StyleBible Preview

Gazini Ganados, Possibly Our 5th Miss Universe, Is Silent But Deadly

by Owen Maddela | Dec 6, 2019

Our delegate to this year’s Miss Universe speaks up about wearing the world’s most powerful sash and most likely, another crown for the Philippines.

There is such a thing as pageant pitch. It's a banshee-like vocal register—equally grating and entertainingthat will make you wince at first but want to try it just for kicks. It is pompous, campy, and a staple beauty queen move (aside from the no-jiggle arm wave, the flying kiss pose, and the hands-covering-mouth winning reaction) that many a hopeful has stashed in her bag of onstage tricks, all in the hope of bringing home the crown at the end of the show.

YouTube playback of the first 10 minutes or so of Binibining Pilipinas’ 2019 edition showed that about 30 out of its 40 candidates (yes, we tallied!) shrieked their hearts out during introductions, much to the live audience’s delight. Pageant pitch establishes presence, and makes for overall impact. But of the 30 or so who invoked the said trick, it was Gazini Ganados who introduced herself and her hometown of Talisay, Cebu the loudest. Her fans at Araneta Coliseum’s upper boxes cheered as much, if not with greater intensity—and arguably, the proudest.


Gazini sustained that energy throughout the show: She glided, spun, and air kissed her way through the swimsuit competition; she playfully smiled and finger-combed her mane while strutting centerstage during the evening gown segment. She took on the Q&A segment calmly and confidently, avoiding the dreaded meme the morning after. Even more, her solid command of the stage and screen came as a surprise, spoiling what would have been the ultimate victory for more favored candidates by pageantologists and the public.

Social media observers all agree that Gazini’s overall performance—that which clinched for her the Miss Universe Philippines crown—was extra. But die-hard pageant fans have a more accurate, unequivocal observation: Gazini Ganados is a “kabogera” (show-stopper) and they wouldn’t have their Miss Universe 2019 flag bearer any other way.

watch now

Gazini Ganados for December 2019


But the Gazini we met for the day’s shoot was anything but the woman who got the top prize during pageant night. She was silent but obedient, she wasn’t energetic but delivered results just the same. It was her way of conserving energy in the thick of preparations for Miss Universe.

“I’m fine but I think I’m gonna get the flu,” she replied when asked if she was okay at all. Her voice, decibels below pageant pitch, foretold of a cold incoming. And those eyes, expressive onscreen, couldn’t hide the challenge before her. 

If anything, her eyes tell the truth; but thankfully, her workout regimen of calisthenics, gym work, and yoga was doing the work for her.


White tuxedo jacket, CHRIS NICK,

“I’ve never been chill since I got crowned Miss Universe Philippines. I’ve always been nervous and have not really taken the time to go home, even,” she shares. At that time, the only opportunity she had to come home to Talisay was a measly two days—and because she has Miss Universe-related commitments that she needs to fulfill. “It’s a good kind of problem,” she says of days where she needs to wake up at 4 a.m. to make it to a 6 a.m. commitment and retire by midnight.

This new normal, weeks leading to the Atlanta, Georgia coronation on December 8 (EST) has her preparing for the nitty gritty—onstage bag of tricks, included—and refining her advocacies, which will prove to be essential when talking about herself, the Philippines, and her life’s raison d'etre.

But if there’s anything more touching and fulfilling in Gazini’s preparations, it is as if all of the local pageant world—divided by affiliations, training camps, and its own politics—is coming together to help her bolster her chances.


Afteroom Lounge Chair, P87,035, CURIO CAVERN, LRI Design Plaza, Makati City

Hair and makeup are matters of utter importance in pageant-land, where the often conflicting views of the netizens and beauty industry experts make for entertaining banter.

“I am always experimenting, trying to do my hair perfectly” she says. Gazini, who won with her hair flat-ironed in mid-part was once seen in a voluminous bun. During her official send-off, she wore a modern version of the '80s cobra, the ends of her hair in curls.

Aside from playing with various hairstyles, a key point in the preparation phase is to do her own hair during the competition. Her predecessors all learned how to prettify on their own, avoiding any possible time delays, wrong styles, and the dreaded sabotage. “It’s better this way,” she adds.


Gazini is also playing with various pegs for makeup, which isn’t much effort because of her chameleon-like face. She admits being told she looks like Megan Fox and Kendall Jenner at various points. And looking a little more intently at her deep, strong eyes, the result of her Filipino-Palestinian lineage, draws up images of Adriana Lima and even a young Ali McGraw. “Sometimes, even I surprise myself when I put on makeup.”

She also coordinated with Boy Abunda, mentor to queens who won before her, to help her prepare for interviews. “I approached him and he said to himself before, ‘Ayoko nang mag-train ng beauty queens because the pressure can get tiring,’ but his heart melted. Sabi naman niya, he really wants to help me.”

