THE journey of two Negrense beauties for the coveted crowns in this year's Binibining Pilipinas pageant is on.
Showcasing her grace and swag in dancing, Binibini 23 Ena Louis Velasco, a Bacoleña, was among the 15 candidates shortlisted to advance in the recent talent competition.
Twenty-five-year-old Velasco, a doctor of medicine, is one of the 40 candidates competing in one of the country's biggest pageants this year.
Velasco, who also has roots in Cebu, studied Bachelor of Science in Biology at University of Saint La Salle in Bacolod City.
She completed her medical degree at Southwestern University-Matias H. Aznar Memorial College of Medicine in Cebu City.
The former college volleyball varsity player holds two major beauty pageant titles. She was crowned MassKara Queen and Miss Mandue in 2012 and 2015, respectively.
Another Negrense beauty competing in the much-anticipated 2018 Binibining Pilipinas pageant is Vickie Marie Milagrosa Rushton.
The 25-year-old actress and model from Talisay City, Negros Occidental, was crowned Mutya ng Pilipinas in 2011. Before this, Rushton bagged the Lin-ay sang Negros title in 2009.
She eventually gained more popularity after joining the reality show Pinoy Big Brother on ABS-CBN where she finished in fourth place.
Rushton, who is Binibini No. 1, also advanced in the talent competition where she showcased her skills in playing the keyboard.
The Fililipino-British beauty along with Velasco emerged as among the top picks of pageant forums.
Both Missosology Philippines and Sashes and Scripts, in a report, predicted that the two will further advance as pageant winners.
According to them, Velasco may win as Binibining Pilipinas International or finish as fifth-placer.
The pageant forums also considered Rushton as strong contender for the Binibining Pilipinas International title. She was ranked third.
Six titles are at stake, including Miss Universe Philippines 2018, Binibining Pilipinas-International 2018, Binibining Pilipinas-Supranational 2018, Binibining Pilipinas-Grand International 2018, Binibining Pilipinas-Intercontinental 2018, and Binibining Pilipinas-Globe 2018, with two runner-up positions.
Dubbed "Binibining Pilipinas Emerald," this year's pageant is now in its 55th edition. The coronation night will be held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on March 18.