MISS EARTH 2011: AT THE HOMESTRETCH (PART 3)

GUAM – Anna Calvo.  For me, she has one of the prettiest faces in this year’s batch.  Not only that, she is an excellent and well-educated speaker.  Sure she does not shine in photos or onstage that much, and her figure may not be as buffed as the front-runners out there, but in person she’s very lovely.  I’m rooting for her to make the final cut–she’s my sentimental favorite.

GUATEMALA – Ana Luisa Montufar.  I find her features a bit angular for comfort, but she’s undeniably polished and competitive, with a buffed figure to boot.  Another worthwhile member of the formidable Latina contingent.

HONDURAS – Stephany Hernandez.  Now meet one of the weakest links from the Latina contingent.  She has potential as she has attractive features, but she doesn’t know how to capitalize on them, and having a less-than-buffed body simply exacerbates the situation.  She also seems very raw.  With a proper grooming and makeover (plus maybe time in the gym), she can transform herself into her country’s equivalent of Andrea Fonseka.

HONG KONG SAR – Luo Wenxi.  Despite having a distinctive hairdo and round face, I don’t see her in serious contention for a semifinals slot, and she’s clearly totally unpolished to boot.  For some odd reason I have visions of her dressed in some Anime cosplay clothes, or in a less savory fashion, the object of some sleazy old man’s fantasies.

Anime cosplay girl (image sourced from yed.org)

HUNGARY – Dora Szabó.  Yes, her beauty is actually of an unconventional sort (she has a passing resemblance to “Showgirls” star Elizabeth Berkley), but I have to argue that she’s the best this country ever fielded to this pageant thus far.  With her complete package including a buffed figure, outgoing personality, and strong communication skills, she can make the breakthrough into the semifinals.

Elizabeth Berkley (image sourced from eonline.com)

INDIA – Hasleen Kaur.  Despite some unflattering early candid photos, this lady knows how to turn on the charisma when it counts.  Could she bring forth the Indian back-to-back victory?  It is highly possible, especially if she makes it all the way to the final interview round.  Not only is she an eloquent speaker, she knows how to communicate in a manner that reaches out to the audience–this is especially evident as she made one of the, if not THE best speech during the press presentation.  I only saw one evening gown photo, but she looked dreamy in it, in my opinion.  I think she is guaranteed an element.  Yes, she is clearly going the salvage her country’s weak 2011 pageant season.

INDONESIA – Inez Maharani.  Though she was already in Manila during the press presentation, and despite more liberated values prevailing in her country as of late, she decided not to appear as there are still pockets of objections over Indonesian women wearing swimsuits.  Well, I have to respect her wishes (as she explained in one of the YouTube videos with her roommate, Miss Italy), though there were several Indonesians before her who had no qualms appearing in such.  They did accommodate that for the Malaysian representative last year in Vietnam.*  She is actually a worthwhile, good looking contender otherwise.  She is also memorable in Miss Italy’s YouTube videos for her singing prowess, singing Alicia Keys’s “If I Ain’t Got You”.  The winner of the Talent fast-track of Miss World, Gabriela Pulgar from Chile, won by singing the same song.  So who was better?  I’m personally torn, as though Inez has a nicer tone in her voice, her diction was so thickly accented, while Gabriela is similarly accented it wasn’t as glaring as Inez’s.  Still both are indeed strong singers.

* Appey Rowena was conspicuously absent during the locally televised Miss Earth swimsuit competition, and her introduction video during the finals was conspicuous for the absence of a swimsuit shot.

IRELAND – Rachelle Liggett.  What was most notable about her during the press presentation was her obviously making the effort to display flatter abs–well, even the buffest people while in competition or in a photo shoot do that so we shouldn’t take that against her that much.

ISRAEL – Huda Naccache.  During the press presentation, there might be some people who might assume she’s aloof and maybe even the non-sympathetic person in the batch.  But as revealed in Miss Italy’s series of YouTube videos, she’s simply more of a laid-back matter-of-fact girl (just like Miss Austria).  She has a slim frame and angular features perfect for modeling, but it is likely going to be an uphill battle for her to be contention for a semifinalist slot in this pageant.

ITALY – Angelica Parisi.  She is good-looking in a sisterly ingenue kind of way, and by that virtue alone she could be a sleeper possibility into the semifinals.  But she makes a bigger impact as she documented her stay here in the Philippines with a series of YouTube videos revealing an upbeat personal glimpse of life behind the scenes in the pageant with her as a playful, vivacious, gracious, and occasionally impish host of the proceedings.  For that entertaining series we pageant fans and pundits are eternally grateful.  Molto grazie!

