Petra | Jordan. A rose-red city half as old as time
San Vicente | Palawan. Counting solitary strides.
Taj Mahal | India. A teardrop on the cheek of time
Catanduanes Island. Postcard-pretty slideshow.
Keep Kalm (at Kalanggaman Island | Leyte).
Nikko | Japan. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil in this UNESCO heritage town.
Counting temples in Bagan | Myanmar.
Chasing UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka.
Where to Stay? | Luxury, Backpacking & Glamping
Inaul Festival | Maguindanao. In homage of a weaving tradition

Judging a Bikini Open in Sibuyan Island | Romblon



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 asked 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 on the platform. I ended up staring at her with my 20/20 eyesight while thanking the heavens for this gig of staring at bikini clad women for the rest of the night without having to blush. Things reached fever pitch when Contestant 2 came out and I melted briefly when she made eye contact to myself. 

Valian Urag

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 to sit down as judges at the night's Bikini Open pageant. My friend Dazzle, who hails from Romblon and the one who invited me with another travel writer and photographer Josiah and along with another friend the voluptuous Pam, we gamely obliged.

Katrina Arceta

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 numerals at the end  of their short introduction speech signify 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. 

Ruth Dela Cruz

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 started just after sunset. By the middle of the night, the high-tide came. So when the girls came down from the stage, they were in knee-deep waters. Coupled with the cold wind of the night, they soldiered on to the wide-jawed amusement of the male dominated crowd. Although the girls seem to enjoy the competition, I noticed that wading through the cold water bothered them. Somehow, I felt a bit guilty participating in an event that sexually objectified women. 

Katrina Arceta

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. 

serri crisostomo

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.

Katrina Arceta

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. 

serri crisostomo

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 resemble 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. 

serri crisostomo

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.

Serri Crisostomo

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. 

Katrina Arceta

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?