My “beauty expert” friends Robert Requintina (Bulletin’s Entertainment Editor) and Celso de Guzman Caparas (STAR correspondent) were amazed by the up-and-go drive of Samantha Bernardo whose fighting spirit is indomitable. The three of us shared a table at the White House welcome dinner hosted by Sir Jorge Araneta and his wife Madame Stella Marquez de Araneta for Karen Galman, 2018 Miss Intercontinental and the first Filipino to win that title.
Over coffee, Samantha expressed concern that she might not qualify for another try at the Bb. Pilipinas pageant due to the minimum age requirement because she was turning 24. At the time, she had just won Bb. second runner-up to Catriona Gray. (She would win second runner-up for the second time in 2019.) She was still looking regal, the paradigm of poise and very intelligent, so Robert, Celso and I egged her on, “Go for it! No harm in trying! Always remember Pia Wurtzbach’s mantra.”
Well, Samantha never did join the local search which was never held but she won the first runner-up feather in the 2020 Miss Grand International (MGI) held in Thailand a month ago. According to the Bb. Pilipinas Charities, Inc., they selected Samantha as the Philippines’ bet to the pageant after the original representative Aya Abesamis was unable to join due to age limit “caused by the delay of the MGI contest because of the COVID pandemic.”
It has been more than a month since the pageant and Samantha is still in Thailand, taking a tour with the winner Abena Appiah of the US and other runners-up and enjoying the lush greenery of the countryside.
Samantha has a special affinity to nature because she was born and raised in Palawan, the environment paradise of the Philippines.
Here are few things that you may not know about Samantha, furnished to Funfare by a PR practitioner:
1. She can surely work those heels.
Samantha captivated the world with her “GRANDnada” Walk! But did you know that aside from her signature strut, Samantha can do some amazing things while wearing her heels? She shares that she can do a split, cartwheel and back bending all while wearing her signature heels! Now that’s a feat!
2. She started her career in hotels.
Samantha was originally a hotelier by profession. This was something that she really wanted to pursue as a career as she graduated with a degree of BS Hospitality Management from Palawan State University. According to Samantha, she loves this job because she’s able to interact with people from all backgrounds and hear their stories.
3. She has an interest in the third kind.
Space has always piqued the imagination and curiosity of mankind for centuries. And Samantha is one of those who have gained great interest in the secrets of the universe. She shares that she spends some of her downtime watching films and documentaries about aliens and distant worlds.
4. She’s a decorated athlete.
We’ve already said that Samantha has a background in gymnastics, but did you know that she was so good at it that she’s won several medals? That’s right! At the early age of eight years old, she was able to take home the overall championship title for Rhythmic Gymnastics! She also won five gold medals at a regional athletic meet in Region IV-B. Who knows, if she chose a different path, she might have worn an Olympic medal instead of a crown?
5. She aspires to live with no regrets.
Samantha’s favorite Bible verse is Proverbs 31:25 and it says, “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” Aspiring to live by this verse, Samantha aims to live life to fullest so that she can inspire others to live with no regrets.
6. She’s a foodie.
Samantha shares that she has a deep passion for food. According to Sam, one of her all-time favorite dishes is Bulalo. And that she has a special place in her heart for seafood. As for dessert, it’d be hard for Samantha to say no to some delectable chocolate pudding and cupcakes! Well what can we say? Same, Samantha, same.
7. She’s a folk dancer.
Each and every step of Samantha on the stage is undeniably captivating. From Binibining Pilipinas to Miss Grand International, she carried a level of poise, grace and artistry that caught everyone’s attention. According to Samantha, she got it all from her previous experience as a folk dancer. Performing some of our most important cultural dances has really given Samantha the edge on an international pageant stage.
8. She’s passionate about putting an end to malaria.
Malaria is a disease which has affected many lives and caused the death of so many Filipinos. According to the Department of Health (DOH), though we have made terrific progress in controlling the spread of the disease, seven provinces still have local transmissions of this dreaded disease, and Palawan has more than 90 percent of the total cases in the country.
As a Palaweña, the cause of malaria eradication is close to the heart of Samantha. That’s why she now serves as a spokesperson for Malaria Free Philippines with the DOH and Kilusan Ligtas Malaria. For Samantha, the dream of a Malaria-Free Philippines by 2030 is an important goal, especially as it would directly impact the lives of Filipinos and improve the quality of life of so many people. With a passion to make a difference, Samantha is proving that she is the queen for the people.