JAPAN – Tomoko Maeda.  Her beauty is of an unconventional sort, but she knows how to make her presence felt, especially with her dramatic performance during the national costume competition that earned her the top prize.  It’s almost like seeing an Ines Ligron girl in action here.  Prospects of her finishing in the semifinals like last year’s Marina Kishira (who made all the way to Top Seven) are very optimistic.

KOREA – E-Seul Kim.   Most of the time, Korean representatives sent to major pageants would be renowned for their pretty faces and not much else, but there would be times where they would field feisty ladies who exhibit oodles of star quality, just like the one sent to Miss World earlier this year, Kyung Min Doe, who would then make serious inroads into the finals.  This lady, unfortunately, falls in the former category.  She’s pretty, but she seems to be missing assertiveness and spunk to standout in a crowd.

KOSOVO – Nora Asani.  There is a term I normally use to describe ladies with jet black hair, pale white complexion, angular noses, and luminous eyes–Bosnian Vamp, as this was characteristic of Bosnian representatives during the early years of the pageant like dethroned winner Dzejla Glavovic.  But since Bosnia doesn’t send these types of girls anymore, a better term is needed.  A colleague of mine, James Gannaban (Hong Kong’s Most Hyperactive Gay Boy) coined the term “Drusilla”, and I realize this might be more apt.  James would apply this term to describe this gorgeous lady.  I wonder if her face and her strong communication skills would be enough to offset her shorter-than-pageant-average height and her less-than-ideal frame.  It worked for those Bosnian girls before, so she might make the cut indeed.

LATVIA – Sanda Mezecka.  She’s a slender blonde in the similar mode of Miss France.  Though she’s attractive, she has not made a serious impression that it might be an uphill battle for her to make the final cut.

Evening gown images courtesy of Carousel Productions, Press Presentation images courtesy of Boyet Blas/Noli Berioso of Mabuhay Beauties, and National Costume images courtesy of Bruce Casanova for OPMB Worldwide.

COMING UP:  LEBANON to PAKISTAN

MISS EARTH 2011: AT THE HOMESTRETCH (PART 2)

COLOMBIA – Andrea DeVivo.  We have to hand it that this outgoing lady is well-prepared, polished, attractive, well-spoken, and has a competitive drive.  These are qualities that would help anyone gain serious inroads into the finals.  Definitely another Latina to watch out for.

CRIMEA – Nina Astrakhantseva.  Several pageant fans and pundits salivated at first sight of her that they regarded her as a front-runner for the crown.  This was because of her extraordinarily pretty face.  Buzz about her subdued somewhat when they saw her figure during the press presentation, as it was less-than-ideal than they have expected.  Still, never count this lady out as she could still be in contention for a semifinalist slot.

CURACAO – Miluska Willems.  She has an attractive face (with features that could pass for Filipino), but she is not making a major impression that it would be an uphill battle for her to make the semifinals.

CZECH REPUBLIC – Šárka Cojocarová.  In person, when I watched her during the Press Presentation, I was not that impressed with her face, but she’s a strong communicator, and her figure is to die for.  Yes, her win in Best in Swimsuit was well-deserved (though I was more fixated on Bosnia & Herzegovina and Hungary at the time).  But looking at photographs, she has that sparkle that I understand how she’s now being hyped as a possible front-runner for the crown and perhaps earn an element.  She photographs wonderfully, as I perused through several pictures taken of her in various activities.

DENMARK – Cecilia Iftikhar. Her Arabic features are an acquired taste, but she could still qualify in the “attractive” department.  Her best prospects, though, is a credible showing.

Image courtesy of Jonas Yu for Critical Beauty

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – Sarah Feliz.  Her features remind me of So You Think You Can Dance season 5 champion Jeanine Mason crossed with Miss Universe 2003 Amelia Vega.  She is highly attractive, though not making as much of a major splash that it will be an uphill battle for her to make the final cut.

So You Think You Can Dance Season 5 champion Jeanine Mason (image courtesy of Fox Television)
Miss Universe 2003 Amelia Vega (image courtesy of Miss Universe LP, LLLP)

ECUADOR – Olga Alva.  Amongst a formidable bevy of Latinas this year, this is one who seems to have a leg up over the rest.  She has the smoldering exotic beauty like the recently crowned Miss World Ivian Sarcos of Venezuela (to the point she wore a blue version of that final night gown), with the sexiest figure to boot.   She seems to be in contention to gain an element, at the very least.

Miss World 2011 Ivian Sarcos (image courtesy of Miss World, Ltd.)

