Last year, Samantha Bernardo was given runners-up distinction alongside Vickie Rushton. Without committing on whether she will join the 2019 edition, Bernardo diligently fulfilled her duty as a runner-up. She was present in almost all the Binibining Pilipinas events despite lacking a title nor a chance to compete at a pageant.
For Bernardo, it may be a long and arduous journey, but one she did with the goal in mind: 2019.
Her preparations were almost Catriona-like. She made sure that she has photo contents to use in social media to cement her front-runner status. Her advocacy where likewise strong as she has been a main fixture in civic groups and cause organizations. Almost a year ago, she also marched with The Qrown in the annual Pride march.
Fast forward to March 2019, she came prepared. Pundits might even say that she came more than prepared. But then over preparation is a caution erring to the side of safety and no regrets.
In the almost three-month journey leading to the night where new 2019 representatives were crowned, Bernardo showed both determination and persistence. There was no letting up, it seemed. She wasn’t about to leave her life-long dream to chance. Samantha echoed her supporters but blocked out naysayers.
A Cruel Joke
As fate would have it, her efforts were all for naught. What was even more heartbreaking than a Hannah Ruth Sison’s unfortunate 2nd runner-up and 1st runner-up placements in 2014 and 2015 respectively, is Samantha Bernardo’s back-to-back 2nd runner-up finishes.
It would be understandable if she felt that life played a cruel joke as if she hasn’t improved one bit despite all the preparations she has done to win a crown and more importantly, to represent the Philippines in a proper international pageant.
A crowded field of front-runners this year is, in part, the reason why she ended up with the same distinction she was rewarded with in 2018. As a pageant observer, I thought she deserved a crown this year or perhaps at the very least, a Hannah Sison placement in her final hurrah.
While I agree that her performance was not Miss Universe Philippines worthy, I thought she deserved a crown.
Samantha Deserved a Crown
By deserving the crown, I don’t just mean her journey towards it. The rest of the 39 girls had to wrestle against their own struggles to even get a chance at winning a crown. While I did see Samantha’s unperturbed drive towards winning a crown, I thought this isn’t enough reason to justify why she deserved a crown. Yes, she paid her dues as a runner-up the same way Pia did in 2013.
Samantha deserved a crown because she performed well. Her swimsuit performance is well-timed and almost impeccable that she gave eventual Best in Swimsuit awardee Patch Magtanong a run for her money. While I do not agree with the color choice of her evening gown as it reminded of Catriona Gray’s winning gown at last year’s Binibini, I still felt her performance was enough to be among the Top 6 in evening gown.
Lastly and most importantly, she has a strong answer at the Q-and-A round. She was asked about how she would react to rape jokes. It was a hard question and a very controversial one at that since the sitting President has been notorious for spitting such jokes on air and in speeches. Never mind that her answer was replete with grammar lapses, her answer was among the most substantial that night.
She answered: “It’s so sad that people are making jokes of this, about rape. It is not normal for us Filipinos. We should all stand up as women to use our voice for sexual harassment. I think it is nice of our government to do the Safe Spaces bill, so that women around the world, especially here in the Philippines, can have a safe environment in school, in economy, and in everything.”
I want to emphasize how she mentioned Safe Spaces Bill. To the readers who are unaware about what the bill is about, it was meant to “define gender-based street, public spaces and online sexual harassment, to provide protective measures, as well as prescribe penalties for violators.”
Unlike eventual Miss Universe Philippines Gazini Ganados who scored brownie points for her flawless delivery, I thought Samantha’s answer was spot on and well thought out. I believe it was enough to win her a crown. By simply giving light to this bill, she deserves to win a crown and the platform that comes with it.
If history can teach her any lesson. It is that Pia served her runner-up responsibilities diligently despite being the only girl in the stage without a crown nor a title. Yet the following year, she clapped hard. She had to pick herself up and join again in 2015. And the rest they say, is history.
It is also history that should remind Samantha that maybe she can gut it out one last time.