Top 13 Miss Universe Philippines 2022 picks [International Women’s Day edition]


Video clips of the 50 official Miss Universe Philippines 2022 delegates were released on March 8, 2022. In time for the International Women’s Day, they answered the question, “What makes a woman uniquely beautiful?”

I was disappointed for two reasons. First, not all the candidates answered the question well. Second, the videos revealed how they really look like and some of them do not look like their respective photos released on February 28, 2022 when they were announced as the official delegates. I’m not saying they look less beautiful in the videos. They just look different. Some of them used too much makeup or too much photo manipulation probably in an attempt to make themselves look like the previous winners.

Speaking of the previous winners, the 2021 batch of Miss Universe Philippines had at least 20 excellent speakers. If we solely base it on these recently released International Women’s Day videos, I think this current batch has at least five who are equally excellent in terms of speaking skills.


Of course, we cannot judge people’s communication skills using just a 1-minute video clip. But if you are a candidate in a beauty pageant and you are given a task to record a video of yourself answering a question, you will give your best shot.

Never mind the grammar errors and mispronounced words. We are Filipinos. Not Americans.

But unfortunately, almost 20 candidates answered the question like they were reading a poem. Some of them sounded like a politician reading a speech written by a speechwriter. At least two videos are cringeworthy.

At least two candidates replaced regular words with their longer synonyms probably in an attempt to sound smart. They ended up saying awkward phrases.

These people teaching these candidates how to answer questions with rehearsed hand gestures and rehearsed pauses should stop. Let those hand gestures come naturally. Let those pauses happen naturally. This is not a dance competition. It is not a high school declamation contest either.

Still, some candidates did very well. Their answers are equally beautiful in a regular setting. But for this specific purpose, I scored them based on my definition of an ideal beauty pageant answer: sincere, unrehearsed, direct to the point, specific, inspirational, personalized.

By direct to the point, I mean an answer that really answers the question. Some answers are inspirational but do not really answer the question. By specific, I mean concrete details are better than abstract things. By personalized, I mean involving your personal experience.

A beauty pageant answer that has these qualities are memorable and powerful enough to move the emotions of the spectators and more importantly the judges.

The following candidates gave excellent answers but allow me to critique them as a ridiculously finicky critic just so I could determine who gave the best answer. Otherwise, it’s a multiple tie. So here are my Top 13 picks:




Shanelyn Bayson (Victorias City, Negros Occidental) = 7.9/10

It is a good answer and she delivered it well but it is hard to find the answer’s unique element. If you compare this with 10 other answers, this answer can stand out. But if you compare it with 49 other answers, this will become average (thus, forgettable).


Ivylou Borbon (Pangasinan) = 8/10

The choice to use the language of the province she is representing is great. But if she delivered exactly the same answer in English, it would be a good but forgettable answer. It would have been more powerful if she also mentioned in her answer the province, the beautiful women living in that province and the unique beauty that she personally has. (Yes, you can say all those things in 1 minute.)


Myrell Martinez (Davao City) = 8.6/10

I love how she confidently, smoothly and sincerely answered the question. No pretention. No big words. My only issue is that every point she made is also found in her competitors’ answers. To avoid this, she should add her personal story, which will help her come up with more memorable answers.


Let me boldly predict that Beatrice Luigi Gomez’s successor is one of these 13 candidates:


#13. Celeste Cortesi (Pasay City) = 8.9/10

Direct to the point. Sincere. Unrehearsed. It has all the ingredients of a powerful beauty pageant answer except for one thing. No personal story. It was great that she mentioned strength and helping each other. She should have ended it by thanking the people who are helping her and reminding her that she is uniquely beautiful.


#12. Ghenesis Latugat (Baguio City) = 9.0/10

She’s one of the few candidates who started with a personal story. It would have been more powerful, however, if she specified that “minority within a minority.” That would help her stand out from the crowd of 50 candidates. I wish she also ended with a specific advice to other women who also belong to a minority, not just ethnic minorities but all minorities. (She is one of the two or three candidates who have that authenticity or power to give such a message and she should use it.) That would be more powerful and memorable instead of a general message to everyone.


#11. Chantal Schmidt (Cebu City) = 9.4/10

Those closeups are distracting. They should have just let her speak to the camera and look us in the eyes the entire time. But that’s not her fault. It was a powerful answer. Answers based on personal experience are usually (if not always) powerful and memorable. I just wish she focused more on being told that she was not Filipina enough and ended it by convincing women who are watching her that, just like her, they are uniquely beautiful and they are enough.