EL SALVADOR – Anita Puertas.  Amongst all the ladies fielded from this country in the Grand Slam pageants this year, this one is the best of them all.  She has those cheekbones that make her look adorably cute.  She’s a sleeper possibility for the finals in my book.

ENGLAND – Roxanne Smith.  With the right styling and as long as she smiles, her face can look very pretty.  Sometimes, though, I find her more candid shots underwhelming.  I don’t really see her in serious contention for the semifinals, but she’s a worthwhile contender.

ESTONIA – Xenia Likhacheva.  She’s an attractive brunette who simply gets drowned out by her peers.  Her best prospect is a credible showing.

FRANCE – Mathilde Florin.  She is a pretty, fresh-scrubbed blonde who makes a strong impression amongst some pageant fans and pundits.  She could be a sleeper possibility for the semifinals.

GERMANY – Manou Volkmer.  This slim, statuesque brunette is attractive, though it would be an uphill battle for her to make the final cut.  But she was memorable featured in Miss Italy’s series of YouTube videos, especially the one where she introduced her “friend”, a stuffed lion named Footse.

GHANA – Patricia Anti.  She’s one of the late-comers, and her most distinctive feature is her stature (particularly her lack of it–she’s 1.56 m or 5′ 1.5″).  Her weave makes me have visions of an African version of Jersey Shore star Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi–all she needs is to tease her hair a bit more and the comparisons would be even more apparent.  So far, she seems more dignified than that reality show star.

At a Fashion Show for a Cause, with Guadeloupe at the forefront (photo courtesy of Jonas Yu for Critical Beauty)

At a provincial fashion show (photo sourced from Missosology).
Snooki at the Grammy Awards (photo sourced from thecelebrityworkout.com)

GUADELOUPE – Mitchelle Maleziou.  On other girls, her distinctively short ringlet hairdo would be a horrendous disaster, but this lady pulled it off with style and flair.  A worthwhile contender in my opinion.

Evening gown images courtesy of Carousel Productions, Press Presentation images courtesy of Boyet Blas/Noli Berioso of Mabuhay Beauties, and National Costume images courtesy of Bruce Casanova for OPMB Worldwide.

COMING UP:  GUAM to  LATVIA

MISS EARTH 2011: AT THE HOMESTRETCH (PART 1)

There was a bit of turmoil leading up to the hosting of the 11th edition of the Miss Earth Pageant–the original host was Bangkok, Thailand, but because of the months-long flooding, they had to cancel the hosting.  Instead, the edition commemorating 10 years of this pageant would be held where it all began: in Manila, Philippines.

The itinerary of activities were of course scheduled at last minute, and instead of the usual three-to-four week extravaganza it was reduced to a tight two-week schedule.  Still, the spirit of fun and camaraderie that is this pageant’s hallmark since 2003 is very much present (check out the series of YouTube videos posted by Italy’s Angelica Parisi for starters), and yes, the ladies were split into three groups to tour various parts of our country.

What about this year’s delegates?  Though some pageant fans and pundits may dismiss the quality based on some unflattering photographs, again I stress that they generally look much better in person.  Another thing that is also notable is that by almost all accounts, all the delegates have sympathetic, friendly personalities.  The total number of entries–84–is equal to last year’s tally  It’s such a shame some usual regulars like Argentina, Costa Rica, Kenya, Nicaragua, Poland, and Tahiti have sat out this year due to varying reasons.   Without further ado, I shall start with…

ARUBA – Melissa Lacle.  She has angles where she resembles a Kardashian.  Generally this Miss Universe 2006 veteran is a solid contestant but not in serious running of making the final cut.  Still, it’s a great welcome back for this country (though officially this is the first time this country competed in this pageant, there was a representative back in 2002, Juraney Toppenberg, who left less than two weeks into the pageant proceedings).

At Miss Universe 2006 (courtesy of Miss Universe Organization LP, LLLP).
The Kardashian family (courtesy of E!)

AUSTRALIA – Deedee Zibarai.  This brunette’s one of the less buzzed about contenders in this group, but she seems to have the qualities that could make her a sleeper choice for the semifinals.  She is attractive, her figure is trim, she can move well enough onstage, and she speaks well.

AUSTRIA – Elisabeth Hanakamp.  This country is usually inactive in the pageant world as of late, but it’s nice to learn that it sees action for the very first time in this pageant.  This blonde is attractive, but I wonder if her matter-of-fact demeanor especially when she speaks would be appreciated in this crowd (at least it’s not the complaining sort like this year’s Austrian representative to Miss World).

