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.
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.
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