MISS WORLD 2013: AT THE HOMESTRETCH (BLUE TEAM, PART 2)

HAITI – Ketsia Lioudy Iciena.  It’s nice to see this country return to this pageant after an absence of 38 years (when it placed among the Top 7 finalists).  With the exception of participating in the Waterbucket round of the Sports challenge (i presume other members eventually could join in besides the designated shortlisted contestants), she has not made an impression thus far in the challenge events.  Still, it’s nice to see this country present.

Participating in the Waterbucket round of the Sports challenge.

HONG KONG CHINA – Jacqueline Wong.  She might be one of the lesser-regarded contestants from the Asia-Oceania region, but she made the Talent finals with her traditional Chinese dance.  To her credit she has excellent communication skills.

JAPAN – Michiko Tanaka.  She is one of the prettiest representatives ever fielded by this country in this pageant (yes, include her as one of the ladies more beautiful than the reigning Miss International, Ikumi Yoshimatsu).  Hope that she makes the right impression with the judges to make more serious inroads than her Top 32 finish in Beach Fashion may indicate.  As she’s the roommate of the Philippines’ Megan Young, she is now held in high esteem and is well beloved amongst Filipino fans and pundits.

KENYA – Wangui Gitonga.  To her credit, she has a slim and slender figure and she’s well spoken.  But it’s not surprising why she has not made serious inroads in any challenge event.

KOSOVO – Antigona Sejdiu.  This lady is well regarded by pageant fans and pundits even if she didn’t figure in any challenge event.  Anyway, it’s a welcome debut for this country in this pageant.

LESOTHO – Mamahlape Matsoso.  She’s plain and unpolished.  So it’s not surprising why she failed to figure in any challenge event.

MALTA – Donna Leyland.  Well, what is notable about her is what Megan recounted–that she’s increasingly becoming Asian, learning Chinese songs from Miss China.

MONTENEGRO – Ivana Milojko.  Though she’s not the top performing sportswoman in her team, she was prominent in photos of the Blue Team during the Sports challenge finals.  She was the only one who played volleyball among the members shortlisted, and she is prominent in the other events as well.  Though her only impact thus far was the “homely” challenge event, she’s actually very good looking and deserves better notice than what she got thus far.  I think she could be an underrated gem.

At the Volleyball round of the Sports challenge

NORWAY – Alexandra Backstrom.  I actually find her very gorgeous and thought she could make serious inroads into the finals.  But then as the events wore on, she failed to figure in any of them.  She seems to be a front-runner for the “Holly Carpenter” award.

PHILIPPINES – Megan Young.  It was just announced that she won the Top Model challenge event.  It is not surprising as she looked regal and elegant during the event, proving that you can make a major splash without relying on elaborate hairstyles or hair accessories.  She also was announced as 5th in the Beach Fashion challenge and 4th in the Multimedia challenge (though if you ask me, the content she generated was way more engaging and spirited than what I saw from the ones who outranked her, but then again, I might simply be too biased).

From the get-go she has delivered her status as a favorite to win it all, and she is proving to possess the qualities that Miss World Ltd should not dare overlook.  Her generous spirit with her peers made me recall the reigning Mr. World, Francisco Escobar.  It is also well known about her willingness to help out in whatever worthy causes.  Of course, there is her stunning features, that perfect balance of classic Western beauty and Asian exoticism, and her touted excellent communication skills.  Also, imagine the opportunities in the English-speaking world for reality-oriented TV, as Megan has experience in that realm, too.  She is on the path to realize the fervent dreams of about 100 million Filipinos all around the world.  If the title is granted to her, there is a guarantee that the causes of Miss World would be promoted to the next level as the legion of Filipino fans would be rallying behind her and publicizing her every move.

