Let’s proceed with the ladies who have been designated as “Continental Queens” (awarded to those who placed below the Top Five) starting with:
CONTINENTAL QUEEN (AFRICA): GABON – Hillary Ondo. There was only one African who made the cut. Though I wish there would be more, it would be difficult to figure out who to eliminate among those who made the actual cut (though my personal taste would probably made me want to cut one who actually made the Top Five, but well, others did think she was worthy anyway). Though there are prettier faces who could’ve made the cut, this lady seems to have the right balance of looks and stage presence that gave her the edge over her fierce African peers and be the one to represent her continent in this Top 20. In relation to the stellar stage performers out there she might be considered relatively subdued, but still it’s a great achievement for this lady and for her country.
CONTINENTAL QUEEN (AMERICAS): BRAZIL – Raquel Benetti. Though the conspiracy theorist in me would speculate that the influence of her national director, who runs what is usually deemed as the premiere international pageant news website that is one of the main promoters of this pageant, may have had a hand in granting this lady the Continental Queen title, I have to concede that this lady had undeniable merits that made her worthy of garnering this distinction. It was indeed fiercely fought between her, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela that in the end I think this lady prevailed by the narrowest of margins. She made a provocative presence in the Top 20 gown round with a sheer lacy black number.
CONTINENTAL QUEEN (ASIA & OCEANIA): AUSTRALIA – Angie Miller, er, I mean, Esma Voloder. Everything about her was fresh and vibrant, which was what the judges seem to favor this year. If I have my way, I would’ve preferred her to make the Top Five instead of one of the eventual runners-up, though I have to respect that other peoples’ tastes are different than mine.
CONTINENTAL QUEEN (EUROPE): BELARUS – Veronika Chachina. While Miss Brazil provoked in the Top 20 evening gown round, this lady wore a provocative nude long-sleeved gown with strategically placed blue beadings during the first gown parade. I think the reason why Global Beauties did not have a high regard for her even if other pageant fans and pundits have placed her as a favorite is that her figure is a bit too skinny. But she managed to let her gorgeous face make people overlook that major quibble. I suppose a bit of hometown advantage allowed her to edge out her neighbors Russia and Ukraine for the Continental Queen title, though it’s a decision I respect as her face is just so gorgeous.
The key factor that made the Top Five earn their placements was that they all have distinctive stage personas, and that while the conduct of the pageant finals was unapologetically and unabashedly sexy, they tempered it with classiness. Let’s salute the Top Five with…
4TH RUNNER-UP: U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – Esonica Veira. In my homestretch review, I referred to Miss Togo as a Cubist dead-ringer for Rihanna. Little did I know there is one who would be more effective in channeling her charisma. It shows that not only could Esonica channel the late Michael Jackson (remember her famous dance performance), she can also channel a current pop star with her lively stage moves and edgy styling. I’m very pleased she’s able to improve over her Miss World 2011 finish (which was already a major achievement in itself).
3RD RUNNER-UP: INDONESIA – Cok Istri Krisnanda. She does have a vibrant and lively presence onstage, and that I could not deny. It’s just that her brand of exotic features are simply not my cup of tea, and to be blunt I don’t find her figure worthy of a Top Five placement. But, I have to respect that not everybody shares my taste so I suppose the panel of judges just dug her exotic appeal much better that was why she finished this well. It’s the best finish this country experienced in a major international pageant since a 2nd runner-up finish in Miss International in 1977.
This kind of achievement should have been reported and celebrated in her country, right? It’s quite interesting to note that I don’t seem to get anything coming from the Indonesian media reporting this achievement. I suppose it’s for the best, because of the ongoing furor at Miss World, where Indonesia is playing host. It seems we should be glad that hardline Moslem protesters do not seem to have internet access or else, they will have something to raise a ruckus about (and probably even condemn this lady), especially with heavy emphasis on girls in bikinis (yes, not one-piece swimsuits, but bikinis). If those prudish Moslem clerics believe that girls covered up in sarong and batik is “pornographic”, what would they think of this event, and the fact that their own girl is prominently featured clad in the same way as the rest? A side of me thinks that this shows that the Moslem hardliners have a hypocritical agenda and are simply making noise as a desperate publicity ploy (just like india 1996), and their agenda is truly not reflective of the Indonesian public at large.
2ND RUNNER-UP: TURKEY – Leyla Köse. As befitting the Victoria’s Secret inspiration permeating throughout this pageant, this lady channeled one of the lingerie brand’s top models, Australian supermodel Miranda Kerr. Because of this, she rose up the ranks, overtook the formidable Euro-stunners from the former Soviet Union (Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine) and became the highest ranked European in this year’s pageant.
1ST RUNNER-UP: MEXICO – Jacqueline Morales. She is undeniably good looking, though I find angles that I found a bit off-putting that I can’t quite classify her as pretty. I mentioned in my homestretch review that the upper part of her head (like forehead to eyes) resemble Miss Universe 1991 Lupita Jones. I was then struggling to figure who her face resembles from the nose down until I watched the finals and it dawned on me she resembles the twirling dynamo of Miss Universe 2008, the first runner-up from Colombia Taliana Vargas. She didn’t perform a Taliana Twirl, but her whirlwind stage moves made me imagine what if Taliana was possessed by Miss Universe 2008 Dayana Mendoza’s spirit, as she was a whirling dervish onstage. That distinctively dynamic presence helped catapult her past her erstwhile more favored Latin rivals from Brazil, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela to clinch a very high finish, first runner-up. Another note: there are also some other angles where she reminds me of another celebrity, Broadway star Idina Menzel (Rent and Wicked).
MISS SUPRANATIONAL 2013: PHILIPPINES – Mutya Datul. In hindsight, it is destiny that Mutya earned the right to compete in this pageant. It turns out that she’s an excellent fit for this pageant, especially since in Belarus, her heavily accented English would not be an issue as her hosts also speak English with a very heavy accent. Hence, her luminously radiant charm turned even brighter, and throughout her stay it never flickered. As we witnessed the luster dim a bit for early favorites like Puerto Rico and Russia, Mutya’s potent combination of classic beauty and Asian exoticism plus her natural sweetness and light stood out and as a Rihanna hit song puts it, she shone “bright like a diamond.” Yes, Filipino pageant fans and pundits may object to the styling and gown design in the Top 20 gown round, but then again, practically everyone else also endured the same issues and she still ended up smelling like roses in the end. Plus her victory makes for a Cinderella ending, as she joined pageants with the intention of helping out her family, and now she has gotten the plum prize and became the belle of the ball, so to speak. The good intentions she has with the prize money makes for a beautiful human interest story, don’t you think?
It is not because of a welcome victory of a compatriot that I now recognize the Miss Supranational pageant as belonging in the major leagues. I appreciate the flashy production and entertainment value this pageant brings and it is going to be fun to follow how they will continue to sustain the “beauty-and-stage-presence-only” format for years to come.
All images courtesy of Tomasz Mosionek and Milton Meloch for Miss Supranational unless otherwise indicated.