A nineteen-year-old civil engineering student named Lexandrea Bliss Dela Cerna of Silliman University was a conspicuous choice for the Miss Dumaguete 2017 crown. From the opening number to the last minute before the proclamation of winner, she stood out from nine other contestants, bagging a lion's share of special awards: Best in Production Number, Best in Talent, Miss Photogenic, Best in Swimsuit, Best in Evening Gown, and Best Speaker.
Placing next but not close enough to have cinched the crown was a twenty-two-year-old Pharmacy graduate named Elisse Ann Dolleton of the University of Santo Tomas. She was awarded first runner-up.
This is the second time I've come here to witness the annual Miss Dumaguete pageant. And I'm impressed because I didn't come home feeling shortchanged from each, except that, for this year, I wish the show was hosted by the same as last year's. If you were with me during the Miss Dumaguete 2016 pageant, you'd wonder why there were more photos I took of the host Mark Xander Fabillar than I did of the candidates.
You couldn't blame me, because, as what I told Xander when I approached him right after the show and what I've been telling him in private messages, I have never witnessed a pageant emceed by someone who has all the beautiful qualities of a host: looks, command, professionalism, English profiency, spontaneity.
What I like about both winners of the two Miss Dumaguete pageants I have watched is that the air of both intelligence and spontaneity was there, in the way they answered the questions. You wouldn't feel like throwing up, just like you probably did at some other pageants, in front of a contestant giving an obviously canned answer which has an out-of-the-wall gist and ending up as winner only because she's the most beautiful.
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