Janina San Miguel

Janina San Miguel
Beauty pageant titleholder

Janina San Miguel at Binibining Pilipinas 2008
Born Janina Miller San Miguel
(1990-11-14) November 14, 1990
Metro Manila, Philippines
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight 99 lb (45 kg)
Measurements 36-26-36
Hair color Black
Eye color Black
Title(s) Binibining Pilipinas World 2008
Binibining Pilipinas
(Winner-Binibining Pilipinas World 2008)
Miss World 2008
(Did not compete)

Janina Miller San Miguel (born November 14, 1990) is a Filipino beauty queen who was crowned Binibining Pilipinas World at the Binibining Pilipinas 2008 beauty pageant. She gained notoriety for her performance in the pageant's question and answer portion, where she lost her composure and gave an unfocused and rambling response with a thick accent. A video of the incident has garnered millions of views on websites such as YouTube.

San Miguel resigned from her title in September 2008, citing personal reasons including the death of her grandfather. The title was transferred to first runner up Danielle Castaño, who went on to represent the country at the Miss World 2008 pageant.


Janina San Miguel came from a poor family living in a residential compound in Quezon City, Metro Manila.[1] She is the eldest of three children, with her father working as a jeepney driver and her mother as a laundry washer or "labandera" (hired to wash other people's clothes).[1][2][3]

At the time of the Binibining Pilipinas 2008 pageant, San Miguel was a freshman student taking up broadcast communication at the University of the East in Manila, with the ambition of becoming a professional broadcaster.[1] She had previously garnered first runner-up at her school's Mister and Miss UE pageant, and said she joined the Binibining Pilipinas competition to gain "experiences, new friends and opportunities".[4]

Binibining Pilipinas

The 2008 Binibining Pilipinas pageant was held on March 8, 2008 at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Metro Manila. At seventeen years old, Janina San Miguel was the youngest contestant of the twenty-four women in the competition, as well as one of the tallest at 5 ft 11 in (180 cm).[5] Early in the competition, San Miguel had won special awards for Best in Swimsuit and Best in Long Gown.

Question and answer

As part of the question and answer portion of the pageant, candidates were made to randomly select the name of their questioner-judge out of a fishbowl. The name that San Miguel picked was that of Vivienne Tan, who asked "What role did your family play for you as candidate to Binibining Pilipinas?"

San Miguel responded:[6]

Well, my family's role for me is so important, because there was the wa-- they're, they was the one who's... very... haha... Oh I'm so sorry. Umm, my family... my family... Oh my God. I'm... Ok. I'm so sorry. I... I told you that I'm so confident. Eto, umm, wait... Hahahaha! Umm, sorry guys because this was really my first pageant ever, because I'm only 17 years old and... haha... I, I did not expect that I came from-- I came from one of the top 10. Hmmm. So... But I said that my family is the most important persons [sic] in my life. Thank you.

As San Miguel lost her composure in giving her answer, the audience reacted with jeers and applause, as well as laughter from the panel of judges and other contestants. Midway through her answer, pageant host Paolo Bediones encouraged her off-microphone to continue in Tagalog, though she proceeded with her response in English.

Janina San Miguel (center) was crowned Binibining Pilipinas World.

Despite the problems with her answer, she went on to win the competition and was crowned Binibining Pilipinas World. The criteria for judging the winner of the pageant allotted 80 percent to physical beauty, leaving just 20 percent to be divided evenly between personality and intelligence.[7] Bediones later defended San Miguel, saying "I admire her for not buckling under the pressure and for being as blatantly honest as possible". However, he also added, "No matter how badly she may have performed in the Q&A, she couldn't have lost much considering she had a huge headstart in the scores".[7] Winning the title made her the official designated Philippine delegate to the Miss World 2008 pageant, which was scheduled to be held later that year in Kiev, Ukraine (the venue was later moved to Johannesburg, South Africa due to the conflict between Georgia and Russia).

San Miguel has admitted to being offended by criticism of her response.[8] In an interview with entertainment commentator Ricky Lo a week after the event, she explained that she did not comprehend the question clearly when she was on stage at the pageant, due to the softness of the questioner's voice. When given another opportunity to answer the same question, she smiled and said, "My family is my inspiration".[1]


Video clips of her response have been uploaded to YouTube and garnered over 3 million views.[9] Rep. Eduardo Gullas, a senior lawmaker in the Philippine House of Representatives who authored a bill to reinstate English as the medium of instruction in schools, said the video of the incident was "tormenting to watch", and added, "She is a Filipino, and English is our highly favored second language. So people expected more from her."[10] Following the incident, the director of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority offered to coordinate with pageant organizers to conduct English courses for all Miss Philippines candidates to better express themselves.[11]

San Miguel's response has drawn comparisons between her and Melanie Marquez, Filipina winner of the 1979 Miss International pageant who is well-known for her shortcomings in speaking English.[5]


It was announced on September 30, 2008 that Janina San Miguel had resigned her position of Binibining Pilipinas World. A short official statement released by Binibining Pilipinas Charities said "The untimely demise of her grandfather, among other personal reasons, has caused her undue stress, thus hindering her from fulfilling her duties for the said title".[12] Her resignation came 6 12 months after winning the title, and just 2 12 months before the scheduled Miss World pageant.

