With days to go until the new Miss Universe Philippines is crowned, all eyes are on the 30 women vying for the title. Many of the early favorites in the competition made the cut, one of them being San Juan City representative Ayn Bernos.
Ayn won the hearts of pageant fans early on with her advocacy and wit. It's therefore no surprise that the crown is now within her arms reach, yet the 26-year-old still finds it surreal that she made it to this far.
"Going from the top 100, 75, 50, and now top 30 I can't believe I'm here," she tells Preview. "But I'm really excited to see what it's gonna be like now that I get to meet my other Miss Universe Philippines sisters and I finally get to experience the pageant life onstage."
Shortly before the announcement of the top 30, Ayn had a throwback of sorts to her college years. She reunited with friends from her pageant days at the University of Santo Tomas—which in true beauty queen fashion, came in the form of a photoshoot.
"We wanted to strip her back of all the usual bells and whistles that come with the typical beauty queen shoots," says stylist Jones Palteng, who was also one of Ayn's pageant mentors in college. "The goal was to let her inner beauty shine, and to champion her morena skin."
With that in mind, makeup artist Janell Capuchino created an elevated barely-there look on the Tiktok star, while hairstylist Mycke Arcano worked on giving her gorgeous textured waves. The result effortlessly highlighted the contender's natural beauty, and Ayn herself felt a sense of relief from the combination.
She tells us, "I felt so much like myself. Prior to the pageant I've never done any glam shoots, so to be able to go back to simply Ayn was amazing. Not to mention I was able to do it with people who really understood who I am and why I do what I do."
Jones dressed Ayn in earth-toned silk dresses that allowed her golden skin to pop. "We wanted evoke a feeling of comfort, and confidence in her own skin," he explains.
Photographer Stephen Capuchino also echoed the stylist's sentiment. According to him, the central idea of the project was not to give Ayn a makeover, but give her a "do-over"—a momentarily rollback from the pageant glam before she dons it again for the big stage on the 25th.
Despite the pressure she's under for the competition, Ayn is enthuasiastic about what's to come. "Hopefully everything goes well and I can finally live that dream. I'm just really excited and grateful that this is an opportunity that's available to me," she concludes.
Photographed by Stephen Capuchino
Art Direction by Jobo Nacpil
Styled by Jones Palteng
Hair by Mycke Arcano
Makeup by Janell Capuchino
Shot in Zoomburst Studios