BAHAMAS – Kerel Razil Pinder.  I’ve noticed about Bahamian representatives as of late that they tend to present themselves in an extremely perky but affected manner to the point that it’s over-the-top.  This is true in Miss Universe this year with Anastagia Pierre, and I’ve observe this type of behavior with several recent Miss Earth representatives from this country.  This lady is no exception.  It may have worked in the 1990s but a subtler, more natural and more sincere approach is better appreciated these days.

BELGIUM – Aline Decock.  This pretty blonde exudes a sweet, almost ethereal presence, and she has strong communication skills to boot.  If the judging panel finally overcomes its aversion to blondes, she could make serious inroads into the semifinals.  Arguably the best fielded by this country in this pageant so far.

BELIZE – Kimberly Robateau.  She made a striking initial impression with features that have a passing resemblance to Barbadian pop superstar Rihanna.  She could be a sleeper contender, but I found her frame rather too slight.

BOLIVIA – Valeria Avendaño.  Here is the first of the hot Latina bombshells.  Collectively the strongest region in this year’s pageant in my opinion is Latin America, even as several pageant fans and pundits are dying to see another non-Latin winner besides the reigning winner Nicole Faria.  Oddly enough, though she possesses merits that are worthy of a sleeper possibility in the semifinals, she is one of the less buzzed about contenders in the Latin group–that’s how deep this year’s Latin bench is.

BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA – Aleksandra Kovacevic.  She may not register as well in photos, but she’s actually good-looking and has a killer figure, in my opinion, plus a strong communicator.

BOTSWANA – Messiah Jackson.  In recent years, the African continent fielded its best looking contenders in this pageant.  Though this year collectively is not that strong, this lady is one of the rare exceptions, being a strong total package of good looks, trim figure, and good communication skills.  A slot for an African could go to her or to Zimbabwe.

BRAZIL – Driely Bennettone.  Face-wise, I find her features a bit too angular.  But she has a significant amount of support amongst local pageant fans and pundits, and she has a buffed figure.  She is also in serious contention for the semifinals.

CANADA – Ashlea Moore.  This blonde seems to share the same quality as Miss Universe 2000 finalist Kim Yee–let’s just say she’s the front-runner in this year’s Miss Earth edition of the BB Sweepstakes.  But I notice that there is something odd about her proportions–her hips are narrower than her top.  I’m not sure if she’s in serious contention for the finals, or can she parlay her assets to make the final cut like what Kim Yee did?

Kim Yee at Miss Universe 2000 (courtesy of Miss Universe LP, LLLP)

CHILE – Camila Stuardo.  Because she took a flight that went via Europe instead of the shorter route via the Pacific Ocean, she missed participating in the evening gown competition and the press presentation.  Nevertheless, she is making a strong impression that she looks to be in contention to be in the semifinals.

At a provincial swimsuit event (photo sourced from the Missosology messageboard)
At a Fashion Show for a Cause (photo courtesy of Jonas Yu for Critical Beauty)

CHINA – Liu Yujun.  For a nation with about 160-180 million females between the ages of 18-25, you wonder this is the best they could field?  Is there something wrong with the franchise holder that they could not attract the best Chinese lady to send to this pageant?  (Well, for the past few years I’m underwhelmed with the representatives from this country to this pageant.)  Although she has a cute face, everything about her is raw and unpolished that if she is not wearing the China sash, you would mistake her for a chaperone. She was the only one in the press presentation to simply state her name and country and nothing else–you would expect this thing from a French Caribbean delegate in previous years, but not from this rising international pageant powerhouse.

During their Cebu trip, with Signapore, England, Sweden, Canada, USA, India, and Turkey.

CHINESE TAIPEI – Cherry Liu.  Conventional wisdom would state that if a Taiwanese contestant competes head-to-head with a mainland Chinese contestant, the Taiwanese contestant will be consistently inferior.  The opposite is the case in this pageant for the past few years.  And the contrast just became even starker this time, as not only is this cute girl good looking (she reminds me of former MTV VJ Nonie Tao, who also happens to be Taiwanese) who recently won Miss Photogenic, she is also polished.  A bonus factor is that she speaks excellent English (well, just like Nonie Tao, also).  She is a contender to land a slot in the semifinals.

Former MTV VJ Nonie Tao (image sourced from metrozines.com)

Evening gown images courtesy of Carousel Productions, Press Presentation images courtesy of Boyet Blas/Noli Berioso of Mabuhay Beauties, and National Costume images courtesy of Bruce Casanova for OPMB Worldwide.

COMING UP:  COLOMBIA to GUADELOUPE