Organizers of the Miss Philippines Earth 2017 released their official statement regarding the controversial preliminary event for figure and form held last Thursday night, June 22, at Oakwood Joy~Nostalg Center in Ortigas Center, Pasig City.
This is the first time the pageant introduced this type of pre-judging event.
The candidates wore a see-through black veil and two-piece black bikinis for "dramatic flair" and "to place emphasis on the figure and form of the candidate."
However, fashion expert Voltaire Tayag criticized the said event in an article he wrote for Rappler, the pageant's official online media partner.
Tayag felt that the pageant has "taken several steps back" with this pre-pageant event, which he deemed as "inappropriate" and "degrading to women."
He wrote, "The black veil was totally inappropriate and sends the wrong message about women. The pageant justified their gimmick by alluding to the fact that only 'figure and form' was being judged. Unfortunately, this gimmick objectified women by emphasizing to the viewing public to simply look at the body of the candidate.
"It was totally degrading to women. It disregarded the women’s confidence and their personalities, as they couldn't interact with the audience and the camera. That’s where a woman’s strength lies. Her ability to command attention because she is a confident woman who is proud of her body, and the hard work and discipline it took to get that body."
The organizer of Miss Philippines Earth pageant, Carousel Productions, clarified in an official statement posted on their Facebook page that this pre-judging event is one of their moves to prevent judges' biases on some contestants, as well as "promote strict impartiality."
The full statement reads: "In the pre-judging portion of figure and form, (which is separate from the swimsuit competition, by the way), the transparent veil served a double purpose -- first, to place emphasis on the figure and form of the candidate, which was the criteria of focus for that specific portion, and second to introduce the girls with dramatic flair since it was the first in our series of prejudging.
"Our next pre judging will focus on Poise and Beauty of Face, where the judges will get to see and judge the candidate’s personality. On the week of the finals will be the pre judging of Intelligence and determination were the confidence of the Ladies will be Judged.
"After 26 years of doing pageants, we have noticed that it is difficult to separate inherent biases while judging. In the past 10 years or more, we have noticed the ladies work so hard on each of the criteria needed for the competition. Miss Philippines Earth decided to make this move to promote strict impartiality during our prejudging and for the first time allowed the event to be seen by the public."
Moreover, the organizers believe that the candidates were not objectified at all throughout the activity, and were instrumental in promoting a healthy lifestyle which is also part of the pageant's advocacy.
The statement continues, "Lastly, we honestly do not believe that the girls were objectified or that they felt objectified, remember we are working with millennials. They speak their mind and will not way allow themselves to be put on the negative side.
"If you paid attention to the entire show and listened to the Ladies promoting their fitness and health regimen, which is part of our environmental campaign, then maybe you would have seen it in a different way.
"Most often than not when you get out of the norm, there would always be questions and negativity. This is expected."
Over 40 candidates will be competing for the crown at the pageant's grand coronation night this July 15 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.