The announcement of her resignation was met with speculation that San Miguel had been forced by Binibining Pilipinas pageant organizers to relinquish her title due to a lack of professionalism during preparatory training sessions, which strained the patience of her mentors and superiors.[13] In a later interview, she admitted that due to multiple conflicts in schedule she was unable to attend all the training sessions arranged for her by pageant organizers, which included sessions to improve her speaking ability.[13] She also admitted to throwing a fit in the middle of a rehearsal when she received news that her grandfather was dying, and demanded that she be allowed to leave.[13]

In accordance with pageant rules, San Miguel's title was automatically transferred to the first runner up, Danielle Castaño.[14] Castaño represented the Philippines at the Miss World 2008 pageant held in Johannesburg, South Africa in December 2008, where she placed as a finalist in the Miss World Beach Beauty fast track event and a semi-finalist in the Miss World Top Model fast track event.[15]

Entertainment career

San Miguel was strongly considered for a role as a contestant in the second season of the reality television series Survivor Philippines, which began filming in May 2009.[16] Though one of the show's criteria is that the contestants must not be celebrities, San Miguel was not regarded to be a celebrity by the show's producers.[16] Show host Paolo Bediones (who incidentally also hosted the Binibining Pilipinas pageant) explained in an interview that she was a shoo-in for the part, but decided to back out at the last minute.[16]

In August 2009, San Miguel became a contestant in the third season of Celebrity Duets: Philippine Edition. In the season's first three episodes, she performed duets with Maureen Larrazabal, Bituin Escalante, and Paolo Ballesteros. However, she garnered the lowest number of text votes in the first round of eliminations, and became the first contestant voted off of the show on September 12, 2009.[17]

San Miguel has stated that she is refraining from focusing full time on her entertainment career due to her ongoing studies, though she continues to work on her figure in preparation for modeling opportunities.[17] On October 23, 2009, she was one of the ten finalists in the Philippine qualifying round of the Ford Models Supermodel of the World modeling contest, which was held at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay.[18] She advanced to the top three, but the contest was won by Charlene Almarvez, who went on to win first-runner up to Karlina Caune of the Baltics in the Supermodel of the World finals held in São Paulo, Brazil.


  1. 1 2 3 4 "Beauty is the furfose". Philippine Star. 2008-03-16. Retrieved 2009-04-15.
  2. "A second language is no laughing matter". The Manila Times. 2008-03-23. Archived from the original on June 29, 2008. Retrieved 2009-04-15.
  3. "Where have all the beauties gone?". Manila Standard Today. 2008-03-15. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
  4. "Janina San Miguel". GetzMo?!. Retrieved 2009-04-15.
  5. 1 2 "Melanie: Don't judge Janina; she's not a book!". ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs. 2008-03-13. Retrieved 2009-04-15.
  6. "RP's bet to Ms. World 2008 Janina San Miguel quits". ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs. 2008-09-30. Retrieved 2008-09-30.
  7. 1 2 "Paolo Bediones defends Miss RP-World winner". Philippine Daily Inquirer. 2008-03-17. Retrieved 2008-09-30.
  8. "PEP: Beauty queen Janina San Miguel says no to showbiz". GMA News and Public Affairs. 2008-12-25. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
  9. "YouTube - Search results for "Janina San Miguel"". YouTube. Retrieved 2008-09-30.
  10. "Miss Philippines World's ear-splitting English an 'eye-opener' for RP - solon". GMA News and Public Affairs. 2008-03-15. Retrieved 2009-04-15.
  11. "Queen's English offered". Manila Standard Today. 2008-03-14. Retrieved 2008-09-30.
  12. "Controversial beauty titlist quits". Philippine Daily Inquirer. 2008-09-30. Retrieved 2008-09-30.
  13. 1 2 3 "Janina explains why she quit her throne". GMA News and Public Affairs. 12-01-2008. Retrieved 2009-04-14. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  14. "New Bb. Pilipinas Ms. World has American accent". ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs. 2008-09-30. Retrieved 2008-09-30.
  15. "Pageantopolis coverage of Miss World 2008". Pageantopolis.com. 2008-12-13. Retrieved 2009-04-14.
  16. 1 2 3 Ricky Lo (2009-08-09). "Paolo Bediones: Survivor in Many Ways". Philstar.com. Philippine Star. Retrieved 2009-11-20.
  17. 1 2 Jocelyn Valle (2009-09-16). "Janina San Miguel eyes modeling tilt after 'Celebrity Duets'". mb.com.ph. Manila Bulletin. Retrieved 2009-11-20.
  18. "Filipina wins Ford international modeling contest". ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs. 2010-01-18. Retrieved 30 January 2010.

External links

Preceded by
Margaret Wilson
Binibining Pilipinas World
Succeeded by
Danielle Castaño

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