All hail the queen! Marian Rivera—the country’s Sexiest Woman as voted by the readers of FHM Philippines—finally secured the coveted plum away from back-to-back winner and fellow GMA-7 talent Katrina Halili. Marian was officially recognized by the popular men’s magazine during its annual 100 Sexiest Women of the World event held last night, July 17, at the World Trade Center in Pasay City.


Photo: Elyas Isabelo Salanga


Last year, while Katrina Halili was basking in public adulation for being crowned as the country's Sexiest Woman the second year in a row, young actress Marian Rivera lagged behind at No. 24. In 2006, Marian ranked even lower, occupying the 38th spot.


Twelve months later and with two top-rating television series, plus a slew of endorsements beefing up her credentials, a blooming Marian Rivera finally made sure there'd be no three-peat conquest for her Marimar tormentor.


Notching the top spot despite the fact that she is yet to grace the cover of FHM Philippines, Marian Rivera was crowned last night, July 17, as 2008's Sexiest Woman at the World Trade Center in Pasay City.


RUGGED WAY TO THE TOP. The route to the top was not easy for the 23-year-old actress. Facing tough competition, Marian went up against 99 equally beautiful and deserving ladies vying for the annual honor.


Marian bested perennial favorites like Diana Zubiri, Iwa Moto, and, of course, Katrina Halili. The Dyesebel lead star also nosed out last year's strong contenders Cristine Reyes and Ehra Madrigal. Marian even had to slug it out with former GMA-7 darling and 2005 FHM winner Angel Locsin in a tight and controversial race to the finish line.


Fan votes for Marian, however, were more than enough to seal the victory. In an article posted by PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) on June 27, final results showed Marian amassing a total of 316,135 votes against Angel's 121,388. Two-time winner Katrina Halili, on the other hand, had 123,239 votes to secure the No.2 spot. Angel wound up third overall.


Marian's coronation was preceded with a presentation of the other contenders. Not everyone who made it in the final list was present. Angel was rumored to be abroad at the time of the event. Top Ten finalists Ehra, Diana, Angelica Panganiban, and Anne Curtis were conspicuously absent.


Marian, dubbed that evening as the "Mob Princess"—a nod to the mafia-underground theme adopted by the production team this year—emerged in a metallic red spandex midriff attire complemented by a pair of black knee-high boots. The audience erupted the very minute Marian performed her signature Marimar hip-swinging dance move, which definitely showed off that sexy body of hers.


TIME TO GRACE THE COVER. Marian's victory was touted by FHM Philippines as a breakthrough. All of the previous winners graced the cover before they bagged the coveted honor. Marian has yet to appear on the cover of the popular men's magazine.


With her victory, the FHM staff, and especially the readers, are hoping that Marian would finally give in to the huge clamor. Contrary to popular impression, Marian was already being eyed by FHM even before her career skyrocketed because of Marimar.


"Last year, I mean, sinabi ko na din ‘to, nasa mga soaps pa lang siya nasa radar na siya kumbaga ng FHM. Marimar, ganun din pero siyempre kailangan din nating igalang ‘yong mga nais ng GMA doon sa show, hindi pa puwede kasi ganito. Naintindihan naman natin ‘yan," shared FHM Philippines Editor-in-Chief Allan Madrilejos to the media a few hours before the event.


Clinching the distinction as the country's finest would definitely boost the demand considerably, according to Allan.


"Kay Popoy [Caritativo, Marian's manager] ako nakikipag-usap," shared Allan. Talking about FHM's target, he added, "Sana naman this year. Kasi it's true of all editions ng FHM worldwide na ‘yong local winner nila lumalabas to say thank you sa print aside from the party, lumalabas sa magazine. Ang ideal kasi within the year na siya yung winner."


And to prove that the entire FHM team is dead serious to get that elusive "yes" from Marian, the ever hopeful Allan good-naturedly quipped, "Sana naman," he smiled, "ipagnu-novena namin."