Now, it has been reported that there is a small group of saboteurs who sent emails to the Miss World organization trying to discredit our beloved Megan, and they happened to be Filipinos.  It’s so shameful that there is this situation, and that the ugly crab mentality that we Filipinos tried to eliminate has reared its ugly head again.  Just like the furor by the conservative Islamists over this pageant as a whole, the sentiments of those saboteurs are not reflective of the sentiments of the public at large.  I can presume the issue the saboteurs were trying to raise was the magazine layout Megan did for Rogue magazine.  Now, okay the layout was sensual, but it was also editorial and artistic and lust is not the first thing that would come to mind when you look at them–more a sense of appreciation of beauty, like Chris Isaak’s legendary “Wicked Game” video with supermodel Helena Christiansen.  Besides, Megan didn’t expose any private parts in any of those photos.  If this is considered a chink in what is otherwise an impeccable reputation, most people would love to have that as their only bit of notoriety.

I also have to note that remember that there are at least three Miss World winners who were notorious for topless photos, too, and they were all allowed to complete their reigns (and I have to say, I saw some of those topless photos and they weren’t as tasteful as Megan’s as they have a cheesecake instead of art-directed feel to them).

Remember, she had topless photos, too: Miss World 1965 Lesley Langley
Ditto this lady: Miss World 1969 Eva Reuber-Staier
…And this lady: Miss World 1987 Ulla Weigerstorfer

ST. KITTS & NEVIS – Trevicia Adams.  Well, let me say that it’s nice to see this country in action in this pageant, as they don’t make regular appearances.

SERBIA – Aleksandra Doknić. Her features are generally plain, but she seems to make the most out of them.  At least she saw action in the Volleyball round of the Sports challenge.

SINGAPORE – Maria-Anna Zenieris.  Megan has described her as reminiscent of her Miss World Philippines 2013 2nd runner-up Zahra Bianca Saldua.  I see a resemblance to Glee star Jenna Ushkowitz.

Glee star Jenna Ushkowitz (image sourced from aceshowbiz.com)

SPAIN – Elena Ibarbia.  Many pageant fans and pundits presumed that if Megan is to become the winner, this lady would likely become the first runner-up and bring forth Spain’s best finish in this pageant thus far (its best finish was a 2nd runner-up placement back in 1961).  She seems to be on track by making the Top 10 in Beach Fashion and had the bonus of making the shortlist of the Sports challenge.  But then came the Top Model event, and she seemed to have lost some luster in that event–she might still have earned credits, but she didn’t seem to be performing at a level that most pageant fans and pundits have expected of her.  It turns out after the challenge results were announced that she was 2nd in the Sports challenge overall.  There is still a chance that she could still make the Top Three, but it seems that the edge is going towards Brazil, Ukraine (or France), and of course the Philippines at this point.

At the Waterbucket round of the Sports challenge.

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO – Sherrece Villafana.  She is actually a solid contender.  At least the highlight is that she made the extremely competitive Talent final with her steel drum skills.

Performing with her steel drum at the Talent Final.

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – Petra Cabrera-Badia.  She is no Esonica Veira, but she’s attractive enough to garner some compliments.  She at least made the Top 32 in Beach Fashion.  Based on her surname, it’s interesting that it seems English is not her first language–she’s probably actually Latina.

Now with everyone in the Blue Team accounted for, let me trot out my leaderboard:

TOP CONTENDERS:  PHILIPPINES, SPAIN

SHOO-IN:  CHINA

LIKELIEST:  ALBANIA, CAMEROON, CYPRUS, DENMARK, ECUADOR, JAPAN, MONTENEGRO, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS

CHALLENGE EVENT FACTOR:  DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, EL SALVADOR, HONG KONG CHINA

EXCELLENT:  CHINESE TAIPEI, GUATEMALA, GUINEA, KOSOVO, NORWAY

VERY STRONG:  KENYA, SERBIA, SINGAPORE

STRONG:  GERMANY, ST. KITTS & NEVIS

VERY GOOD:  BARBADOS, GREECE

GOOD:  COSTA RICA, HAITI, MALTA

FAIR:  GABON, LESOTHO

MISS WORLD 2013: AT THE HOMESTRETCH (BLUE TEAM, PART 1)

BLUE TEAM:  This team is rather evenly mixed in terms of regions, but well, we know that Asians are the standouts in this group.  Two highly regarded favorites are found on this team.  Let’s now meet them starting with: 

ALBANIA – Ersela KurtI.  This blonde made the Top 32 in Beach Fashion.  She hasn’t made much inroads in other challenge events, but she is still one worth reckoning.

