Meet the Miss World Philippines 2017 independent candidates

This year's batch of candidates is not just about the two beauty camps

Voltaire E. Tayag

1:34:26am August 26, 2017

3:6:10pm August 26, 2017

INDEPENDENT WOMEN. Rose Flores, Sheila Reyes, Noelle Uy-Tuazon, and Sophia Senoron are just some of the candidates who have no affiliations with a beauty pageant camp. All photos courtesy of Miss World Philippines Facebook page

INDEPENDENT WOMEN. Rose Flores, Sheila Reyes, Noelle Uy-Tuazon, and Sophia Senoron are just some of the candidates who have no affiliations with a beauty pageant camp. All photos courtesy of Miss World Philippines Facebook page

The Philippine’s unprecedented successful streak in the Miss World pageant began in 2011. In the past 6 years alone, our country has managed to win the elusive Miss World crown and came very close to snagging it twice.

2011 -  Gwen Ruais, 1st runner-up

2012 - Queenierich Rehmann, Top 8

2013 - Megan Young, Miss World

2014 - Valerie Weigmann, Top 25

2015 - Hillarie Parungao , Top 10

2016 - Catriona Gray, Top 5

Several of the runners-up of Miss World Philippines have found success in other national pageants. Most notably Rachel Peters, Miss Universe Philippines 2017 and Nelda Ibe, Bb. Pilipinas Globe 2017, both of whom competed in the 2014 edition and finished 4th Runner-up and 2nd Runner-up respectively. We also have Janicel Lubina, Bb. Pilipinas International 2015, who was 1st Runner-up to Megan Young in 2013.

Aside from their standout beauty and charming personalities, there is one more thing that is common to all of these winners. They are all part of one of two major beauty camps in the Philippine pageant scene. Aces & Queens and Kagandahang Flores have trained many of the most successful beauty queens in recent history. It is no wonder that many aspiring beauty delegates dream of being accepted in one of these camps. They are trained in runway and Q&A but also have access to hair and makeup tutorials and to some of the countries leading fashion designers.  

In this year's edition of the MIss World Philippines pageant, there are 12 official candidates from Aces & Queens and 10 candidates from Kagandahang Flores. Surprisingly, there are also 13 official candidates who have decided to go at it without a camp. They are known as the independent candidates.

I interviewed 10 of the 13 candidates to find out why they chose to join as an independent.   

#4 Rose Flores, 24 years old, Makati City

Who or what convinced you to join MWP 2017?

I have looked up to the Miss World queens ever since I was a little girl so, in the back of my mind, I always knew that I would eventually end up here. But in terms of preparations, I've been preparing for almost 3 years.

Did you intentionally join as an independent ?

Not at all. In the past years of preparations I have been doing also involved looking for a camp to train me. I'm very hardworking so I didn't want to slack off. I wanted to get as much training as possible. A few months prior to the screening, I still couldn't find any camp to train me, which made me decide that it was my destiny to join independently and do my best to prove young girls and dreamers that they can win with enough determination and hard work. 

Many of the recent winners in almost all the pageants come from beauty camps, how does that affect you?

Absolutely, I have done my research about each Filipina queen and which camp they belong to. But I also realized that joining independently does not mean I work less than those who are in a camp. In fact, it's quite challenging at times because it requires me to save up to be able to provide the things I need for the competition. That is also why it took me this long to prepare: I had to prepare myself not just physically and mentally but also financially.

Were you ever part of a camp or did you try to join any camp?

I have tried joining a camp a few times but nothing really pushed through so I went on strategizing on my own instead. I didn't want to waste any time. After all, one of my strongest qualities as a woman is that I am very independent given that I was a working student and now an entrepreneur. I'm am not going to let any rejection or obstacle belittle my dream because this is what I believe I should be doing. I don't expect anyone else to understand my calling in life.

What is the advantage of being an independent candidate?

The biggest advantage is that I can focus solely on myself, on the organization I wish to work with, and looking far beyond what comes after winning a crown and what I wish to do with my reign. I feel very lucky to have the support of people in the industry that I cannot wait to give credit to. So never give up on your dream. 

#7 Jane Darren Genobisa,  20 years old, Bansalan, Davao del Sur

Who or what convinced you to join MWP 2017?

