Filipinos are widely known as lovers of beauty pageants, which is evidently shown during the Miss Universe, Miss Earth, Miss International, and Miss World season. The coronation night of this “Big Four” of beauty pageants is when friends and families gather and even rivals come together in front of their televisions to watch and support the country’s representative and carry out that sense of Filipino pride within them.
This devotion to pageantry is no different for Bayambangueños as they continuously rooted for their bets during the much-anticipated Binibining Bayambang 2018 Coronation Night even up until 3 o’clock in the morning. The two-month journey of the 20 binibinis was concluded on April 6 at the open grounds of the Pangasinan State University (PSU) where Binibining Bayambang 2017 Ray Ann Magno passed on the crown to Gabrielle Marie Reloza of Barangay Magsaysay.
Characterized by a diminutive frame and a big and bright smile, Reloza — the 18-year old President of the PSU Senior High School Student Council — showed confidence and conviction that made her stand out during the question and answer portion. Senator Risa Hontiveros provided the question for the top five candidates which is “Bilang Binibining Bayambang, paano mo kukumbinsihin ang dalawang taong nag-aaway na gawin na lamang ang sinasabi ng tema ng ating fiesta na ‘Bagong Bayambang: Magkaisa para sa Ikabubuti ng Bayan’?”
Her winning answer that impressed the panel of judges made up of 13 famous personalities was, “Gagawin ko pong instrumento ang aking sarili upang ipakita sa kanila na ang peace o ang kapayapaan ay nagsisimula po sa ating mga sarili, at ang hindi pagkakaunawaan o ang pag-aaway ay masosolusyonan sa pamamagitan ng magandang usapan. Dahil tayong mga Bayambangueño ay marunong tayong magkaintindihan.”
The other judges included former Pinoy Big Brother housemates Kim Chiu and Miki Arceo-Velasquez, Land Registration Systems Incorporated President Delfin Hallare Jr., former newscaster Yna Yulo, Francis Libiran’s Deputy General Manager Victor Harry, celebrity designer Anthony Ramirez, celebrity makeup artist Albert Kurniawan, MTRCB Chairperson and former Congresswoman Rachel Arenas, Energizer automotive President Nelson Yuvilla, ABS-CBN talent coordinator Ronald Alcantara, Department of Agrarian Reform Central Office Senior Technical Consultant III Dindy Tan, and Aces and Queens trainers Atty. Roentgen Bronce and Roberto Arnold ‘Mama Ru’ Mercado.
Aside from the P100,000 cash prize and another P100,000 for her chosen advocacy project, Reloza also won an electronic bike and a trip for two to Hong Kong. First runner-up Brengie Sen Tamayo of Barangay San Vicente was crowned as Binibining Bayambang Tourism, and 2nd runner-up Ara Joyce Bato of Poblacion Sur seized the Binibining Bayambang Charity title. Tamayo, who was also named as Miss Coke Light for grabbing the Best in Swimwear award, took home P50,000, while Bato received P30,000. The rest of the candidates received P10,000 as consolation prize.
Jenesse Viktoria Mejia bagged the majority of the special awards including Miss Gluta Center Salon and Spa, Miss Richstar, Miss Winsome Smile, Miss Photogenic, Best in Evening Gown, and Best in Casual Wear, while Mary Melvina Riñon was named Miss Red Cross and the Ambassadress of Goodwill of the Local Council of Women. Riñon also bagged the Best in Talent award for her moving acting performance about depression during the Pre-pageant Night held on March 24. The other awardees include Nuryane Samson as Miss Congeniality, Ercil Lorenzo as Miss Royal Mall, Ina Niña Mae Azhyneth Laroco as Miss Social Media, and Mariela Joy Ferrer as Darling of the Press. The creative costumes of the binibinis were all inspired by the different prides of Bayambang, but Ferline Aquino took home the award Best in Creative Costume for her attire that was inspired by onion, a product Bayambang is known for.
Actor Xian Lim hosted the event with Miss Philippines Universe 2010 and 2011 Venus Raj and Shamcey Supsup along with anchor host Senior Tourism Operations Officer Rafael L. Saygo. Raj and Supsup recalled their days of joining and preparing for pageants and gave pieces of advice to the aspiring beauty queens. Supsup said, “When we started out, we didn’t wake up perfect. We all had flaws, but what you can do is to highlight your strength and try to improve yourself.” She encouraged them to show their confidence on stage and believe in themselves. Raj, on the other hand, advised them to finish their studies and to know who they really are. “Because if you don’t know who you are,” she said, “gagayahin mo lang kung anong sasabihin sa’yo ng mga tao. You will just conform to what people dictate.”
The binibinis stunned the crowd as they walked on stage wearing their chic Jojo Bragais shoes, stylish swimsuits, and elegant evening gowns by G Couture. Among those who enjoyed watching included Senator Hontiveros, Mayor Cezar T. Quiambao, Vice-Mayor Raul R. Sabangan, the Sangguniang Bayan members, Hermano Mayor Levin Uy, LGU department heads and former PBB housemates Fred Payawan and Brenda Fox,
But it wasn’t all about the glitz and glamor as the binibinis were briefed beforehand that they were to use their God-given gifts of beauty and charisma in the service of their town, thus the pageant’s tagline, “Beauty for love and service.” As Binibining Bayambang Chairwoman Niña Jose-Quiambao put it, “Binibining Bayambang is an avenue for young women to develop their skills and personalities in such a way that they can make significant contributions to our town. This is why the advocacies of our binibinis are in line with the goal of our Mayor, my husband Cezar Quiambao, to eradicate poverty here in Bayambang.”
“I sincerely hope that we have contributed to these ladies’ journey in becoming more confident and compassionate,” she continued, “because I know that someday, these Bayambangueñas would be the ones leading the town into something much, much greater.” What makes Binibining Bayambang different from other pageants is that the advocacies of all candidates are anchored on the Revolution against Poverty which was initiated by Mayor Quiambao.
With a newly crowned Binibining Bayambang, a mini-PBB Teen Edition reunion, a performance from the love team KimXi, and the much-applauded serenades by guest performer Michael Pangilinan, it was indeed a night to remember for Bayambangueños who took time to witness the most prestigious edition so far of the annual affair.