bb. Pilipinas organization. Talk about environment-friendly.

Bianca Manalo’s evening gown was no exception. It looks like a gift for Pete’s sake! The bow made it look cheap. No wonder Bianca’s confidence somehow dropped in the evening gown competition. And you cannot blame her because looking at what the other contestants are wearing, like Miss France, Miss Venenuela and Miss Kosovo, our evening gown really belongs to the lower half of the 84 contestants.

The Board of Judges. The preliminary judges (they are the ones responsible for the selection of the semifinalists) were divided in two panels. Both of these panels included members of the Miss Universe Organization who screen the girls to see who is -and who isn’t- appropiate for the job. It’s basically up to their “taste” and how they perceive each contestant.

The preliminary judges are:

* Mark Wylie – Best Buddies Talent Executive.
* Adriana Ching – Licensed attorney and a former real estate developer avid philanthropist.
* Todd Winston – Veteran of the hospitality industry and Vice President of Sales at Creative Promotional.
* Rosalina Lydster – Fashion designer for celebrities.
* Tiza Tjokroadisumarto – Director of Retail Operations for Michael Kors.
* Corinne Nicolas – President of Trump Model Management.
* David Friedman – Last Call with Carson Daly Executive Producer.
* Steven Schillaci – Talent Producer for many hit shows including American Idol.
* Mario Mosley – Hollywood Choreographer of Oxygen’s Dance Your Ass Off.
* Sarah Markantonis – Ambassador of Kerzner International Bahamas.

But of course, it’s unfair to blame the judges or to accuse them of being racists (because they did not pick any Asian candidate in the semis). They are the ones who were able to see the 84 contestants up close and personal.

So the delegates who were stand-outs in the swimsuit competition might have blown their chances in the evening gown competition and in the interview. Many were expecting Spain, Mexico, Russia and Netherlands in the semi-finals but surprisingly, Switzerland, Sweden, Croatia and Albania took the slots. The judges might have seen something special about them.

Since we cannot really point the finger to the judges, i must say that the evening gown per se caused Bianca’s downfall. Bianca’s performance was excellent. She’s confidence, she has the “it” factor, she’s vibrant and she got excellent catwalk skills. Not to mention that she’s tall and has a very nice porcelain skin. Bianca did her job above 100% and we are truly proud of her. Being tagged as the best Asian candidate this year is proof enough that Bianca is our best bet since 1999. It’s just sad that the Miss Universe judges did not include a single Asian in the semis.

THE NATIONAL DIRECTOR. The Miss Universe franchise holder in the Philippines is the Bb. Pilipinas organization headed by former Miss Colombia and the very first Miss International, Stella Marquez Araneta. Since 1964, she has been responsible for the delegation of Philippine delegates for Miss Universe, Miss World, and Miss International competitions.

In the annual Bb. Pilipinas pageant, she’s always the chairman of the board of judges. It is believed that when the top 3 or top 4 were picked, Stella will now decide who will compete where.

In the last 10 years, many pundits criticized her choice for the Miss Universe pageant. They believe that Zorayda Andam (2001), Karen Agustin (2002), Maricar Balagtas (2004), Gionna Cabrera (2006), Anna Theresa Licaros (2007), Jennifer Barrientos (2008) and Bianca Manalo (2009) were best fit for the Miss World pageant.

So the theory of wrong delegation may have grounds. Even Miriam Quiambao, she’s not supposed to compete in the Miss Universe pageant. But because the reigning Bb. Pilipinas-Universe at that time was dethroned, Miriam took-over. From being 1st runner-up in Bb. Pilipinas, Miriam ended up as first runner up in Miss Universe!

It leaves us wondering, what could have happen if Ruffa Gutierrez, Carlene Aguilar, Margaret Wilson and the disqualified contestant Sandra Seifert competed in Miss Universe?

In the past 10 years, we now have a clue on the kind of contestants that the Miss Universe pageant are looking for. They give weight to confidence, catwalk skills and how the ladies carry themselves in swimsuit and evening gown. Kinda like a top model material.

MEDIOCRE EVENING GOWNS. Correct delegation means nothing if our contestants are wearing the wrong gown. Anna Theresa Licaros was tagged as the most elegant contestant in Miss Universe last 2007 but look at her evening gown:

If it was Miss Universe 1978, then this gown should be a hit. But it’s year 2007.

And who could forget the white numbers worn by Maricar Balagtas (which was later worn by Precious Quigaman), Lia Ramos and Zorayda Andam:

According to reports, these gowns were made by Colombian designer Alfredo Baraza, imported by Stella Araneta to be worn by our delegates. Don’t we have good designers here in the Philippines that we need to import gowns from another country?

ABS-CBN AS NATIONAL DIRECTOR. Rumor has it that ABS-CBN is eyeing for the Miss Universe franchise in 2012 when Araneta’s contract will end. If this is true, then it’s good news. Perhaps, we need a new organization to handle our delegation for the Miss Universe pageant. It has been a decade already and all we got in the Donald Trump-owned pageant were three photogenic trophies as result of online votations. A new national director will indeed make a difference.

To sum it up, our beauty queens have all what it takes to win the Miss Universe crown. It was proven already with Gloria Diaz in 1969 and Margie Moran in 1974. With proper delegation, all we need is to believe that we can do it 100% pinoy. We need to bring out the pinoy power inside our contestants because they will not represent any other country but ours. Our ladies need to be trained by Filipino experts and our evening gowns should be made by Filipino designers as well.

Congratulations to Bianca Manalo for representing our country very well. She’s indeed the best Asian delegate this year.


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