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Can Samantha Bernardo win the Philippines’ first Miss Grand International crown?

By CHUCK SMITH Published Feb 10, 2021 1:14 am

After a brief hiatus, beauty pageantry is alive once again with the announcement of Binibining Pilipinas’ return and its appointment of Samantha Bernardo as the country’s representative to the upcoming 2020 Miss Grand International (MGI) in Thailand on March 27.

The announcement first came from the Miss Grand International’s Facebook account on Friday, Feb. 5, which was then shared by Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc. (BPCI).

Bernardo also took to social media following these updates. “Isang karangalan, mahal kong Pilipinas,” she said in an Instagram post, which shows a photo of her wearing the Bb. Pilipinas Grand International sash.

“Go queen,” Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray said on Bernardo’s Instagram post.

The BPCI has a reigning Bb. Pilipinas Grand International—Aya Abesamis, who, as the Bb. Pilipinas 2019 first runner-up, replaced Samantha Lo, who ended her reign prematurely as the 2019 titleholder in November 2019.

Bernardo was that year’s Bb. Pilipinas second runner-up.

On Tuesday, Feb. 9, the BPCI explained why Bernardo and not Abesamis will be representing the Philippines in the Thailand-based pageant in March.

In a statement that also officially confirmed Bernardo’s selection as its representative to the Miss Grand International pageant, it said that Abesamis is “unable to join MGI 2020 due to age limit, caused by the delay of the MGI contest because of the COVID pandemic.”

Posted by Bb. Pilipinas (Official) on Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Abesamis, however, remains the Bb. Pilipinas-Grand International 2019 and will pass on her crown during the Bb. Pilipinas pageant in April, the statement added.

Bernardo, one of the fan favorites in this year’s Bb. Pilipinas pageant, is a good candidate for compete for Miss Grand International. The 28-year-old beauty queen from Palawan has been joining beauty pageants since 2013. Had she not been chosen to represent the country in the upcoming MGI pageant, this would have been her third go in the Bb. Pilipinas tilt.

“Eyes on the prize,” she said in an Instagram post following the announcement of her appointment as Bb. Pilipinas-Grand International titleholder.

She added, “Thank you so much for all your warm messages. I love each one of you. You've been all part of my journey, especially to my Bb. Pilipinas Queens through the years. I love you all.”

Bernardo first joined the Bb. Pilipinas pageant in 2018, a year that saw many pageant heavyweights and favorites—including eventual Miss Universe 2018 winner Catriona Gray. Other contestants that year included Michelle Gumabao (who won Bb. Pilipinas-Globe and later joined the Miss Universe Philippines pageant) and Vickie Rushton (who is among this year’s Bb. Pilpinas contestants), among others.

The winners of the Binibining Pilipinas 2018 pageant, including Samantha Bernardo who was named second runner-up. Photo from Bb. Pilipinas Facebook page

Bernardo was the second runner-up that year.

She joined again in 2019, which saw Gazini Ganados as the Miss Universe Philippines titleholder (the last Miss Universe Philippines winner from the Bb. Pilipinas, after it lost its local franchise). Bernardo, who again was named second runner-up, expressed her shock with her placement, though adding that she respects and trusts the decision of the judges.

Samantha Bernardo during the 2019 Binibining Pilipinas pageant, where she was the second runner-up. Photo from Bb. Pilipinas Facebook page

“Give me a break. I have fulfilled my duties as 2nd runner up last year and I must admit that being 2nd runner up again this year was quite a shock,” Bernardo said in an Instagram post. “But I know truly in my heart that I gave my all, I deserve better and that I have no regrets. I fully respect and trust the decision of all Bb. Pilipinas judges that night on choosing the right queens and I have nothing against it.”

Bernardo will compete in MGI this March with the hopes of becoming its first Filipina winner.

Miss Grand International is a fairly new pageant, having been founded in 2013. The Philippines, via its local franchise owner BPCI, started sending representatives to the MGI pageant in 2015.

Samantha Bernardo's Binibining Pilipinas 2019 national costume. Photo from the Bb. Pilipinas Facebook page

From 2015 to 2019, the Philippines has had three runner-up placements in the pageant: Parul Shah was third runner-up in 2015, Nicole Cordoves was first runner-up in 2016, and Elizabeth Clenci was second runner-up in 2017.

2018 titleholder Eva Patalinjig and 2019 titleholder Samantha Lo, who was able to compete in the MGI pageant before being replaced, did not manage to get any placements in the competition.

Does she stand a chance in the Miss Grand International pageant? Beauty pageant followers believe that Bernardo is a strong competitor for the title.

“She’s very reliable. You don’t really have to train her as much, you just have to give her a little bit of time to put together everything,” beauty pageant vlogger Tita Lavinia said in a YouTube video. “And I think this is an amazing opportunity because Ms. Bernardo should have really won a crown as early as 2018.”

“I am really confident that this time around, we are sending the right girl for the pageant,” pageant YouTuber Heyadamg said in a recent video. “She is really fit for it, no questions asked.”

“With a face like that, and a body like that, plus that regal aura, she is definitely crown-worthy, he also said, adding that he feels Bernardo has a “big” chance of winning this year’s Miss Grand International crown.”

Banner photo and thumbnail from Facebook/Samantha Bernardo