And then there were 40.
After a grueling selection process over the past two days, the Binibining Pilipinas pageant named on late Tuesday night, February 28, the 40 official candidates who will battle it out for six crowns that are up for grabs at this year’s contests.
The delegates who made it through a series of screenings were culled from 55 shortlisted candidates, all of whom were part of the 96 ladies who went to audition at the Novotel Hotel on Monday, February 27th.
This year’s batch is a hodgepodge of repeaters, pageant crossovers, and fresh faces.
Among those who will try again her luck this year is 21-year-old Jehza Huelar, who settled for 2nd runner-up in last year’s contest.
Also among those notable repeaters are Mariel De Leon–daughter of Christopher De Leon and Sandy Andolong –, Angelique Celine De Leon, Chairmane Elima, and Liezel Mae Ramos.
Georgetown University graduate Arienne Calingo, who in 2016 was named as runner-up to Catriona Gray in the Miss World Philippines contest, will also try her luck at the Binibini arena.
Also in the running is Rachel Peters, who was 4th princess in Miss Philippines World, and Miss Global Philippines 2014 4th runner-up Siren Sutton.
Filipina-Italian Beatrice Valente also got in. Valente represented Italy in the 2014 Miss Earth pageant, where she failed to crack the semis.
Also from the Miss Earth system is Chanel Olive Thomas, who was the runner-up to Miss Earth 2015 winner Angelia Ong at the Miss Philippines Earth contest.
Meanwhile, notable first-timers include Katarina Rodriguez, who’s undeniably known in the pageant and modelling scene. Rodriguez was the third placer at the second edition of Asia’s Next Top Model in 2014.
The Binibining Pilipinas pageant traditionally draws thousands of spectators and beaucon fans during its grand finale which is normally held in the month of April at the Araneta Coliseum.
The festive atmosphere inside the dome is somehow generated by fans and supporters of the country’s so-called pageant camps, the Jonas Gaffud-led Aces and Queens, and Rodgil Flores’ Kagandahang Flores.
Aces and Queens (AQ), which produced Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach, fielded 29 candidates this year, but only 18 of them got in.
On the other hand, Kagandahang Flores or KF, which trained Miss International 2013 Bea Rose Santiago, had 15 out of 26 candidates getting in.
However, one of its top contenders, perceived frontrunner and Miss Earth-Air 2012 Stephany Stefanowitz failed to get in.
Stefanowitz was included in the top 55 until her failure to penetrate the top 40.
Social media is abuzz with Stefanowitz’s exclusion, which they say is a big shocker.
Rumours from pageant enthusiasts said Stefanowitz was kicked out due to her age. Stefanowitz, now at 27, would not be eligible to join the international contests which Binibining Pilipinas holds franchises of.
Seemingly disappointed with the result, Stefanowitz took to social media to air her sentiment.
“If Miss Universe is open to accept candidates until they reach 28, why can’t our local pageants do the same?” Stefanowitz posted.
The crowns that are up for this year’s contests are Miss Universe Philippines and Binibining Pilipinas International, as well as the crowns that would serve as tickets to the minor pageants Miss Supranational, Miss Intercontinental, Miss Globe, and Miss Grand International.
Below is the list of 40 official candidates released by Binibining Pilipinas’ official Facebook page:
Ana Patricia Asturias (AQ)
Leitz Camyll M. Ang (AQ)
Jessica M. Ramirez (AQ)
Dane Felisse R. Marasigan (AQ)
Mae Lanie Chan (AQ)
Arienne Louise Braga Calingo (AQ)
Maria Gail Devora Tobes (AQ)
Gabriela Patricia M. Ortega (AQ)
Katarina Sonja A. Rodriguez (AQ)
Joselle S. Mariano
Kristi Rose D. Cequeña
Rachel Peters (KF)
Maria Camille P. Manalo
Jennyline Carla F. Malpaya (AQ)
Vanessa N. Saliba (AQ)
Juliana M. Kapeundl (AQ)
Ma. Bejieleen T. Nama (KF)
Thoreen D. Halvosen (KF)
Sarah Jireh C. Asido (KF)
Arah A. Salientes
Beatrice O. Valente (KF)
Mae Liezel J. Ramos
Larah Grace Lacap (KF)
Clarice Marion E. Villareal
Chanel Olive V. Thomas (AQ)
Nelda C. Ibe (KF)
Christagale Borja (KF)
Ruffa Nava (KF)
Angelique Celine L. De Leon (KF)
Jamaica Elysse D. Ambal (KF)
Karla May R. Manongsong
Dindi Joy Pajares (AQ)
Kimberly L. Pajares (AQ)
Maria Angelica A. De Leon (AQ)
Charmaine F. Elima (AQ)
Jehza Mae Huelar (AQ)
Elizabeth Durado Clenci (KF)
Kristel N. Guelos (KF)
Sammie Anne L. Legaspi (KF)