“She's happy, taliwas sa mga pressure from the people regarding the clothes, regarding her costume,” paniniyak ni 2013 Miss International Bea Rose Santiago tungkol sa kaibigang si Mary Jean Lastimosa.
Pambato ng Pilipinas si MJ sa gaganaping 2014 Miss Universe pageant sa January 25 (January 26 sa Pilipinas) sa Miami, Florida, USA.
Naging mainit na isyu sa social media ang national costume na isinuot ni MJ nang lumaban ito sa preliminary competition nito lamang January 22, Huwebes.
Pero depensa ni Bea, “It's never about the clothes, it's always about the woman behind the dress.”
Nakapanayam ng PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) si Bea sa opening ng Mags Boutique sa Trinoma Mall, Quezon City kanina, January 24.
Sabi pa ni Bea, kung tutuusin daw ay mas maganda pa ang national costume ni MJ kumpara sa sinuot niya nang lumaban ito sa Miss International noong 2013.
“If you've seen my national costume in orange, it was worse than MJ's but I carried it well, because no matter what happens, it's actually you.
"Hindi yung gown ang magpapasya sa 'yo because the judges always look at the girl, not the dress.
“We cannot do anything about it. It's already there.
“I guess, congratulate her na lang, [and] advise her, 'This is how you move na lang, so that the judges would be impressed of her and not by the dress.
"Because no matter what, hindi naman ito like a fashion show na about the clothes. It's a fashion show of the woman from different countries.”
ON MADAM STELLA. Umani rin ng kritisismo ang founding chair ng Binibining Pilipinas Charities, Inc. na si Stella Marquez-Araneta na siyang may final say sa mga isinusuot ng mga Binibining Pilipinas candidates.
Ang nasabing national costume ni MJ ay dinisenyo ng kapwa Colombian ni Madam Stella na si Alfredo Barraza, na siya ring gumawa ng gowns ng mga nakalipas na Miss Universe Philippines candidates.
Marami sa mga tagasuporta ng kandidata ng Pilipinas sa Miss Universe ang nagpahayag ng kanilang pagkadismaya sa social media dahil tila inspired by a cake daw ang design ng national costume ni MJ.
Ilan sa mga kilalang tao na gaya ni Direk Jose Javier Reyes at ang fashion designer na si Cary Santiago ang nanawagan na kunin na lamang ang mga mahuhusay na local fashion designers para gawin ang gowns ng mga kandidata sa international beauty pageants.
Ani Bea, maging siya ay nagmungkahi dati kay Madam Stella na ikonsidera ang ibang “options.”
“In all honesty, I myself questioned Mrs. Araneta before,” ani Bea.
Nagmungkahi siyang ipasuot na sa kandidata ang national costume sa press presentation pa lamang sa Pilipinas nang sa gayon ay makakuha agad ng feedback bago pa man isuot ito sa mismong international pageant.
“She has her own answers and we respect that,” ani Bea.
“Actually, if she would explain herself, everybody would understand why she chooses... you know she's very comfortable with Barraza and we cannot compete with that.
“She actually pays for the clothes hanggang medyas namin, everything, she pays for it. It's not sponsored and we respect that and for all the years, for what, 52 years?
“I think she knows na what to do and not to do, but hopefully, I think it's also good to showcase Philippine clothes in the international pageants.”
Binanggit din niya na nag-entertain na si Madam Stella ng creations ng local designers.
“She's opening doors slowly but you cannot force her if it's against her will. Slowly, hopefully next year, more Filipino designers.
"But she's already slowly kumukuha ng Filipino designs and all that.”
TOUGHEST COMPETITORS. May mga foreign-pageants enthusiasts ang nagsabi na malakas man ang laban ng Pilipinas sa Miss Universe, natatalo raw ang mga kandidata pagdating sa question-and-answer portion.
Tanong ng PEP kay Bea, handa ba si MJ sa sinasabing toughest portion sa Miss Universe?
“Yeah, she's been really trained and she knows na now it's not about speaking the right English grammar.
"It's about speaking through your eyes, and MJ is good at that.
"Now she's a full woman, she knows what she wants, she knows what to do.
“Alam niya na...I'm so comfortable na she's gonna answer because of what she wants, but how she felt, not because of by-the-books kind of answer.
“Because it's all personality, and MJ is full of personality.”
Sundot pa kay Bea, sino sa tingin niya ang mahigpit na makakalaban ni MJ sa korona ng Miss Universe?
“I feel, like Miss USA, Netherlands, and Colombia. They're very strong, beautiful girls, and they're also eager like MJ.
“You could see through their eyes, nanlalamon din sila, so like those are the kind of girls [who are strong contenders].
“But obviously, when I saw their catwalk, MJ is still the best.
“She is trained by the best. She is the best,” pagtatapos ni Bea.