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Our 10 Favorites at the 2021 Binibining Pilipinas pageant

By Paul Rubio Published Jul 11, 2021 5:41 pm

The 57th Binibining Pilipinas Grand Coronation Night is only a few hours away, and it is shaping up to be one of the most exciting editions of the revered pageant in recent years.

It took a long and arduous road for Binibini to arrive here—the competition officially kicked off February of 2020, right on the cusp of the COVID-19 pandemic. All activities and events were rightly postponed then, and after several fits and starts over the course of the past 17 months, things were finally set in motion once again with various preliminary activities that has kept local pageant fans hooked for the past three weeks.

With COVID-19 safety protocols still firmly in place here in the Philippines, the upcoming finals night is expected to be quite different from past coronation nights. The raucous crowds that usually fill the Araneta Coliseum will not be present this time around, and the strictest precautions will be in place for the entirety of the production. Aside from these necessary recalibrations, this upcoming edition will be the pageant’s first since losing the Miss Universe Philippines franchise in 2019. At the time, many fans feared that this upheaval could spell doom for the organization, but they have so far proven that they have found a new groove in their current form. The notoriously traditionalist grande dame of Philippine pageantry is adapting admirably to the times, and has so far done a remarkable job in keeping the newfound momentum going.

A huge part of fans’ fervent anticipation can be traced directly to the fact that this current crop of candidates is one of the strongest batches of Binibini hopefuls in recent memory. A heady mix of pageant vets and fresh new faces, the 34 exceptional women competing are all standouts in their own right: any one of these ladies could steal the show come finals night. It’s anyone’s game at this point, but based on the various preliminary activities and their social media footprints, we have compiled a list of 12 girls to look out for on the coronation night on Sunday. Here are our bets:


Hannah Arnold, 24, Masbate

Filipino-Australian stunner Hannah Arnold has been a Binibining Pilipinas standout ever since her debut at the 2019 pageant wherein she finished in the Top 15. This time around, she has come back more polished and refined, and she has learned to temper her inherent youthfulness with a sophistication that could prove to be her trump card in the competition. Her soft Eurasian beauty coupled with her formidable 5’11 height makes her a clear contender for the Binibining Pilipinas International crown. She just has to nail the interview rounds and she is sure to end the night with a crown.


Patricia Babista, 23, Quezon Province

Fresh-faced Patricia Babista is one of the most fascinating among this year’s crop of newbies. She has an easy confidence and sunny disposition that translates well on stage and on interviews. Her performance so far has been pretty impressive, considering this is her first time competing in the nationals. If she fails to bring home a crown this year, she will for sure be a major force if she decides to throw her hat in the ring again in the future.


Gabrielle Basiano, 23, Borongan, Eastern Samar

Gabrielle Basiano has one of the most beautiful faces in the competition this year, and her presentations in the preliminary events have all been top-notch. Add to that her always impeccable styling and it’s clear why she has been quite memorable in every step of this competition. Her top model look gives her a clear shot at the Binibining Pilipinas Grand International crown, but really, she has such broad appeal that she could very well snag any of the four crowns.


Honey Cartasano, 27, Rizal

All throughout the competition, Honey Cartasano has been one of the buzziest candidates on social media, and it's pretty apparent why. She exudes a level of cool that is very refreshing to see in the backdrop of a beauty pageant. Another thing—gorgeous clothes just look so darn good on her; she is effortlessly chic without being inaccessible. Another major advantage is her enviable range as a model: she can go from high fashion to commercial in a hot minute. She has a strong claim to any of the titles, but we think the Binibining Pilipinas Grand International would fit her best.


Meiji Cruz, 27, Valenzuela

 Meiji Cruz has always been in pageant fans’ radars but her knockout performance in the swimsuit presentation cemented her as a major contender. Her classically Filipina beauty is further heightened by the sheer elegance and poise she radiates. While a lot of the girls were understandably shaky in navigating the set of stairs that were featured prominently in the said swimsuit show (pageant heels are no joke), Meiji stomped her way down like a total boss. Her walk and presentation is arguably the most polished out of all the ladies in the competition. She is gaining momentum at the right time, and it would not surprise us if she nabs the Binibining Pilipinas International or Binibining Pilipinas Grand International crown.


