Binibining Pilipinas 2023 winners reveal their ‘could-have-beens’
MANILA, Philippines—The recent Binibining Pilipinas pageant, as in the recent years, had 40 candidates. But the initial cut to just 10 semifinalists and an additional aspirant propelled by online votes was the tightest one ever made in recent history. That is why several perceived strong contenders were shut out of the next round of competition.
The 2023 queens spoke with the Inquirer during a round of media interviews at the Owner’s Circle at the Araneta City in Quezon City on May 30, just two days after their coronation. There, they shared who they thought could have also been worthy of a semifinal slot.
Without discrediting the rest of the semifinalists who were proclaimed during the grand coronation night held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on May 28, Bb. Pilipinas International Angelica Lopez, and runners-up Katrina Anne Johnson and Atasha Reign Parani shared who they would have loved to see with them in the Top 11.
The runners-up chose the same person, pageant veteran Gianna Llanes. The two shared with the Inquirer that they have formed a deep bond with her, along with semifinalist Mary Chiles Balana. They all stuck together throughout the four-month-long competition.
“We were always the ones to step out of our waiting rooms, our dressing rooms, to do [question-and-answer]. I remember I have a whole ice cream tub of questions. So we would always do it together,” Parani shared, and said the four of them also prayed together before going to production.
Johnson said Llanes was the first person she met during the legal interview after their selection as official candidates. “From that, we were just able to talk and really bond, get to know each other,” she said.
Parani said she uttered, “Oh my God, Ate Gianna,” when Llanes missed the semifinals. “I just want to put it out there that she’s such a great speaker. Out of us four, she was the one who was always so guiding, always so prominent with what she believes in, and I really love her, and I just wish she was really a part, and I would be beside her,” the second runner-up said.
Johnson also said, “There are so many girls, truthfully, in our batch who are so deserving,” and cited Rheema Adakkoden, Mirjan Hipolito and Julia Mae Mendoza. “They all have amazing stories, they all have so much love to give,” the first runner-up added.
Lopez also thought Hipolito would have been a worthy semifinalist, “not just because she’s my bestie, but also because I’ve seen how insightful she is as a woman. You know we both come from an economically challenged background, and we really need to strive, not just only to survive but thrive in the challenges of life.”
Both Lopez and Hipolito were in the Top 16 of their respective Miss Universe Philippines batches. “You know, I really like her (Hipolito). That is why I feel like my victory should also be her victory,” continued the Bb. Pilipinas International titleholder.
Lopez said she is proud of her 2023 Bb. Pilipinas batch because all the candidates are smart and beautiful. “And I’ve seen how the sisterhood is really strong during the pageant activities of Bb. Pilipinas,” she continued. Johnson chimed in, “I really wish that most of the girls were able to have more time to share their stories because they truly are inspiring.”
Bb. Pilipinas Globe Anna Valencia Lakrini agreed, “I think all the girls are deserving.” She also has not thought about who were left out of the competition because she was not focusing on other contenders. She will represent the Philippines in the Miss Globe pageant later this year, while Lopez will compete in the 62nd Miss International pageant next year. /ra