With pageant season in full swing, Miss World Philippines took place yesterday at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center in Olongapo. Tracy Maureen Perez of Cebu City snatched the crown after a long night of competing with 45 contestants. On that note, Cebu is having a hell of a good time this year—Miss Universe Philippines 2021 winner Beatrice Gomez also represented Cebu City.
However, the show itself snagged a ton of snafus that drew the ire of the internet. Here’s a list of what went down.
Tribute to Christianity or to colonization?
Months before the coronation night itself took place, Perez found herself at the forefront of backlash when her national costume went viral. Dressed up in a massive intricate garment that made her look not unlike the Santo Niño, she wrote in the caption of her Instagram post that it was her attempt to pay “tribute to 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines.” She drew flak for paying homage to Spanish colonization.
Personally, I’m not sure if that was a fair read of her outfit. However, I do think it was a missed opportunity. The costume could’ve meant more: It could have been a comment on the excesses of colonialism under the guise of Christianity, or something of that nature. It’s also already so campy with how OTT it was (the faux imperial regalia, the oversized bell sleeves, the golden hat in the shape of a boat) that it could’ve been a queering of that history.
Six-hour long show and a falling queen
The show itself was extremely long, clocking in at six hours. For reference, Miss Universe Philippines was half that length. It had taken so long to whittle down the participants that the top 24 was announced two hours in. Again, by comparison, an hour into the show and MUPH had already announced its top 16. The event took so much time that it technically took up two days—it started in the evening of Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. and ended in the wee hours of Oct 4 at 1:30 a.m.
As you can imagine, fans were not happy with this, with many of them expressing their complaints over social media. One of them even likened it to a Lav Diaz film. However, it seems like the absurd length of time also did a number on the beauty queens themselves. Perez fell twice, the second time taking place while she was taking her celebratory walk down the runway as Miss World Philippines. While she hasn’t stated whether or not her falling had anything to do with exhaustion, it certainly couldn’t have helped.
The wrong name
The long hours may have also contributed to one of the presenters slipping up a bit with the winner’s name. After former Miss World Philippines 2019 Michelle Marquez Dee handed her crown to Perez, a presenter said, “Michelle Marquez, you may do your first walk as our Miss World Philippines 2021.”
Bong Revilla and Harry Roque as judges?
Another thing that caught the eye of fans were the people on the judging panel. For some reason, the show had Bong Revilla and Harry Roque as judges. Miss Trans Global 2020 Miss Mela Habijan remarked on Twitter that “public figures with cases of offending and belittling women shouldn’t be in a platform empowering and celebrating women.”
Ang daming mali sa Miss World Philippines 2021 show. But production and coverage aside, the most problematic is the panel of judges.
Public figures with cases of offending and belittling women shouldn’t be in a platform empowering and celebrating women.
Roque drew even more flak with his Q&A question. Alluding to Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte (which itself is a whole nother can of worms), he asked Cebu Province’s Shaila Rebortera, “The frontrunner in all the surveys for the post of president is a woman. If she were to ask you [if she should] run for president even if her children are very young, what advice would you give her?”
Many people on social media called him out for this line of questioning. Why should it matter? Male presidential candidates aren’t asked the same thing. Female candidates shouldn’t be either. It harkens back to the idea that women are mothers and potential mothers-to-be first and foremost, and even if they’re working, maintaining the household is still their responsibility. While working women are bombarded with questions on how they’re able to juggle being mothers while maintaining their careers, men aren’t asked that because they’re not expected to do the balancing act.
I also take umbrage at him using the show to further spread the narrative that Duterte is the clear frontrunner of the coming elections. Not to put my tinfoil hat on or anything, but propping her up as a frontrunner while also pulling her down for being a mother of young children does seem like a way to spin an underdog story from her.
For her part, Robertera, later crowned Miss We Provide Inc., graciously answered his question, telling him that modern women “are strong and brave in many ways. If our candidate would pursue being a president despite sacrificing time for family, I would support that.”
One of the highlights of the night was when Quezon City’s Michelle Arceo, who was later crowned Miss Environment Philippines, was asked if she would rather live in a world without pandemic or corruption.
“I would pick a world without corruption because we’re surrounded by it every day and everywhere we look,” she replied. “If we eradicate that, we can solve so many problems. We can get through a pandemic easily the next time we go about it.” It was an especially brave (and maybe pointed) answer in the midst of Revilla and Roque. The former had been in jail for four years over plunder charges, while the latter has spent the past two years praising the country’s dismal COVID-19 response.
Photo screengrabbed from the Miss World Philippines Instagram account