#10. Sashi Chiesa (Lapu-Lapu City) = 9.5/10

Short but sweet. Direct to the point. I just think it was a little too short she was not able to mention one thing about her that would help us remember her. I wish she inserted one sentence about her own insecurity before saying, “Our flaws make us human and what’s more beautiful than humanity.”


#9. Sharifah Malabanan (Lemery, Batangas) = 9.6/10

I love how she answered it like she was giving advice to a younger sister. She was sincerely giving advice (not just speaking big words to impress the audience like what some of her fellow candidates did). She is on the right track. I just wish she added one memorable advice about beauty that she received from another woman.


#8. Nicole Mendiola (Northern Samar) = 9.6/10

There are many ways to answer this question. I love how she focused on just one given the time limit. Many of her competitors tried to mention too many things in less than 1 minute and in the end, they gave us forgettable (and even confusing) answers. She focused on the way women love. That’s it. Simple, clear and powerful. After watching all the 50 videos, her answer was one of the first 3 answers that I remembered. I am convinced she is a smart woman without her trying to sound like one. She knows how to strategize to make sure she does not become just a face in the crowd.


#7. Isabelle Kristine Braza (Las Piñas City) = 9.6/10

The way she delivered the answer is perfect. She believed every word she said. She did not sound rehearsed. She was talking TO the camera (not AT the camera like many of her competitors). She did answer the question (unlike others who said too many beautiful things but did not really answer the question). The only criticism I can give is that every point she made is similar to the points some of her competitors also made. To avoid giving expected (and sometimes forgettable) answers, she should add her personal story. That experience that convinced you that you are truly beautiful. That one person who reminded you that you are beautiful when you felt like you were not.


#6. Michelle Marquez Dee (Makati City) = 9.6/10

As expected, she answered it like a pro. She emerges as the most confident one among all the 50 candidates if we solely base it on their International Women’s Day videos. If there is one thing I would like her to add, that would be her personal truth. I think it’s good that she avoids mentioning her Miss International 1979 mother in general while competing for the Miss Universe Philippines 2022 crown but her answer to this particular question would be more powerful if she added her “personal struggle” with “beauty”. No need to mention the pressure of being compared to her mother. If she added that moment she felt unbeautiful and how she dealt with it, her answer would be more memorable.


#5. Cristel Antibo (Negros Occidental) = 9.6/10

Rehearsed or not, she was direct to the point and left an inspiring message from her heart. She answered it like she was answering live onstage as one of the Top 5 candidates. It was smooth. Sincere. No pretensions. If she indeed makes it to the Top 5 during the coronation night, she has the potential to give the best answer. If there is one thing I would like her to add, that would be her personal experience, as well. It would have been perfect if she inserted in the middle a sentence about that moment when she was convinced she is uniquely beautiful.


#4. Meriam Campong (Bukidnon) = 9.7/10

I believe she rehearsed her answer before recording but because she based her answer on her own life, on her truth, it came out genuine. No pretentions. She did not try to impress us with misplaced big words like what some of her fellow candidates did. Truth is king. Or queen.


#3. Shaira Aliyah Diaz (San Pablo, Laguna) = 9.7/10

This is my personal favorite. She appears to be reading a script, which was probably written by her or by someone for her. But I did not mind it at all. I believed every word she said because she herself believed every word she said. She simply told us her story. No big words. No rehearsed hand gestures. No rehearsed pauses. She was not trying to convince us that she is a great speaker. She just answered the question by telling us her story. Ironically, her story is not unique. We often hear stories of people being discriminated against because of skin color. But that’s the point. You don’t have to make an effort to be uniquely beautiful. You already are uniquely beautiful whether your situation is similar to many or to a few.

In fact, one of her fellow candidates has a similar story and her answer is pretty much the same. But the way that other candidate delivered her answer is very different. The emotion did not match the words coming out of her mouth because she was just delivering a rehearsed speech. So she is not in this list.


#2. Vanessa Caro (Iloilo Province) = 9.8/10

Her answer is well-structured but it did not sound rehearsed. I’m not even sure if she was aware of the structure of her answer, which she delivered naturally. I love how she solved the puzzle of the question first then proceeded to being a Filipino then to being an Ilongga. I just wish she went even deeper by mentioning the beauty of her profession or a specific group she belongs to. Otherwise, it was an excellent answer.


#1. Julia Saubier (Albay) = 9.8/10

She structured her answer perfectly. She started with her personal experience, then specifically answered the question, then ended with her personal experience. I just wish she specified what she meant by teammates. Basketball teammates? Video gaming teammates? That would help her stand out. She reminds me of how Megan Young talked about her family when she answered a Miss World 2013 question. (Talking about your family is one of the easiest but most powerful ways to personalize your answer to a beauty pageant question.)

Categories: BLOGS, opinion

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