LATVIA – Lelde Paulsone. I’m very divided about her. Yes, she has a pretty face. Yes, her fringed-bang hairdo gives her a distinctive look that makes her clearly stand out from the pack. Yes, she has a slender figure. But there is something off-putting about her look–the platinum-to-grey hair color made me uncomfortably recall those children from “Children of the Corn” and that old 1950s film “The Bad Seed”. Wonder how the mercurial Chinese judges would respond to her look?
LEBANON – Maria Farah. There are angles where she looks absolutely lovely that she is regarded by pageant fans and pundits as a sleeper possibility. Then there are less flattering angles where she seems to sport eyebags. Still, the good angles outnumbered the bad so she could indeed be a possibility for the semifinals.
MACAU – Winnie Sin. I find her national costume interesting–relating to the Macau Grand Prix (a famous annual car racing event).
MALAYSIA – Phong Sze Ling. Again, if we discuss the Asian contingent in this pageant, this country typically takes up the rear. This lady may be better than the usual Malaysia contestant to this pageant, but still she doesn’t seem to have the edge to outshine the strong Asian powerhouses out there.
MEXICO – Karen Higuera. There are some flattering angles on this Latina, but there are several others where she looked plain, just like the swimsuit rehearsal photo below. I don’t think she’s in serious contention for the finals.
MONGOLIA – Tugsuu Idersaikhan. The best-looking Mongolians are typically found in this pageant. This vision of cuddly ingenue cuteness is no exception. I reckon she has an inside track into the semifinals.
NEPAL – Sarina Maskey. Nepalese tend to look either close to Indian or close to Chinese features. She is actually an intriguing, interesting mix of those two. I find her to be a worthwhile contender.
NETHERLANDS – Talitha Hertsenberg. She is an attractive lady, but she doesn’t have a standout quality that would give her serious inroads into the finals. Nevertheless she’s a worthwhile contender.
NEW ZEALAND – Claire Kirby. This brunette Miss Earth 2007 contestant has the good looks to be in serious contention for the semifinals. Will luck go her way this time?
PANAMA – Katy Mendieta Britton. She smolders with oodles of sex appeal that for many pageant fans and pundits she’s a front-runner for the crown. I don’t know why I’m not as into her as the others are, but she is indeed worthy of her status.
PARAGUAY – Stephanie Vázquez. Here is another pretty face that would generate some positive notices. But I don’t see her standing out and breaking out of the pack so far…
PERU – María Alejandra Chávez. She has very Caucasian features that are relatively attractive, but not distinctive to stand out of this pack.
PHILIPPINES – Dianne Necio. This lady is being compared to Miss International 2005 Precious Lara Quigaman and is hyped by several pageant fans and pundits that she could duplicate her feat and rated her as among the front-runners for the crown. Well, she does share the same winning traits as Precious, like her comely Oriental features, her nice proportions that belie her petite stature, her strong stage skills, and solid communication skills.
But as much as I am rooting for her to go far in this competition, I feel that the conditions that allowed Precious to win is not in effect this time. Back in 2005, during the finals Precious was simply more consistent in all aspects of the competition, with her beauty, her strong stage skills in swimsuit and evening gown, and clinching the deal with her eloquent culturall speech. During that time she edged everyone else because the other contenders were inconsistent–including the perceived front-runner then, the gorgeous Andrea Gomez from Venezuela. I fear that as consistently strong as Dianne could be, her other competitors look to be stronger and as consistent as her–for instance, the Venezuelan representative this year, Jessica Barboza, is already a proven quantity in the international arena, garnering the Miss Earth-Water title two years ago with her excellent command of the stage and strong (though a tad sassy) communication skills (she has a good command of English) and it would take a major disaster for the consistently competitive Jessica to lose her mojo. Still, Dianne’s charisma could not be denied and it will be a major injustice if she would be shut out of the finals.
POLAND – Adrianna Wojciechowska. We’ve seen better looking ladies fielded by this country before. Still, she’s a worthwhile contender.
PORTUGAL – Patrícia Da Silva. It’s an interesting thing that for the pop-up swimsuit photo that seems to be a tradition as of late for the Chengdu editions of this pageant, this lady decided to wear a patchwork dress (we Filipinos would call the frock a “duster” or “daster”). She’s attractive enough, but not in serious contention for the finals. Still, it’s a welcome return for this country after an 11-year absence.
PUERTO RICO – Desireé Del Río. Here’s a less-buzzed-about but another possible semifinal contender. She has classically pretty good looks and a buffed figure. She could conceivably pull off a sleeper surprise.
COMING UP: ROMANIA to ZIMBABWE and the “Fearful” Forecast.