Written by Ric G. Galvez [@the4ofustraveling] / Photos by Bong Tan [@bong.tan]

When Miss World Philippines Tracy Maureen Perez arrived in Puerto Rico for the 70th Miss World competition, expectations for her were quite low. It was not so much about her and her capabilities but rather the Filipino fans had resigned to the fact that it would be a while before another Megan Young would emerge. Despite of its beauty superpower status, the Philippines is yet to translate its strength into multiple crowns at Miss World.

However, as the competition progressed in Puerto Rico last year, Tracy Maureen was suddenly thrust into the spotlight for her exemplary performance at Head to Head Challenge. Filipino fans showered her with praises for her excellent speaking skills. A video even surfaced showing Miss World CEO Julia Morley visibly nodding and touched by Tracy Maureen’s passionate speech. Suddenly, Filipinos felt they have a real shot at the crown this time around.

Understanding how Filipinos view Miss World requires a throwback at the history. Before Megan Young, there was already that perception that the Philippines will never ever win the crown no matter how strong their candidate is. There are two key years that formed their opinion towards the pageant – 1973 and 1993. Evangeline Pascual represented the Philippines in 1973. She was the runner-up to Marjorie Wallace but when Marjorie was dethroned, her responsibilities – but not the title – was offered to Evangeline (she refused the offer). In 1993, Sharmaine Ruffa Gutierrez placed as second runner-up but Filipinos called it as a huge injustice. They believe she should have been the winner.

Tracy Maureen has awakened the interest of Filipinos for Miss World. Her performance should be enough to win the country’s second crown. The possibility is so real this time that she even landed in the second place of Missosology’s Final Hot Picks. However, beauty experts call for a reality check. The Philippines appears to be in a similar position back in 2017. Laura Lehmann, Miss World Philippines 2017, advanced to semifinals via Head-to-Head Challenge and is also a challenge event winner. Like Tracy Maureen, Laura was also one of the winners of Beauty with a Purpose. Perplexingly, Laura didn’t advance any further in the competition and remained at the Top 40.

It can be argued however that Tracy Maureen is quite different from Laura. Essentially, that is correct and hence it is wrong to assume that the 2017 placement of the Philippines will be similar this time around. Miss World is governed by extremely vague metrics. With the other Big5 pageants, everyone understood that the main criteria are the interviews or speech, swimsuit and gown. Miss World meanwhile is very fuzzy. Outside of their organization, no one understood how the Top 40 were judged and scored as they advance to the next stages of the competition.

The beauty pageant infrastructure that the Philippines built over the years is no match to this opaque judging system of Miss World. Largely responsible for bringing home numerous international crowns, Philippines beauty training camps are yet to come up with a surefire formula to ensure a Miss World crown. However, the same can be said back in 2013 yet the country won its first ever title. So, what’s in store for the Philippines at 70th Miss World pageant? Well it remains to be seen if a strong candidate like Tracy Maureen will simply be wasted. The possibility of another crown is real but it can turn into a mirage pretty quickly.