How long can the beauty become a queen?



MANILA—Young and fresh: these are the conventional qualities of beauty queens. So there’s no more space for the mature and experienced ones?

A 26-year-old Filipina-Arabian beauty Mary Jean “MJ” Lastimosa, may be an exception. A little older from other candidates yet she won the top crown in this year’s Binibining Pilipinas.

She’s on the borderline age to compete in the annual Bb. Pilipinas pageant. And the 5’5 ½-foot tall beauty from North Cotabato won Bb. Pilipinas-Universe on her third year of joining the local pageant.

Is it a case of being ripe for the victory amid competing against not just 39

This year's Bb. Pilipinas-Universe Mary Jean Lastimosa, 26. (photo taken from

This year’s Bb. Pilipinas-Universe Mary Jean Lastimosa (middle), aged 26. (photo taken from

other beauties, most of whom are younger? (Medical student Ellore Noelle Punzalan and nurse Ladylyn Riva are, like fellow 2014 competitor Lastimosa, aged 26.)

“It (Lastimosa’s triumph) was winning at the right time,” explainedJory Rivera, whose hobby includes taking candid shots of beauty queens and covering beauty pageants locally and internationally to contribute in Online Pageants Magazine and Blog (OPMB), one of the biggest organizations of Filipino beauty pageant enthusiast worldwide.

And there’s a boon to being mature or experienced in joining beauty pageants. “For me, maturity is an advantage because in international beauty pageants like Ms. Universe, you’ll see the best of all countries,” adds Rivera. “For you to stand out, you got to have the ample experience in overcoming pressure and intimidation.”

Maturity and experience in joining beauty pageants more than once has become a formula for success for a country that, in 2013, won the top three prizes in three international pageants —Miss World (Megan Young), Miss International (Bea Rose Santiago), and Miss Supranational (Mutya Datul)— and placed fourth in the most prestigious pageant, Miss Universe (Arielle Arida).

Take Santiago, for example: prior to winning the 2013 Bb. Pilipinas-International, she won the Mutya ng Pilipinas-Overseas Communities title, as well as placed in the top ten of the 2012 Miss Tourism Queen of the Year tilt. At the Miss International contest in Tokyo, Santiago was 23.

Datul, for her part, first joined the 2012 Mutya ng Pilipinas before winning the Bb. Pilipinas-Supranational title in 2013, and eventually the fifth Miss Supranational pageant in Minsk, Belarus.

Look no far as another example is 2012 Miss Universe first runner-up Janine Tugonon. Tugonon was first-runner up at the 2011 Bb. Pilipinas which Shamcey Supsup (then a rookie at the beauty pageant) won. Supsup was third runner-up in the 2011 Miss Universe, and Tugonon almost won in 2012, placing first runner-up.

Rules of Bb. Pilipinas Charities, Inc., organizer of the annual Bb. Pilipinas, states that contestants can join up to when they are 26 years old but they shouldn’t be younger than 18 years old. Apart from the age limit, another common rule in beauty pageants is that the candidate hasn’t won any of the major titles in national-level pageants (i.e. Bb. Pilipinas and Mutya ng Pilipinas, the latter organized by Mutya ng Pilipinas, Inc.).

So for hopes that 2014 will repeat, or possibly surpass, a bountiful 2013 in international beauty pageants for the Philippines, can this maturity and experience formula work?

If one were to ask someone like Rivera, who has watched series of Miss World pageants and the Miss Universe pageants held in Moscow, London and Las Vegas, maturity may pay off. Rivera thinks of maturity as being “very well-experienced” in dealing with other candidates and in taking responsibility when winning a beauty title.

This maturity Rivera saw in Lastimosa last time out.  “It was luck and right timing that MJ won the 2014 crown.This is her last year and she got nothing to lose since she already knew how was it like to lose twice so this year, there is nowhere for her but to go up.”

During this year’s Bb. Pilipinas, four out of eight returning candidates (including Lastimosa) made it to this year’s top 15.

But while maturity may be an advantage, Rivera thinks it doesn’t work for everyone.

Having the opportunity to rub elbows with the previous and current beauty queens, Rivera said that his notion of maturity comes with how rich a candidate’s experience is in joining beauty pageants. Supsup (Ms. Universe-Philippines 2011), though, proved what had been usual in Filipino beauty pageants: beauteous first-timers with the x-factor do win.

“So, you really can’t tell,” he said. “If you come prepare in any battle, if you do your assignment, you stick to the rules, you train hard, you do your catwalk and makeup well and you practice what you are being taught of, then it is meant for you.”

Then there’s luck, if Pia Wurtzbach, one of this year’s top 15 finalists and a first runner-up in 2013, is to be believed. “Many girls win on their first try so the number of times you join is not (the) basis to whether you will win or not. It’s luck!”

It was Wurtzbach’s second attempt this year, but there were lots of expectations given her 2013 runner-up finish. “I don’t know how it feels for other girls but to me it felt addicting (joining the pageant) and challenging. I wanted to redeem myself and do better,” said the 24-year-old Filipina-German beauty, dropping a hint that she will be joining once again until she gets the crown.

For her, it is not a surprise that many aspirants are joining multiple times, “It’s also fun, that’s why —and you really improve yourself each time.”

But both Rivera and Wurtzbach dismissed the winning formula of maturity and multiple experiences in beauty pageants.They simply attributed it to two things: luck and right timing, the latter not necessarily comes with age.

While all candidates seem to have everything a girl can ever dream of —bodies that are to die for, brilliant gowns, dazzling auras and faces that are close to perfection— “If it’s for you, it’s yours. If you are destined to win, then you will,” Rivera told The Filipino Connection.

Whether maturity or luck matters to winning, in the end it is about how the candidate carries herself, as well as how she resists pressure and intimidation, Rivera said.



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