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How refreshing it was that in a quest for the most beautiful women in our country, here’s this most handsome man sitting next to me at the Binibining Pilipinas 2014 Coronation Night. He was such a breath of fresh air because, to be honest, trying to take stock of each of the 40 crown-worthy beauties and zero in on who deserved the most to represent our country overseas could be quite perplexing and emotionally taxing, especially that there were only five crowns in store. So when I felt this guy’s shoulder rubbing mine fortuitously, I was instantaneously relieved of my tension.

He was alone and quiet but seemed friendly. I wanted to befriend him at once, but I was overcome by my shyness around strangers. When he left his seat and walked through the exit—to, perhaps, buy a burger and a can of Coke—I looked at him from head to foot, and I saw a basketball player in his build, height, etc. Very effectively his hotness added intensity to the already tough competition between the contestants parading in their swimsuits onstage.

“Hi,” I greeted this hottie when he came back. “What’s your name? Whom are you cheering on? You’re a basketball player, right? Do you have a Facebook account?”

He answered, “My name is Lucas. I’m here rooting for my cousin Kris Tiffany Janson. Sure, we can be friends on Facebook. And you’re correct: I’m a basketball player here in Manila.” What a coincidence that we were there for the same candidate, I remarked!

Lucas let me type my name into his Facebook account and grinned when I apologized for being slow with touchscreen phones. And then he typed his name into mine, too: to make sure that we’re “adding” and “accepting” in front of each other. I’m not familiar with basketball, so when he mentioned the league and the team he’s in, I could only keep nodding: “Wow, that’s cool!” He even invited me to see his game on Tuesday afternoon, but I said that I couldn’t, because my flight back home to Cebu was at 5:30 p.m.

During the announcement of the fifteen semifinalists, Lucas looked more nervous than I, commenting: “I think this is even more intense than basketball!” I admitted that I, too, was nervous. But I was confident that the judges weren’t blind and deaf, and that we’re all going home later with smiling faces and happy hearts. So when Candidate #13 Kris Tiffany Janson was called, we both exclaimed: “Yes! Yes! Yes!”

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