I was sitting there at the judges table with a pencil and a bunch of papers in front of me. What am I doing here? I ask myself. I've never scored anyone wearing a bikini before, In my eyes, anyone who sports a bikini automatically gets a perfect 10 from me (yes, even the singer Adele). I was worried the hometown crowd might not like our "scoring" and might shower us with a resounding "boos" like what the three blind judges of the recent Pacquiao - Bradley bout got. Whatever doubts I had were quickly shattered to smithereens, when contestant number 1 walked above the platform. I ended up staring at her with my 20/20 eyesight and all of a sudden thanking heavens for this gig of staring at these bikini clad women for the rest of the night without having to blush. Things reach fever pitch when Contestant 2 came out and I melted briefly when she made eye contact with me.
|The stage is set..by the beach in Brgy Marigondon|
Upon our arrival at the town of Cajidiocan in Sibuyan Island Romblon, our gracious host Kapitan Bibo Porras quickly asked us if we could grace the fiesta at their neighboring town and sit down as judges at the night's Bikini Open pageant. My friend Dazzle, who is from Romblon and the one who invited me and another travel writer and photographer Josiah and along with another friend the voluptuous Pam, we gamely obliged.
The girls quickly introduced themselves in a scripted manner. "Hello my name is Stephanie, from Iloilo, 20" - At first we were like, 20 what? only to realize later that the anti-climactic mention of the numeral at the end of their short introduction speech signifies their ages. There were a total of 9 contestants with 4 four of them being from Sibuyan Island, while the rest coming from nearby Iloilo, Roxas and Capiz.
I remember the moon was almost at full phase that night, and the nighttime sky was brighter than usual. The light illuminating through the waters projects a scene from a B-alligator themed movie. A wooden stage platform where the girls did their cat-walking was constructed by the shore. It was low tide when the bikini open was started, by the middle of the night - the water has increased its level, which proved to be a good omen when the girls would one by one get off the stage and frolic at the knee deep waters later in the night, to the wide jawed amusement of the male dominated crowd.
|I can be a man who is an island plus 2 (yeah these two)|
Unfortunately, we found out that there were no Q & A's involved, since earlier in the day, Dazzle, Pam, Josiah and I had already came up with a list of questions such as "Kung Halo-Halo ka, anong sahog ka?", or at first we were not sure if the bikini open will feature guys as well, just in case we also came up with a question for them like "Tumingin ka sa mga kapwa mo contestants, kung bading ka sino sa kanila ang magiging crush mo?", the kind of silly questions we came up with had us rolling with laughter.
|Number 7 won Miss Flawless naks|
The Bikini Open was sandwiched with an eco-tourism presentation video, which shows the importance of taking care the natural wonders of Sibuyan Island. The video also showed the destruction that the mining companies left in Surigao, thereby reminding the residents of the town never to entertain the notion of mining in their hometown. A few local officials took the stage and gave sincere messages to their constituents, egging them to work together to safeguard their natural resources and at the same time attract tourists to add more income to the province.
|Number 2 was the number 1 in the judges eyes. Venus Raj?|
The girls paraded in sports attire, one piece suit, two piece suit bikinis and an added category where they showed up in their chosen swimming outfits. Contestant number 3, the wildest and game of em all showed up for the last category with shards of glasses all over her body. If there was any doubts on who will be the contests' "darling of the night" she just put it all to rest.
|Number 4 was 1st runner-up. Nikki Gil you say?|
But being wild at heart could only get her so far as the night became a two way fight between contestant 2, who resembles Venus Raj slightly and contestant number 4 who at some angles resembles Nikki Gil. Yes, in case you were asking, I was definitely sober that night. By the way, contestant number 3 looks like Shirley Fuentes to me. Any violent reactions?
|#3 was adjudged as Crowd Darling :)|
It was a fun night and as the contest ends and as we forgot to tally our scores, the hosts have to adlib for a few minutes just as Dazzle did the task of computing our separate scores using her phone's calculator and Pam's phone as a flashlight. With the cool winds from the open sea breezing through the shore and the girls were left standing on the platform on their two piece suit battling the cold, I would forgive them if they were cursing us judges at that time.
After 15 minutes we had the final score tallied and as the host mentioned the winners along with the special prizes, number 2 came out on top with number 4 placing second and number 7 (Miss Flawless) rounding up the top three. Where is contestant number 3? well she took home the "Darling of the Night" a fitting tribute to her game showmanship and originality of sporting a two piece bikini along with broken pieces of glass pasted all over her body. After the pageant the judges took turns in having their picture taken with the contestants.
I had mine with the winner, the prettier version of Venus Raj. I was gathering steam to ask for her number, or even a facebook email, but before I could come up with my kicker line, someone approaches her and dragged her to have a photo op with another person. Bummer indeed, the only one of the night filled with pleasant surprises and a welcome first for me and my friends. Now, how about that Miss Universe judging gig next? I would really like to ask em girls an intellectual question "Kung Uuwe ka ng Probinsya mo, Anong Petsa ka?"