I've joined several local beauty pageants but I've never won a crown. It made me doubt myself. But I still decided to join Miss World Philippines because I want to prove to myself that I can do it. At the same, I want to grab the opportunity to have a bigger voice and greater influence to help those who are in need especially the orphans, abused and abandoned children, and those kids who were casualties of war in our island Mindanao to have a better and a brighter future thru education and proper shelter.  Since I was orphaned at early age, I understand and know how they feel. For the past 6 years, I have participated in community outreach projects and programs. Since the mantra of Ms. World Philippines is beauty with a purpose, so I took a chance. 

Did you intentionally join as an independent?

Yes , because I don't know anybody here in Manila. I just bravely tried my luck and here I am.

Many of the recent winners in almost all pageants come from beauty camps, how does that affect you?

It doesn't affect me at all but it challenges me to shine brightest among the stars. And I think winning the crown depends on your own performance and destiny.

Were you ever part of a camp or did you try to join any camp before?

I've never been a part of any camp before. But honestly, I passed an application for a certain camp when they had their national auditions but they snubbed me. It's fine, maybe they will get me in the future.  

What is the advantage of being an independent candidate?

I think the advantage of being an independent is that it will teach you a sense of self-reliance.  No one will pressure you to win the crown or stress you much. You go on your own pace.

#10 Leida Babasanta, 22 years old, Santa Rosa, Laguna 

When did you decide to join MWP 2017? 

After finding out about the screening of Miss World Philippines, I just took the chance and gave it my best shot. Now that I am an official candidate, this is the moment of truth. I will give my 100% to have a very respectable finish in this prestigious competition. The person who convinced me to join was the same person who opened the door to the world of pageants to me, Hon. Donna Babasanta, my uncle and my mentor as well the founder of Hitomi of Santa Rosa, Laguna, a group of local beauty title holders in the province of Laguna. I look up to him. 

Did you intentionally join as an independent?

I still consider myself as an independent candidate even though I am the first and only candidate for Hitomi of Santa Rosa. We have finally decided to bring out the best in our local beauties and compete in prestigious beauty pageants such as Miss World Philippines. We believe that Miss World Philippines is a very good place to start.

Many of the recent winners in almost all pageants come from beauty camps, how does that affect you?

Independent or coming from a camp both have its pros and cons. To be independent is not a minus factor. What makes it better when you come from a camp is that you have proper training and you benefit from the support structure. 

Were you ever part of a camp or did you try to join any camp before? 

I had initial training with KF back in 2015, which helped me a lot. But being the first for Hitomi of Santa Rosa is a big thing for me and my humble beauty camp. 

What is the advantage of being an independent candidate? 

The advantage of being independent you can bring out the best in you and focus on yourself alone.

#27 Ella Eiveren, 20 years old, Sta. Rosa, Laguna

Who convinced you to join MWP 2017?

My handler, Marc Torres, initially asked me to join MWP. At first I got scared and was not so sure about the idea of joining MWP because I had doubts about myself – whether I was ready for this or not especially since I'm about to graduate this semester. However, I knew deep down inside of me that this what I wanted and what I'm really passionate about so I finally decided to take a leap of faith and joined.

Did you intentionally join as an independent?

Yes. Wala lang po talaga kasi akong (I really don't have a) camp and haven't tried to join beauty camps but if given a chance to join one, it would be my pleasure.

Many of the recent winners in almost all pageants come from beauty camps, how does that affect you?

I don't really think of it that way. Yes, they may have an advantage compared to independent candidates as they are well trained beforehand in their own camps but I think that the recent winners of pageants won simply because they deserved it. They have shown the grace, unique beauty, talent, and intelligence needed to win that crown.

Were you ever part of a camp or did you try to join any camp before?

I haven't been part of any camp and I also haven't tried to join any.

 What is the advantage of being an independent candidate? 

I guess, since through time, both beauty camps have revealed their "legend" or "trademark" or "standards," members of beauty camps may feel a bit pressured since they somehow have the whole camp's expectations to meet while independent candidates probably feel less pressured since we only need to satisfy our own expectations.

#28 Sheila Reyes, 22 years old, Valenzuela City 

Who or what convinced you to join MWP 2017?

I was inspired by the empowered women in my family, and this has been my greatest dream ever since I was a kid. I decided to join MWP early this year but since I was so focused with work and dancing, I haven't had the chance to really train with any camps.

Did you intentionally join as an independent?

Yes, but I'm getting all sorts of help from my supporters and handlers in Valenzuela City, they are all very helpful. 

Many of the recent winners in almost all pageants come from beauty camps, how does that affect you? 

I think camps are of big help to young women like me when it comes with beauty pageants.

Were you ever part of a camp or did you try to join any camp before?

