by Ricky Lo
This year’s search for the Binibinis will be more exciting than the past ones because the pageant is celebrating its 50th year. With the recent victory of Janine Mari Tugonon as first runner-up (to USA’s Olivia Culpo) in the Miss Universe Pageant, expectations are high (keep our collective fingers crossed!) that the “golden” Binibini will finally bring home the country’s third Miss U crown (after Gloria Diaz in 1969 and Margie Moran in 1973).
The joke among beauty-watchers is that the surname of the next Binibini (for Universe) must start with the letter “U” to continue the lucky streak — you know, Miriam Quiambao won first runner-up (to Miss Botswana) in 1999, Venus Raj fourth runner-up (to Miss Mexico) in 2010, Shamcey Supsup third runner-up (to Miss Angola) in 2011 and, of course, Janine Tugonon (to Miss USA) in 2012. Q-R-S-T, see?
Aspiring binibinis are reminded to submit their application forms on or before the deadline on Jan. 15, personally at the Bb. Pilipinas Charities, Inc./Uniprom Office, Red Gate of the Araneta Coliseum. And they should be available for interview/screening in a few days notice from BPCI.
In anticipation of the pageant’s “golden” staging, Funfare’s “other beauty expert” Celso de Guzman Caparas has collected interesting binibini trivia about the first-ever Bb. Pilipinas pageant in 1964:
The final screening of the 30 applicants was held on June 24, 1964. The 15 finalists: Marilou Alberto, Lilia Alvarez, Milagros Cataag, Edna Rosana Keyes, Marita Dimayuga, Aida Gaerlan, Elvie Gonzalez, Elizabeth Gutierrez, Carmelita Larrabaster, Maria Sonia Orendain, Myrna Panlilio, Thelma Shaw, Chiqui Somes, Mila Sumayao (Ocampo) and Nina Zaldua.
The first Bb. Pilipinas Coronation Night was postponed from July 3 to July 5 due to Typhoon Dading that wrought havoc in Central Luzon including Manila and its suburbs. A generator was put on standby in case of a power failure. The proceeds from the gate receipts were channeled to the typhoon’s victims. Ticket prices: Special Ringside, P5.00; Upper Box, P3.00; and General Admission, 90 centavos.
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Myrna was crowned as the first-ever Bb. Pilipinas winner by 1963 Miss Universe third runner-up Lalaine Bennett. Runners-up were Milagros, Bb. Waling-Waling (first) and Elvie, Bb. Ilang-Ilang (second). Then 21 years old and an AB Foreign Service graduate of Maryknoll College, Myrna was a Merchants Bank teller. She won P2,000 cash, Regal sewing machine, a year’s supply of Helene Curtis beauty products, a complete wardrobe from Philippine Couturiers Association, a golden trophy from the Lions Club and a free trip to Miami, Florida, USA.
Mila was the first national beauty titleholder to join the pageant. She was Miss Press Photography of the Philippines 1959.
Aside from Mila, other pageant veterans who joined the contest were: Maria Sonia Orendain was Miss Visayas (second runner-up to 1963 Miss Philippines International Monina Medenilla Yllana) and 1963 Miss Press Photography of the Philippines first runner-up to Sylvia Gumabao; Chiqui was Miss Visayas (second runner-up) to 1963 Miss Philippines-Universe Lalaine Bennett and a Fairest Ten of the Philipines 1964 candidate; Edna Keyes was Miss Luzon (first runner-up) to 1964 Miss Philippines Gemma Cruz (Miss International winner that same year); Elvie was Queen of Dance-O-Rama for August 1963 and a Fairest Ten of the Philippines 1964 candidate; Nina was Miss Dance-O-Rama January 1964 and Miss Nite Owl February 1964; Myrna Panlilio was a princess of Cotton Philippines 1964 candidate; while Marilou Alberto and Carmelita Larrabaster were also Fairest Ten of the Philippines 1964 candidates.
Mila and Chiqui were the first movie actresses who joined the Bb. Pilipinas pageant. Mila was a child star in the early ‘50s; she appeared in Romansa sa Nayon (shown on July 14, 1952) and Haring Solomon at Reyna Sheba (shown on Dec. 21, 1952). Both films were topbilled by Nida Blanca, Nestor de Villa and Rogelio de la Rosa, and produced by LVN Productions. Mila’s first grown-up movie was Walang Takot (starring Lou Salvador, Jr., Marita Zobel and Bernard Bonnin, shown on Jan. 24, 1958). Chiqui first appeared in Mga Kanang Kamay (topbilled by Zaldy Zshornack, shown on Feb. 28, 1964).
Elvie was the first binibini to have joined the pageant in two consecutive years. The next year (1965), she was fourth runner-up to Louise Vail Aurelio. She was also the first binibini to win a national beauty title, Miss Press Photography of the Philippines 1965, after joining the Bb. Pilipinas pageant. (In 1994, her daughter Charlene Gonzalez was crowned 1994 Bb. Pilipinas Universe and finished among the Top 6 in that year’s Miss U pageant held in Manila for the second time).
Edna Keyes was the first binibini to become a movie actress. She was introduced in Lalaine, Mahal Kita, topbilled by Lalaine Bennett, shown on Aug. 20, 1964.
Showbiz lineage: Chiqui is the daughter of LVN character actor and former Manila cop Jose Vergara. Mila was the mother of Snooky Serna (by actor Von Serna). Elvie is the mother of Charlene and Richard Bonnin (both by the late actor Bernard Bonnin). Nina is the mother of Lance and Rannie Raymundo.
In Memoriam: Myrna passed away on July 19, 2009, due to cardiac arrest; she was 66. Mila died at 67 on Jan. 6, 2010, due to lingering emphysema.
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