At this time of the COVID19 pandemic, when the numbers are rising to new highs, bringing the nation’s megacities on an Enhanced Community Quarantine, the only piece of good news, once again, came from the beauty pageant front–courtesy of the beautiful Palawena, Samantha Bernardo.
Once again is used as her victory reminds people of how the international wins of Miss World 2013 Megan Young, Miss International 2013 Bea Rose Santiago, Miss Supranational 2013 Mutya Datul and Miss Universe Third-Runner Up Ariella Arida, brought the people something to cheer about after the onslaught and destruction brought about by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) at that time. Just a little more than a week ago, coinciding with the government’s announcement of an ECQ for the entire NCR plus (which includes the provinces of Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite and Rizal), Samantha wowed global audiences and eventually emerged as First Runner Up in the Miss Grand International (MGI) Pageant held in Thailand. While she wasn’t exactly the night’s biggest winner, to Pinoy pageant fans, her “top winner performance” was certainly more than good enough.
Having joined Binibining Pilipinas a total of three times, Samantha has endeared herself to pageant fans with her “lovable and friendly demeanor.” I, myself, had some personal encounters with her, when she worked as a “stunner” in Resorts World Manila’s main lobby back in 2018, immediately after winning Second Runner Up in her first attempt in the pageant. I never really sensed her looking tired, even after standing on her spot for long hours, and would always greet guests warmly and courteously. For people like me who would recognize her for her Binibini stint, she would always be accommodating for photos and chitchats. I do remember telling her to join again, to which she humbly answered: “Kaya nga po ako nagwowork dito ngayon, Sir, kasi po nag-iipon ako ng perang pansali ulit.” Even then, she was indeed determined to be given a chance to represent the country internationally.
Samantha’s mentor, Rodgil Flores of the famed Kagandahang Flores (KF) camp, validates Samantha’s motivation and love for work.
“Si Sam kasi ma-abilidad talaga. She really wants to help her family. Before joining MGI, she’s a financial adviser for Sun Life and has a sleepwear business, all of those just to tide things over.”
Asked why her camp never gave up on Sam’s dream of becoming an international queen despite her two near-wins, Flores has this to say: “Nakita ko sa kanya na she just has to be given a chance to compete internationally. Naniniwala ako, noon pa, na if given that chance and she’ll do everything she can to really win.”
And that’s exactly what she did when she was appointed by Bnibining Pilipinas to finally represent the country in the 2020 edition of MGI. As fans all witnessed online, Samantha never failed to impress, giving every part of the competition her very best.
“She surpassed all our expectations. Pati na sa Q and A, ang feeling namin parang sinapian si Sam, parang nag-level up sya talaga and just freely expressed her thoughts and feelings,” Flores says.
Her sterling performance not only brought pride to the country but to those she has had personal associations with in her journey. No wonder, Resorts World Manila immediately honored Sam with an online congratulatory greeting after her win that bannered: “World Class Stunner,” which was also captioned “a queen who now thrills the world with her Filipino beauty, talent and class.”
Sam is currently still in Phuket together with the MGI queens of 2020. She intends to stay longer in the country for a much-needed break before heading back to the Philippines for a hopefully, less restrictive, homecoming.