I screened for Aces and Queens last 2015 but unfortunately, I was rejected because I looked too young. But that did not stop me from pursuing what I love. Recently, I have received invitations from camps but I opted to stay with my handlers for Miss World. But I'm very open to future opportunities.

What is the advantage of being an independent candidate?

I think it's nice to be a part of a camp and I think that's nice to be independent too, because I'm able my explore things on my own.

#29 Krystle Onjangco, 24 years old, Filipino Community of Los Angeles 

Who or what convinced you to join MWP 2017? 

I decided to join last year upon hearing about Catriona Gray. I was inspired by her cause because I too have this passion to tap the potentials of the youth into an active manifestation of their abilities to shape a better world.

Did you intentionally join as an independent ?

Yes, I wanted to root my journey not on who I am but the cause that I am bringing forward through Miss World Philippines.  

Many of the recent winners in almost all pageants come from beauty camps, how does that affect you?

It does not. I believe in what the camps are doing to help the ladies and I am happy for them but as an independent candidate, with my handler, Jontie Martinez, being focused on me and having that close connection, makes me feel stronger and more empowered.

Were you ever part of a camp or did you try to join any camp before?

I was with the Aces and Queens camp early this the year. 

What is the advantage of being an independent candidate?

I can rely on my own perspectives. I have more liberal decisions. My choices are more personal, with the support of my handler. Ultimately, I am able to join without sacrificing who I am.

#30 Kathleen Gomez, 23 years old, Balete, Batangas 

When did you decide to join MWP 2017? 

I decided to join MWP when I became inspired by former Miss World Megan Young. I saw how dedicated and passionate she was about her responsibilities, especially with regard to the youth. Before and until now, I used to help people in small ways. Buying food for street children and giving them some clothes and toiletries. But I'm not the type of person who posts everything on social media. I want to be discreet with any charitable acts I do. It makes me feel satisfied and happy.

But after our seminar at Rappler, I learned that posting some things on social media can also be inspiring. Poor people, especially the children, convinced me more to join MWP. I want to be the voice for and the second mother of those children, especially the victims of violence. 

Did you intentionally join as an independent?

Yes, I intentionally joined as an independent because I really want to prove to myself that I can do everything without being involved in the camps. I really wanna feel how to be an independent person. I also want to inspire people to accomplish any tasks with just yourself, without the help of anyone.

Many of the recent winners in almost all pageants come from beauty camps, how does that affect you?

Of course I was so scared and it's really hard to thinkof myself as being an underdog 'cause you don't belong to any of the camps who could help you a lot on different things. But instead of losing my confidence, I became more challenged on proving that I can do all things by myself. Its very challenging and I think it's also nice.

Were you ever part of a camp or did you try to join any camp before?

Some people had talked to me about joining their camps and I was so flattered. But I didnt commit to any of them because I want to experience how it feels to be an independent candidate. After MWP, maybe I'll be encouraged to join one of those great camps.

What is the advantage of being an independent candidate? 

I think the advantage of being an independednt candidate is that you can move more freely. You can schedule your own time, you can have your own training any time you want, you can do workouts anytime you want, and no one else will dictate your movements. And this will make you more of a strong person.

#33 Noelle Uy-Tuazon, 25 years old, Davao City

When did you decide to join MWP 2017?

It was actually a last minute decision because I had just screened for Bb. Pilipinas last February and was traumatized. However I ran into my uncle, Tito Hansel Villafuerte, and he encouraged me to join. I had thought that Miss World was already done with this year's screening but when my tito told me it would be in a couple of weeks, I decided to join last minute. Miss World has been a dream of mine ever since I was a little girl. I'm grateful that I have this chance.

Did you intentionally join as an independent?

Initially, I intended to join with a camp and not as independent, but I was having difficulty getting in touch with the camps. So I decided to ask my mother for assistance and ask family members on tips regarding how to approach this contest. Earlier in the year, I recall crying to my mom because I couldn't get in touch with the camps despite asking help for just a mere meeting. So when I decided to join last minute, I stuck it out and went independent with my family's unrelenting support. I figured I've been independent this far on so why not just persevere and so far my mom and uncle have been very helpful with posture and walking. 

Many of the recent winners in almost all pageants come from beauty camps, how does that affect you?

The history of beauty queens coming from camps has been intimidating, to be frank. During the beginning of MWP, that's when I felt the pressure to truly be on top of the competition because all of these ladies are so well trained in posture, angles, and walking. This is my first pageant so in a way everything that I'm experiencing is new to me. I'm a scientist by training and not used to being in front of the camera or using makeup everyday – especially having spent most of my earlier 20s in a body farm working with decomposing human remains. On the other hand, I think having women from camps is also good for the pageant because it gives that element of diversity, but at a personal level it puts a lot of pressure for independent candidates such as myself.

