THERE was only one crown left to be awarded and Mary Jean Lastimosa was there, standing beside last year’s runner-up, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach.
It felt just like the coronation night of 2012 – only the Bb Pilipinas – Universe crown had not been awarded, and Lastimosa was standing beside her fellow runner-up of the previous year when the host announced, “Binibini 18 Janine Mari Tugonon!” It was a heart-breaking moment for Lastimosa.
Lastimosa must have recalled that moment, on the coronation night on March 30, just after Bea Rose Santiago crowned Mary Anne Guidotti her successor as Bb Pilipinas – International.
This was Lastimosa’s third and last attempt at going for a Bb Pilipinas crown. It was all or nothing for her.
When she was finally crowned Miss Universe Philippines, her dreams came true.
Unexpected, but well-deserved
Many pageant observers didn’t see it coming that Lastimosa would be crowned Miss Universe Philippines 2014 on Sunday night. While she was among the most cheered on candidates, many thought the battle would be between last year’s first runner-up Pia Wurtzbach, Cebuana beauty Kris Tiffany Janson, and Bicolana Yvethe Marie Santiago. But the Binibini third-timer proved there’s no limit to what one can achieve.
Compared to her two previous attempts, Lastimosa looked more relaxed this year. It was obvious she was enjoying every moment, but her competitive spirit never waned. She showed off a healthy, toned body during the swimsuit competition. She was sassy and sexy, and look how she played with the fan – it was the best performance that night. Then, she sashayed with elegance in her fuchsia sweetheart evening gown. Her wide smile, good styling and fluid walk truly made her stand out.
Winning the Best in Swimsuit award was a good sign that Lastimosa would go home with a crown. But it was the Q&A portion that must have sealed the deal for her.
The crowd cheered when Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler asked her what the greatest advantage of being a woman is. She replied: “The greatest advantage of being a woman is being able to compose herself. Just like here, we’re standing in front of thousands of people, not knowing if they’re going to cheer for us or boo us. But we try to compose ourselves. We keep the emotions and show the beauty that is in us and tonight, thousands of people are standing here, celebrating the beauty of women.”
It was a heartfelt response. Lastimosa didn’t let pressure take over. She was every inch a queen.
Chances at Miss Universe
Lastimosa has big shoes to fill following the Philippines’ four consecutive runner-up finishes at Miss Universe. But one thing’s for sure: if she was able to beat the odds in Bb Pilipinas, it’s not impossible for her to take home the coveted Miss Universe crown. Lastimosa is already polished, but she still needs to undergo rigid training to maintain that pageant-ready figure, improve her communication skills and personality, among many other things, in order to package her as a Miss Universe candidate.
But her greatest advantage is that she already got training from two of the best pageant camps in the country. She was formerly under Jonas Gaffud’s Aces & Queens who was behind former Miss Universe Philippines titleholders Venus Raj, Shamcey Supsup, Janine Tugonon and Ariella Arida. She is now with Kagandahang Flores, the team behind Miss International winners Precious Lara Quigaman and Bea Rose Santiago.
Joining Lastimosa as the new torch-bearers of the Philippines in international pageants are Mary Anne Bianca Guidotti (Bb Pilipinas-International), Kris Tiffany Janson (Bb Pilipinas-Intercontinental), Yvethe Marie Santiago (Bb Pilipinas-Supranational) and Parul Shah (Bb Pilipinas-Tourism). Finishing as first and second runners-up are Laura Lehmann and Hannah Ruth Sison, respectively.
Guidotti and Santiago will be facing a big challenge this year: to score back-to-back wins for the country in the Miss International and Miss Supranational pageants.
Bb Pilipinas International 2014: Mary Anne Bianca Guidotti
Meanwhile, Guidotti’s win came as a surprise to me. While she was able to bag the Best in Long Gown award for her stellar performance and elegance, I thought her answer could’ve been meatier. She was asked about using the crown to push for her advocacy should she win, and she said she would “use [the] crown to influence people to adopt their own advocacies.”
Despite this, there’s no denying Guidotti is classy. Also she speaks well which is one of the qualities of Miss International winners. The Philippines seems to have mastered the art of placing in this Japan-based pageant. Winning the title is a long shot for now, but I’m confident Guidotti can give us our 7th consecutive placement.