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Tonight at 10 on GMA, one woman will cinch the glittering crown of Miss World Philippines 2013 and bag the life-changing ticket to Indonesia to represent our country at this year’s global “Miss World Beauty with a Purpose” pageant. Much has been said and written about Megan Young as the cream of the crop, what with her being one of today’s hottest actresses and TV personalities. But until the night is over, any of the 25 candidates could steal the thunder of the Filipina American beauty, whose application form for this year’s Binibining Pilipinas was allegedly rejected due to her topless Roque Magazine photos, which upset a throng of pageant fanatics because, according to experts, Megan would have been perfectly physically, mentally and culturally fit for Miss Universe.

Patricia Lae Ejercitado, a friend I met during the Binibining Pilipinas 2012 final screening at the Gateway Suites in Quezon City, is just as bent on winning the Miss World Philippines 2013 crown as my two other bets: Megan Young and Ria Rabajante (Binibining Pilipinas 2013 official candidate). When I saw all the screenees popping out of the door from the tight scrutiny of the judges inside the venue, I already felt like spotting the best Filipina, Patricia Lae, to go for the Miss Universe crown—vis-a-vis Janine Tugonon who, eventually, was the one crowned. Interviewing Patricia was such a breeze, because she was very accommodating and intelligent; she didn’t complain about being pushed and pulled around by anyone asking for photo ops.

I haven’t really seen much of Megan in the movies or in television, but I’ve seen Patricia in the flesh, both at the 2010 and 2012 editions of Binibining Pilipinas at Araneta Coliseum, and so I know how competitive she can be alongside her fellow strong contenders. Patricia made the semifinals cut, but as for why she didn’t bring home the bacon, I have no answer. All I remember is that her Latinaesque beauty stood out and her deliciously brown complexion knocked our socks off. More than anything, I was proud of her for nailing the interview portion with an intelligent answer, which shamed her bashers to death. At the back gate of Araneta after the show, I congratulated her on a job well done onstage and said she should have made the final cut. Patricia, the humble and graceful person I’ve known since the screening day, told me: “Ariel, thank you for all the blogs you’ve written about me. I’m overwhelmed with all your support. Thanks for believing in me. I’m fine. I have no regrets at all and am happy I gave it my best shot.”

We’ve been in touch since we befriended, and as promised, Patricia was kind enough to inform me that she’s joining this year’s Miss World Philippines—again, under the tutelage of RL De Leon Lacanienta. She says it’s incredibly sweet of me to support her, still, after her Binibining Pilipinas pageant stints last year. Well, I’ve seen her worth before my very eyes, and definitely, I wouldn’t hurt my thumbs typing a blog like this on my phone and waste my time transferring the text and photo to a computer for just any candidate who doesn’t believe in what I do.