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

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