BARBADOS – Regina Ramjit.  She may not be considered a looker, but she seems to have a nice personality.

CAMEROON – Denise Ayena.  Though there are prettier Africans out there (like Misses Cote D’Ivoire and Guinea, for instance), it is this lady who was the closest to wresting the Miss World – Africa title from Miss Ghana, with finalist finishes in both Talent (with a drum-and-dance performance) and Top Model.  With the challenge champions now announced, Miss Ghana now seems to be a lock, but we have to salute the efforts by this lady, who brought forth an auspicious debut for this nation.

Drumming in the Talent finals

CHINA PR – Wei Wei Yu.  It was initially perceived that this lady may make much more serious inroads into the Top 10.  But aside from a Top 11 finish in Beach Fashion, she hasn’t figured in any other event.  It’s now unlikely that she’ll make it a back-to-back victory for her nation, but she can still conceivably make serious inroads into the finals.

CHINESE TAIPEI – Cinzia Chiang.  She may not have figured in any challenge event, but she is well regarded by pageant fans and pundits.  One of the better contenders fielded by this country in this pageant.

COSTA RICA – Yarley Marin.  As expected, she has not figured in any challenge event.

CYPRUS – Kristi-Mari Agapiou.  There are pageant fans and pundits who took serious notice of her, and by figuring as a reserve for her team in the Sports challenge plus a Top 10 finish in Top Model, she is in striking distance of making the final cut.  She speaks with an English accent as she is presently studying in England.

At the Tug-of-War round of the Sports Challenge

DENMARK – Malene Sorensen.  Many pageant fans and pundits have placed her as a possible front-runner prior to her arrival, but buzz dimmed as she set foot in Bali.  Thus far, the only challenge event where she made an impression was a Top 32 finish in Beach Fashion.  Still, she’s one of the better representatives from this country in recent years.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – Joely Bernat.  She has one of the more active Facebook pages amongst this year’s contestants, with very frequent updates.  She made her biggest splash in the Sports challenge.  Though she’s not present in the Volleyball round (four of them sat out in this round), she was prominent in other challenges, along with leading her team in spirited cheering.  She speaks excellent English as she’s actually based in New York.

At the Waterbucket round of the Sports challenge

ECUADOR – Laritza Parraga.  She is regarded as one of the better-looking Latin delegates this year.  At her best angles, she resembles So You Think You Can Dance Season 6 third placer Kathryn McCormick, but there are some less flattering angles especially when her thick ebony eyebrows are emphasized.  She at least made an impression at Beach Fashion,  making Top 32.

Kathryn McCormick (image sourced from aceshowbiz.com)

EL SALVADOR – Paola Ayala.  Pageant fans and pundits (including myself) would probably dismiss her as an also-ran with her facial features a bit too angular for comfort, but take note:  she placed 5th in Sports.

The main members of the Blue team in the Sports challenge: Montenegro, El Salvador, Spain, and Dominican Republic (image courtesy of Miss World – El Salvador’s Facebook)

GABON – Brunilla Moussadingou.  In other pageants, we’ve seen polished, competitive contenders coming from this country.  This lady is unfortunately one exception but there might be some who might find her girlish vibe charming and appealing.  Her best strategy is to treat her stay in Bali as a nice long vacation.

GERMANY – Amina Sabbah.  The key highlight is that she got to play volleyball in the Sports challenge even if she’s not one of those who made the shortlist.

At the Volleyball round of the Sports challenge: Germany, Guinea, Guatemala, Montenegro, and Serbia

GREECE – Athina Pikraki.  Her features are an acquired taste.  She has thus far failed to make an impression in the challenge events, so her best prospects is a creditable showing.

GUATEMALA – Loraine Quinto.  She is actually polished and well-spoken but she couldn’t seem to catch a break, failing to register in any of the challenge events.  Hopefully she would earn credits for her participation in the Volleyball round of the Sports challenge.

