Rich Asuncion, the 2007 StarStruck: The Next Level Second Princess failed in her quest to get one of the crowns in the Binibining Pilipinas 2009 pageant held last night, March 7, at the Araneta Coliseum. Instead, she settled for the first runner up position when her name was announced, after second runner up winner Regina Hahn's name was called.
Regina is the daughter of the Bb. Pilipinas-Universe 1975 and Miss Universe 4th runner up Chiqui Brosas.
Rich's performance in the question and answer portion seemed to have contributed to her failure to claim a crown. The TV camera even showed the worried expressions of Rich's friends LJ Reyes and Say Alonzo as panic took over Rich while she struggled to give a clear and composed answer to pageant judge visual artist Betsy Westerndorp's question: "What is your lucky number and what is its significance to you?"
The fate of Rich—joining the pageant using her real name, Richelle Angalot—was a lot better than those of co-Kapuso artist Abegail Lesley Cruz and PBB Teen Edition Plus alumna Priscilla Navidad. Both did not even make it to the Top 10 roster. Abegail did much better in 2007 when she won the second runner-up title, while Priscilla failed on her first attempt for a crown in the country's most popular beauty pageant.
Earlier in the pageant, Rich also won the special awards Miss Natasha Beauty, Miss Talent and Araneta Center Shoppers' Choice Award.
Crowned Binibining Pilipinas 2009 winners were: Melody Gersbach, Binibining Pilipinas-International; Pamela Bianca Manalo, Binibining Pilipinas-Universe and Marie-Ann Umali, Bb. Pilipinas World.
Melody, the 5'6" Bicolana who manages her family's restaurant business gave a satisfactory answer when one of the judges, Rizal Gov. Casimiro Ynares III asked her, "Do people think you're not intelligent just because you're beautiful?"
Melody answered, "Beauty is not only the physical. It is beauty of our intellect, beauty of our inside...and I see that people misjudge those who are beautiful. We are beautiful within, which shines through, for myself, through a beautiful smile."
Pamela Bianca Manalo from Parañaque won special awards earlier in the pageant before getting the privilege to represent the Philippines in this year's Miss Universe pageant to be held at The Fantasy Islands in The Bahamas. She won Miss Natasha, Best in Swimsuit, Miss Philippine Airlines, and Manila Bulletin Readers' Choice awards.
Judge-actor Richard Gomez asked Pamela, if she would have a son in the future, what would she teach him about women? She answered, "What I would tell my son about women is, he should respect them, like he respects his mother."
The pageant's Miss Photogenic and Best in Long Gown winner Marie-Ann Umali now has the chance to go after the elusive Miss World title in South Africa this year. In the question and answer portion, when asked by AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Alexander B. Yano what her idea of fun is, she said being yourself and living a positive outlook in life is her idea of fun.
The other special awardees were Priscilla Mae Honorio (Ms. Salsa Jeans) and Gizelle Jasmin Rivamonte (Ms. Friendship).
The other judges for the pageant that night were Columbian businessman Arturo Marquez, PBA MVP Mark Cardona, Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila General Manager Bernd Schneider, Asia's Songbird Regine Velasquez, Brazilian Ambassador Alcides Prates, Pakistan Ambassador Muhammad Naeem Khan, and former Ms. Universe Gloria Diaz.
Sitting as Chairman of the Board of Judges was Supreme Court Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban.
Legendary fashion designer Jose "Pitoy" Moreno, Gloria Diaz (Miss Universe 1969), Margie Moran (Miss Universe 1973) and Aurora Pijuan were honored with recognition by the Bb. Pilipinas Charities, Inc., for their achievements that have made the Philippines proud.
Special guests that evening were Aljur Abrenica, JC Tiuseco, Dingdong Dantes and the PMA Choir. The event was hosted by Paolo Bediones and Iza Calzado.