MANILA, Philippines — Miss Grand Philippines 2020 Samantha Mae Bernardo will leave earlier for Thailand for the Miss Grand International (MGI) finals and compete with over 70 other hopeful entrants.
"There will be no flights to Bangkok from Manila starting February 25 to 28. The next commercial flight departs March 1. If I leave then, I'll be late for the media/press presentation. So, I'll fly on the 24th instead. It's better early than late," revealed the Palawan beauty, during the Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc. (BPI) online send-off last February 19.
"I thank BPCI for allowing my daughter to compete in the MGI pageant. I've always been her stage mother, but this time s'ya lang mag-isa aalis for this competition," said Nora Bernardo, who has been beside her daughter in all her contests, including sports fests where Sam competed in Rhythmic Gymnastics.
The one-hour-20-minute send off video contained well-wishes from the Bb. Pilipinas 2019 court and her mom, a clip of her native province Palawan, and queries from representatives of TV networks, major dailies, and a few websites.
When Samantha Lo was replaced as Bb. Pilipinas-Grand International 2019 by Aya Abesamis, the latter couldn't represent the country due to age restrictions. And suddenly, the doors of opportunity opened for Bernardo.
"This is your time. This is the call you've been waiting for," shared Bernardo, when she received the heads-up while on a vacation in Boracay last February 5.
"You'll never know when you will be given the time to shine. The challenge now is to meet all the expectations we see on social media. And I handle criticism constructively."
According to her, after informing her mom, she notified her camp, Kagandahang Flores, "because I'll be needing his help, my mentor Rodgil Flores, in this journey. I only had less than a month to prepare so I had to fast-track everything."
Bernardo is the spokesperson for Malaria Free PH, a global efforts with sights on fruition towards 2030. Ninety per cent of the malaria cases in the country are found in her home province.
Her national costume will be created by Patrick Isorena and will probably be inspired by her former Pearl of the Orient ensemble. Her two evening gowns, which, she said were never scrimped upon, were created by Yeyey Pantaleon.
"My time and involvement in joining Bb. Pilipinas speaks for itself - and in my intention of wanting to represent the country in an international pageant, especially the Miss Grand International. Everything is destined. So let go and let God. Trust the process and it will all make sense soon," she enthused.
When not busy in the pageant circuit, Sam does online sessions on financial planning and independence. "Rest assured, I'll do my 110% best, preparing myself for this journey to Thailand."
"This is it! Despite the pandemic, everything made sense because of the support of people who believe in me. Plus, I have my SamBerNation followers since day 1 and the entire country behind my back. We can achieve peace through pageants because we bring many nations together in harmony. If it's not me, then who? If it's not now, then when? This is Samantha Bernardo and I am your Miss Grand International 2020," claimed Sam, at the close of the open forum.
Sam is confident that her experience, coupled with her perseverance and dedication, will make her win the Philippines' its first-ever MGI crown.
The closest a Filipina got to the MGI title was in 2016 when Nicole Cordovez won 1st runner-up. The Miss Grand International coronation night will unfold on March 27, 2021 in Bangkok, Thailand.