Were you ever part of a camp or did you try to join any camp before? 

I have never been part of a camp but it was only this year that I tried joining a beauty pageant because I was always busy studying and working. I had tried to join a camp when I first got back from the US, but I couldn't get in touch with them and with the forensic studies that I was doing at the time, it sadly just didn't work out.

What is the advantage of being an independent candidate?

I believe one of the advantages of being an independent is having the freedom over one's schedule. Most importantly, the freedom to really research and choose the team that you want to help you – from designers to instructors. Also being an independent gives one the advantage of standing out because the runway walk that one would develop would be different from the styles of those coming from camps. Subtle details such as walks and angling would differ from the candidates coming from camps even if it's as minuscule as where one's hand is placed during a stance. So in a lot of ways being an independent isn't all that bad because one can truly understand all the mechanics for a beauty pageant. We have to do everything else ourselves, we have to research and try everything to see what really works for us. We don't have the luxury of having a set program to follow. Instead, we have to be like scientists searching for information and testing it like an experiment.

#35 Sophia Senoron, 17 years old, City of Manila 

Who or what convinced you to join MWP 2017?

I decided to join Miss World after my coronation as the Generation East Grand Winner of 2017. The pageant made me realize how influential beauty queens are in the Philippines and how they act as platforms to spread awareness about our ideologies. A little light bulb went on in my head and I realized that I shouldn't wait for my country to change: I should be the change my country needs.

I did research on Miss World and the motto "Beauty with a Purpose" appealed to me. I want to serve God, my country, and my people using my strengths. This is my purpose.

 Did you intentionally join as an independent? 

I joined as an independent because I wanted to prove that women don't need to be "trained" or "made into" beauty queens. A true beauty queen is a woman true to herself and confident in her ways. Through that confidence, a woman can influence and lead. Most of all I wanted to see how far I can take myself, to become the woman I was raised to be – how my own obstacles in life have shaped me and what lessons they have taught me. I want the Philippines to be confident in me.

Many of the recent winners in almost all pageants come from beauty camps, how does that affect you?

Well, I choose to believe that is the heart and brain of the woman beneath the crown that won the hearts of her people not the camp. 

Were you ever part of a camp or did you try to join any camp before?

My former handler was associated with a beauty camp. I had cut connections with my handler and therefore the beauty camp because he didn't believe I had a chance at winning the crown.

What is the advantage of being an independent candidate? 

Advantages? I think the advantage of being an independent candidate is also the advantage of the people we wish to represent. 

#31 Jeanyfer Ozbot

Who or what convinced you to join MWP 2017?

"I decided to join MWP this year.  I was planning and waiting for the good sign & when I saw their post i grabbed the opportunity.  I sent all the requirements and was the first applicant who arrived since I was so excited. It's my decision to join MWP because I really want to experience a national pageant and want to represent Iloilo City."

 Did you intentionally join as an independent? 

"I intentionally joined as an independent. There is still alot of training also even as an independent. Having a camp doesn't guarantee your success. At the end of the day, the most important is how you perform, your guts and determination and your attitude."

Many of the recent winners in almost all pageants come from beauty camps, how does that affect you?

"Yes, most of the winners have a camp. But then it's not the end of the world because sooner there is  an independent girl who will win. I was so happy because the MWP organizers accepts independent. It's our time to showcase our beauty, talent and wit."

 Were you ever part of a camp or did you try to join any camp before?

"I have never been part or tried to join a camp. But I want to now because I'm willing to learn more & be trained.

 What is the advantage of being an independent candidate? 

"I think as an independent you can be friends with everyone. No pressure. I can do what ever I want and I can decide whatever i really want to wear."

It takes a very strong woman to decide to be an independent candidate since, statistically, the odds are against them. But more than just a beautiful face, they have the fighting spirit and determination to rise above the convention and triumph. They are creating their own path and lighting their own way to success.  

On September 3, 2017, we will find out if these independent candidates will break the winning streak of the camps and pull a major upset. – Rappler.com

Voltaire has 10 years experience in the fashion industry. He previously worked with a luxury clothing and accessories brand in Los Angeles, CA. He graduated magna cum laude from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, major in Fashion Design. He also holds a BS in Applied Economics and BS in Marketing from DLSU. He is now doing real estate but finds time to pursue his passions in his spare time.