Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — Traditionally, beauty pageants have been designed to judge physical attributes of women. Today, we’ve seen how these events have broken glass ceilings, whether it be crowning a transgender woman, recognizing the beauty of albinos, or using the stage to protest gender violence.
On Nov. 26, Miss Universe, arguably the biggest and the most anticipated beauty pageant in the world, will hold its 66th edition, and as always, the Philippines has sent off its bet: 26-year-old Filipino-British Rachel Peters.
During the Binibining Pilipinas 2017 competition’s interview portion, Peters — who has olive skin, almond eyes, and long, jet-black hair — was asked what her message would be for leaders of Southeast Asian nations. After a blink and a sigh, she answered: “I believe that one of the biggest problems that our country faces today is divisiveness, in politics, in religion, and also in culture. I believe that is something that is the same all over the world and that is something I want to address. I believe that people can tolerate each other’s differences and respect each other’s opinions.”
The crowds cheered, she gracefully left the stage in her red gown, and eventually, won the title of Binibining Pilipinas Universe. On the 26th, Filipinos, who are known to have a strong beauty pageant culture, will certainly be glued to telecasts, with their fingers crossed. She may win, she may lose, but one thing is certain: Filipinos will continue to cheer her on, segment after segment, walk after walk.
After videos of the preliminaries (the usual measure of whether a candidate will be chosen to be part of the top 16) were shared online, CNN Philippines Life asked beauty pageant experts who are all part of online communities that analyze pageants here and abroad — Marki Tejano (Sash Factor), Noli Berioso (OPBM Worldwide), Alvin Sebetero (Analyzing Pageants), and Adam Genato (Sash Factor) — to tell us about Peter’s biggest competitors, which segments she’ll shine in, and what her chances are of bagging the crown. Below are edited excerpts of the interviews.
What would you say are Peters’ strengths that could help her win the crown? On the other hand, what are her weaknesses that may contribute to her not getting the title?
Marki Tejano: The factors that may help her to win the crown? First is the fans ... The support of the fans boost the candidates' energy to give their 100 percent … Another factor is she's really well-trained. Her walk during the swimsuit [in the preliminaries] is sexy and yet not sexual. With her long gown, she was so elegant.
The only [reason] I can see of her losing is that there are so many competitive candidates this year. That's the only thing I can see might be the reason.
Noli Berioso: She has the aura of a past Miss Universe winner. Nakikita ko. Kasi ‘yung mga past winners, meron silang certain aura na hindi mo ma-explain, basta nakikita mo 'yun sa kanila. May mga similarities sila. Nakikita ko ‘yun kay Rachel. Weakness niya, sa mga pics kasi may tendency na hard ang register niya so dapat ingat at bantay din siya sa styling para ma-soften ang features niya sa stage and photos.
Alvin Sebetero: One of her strengths [is that] she can deliver in swimsuit and evening gown ... She was able to carry it very well and with confidence, and that's actually the strength naman of Philippines, the evening gown and swimsuit performance.
Adam Genato: Rachel’s long and lean body plus her mile long legs will surely make her standout among the rest. I also believe that her cosmopolitan lifestyle or upbringing is a huge advantage on her part. Rachel had lived many years of her young life in faraway lands like Australia, London, among many other places. So her maturity and multi-cultural background is definitely an asset in this competition.
As for her weakness, she had this tendency to develop stage fright [which was] evident when she joined her first national pageant three years ago. But I believe she was able to address her weakness through the help of her Kagandahang Flores mentors. When you hear her speak now, her intonation, delivery, and articulation are just amazing. She has definitely improved a lot.
What segments of the competition do you think she’ll shine in?
Marki Tejano: Long gown. I think she will rock it. Everyone will be so amazed with the gown. With the gown, it's really elegant. It will show her asset: her long legs, her curves, and her walk. I saw her walk during the preliminary with her gold evening gown and the gown really suited her and she was so elegant.
Noli Berioso: I think angat siya in swimsuit and interview. ‘Yung evening gown niya kasi, nung preliminary, detalyado. Maganda ‘yung gown, detalyado siya, but from afar, mukha siyang simple. Pero upclose, maganda siya.
Alvin Sebetero: I think she will deliver in swimsuit and evening gown, and she will also manage the interview. But when it comes to choosing the crown ... our judgment is only based until the swimsuit and evening gown, because when it comes to the final questions, we don't know yet what the final question is.
Adam Genato: I say the swimsuit segment is the portion where I can say Rachel is in her zone ... One of her strongest suits is her [ability to communicate well]. She could articulate her thoughts well on interviews with so much calm and confidence. That is why I am also looking forward how she will slay her Q&A portion during the finals.
Who are her biggest competitors? Are the candidates stronger this year than the previous ones?
Marki Tejano: In Asia, Thailand and Indonesia. There's also Venezuela and Colombia, girls who are really strong every year.
Noli Berioso: Ngayon kasi ‘yung malakas niyang kalaban is Thailand and South Africa. Si South Africa, ‘yung [weakness] niya hindi siya ganoon katangkad. Maliit talaga siya. Parang Megan Young ganon pero maganda at bubbly. Si Thailand, sabi nila total package daw si Thailand eh. Pero nakukulangan din ako kay Thailand … Lahat sila may flaw. It's anybody's game pa rin.
Alvin Sebetero: Biggest competitor when it comes to favoritism is South Africa or Thailand. When it comes to performance in the preliminaries, I think the biggest competitor is Venezuela and Mexico. When it comes to the interview, biggest competitor is U.S.A. … [because she is a] nuclear scientist.
Adam Genato: For me, her biggest competitors in Miss Universe this year are Thailand, U.S.A., South Africa and Venezuela. These girls are also heavy favorites to win the title … Thailand has been very consistent with her performance since day one. Her resume is also impressive, as she has a masters degree in marketing and advocates gender equality in her country.
U.S.A. is also another strong candidate, [one] we couldn’t ignore. More than being a fashion model, she is [also]a nuclear scientist by profession. South Africa is another contender ... Last but not the least is Venezuela, a mechanical engineer, who is also a head-turner with her exotic look and warm personality.
What is her chance, in percentage, of her winning the Miss Universe crown this year?
Marki Tejano: I want to say 100 percent but I think maybe 85 to 90 percent. The 10 percent would be ... it will still depend on her performance during the finals. We really cannot predict in Sash Factor. From what we see or what we saw during the preliminaries and as we have correspondents in the U.S. .... Rachel is one of the girls with high chance of winning the competition of Miss Universe 2017.
Noli Berioso: As of this time, dun sa mga bettings, nasa top three naman siya … ‘Yung personal calculation ko, tingin ko kaya niya mag-penetrate sa top three … Kung baga, mga 90 percent I'm sure na makukuha niya ‘yung crown.
Alvin Sebetero: I would give her a 100 percent chance of placing in the top 16. Ninety percent sure for first runner up. For the win, I'll give her around 85 percent.
Adam Genato: She is the most well-rounded Binibini we have sent to Miss Universe to date: tall, strikingly beautiful, and articulate. She is really the overall package … I would say it’s 60 percent. She has a 60 percent chance to win the crown. I leave the other 40 percent to the other equally stunning and deserving girls who [are] also well-prepared for this year’s competition.
The 66th Miss Universe pageant will be held on Nov. 26, 2017 at the The AXIS at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States.