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The First Binibining La Salle Pageant


It’s a pity that, during the Presidency of Brother Rafael Donato starting in 1995, the annual Binibining La Salle pageant was cancelled. I have this rather vague recollection of the reason being that either Brother Rafael himself or the Philippine District of the Christian Brothers regarding pageants as exploitative of women. To be perfectly fair, however, I personally never came across any formal documents to this effect.

The Binibining La Salle was actually first held during my senior year, and was to my knowledge held every year hence until it was subsequently cancelled. It was less a beauty pageant the way most of us understand one to be and more a fund-raising event. The way I used to understand it, while there was a talent portion and even a question-and-answer during the pageant night, effectively what decided who won the title each year was which of the contestants sold the most number of tickets.

Personally, I would have preferred that the Binibining La Salle was chosen on the basis of merit rather than on how deep the pocket of the ultimate winner’s family was. Nonetheless, I understand why the pageant was being held. La Salle’s state of finances was nothing like what it has become in the present day. Every centavo added to the school’s coffers likely helped to keep the school financially afloat.

Besides, the Binibining La Salle would become a highly anticipated event every year. Families worked hard behind the scenes selling tickets and pageant night was always an occasion for everyone to turn up in one’s finest clothes. People would talk about it for weeks before and after the show.

But back to that first-ever pageant, the first-ever winner was the freshman Ma. Corazon Briones or Emcee. She was the younger sister of my classmate Tats and classmate of my younger sister Rhea. Tats proudly wrote about his sister winning the title in his Filipino column in the Bulik. Big mistake! He unwittingly gave those of us among his closest friends material with which to mercilessly tease him in the weeks to come!


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