Justine Felizarta, 27, Davao del Sur

With a very extensive pageant experience under her belt—she has competed in Binibining Pilipinas in 2015 and Miss Universe Canada in 2017—it is hardly surprising that Justine Felizarta is one of the most polished girls this year. But the Canada-raised beauty has exceeded our expectations with her killer performance in the swimsuit showcase. The fact that she gave one of the performances is laudable enough; but the fact that she did all that while recovering from a surgical procedure she underwent mere days before the event is astounding. If this is how she operates under these circumstances, then it would be an absolute treat to see what she can do in her full capacity. It would not surprise us at all if she goes on to take home one of the crowns.


Graciella Lehmann, 23, Oriental Mindoro

Graciella Lehmann is another very pleasant surprise from the swimsuit presentation. The striking Filipina-Swiss-German was an absolute joy to watch as she made her way down the aforementioned tricky stairs with such confidence, plus her sun-kissed skin and toned physique looked absolutely perfect in the poolside setting. She is definitely one to watch, and at just 23, she is sure to have a very exciting future for her in pageantry if she fails to make the cut in the finals.


Vianca Marcelo, 27, Bocaue, Bulacan

While she flew pretty much under the radar for most of the competition, Vianca Marcelo proved to be quite a revelation in the Binibining Pilipinas Primer special, wherein the candidates were given question and answer lessons by no less than Boy Abunda. She spoke clearly and confidently, and was able to convey exactly what she wanted with poise and grace, managing to be one of the few to really impress the irascible Abunda.  And if she is to utilize his tips and work on punctuating her answers with punchier statements, then she is definitely sure to stand out in the finals. Her showing in the primer definitely makes her the dark horse of the competition, and we would gladly bet on her any day.


Karen Laurrie Mendoza, 25, Iloilo

Karen Laurrie Mendoza has been a clear fan favorite since day one, and she has steadily proven she was worthy every step of the way. She has one of the best faces and one of the best physiques; she was a standout in the swimsuit presentation, and she was clear, confident, and engaging with Boy Abunda in the primer. An intoxicating blend of sweet and sultry, her delicate features make her a serious contender for the Binibining Pilipinas International crown.


Maureen Montagne, 26, Batangas

Maureen Montagne is the closest we have to a frontrunner this year. She has it all: a bombshell figure, a magnetic presence, great communication skills, and that face. This Filipino-French belle has been through the pageant circuit quite a lot: she has represented Arizona in Miss USA 2015 (finishing in the Top 15), was first runner-up in Miss World America in 2017, represented the Philippines in the 2019 Miss Eco-International competition wherein she placed first runner-up. Interestingly, she was offered the title of Miss Eco-International 2019 when the winner was dethroned, but she declined to be able to compete in Binibini. The stars do seem completely in line for her this time, and if all goes well for her on the finals night, then she will be the toughest competition for anyone gunning for the Binibining Pilipinas International crown.


Samantha Panlilio, 25, Cavite

Samantha Panlilio has the pedigree that pageant fans really respond well to: she is the niece of the late Myrna Panlilio Borromeo, the very first Filipina to compete at Miss Universe in 1964. But pedigree or no pedigree, Samantha has consistently been impressive throughout the competition. She has an arrestingly beautiful all-Filipina face, a breathtakingly toned body, and formidable communication skills. We can expect her to do very well in the coronation.


Shanon Tampon, 24, Caloocan

Shanon Tampon is yet another one of those seemingly middle-of-the-pack girls who managed to break through and peak at the exact right time. Her great performance in the swimsuit show raised her profile significantly, and she was able to deftly maintain the buzz with her confident and meaningful statements in the session with Boy Abunda. She just needs one more breakthrough come pageant night, and she could go home with a crown.

Banner photo from the Binibining Pilipinas website