MOLDOVA – Aliona Chitoroaga. Just like Kosovo, she is a very pretty ingenue, though she is a bit raw.
NORWAY – Nina Fjalestad. Amongst the Scandinavian representatives she scored the best with a silver medal in swimsuit and a bronze medal in evening gown. Though I initially favored Finland, I have a gnawing feeling it will be this Scandinavian beauty who is most likely to make the final cut. She won the Miss Globe International pageant held in Turkey last year.
PAKISTAN – Zanib Naveed. She is a solid contender in general, but it is an uphill battle for her to make serious inroads into the finals. She had the consolation of earning a bronze medal in a trivia challenge.
PARAGUAY – Alexandra Fretes. She was supposed to compete last year, but was sidelined by injury and Nicole Huber took her place. She competed again in her national pageant and was again designated for this contest. Her body for sin and her resemblance to sexy Modern Family star Sofia Vergara helped her earn a gold medal in her group’s swimsuit competition. She has an inside track to sustain her country’s semifinalist streak.
ROMANIA – Monica Dumitrescu. In another year, she would be considered a middling contender, but in this competitive batch, she is ending up as one of the bottom feeders. Still, she should not be considered a complete dud.
RUSSIA – Natalia Pereverzeva. Early in her arrival (and prior to that), she is regarded as one of the possible front-runners, as she possesses one of the most gorgeous faces in this year’s batch. But controversy has hounded her, from her nude photo layouts published in Russian Playboy (when she was a blonde) and her recent pronouncements about corruption in her country. She at least garnered a gold medal in the Ever Bilena makeup challenge and a bronze medal as “most charming” in a Walk with ME activity. But I have a gnawing feeling she would end up like the equally controversial Miss Universe delegate from three years ago, Sofia Rudieva, who despite performing very well was shut out of the semifinals, partly because of her explicitly salacious photos.
SLOVENIA – Anjeza Barbatovci. We have a bevy of strong blonde delegates in this year’s pageant, though this lady is relatively the weakest link of the bunch. Still, she is a creditable and solid contender.
SOUTH SUDAN – Rachael Angeth. Prior to her arrival, there were some fans and pundits who thought she might be the black-African-most-likely instead of Kenya, as she has a close resemblance to South Sudanese supermodel Alek Wek. But then, as she arrived, the pageant fans observed her figure and it is not the sort that is appreciated in these shores, and there was a mini-controversy about her anti-homosexual remarks. Her best prospects now is simply a creditable performance.
SRI LANKA – Chathurika Ariyawanasha. We are spoiled rotten at the sight of Miss International 2012 2nd runner-up Madusha Mayadunne, that this lady is considered a major letdown. To her credit, she would’ve been considered a creditable contender in a less-competitive year, but well, she has to contend with a very strong and interesting group this year.
THAILAND – Waratthaya Wongchayaporn. She caused a major sensation amongst Filipino pageant fans and pundits whenever she appeared, and many (including myself) regard her as the favorite to win it all. It was a bit surprising that early in the game she couldn’t seem to earn a medal with the exception of a silver as “Darling of the Press”. But later in the game she garnered major momentum, earning a silver in evening gown and a bronze in resorts wear, and finally competing against all three groups she earned a gold in national costume and a silver for the online photogenic voting, the latter two helping her propel past Miss Germany as the highest scorer in her group. She seems to be on track to be garnering an element, but winning it all would depend on how she can outshine the “complete packages” provided by South Africa, Turkey, and USA.
UKRAINE – Yevegeniya Prokopenko. Her facial features might be a bit angular, but she is undeniably polished in her appearances. She deserves credit for that.
VIETNAM – Do Hoang Anh. She has a very cute face, but in comparison with some formidable Asians out there, she couldn’t catch a break.
WALES – Zoe Kinsella. There were some people who assume that I don’t have a high regard for short pageant contestants. It’s not always the case, and this lady is one of those exceptions. Though I sometimes feel she is heavily made up, she undeniably has great looks, and she has proven herself to be in serious contention by winning a gold medal for the trivia challenge, a silver for resorts wear, and a bronze as best teacher in a school visit. She is currently ranked third in her group and is within striking distance of making the final cut.
All images courtesy of Miss Earth, Jonas Yu for Critical Beauty, and Bruce Casanova for OPMB Worldwide unless otherwise indicated.
With all 80 delegates accounted for, let me trot out my leaderboard:
TOP CONTENDERS: SOUTH AFRICA, THAILAND, TURKEY, U S A
SHOO-INs: GERMANY, PUERTO RICO, VENEZUELA
INSIDER FACTOR: PHILIPPINES
LIKELIEST: ARGENTINA, AUSTRALIA, BRAZIL, COLOMBIA, COSTA RICA, CZECH REPUBLIC, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, FIJI, FINLAND, JAPAN, KENYA, KOREA, MALAYSIA, MONGOLIA, NETHERLANDS, NORWAY, PARAGUAY, POLAND, RUSSIA, SCOTLAND, SLOVAK REPUBLIC, SPAIN, SWEDEN, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO, WALES
CAUSE COMMITMENT FACTOR: BELGIUM, BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA
EXCELLENT: AUSTRIA, BAHAMAS, BOTSWANA, CRIMEA, GUATEMALA, INDIA, ITALY, KOSOVO, LEBANON, MOLDOVA, NEPAL, NICARAGUA, UKRAINE, US VIRGIN ISLANDS, VIETNAM
VERY STRONG: BELIZE, COOK ISLANDS, ECUADOR, ENGLAND, GUADELOUPE, INDONESIA, MEXICO, NEW ZEALAND, NORTHERN IRELAND, PANAMA, REUNION ISLAND, SWITZERLAND
STRONG: DENMARK, GUAM, HONDURAS, PAKISTAN, SLOVENIA, SOUTH SUDAN, TANZANIA, URUGUAY, ZIMBABWE
VERY GOOD: BOLIVIA, CANADA, CHINA, CHINESE TAIPEI, EL SALVADOR, SINGAPORE
GOOD: MALTA, ROMANIA, SRI LANKA
And here is my “fearful” forecast:
TOP FOUR: SOUTH AFRICA, THAILAND, TURKEY, U S A
TOP EIGHT: COSTA RICA, PHILIPPINES, PUERTO RICO, VENEZUELA
SEMIFINALISTS: CZECH REPUBLIC, GERMANY, KENYA, MALAYSIA, NETHERLANDS, NORWAY, PARAGUAY, SPAIN
BUBBLING UNDER: ARGENTINA, AUSTRALIA, BRAZIL, COLOMBIA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, FIJI, FINLAND, JAPAN, KOREA, MONGOLIA, POLAND, RUSSIA, SCOTLAND, SLOVAK REPUBLIC, SWEDEN, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO, WALES, BELGIUM, BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA, AUSTRIA, BAHAMAS, BOTSWANA, CRIMEA, GUATEMALA, INDIA, ITALY, KOSOVO, LEBANON, MOLDOVA, NEPAL, NICARAGUA, UKRAINE, US VIRGIN ISLANDS, VIETNAM
It looks like we are in for an interesting and exciting pageant–would conventional prettiness prevail, or will the tradition of less conventionally pretty winners as it was in recent years prevail? Whatever the case, hope the results would be justifiable and acceptable to the public at large.