THRILLMAKER: Samantha Bernardo lashes back at unruly Pinoy pageant fans

Published May 30, 2021, 6:47 AM

by Joee Guilas

Samantha Bernardo

Aside from sending ladies who are equipped with attributes and training that make them worthy crown contenders, Philippine pageantry is known the world over for having the best fans.  In fact, Filipino pageant fans have actually been declared “the best fans in the world” several times in past stagings of the Miss Universe pageant.  While the tag can be a distinct honor for those who cheer our delegates, from the time they start their journeys until their stints in the global arena ends, it has, of late, likewise given them a sense of entitlement. 

Somehow overstepping the rights and power that social media gives, the fans now direct the ladies how they should compete; criticize and bash pageant personalities—without any regard to the proprieties of courtesy and politeness and to the feelings of the ones they’re hitting; and even downright degrade the persons they wish to put down.

In the recent staging of the Miss Universe pageant, Philippine bet Rabiya Mateo even had to apologize to fellow candidates Miss Thailand, Amanda Obdam, and Miss Canada, Nova Stevens, who found themselves on the receiving end of unending criticisms from Filipino fans.  Ironically, Rabiya, found herself frustrated and in tears, when she, eventually, was not spared by her kababayans from their nitpicking.

Fresh from her near win in the Miss Grand International (MGI) pageant, where she ended her campaign as first runner up, Samantha Bernardo also found herself having to face up to the responsibility of fixing what the Filipino fans broke in the MGI setting.  Past editions of the pageant saw Filipinas either finishing as runners up or even unplaced.  Enraged by MGI’s non-award of a top plum finish for the Philippines to this date, Filipino pageant fans have branded the competition as “rigged,” “fixed” and a “cooking show” and its owner and organizer Nawat Itsaragrisil as “anti-Filipino.”

“Let us remind ourselves that this is also a competition.  There’s gonna be a winner, there’s gonna be a loser.   At the end of the day, as long as you know that the girl did her best and the girl represented us proudly, with honor, with elegance, that’s the most important thing,” Bernardo said during a virtual welcome press conference organized for her by the Binibining Pilipinas Charities.  She added: “The advocacy of the pageant is stop the war.  If we keep on hating, do you think that they will give us the crown?”   

During the entire competition, the pageant community saw how Bernardo exerted much effort to endear not just herself but the entire country to the pageant organizer Nawat, who had been vocal about his displeasure on how Filipino pageant fans have been behaving, especially when it comes to his pageant, on social media.

“Yun lang naman talaga yung goal ko and that is to mend all the conflicts that have happened.  So I really wanted to make sure that I was so loving, because I want to be an inspiration to everyone.   As Miss Philippines, that is my legacy to the organization,” the beauty queen said.

While Bernardo emphasized that her MGI experience was a dream come true and was generally fulfilling she admitted to having one regret during the competition.

“If I have regretted something siguro, I should not give a lot of focus on the negativity when it comes to our fans.  We are representing the Filipinos, each Filipino in us.  Lagi ko nga sinasabi, if we want a better Philippines, we need better Filipinos. Maybe that’s one of the hindrances that maybe they didn’t give us the crown,” she lamented.

While not ending up the top winner despite a sterling performance in all aspects of the competition, Bernardo believes she was treated more than fairly by the people behind the pageant.  “Mr. Nawat is very hands on when it comes to everything.  He is the thinker, the planner, the heart of the Miss Grand International Organization.  The people behind Miss Grand International is very creative, very professional and very talented.  Everyone is very efficient,” she commented.

Given her experiences in the international pageant stage, what advice will she give the fans to best support their delegates?  The Palawena said: “We must always maintain our love, don’t turn that into a hate comment just because we lose, because it also reflects our character.   Pageants are celebrations.   So always celebrate lang tayo, no matter what the outcome is.”

Samantha Bernardo won US$ 6,000 (approximately P300,000), a crown and a sash for her first runner up finish in MGI.