Miss Philippines Quest USA Coronation Night

Article By Joy Chiang Ling
Photo credit Niko

Coronation night is one of the most pivotal moments for prospective Miss Philippine beauty contestants, as it determines who will make it to the Miss World Philippines pageant. Every year, young Filippino girls compete for a spot in the internationally recognized competition. On July 12th, 2014, the winner for Miss Philippine Quest USA was declared at Symphony Space in Manhattan.

The event opened with all of the contestants dancing to a remix of “All of Me” by John Legend. Then, the pageant’s host, former beauty queen Bessie Badilla, and co-hosts Beth Tamayo and Ian Medrano, introduced the judges of the competition:  Ms. Cory Quirino, Lana Asanin, Cora Reyes, Chantel Martinez, Brent Chua, Nicole Ponseca, Dmitry Brylev. After the judges were introduced, the pageant candidates were announced one by one amidst an excited and screaming audience.

Bessie Badilla


The candidates include:

Contestant #1: Alexa Kirby, an 18-year-old high school graduate from Romansville, Pennsylvania.

Contestant #2: Norella Nacis, 24-year-old Miss Earth Philippines-Miss Friendship 2011 from Passaic, New Jersey.

Contestant #3: Isabella Estella, a 24-year-old internationally educated public relations and marketing practitioner and filmmaker

Contestant #4: Misook Mendoca, 20-year-old nursing student at Rutgers University in New Jersey

Contestant #5: Jenica Balmes, 24-year-old CBS Sports’ production assistant from Levittown, New York.

Contestant #6:  Melissa Ocampo, 19-year-old freshman at Fairleigh Dickinson University from Garfield, New York.

Contestant #7: Erin Manansala, 19-year-old freshman at Fairleigh Dickinson University from Garfield, New York.

 Contestant #8: Shina Lingat, 18-year-old upcoming criminal justice student at Farmingdale State University in Long Island, New York.

 Contestant #9: Dominique Ivory, 22-year-old music and journalism student at Bergen Community College in New Jersey

 Contestant #10: Danielle Savitsky, 19-year-old junior at Clarion University of Pennsylvania

After the introduction, a guest performer, Anthea Neri (an actress who played Nancy in the National Asian Artists Project’s adaptation of the classic Broadway play Oliver!)  sang a pop-rock song titled “Unconditionally” by Katy Perry. Following her performance was the swimsuit competition. Each candidate, clad in a pink bikini and yellow scarf, strutted the stage as Ms. Badilla gave a further description of them.

Following the swimsuit competition was a dance performance by a Filipino dancer named Roberto Villanueva. Then, the evening gown portion of the competition was introduced. As the girls showed off their beautiful long gowns, Badilla read their answers to the question “What is beauty in giving?” These were what they answered:

#1, Alexa Kirby: “Everyone is beautiful on the outside, but not everyone is beautiful on the inside. Be yourself, show that you care, compliment others and make someone smile.”

#2, Norella Nacis: “Help make the world a better place by doing small acts of kindness.”

#3, Isabella Estella: “The beauty in giving is not asking for anything in return. With beauty comes responsibility.”

#4, Misook Mendoca: “Be aware of God’s presence and unconditional love.”

#5, Jenica Balmes: “The beauty in giving comes from within. Be generous. Beauty comes from the pureness of the heart.”

#6, Melissa Ocampo: “I am a giver. Giving is what my life is all about.”

#7, Erin Manansala: “Giving is an act of selflessness.”

#8, Shina Lingat: “Beauty is not based on credentials, but how gentle you are when you give and help others.”

#9, Dominique Ivory: “We live in a world of selfish people. People who help others in need are special gifts from God.”

#10, Danielle Savitsky: “The beauty in giving is being able to share a part of yourself for the goodness of others.”

Before the contestants prepared for the next round – the Q&A – the audience was entertained by host Badilla herself. Badilla sang a Brazilian Pinoy song in Tagalog.

Finally, when the candidates were ready, they entered the stage and waited to be called on to answer whatever question that a randomly chosen judge would give them. This was what candidates answered to their respective questions:

“Name one female figure that you find inspirational. What would you discuss with her?”

Alexa Kirby: “Demi Lovato. She was able to overcome self harm problems and is trying to help other people with similar problems to overcome it as well.”

“Same-sex marriage was ruled legal in Michigan recently. Do you think that other states should follow Michigan’s example and allow gay marriage to be legal?”

Norella Nacis: “As a Christian I believe that a woman and man are bound together in marriage. Marriage is sacred. But at the same time I believe and respect the rights of individuals.”

“Which recent media story resonates the most with you?”

Isabella Estella: “The Aquino scandal in the Philippines has affected me the most. I feel that even though bad things happen in my homeland, I am still proud of my country. We should all stand tall as Philippinos.”

Beth Tamayo and Ian Medrano

“What do you think of the controversial television show ‘Teen Mom’ turning teenaged mothers into celebrities?”

Misook Mendoca: “I feel that ‘Teen Moms’ can raise awareness of the difficulties of teenaged parenting. It can be a good decision to play the show.”

“If you had the chance to be born again, would you want to be born a boy or a girl? Why?”

Jenica Balmes: “I believe that we are all born for a reason. I have no regrets for the decisions I made as a girl. I would not want to change a thing about my gender.”

“If you could have one super power what would it be and why?”

Melissa Ocampo: “I would want to fly, because I went sky diving recently and it was incredible.”

“If ignorance is bliss why do we seek knowledge?”

Erin Manansala: “We seek knowledge because we want to understand the perspectives of everyone around us.”

“What is the best advice your mother ever gave you?”

Shina Lingat: “Be confident, so that you will be able to achieve success.”

“Should a titleholder lose her crown over past mistakes?”

Dominique Ivory: “What happens in the past does not define a person. Everyone makes mistakes. We should only help them by telling them that if they lie, the truth will come out, and that if their mistake is true, then they should overcome it.”

“Who is your role model and why?”

Danielle Savitsky: “My role model is my mother. She is a beautiful and strong lady from the Philippines who is also a breast cancer survivor.”

Eric G

During the break between the Q&A and the prize announcements, Eric G, a Filipino R&B singer, sang two original songs called “You’re Beautiful” and “The Lala Song.” Then, the moment that everyone was waiting for came. Here are the results of Miss Phillipine Quest USA:

Talent Competition Winner: #4, Misook Mendoca

People’s Choice Award: #7, Erin Manansala

Best in Swimsuit: #4, Misook Mendoca

Best in Evening Gown: #1, Alexa Kirby

Fourth Princess: #7, Erin Manansala

Third Princess: #5, Jenica Balmes

Second Princess: #3, Isabella Estella

First Princess: #2, Misook Mendoca

Winner of Miss Philippines USA: #1, Alexa Kirby

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