Why Philippines is not yet a pageant powerhouse

By Jasmin Romero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 21 2012 12:14 AM | Updated as of Dec 21 2012 06:39 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines has grabbed a spot in the Top 5 of the Miss Universe pageant for the last three years.

Before Janine Tugonon placed second this year, Venus Raj placed fourth runner-up in 2010.

Beauty queens Shamcey Supsup, Venus Raj, and Janine Tugonon

The following year, Shamcey Supsup  managed to finish a spot higher.

According to Rene Salud, a noted beauty pageant and fashion expert, Filipinas' natural beauty is their biggest strength.

"Ang Filipina beauty, less retokado. They have a more natural beauty, more simple and they are more themselves," Salud said.

Beyond the physical appearance, a Filipina's quiet self-confidence makes her stand out from the other candidates.

"Judging from how she (Janine Tugonon) performed, nakita ko sa kanya ang serenity, she was so calm. Naiba siya from the Latina," Salud said.

"Iyung pagkaka-ponytail ng buhok niya, that makes her -- mas iyun. 'Di siya nagpanggap na siya ay Amerikana, siya ay European, nagpa-dye ng buhok na pulang-pula o brown na brown. At yung movement nya, she was just gliding. She has the composure of a queen," he added.

The Missosology website earlier predicted that Tugonon will be crowned winner in this year's beauty pageant because of her "signature walk, self- assuring aura and her exotic oriental beauty."

"Miss Philippines Janine Tugonon has proved without any doubt that she is a way superior delegate than her predecessors Shamcey Supsup and Venus Raj. Her signature walk is heavenly to look at and this will be her main weapon on the finals night. Her self-assuring aura allowed her exotic oriental beauty to shine through," the website said.

But despite the strong showing of the recent Filipina Miss Universe candidates, many wonder why the country has not been successful in clinching the title in recent years.

Noli Berioso, a beauty pageant analyst for over 10 years, said the lack of preparation or time is a significant factor why the Philippines has relatively few major title holders over a span of 40 years.

"Sa tingin ko, ang isa sa mga point kung bakit 'di tayo makakuha ng korona is the lack of preparation, iyung time. Kung pagbabasehan natin kay Janine, mahaba ang preparasyon. This is the first time na mahaba ang preparation sa Miss Universe. Nagkataon lang kasi na-postpone ang Miss universe dahil sa Olympics at elections. Mas maganda siguro na piliin natin ang mga contestant nang mas maaga," Berioso said.

This, according to Berioso, is why the Philippines cannot be considered a powerhouse yet in international beauty pageants.

"Siguro kailangan natin ng isang major title para masabi natin na finally nakabalik na tayo as a major powerhouse sa mga beauty contest," he explained.

Salud and Berioso both believe that it's not just beauty and talent that would determine the next beauty queen, but luck as well -- something that the Philippines has little for last several decades.