Cary Santiago, the designer of her winning Phoenix dress, is also calling on fellow Cebuano designers to dress up Gazini for Atlanta. “Since Mommy Cary is helping me out, I guess he is pulling in all his connections and I am overwhelmed. Like I get to ask myself, ‘Do I deserve this?’ There are just so many things to be thankful for!”


Glitter bodysuit, CHRIS NICK,; Chain detail pumps, P2799, CHARLES & KEITH, Greenbelt 5; Harbour Chair with Steel Base, P18,425, CURIO CAVERN, LRI Design Plaza, Makati City

But if there’s anything more touching and fulfilling in Gazini’s preparations, it is as if all of the local pageant world—divided by affiliations, training camps, and its own politics—is coming together to help her bolster her chances. Miss Universe Philippines 2013 Ariella Arida and Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach have expressed their support, following through with actual mentoring. Even Rodgil Flores and Jonas Gaffud, once warring heads of camps Kagandahang Flores and Aces & Queens, respectively, have come together to help. “When I moved from Cebu to Manila and did not know anyone, Tito Rodgil was there to help me out. And now that Jonas Gaffud is the creative director of the Miss Universe Philippines franchise, he is providing me with additional support through various lessons and workshops, too.”


“The pressure is so true but the least I can do is to not overthink. When you overthink, it feels like the law of attraction in reverse—like the Universe will not give you what you want.”


With all her preparation elements coming together in time for Atlanta, Gazini admits to the pressure of following her predecessor Catriona Gray. Catriona, whose extroversion and gift of gab melded with her knack for storytelling—she shared personal stories and her advocacies, released a single on Spotify, and told the origins of her national costume through a series of videos—has proven to be quite the tough act to follow as a Miss Philippines and a Miss Universe. That Gazini will win the crown for the fifth time and pull a back-to-back carries with it its own kind of pressure.

“The pressure is so true but the least I can do is to not overthink. When you overthink, it feels like the law of attraction in reverse—like the Universe will not give you what you want,” she confesses. “If I think of things with ease, everything just falls into place, so I am not trying to control things.”


She adds, “I’m trying to give my best so that people won’t have to say that I am sleeping on the job or not giving it my all. I reach out to my mentors to get the kind of help I need. [My preparations for Miss Universe] don’t happen at the snap of a finger. The walk, the look—they don’t happen just like that.”



What’s been coming out to be organic for her, however, is her advocacy. Gazini’s love for her grandparents became the right motivation in adapting better care for the elderly as one of her core causes.

“When my lola passed on two years ago, it was brought to my consciousness how there is not much care or attention given to the elderly, especially in rural areas. Plus if you say ‘elderly,’ if you say ‘matanda na,’ they get left behind. The theme of my Binibining Pilipinas advocacy—“No one gets left behind”—comes from this experience. That’s the message I want to communicate in my videos, that the elderly deserve to be listened to. I think that giving back is the most basic, essential thing to do for them. When I become old myself at least I can say that I did something for myself and for my own benefit, too.”


Long black coat, CHRIS NICK,; Kitten-heeled loafers, P3999, CHARLES & KEITH, Greenbelt 5


Miss Universe 2011 runner-up Shamcey Supsup once told Miss Universe hopeful Pia Wurtzbach to come in really strong, know when to pull back, save your energy for the moments that matter, and know when to peak.


It won’t come as a surprise if Pia had shared the same wisdom to Gazini whose quest for the country’s fifth Miss Universe crown seems to embody this perspective but whose strategy is all her own.

Her electrifying presence on the Binibining Pilipinas stage is her version of coming in strong and her actual preparations for Miss Universe her way of pulling back. Surely, Gazini is already aware of the excitement her silence has been stirring. Whether it’s her Cary Santiago and company-designed national costume and evening gowns that are still hidden from the public, her hair and makeup choices, or those “Watawat” earrings that might just make it to the final edit, we all wait with bated breath.


During Boy Abunda’s send-off and Q&A workshop for Gazini in his Saturday night show The Bottomline, his constant feedback to her answers in the mock Q&A is to “end strong.” And now that Gazini is preparing and saving her energy for the preliminary competitions of Miss Universe on Friday and coronation night on Sunday, EST, to end strong is now, definitely, her only goal. 


Produced by Steph Sison

Photographed by Renzo Navarro

Art Direction by Bacs Arcebal

Fashion Direction and Styling by Yanna Lopez

Beauty Direction by Nicole Arcano

Makeup by Zidjian Floro

Hair by Jan Edrosolan

Shoot Assistant Chin Obiedo

Nails by Luz Fortuno of Triple Luck Brow & Nail Salon

Words by Owen Maddela

Hey, Preview readers! Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Tiktok, and Twitter to stay up to speed on all things trendy and creative. We’ll curate the most stylish feed for you!

Back to Top