GUINEA – Mariama Diallo.  Many pageant fans and pundits presumed that the Miss World – Africa title was a competition between Miss Ghana and her, but except for her participation in the Volleyball round, she failed to figure in any of the challenge events.  Still, her looks are highly regarded by pageant fans and pundits.  She didn’t have a video for her Beauty with a Purpose project, but her essay with photos could be found on the Miss World website.

COMING UP:  BLUE TEAM (PART 2)

MISS WORLD 2013: AT THE HOMESTRETCH (GREEN TEAM, PART 2)

MEXICO – Marilyn Chagoya.  There are pageant fans and pundits who presumed that she could be like a Gwendoline Ruais, someone who is not considered a conventional beauty who might rank high.  But as the days wore on, her chances of making the Top 20 seemed to be dimming as she failed to make the cut in any of the challenge events.  She might earn credits like when she played volleyball in the Sports challenge, but that’s about it.  Mexico will probably realize its moment in this pageant down the line, but not this year.

Playing volleyball in the Sport challenge final

MOLDOVA – Valeriya Tsurkan.  She made an initial major splash making the Top 11 in Beach Fashion.  Buzz about her simmered down since then, but at least she has already made her mark.

MONGOLIA – Pagmadulam Sukhbaatar.  Just like Misses Botswana, Guadeloupe, Latvia, and Mexico, she didn’t make an impact in any challenge event but she  saw action in the volleyball round of the Sports challenge.

NEPAL – Ishani Shrestha.  She is attractive and a polished communicator, though going as far as her predecessor did last year (she made Top 30) is a longshot, until it was announced that she won Beauty with a Purpose project with her project, Project Smile and placed 3rd in Multimedia.

NEW ZEALAND – Ella Langsford.  She has great looks that has garnered compliments from pageant fans and pundits.  Now, she has so far only figured in a “homely” challenge event, in Sports, but hopefully she made an impression with the judges to fare well and have a more inside track into the finals.

Selfie at the Sports challenge event

PANAMA – Virginia Hernandez.  She figured in two challenge events, Sports and Talent.  She is a polished contender who can make serious inroads into the Top 20.

Plank walking in the Sports challenge with Paraguay

PARAGUAY – Coral Ruiz.  We have seen better contenders from this country, but at least she made a splash in one challenge event–Sports, as it turns out she ranked 4th in this event.  Anyway, I also love her name–Coral…

Panama and Paraguay in the Indonesian Plank race.

PERU – Elba Fahsbender.  There are pageant fans and pundits who have a high regard for her, considering her as having an inside track into the finals.  She figured as a reserve for the Green team in the Sports challenge, and she saw action in Tug-of-War.

At the forefront in the Tug-of-War round of the Sports challenge.

PORTUGAL – Elisabete Rodrigues.  There are some pageant fans and pundits who would regard her as a cellar-dweller, but in my reckoning, she is faring more respectably than I expect.  Still, she’s not likely to make serious inroads into the finals.

PUERTO RICO – Nadyalee Torres.  She seems to be an attractive and polished competitor, but thus far she has not figured in any challenge event.  Hopefully she makes a great impression in the judges’ interview to shore up her fortunes.

ROMANIA – Andreea Chiru.  She has features that are too mature for her actual age of 20.  Pageant fans and pundits don’t have a high regard for her, so it’s not surprising why she has not figured in any challenge event thus far.

SEYCHELLES – Agnes Emmanuel.  She has pleasant features, but she has not figured in any challenge event thus far.  She could be considered an exotic, underrated gem.

SRI LANK A – Iresha Asanki de Silva.  She has not figured in any challenge event, but there are pageant fans and pundits who gravitate towards her exotic features.  Hopefully she earned some credits from her Beauty with a Purpose project.

THAILAND – Kanyaphak Phokesomboon.  She is generally polished and attractive, so it’s a bit disheartening that she didn’t make the cut in any of the challenge events until it’s disclosed she’s 2nd in Multimedia.

VENEZUELA – Karen Soto.  In several photos, she reminded me of Miss Universe 2010 4th runner-up Venus Raj, and I reminded myself how I thought Venus would’ve been perfect in this pageant then.  But thus far the only challenge event this lady was able to make an impression was a Top 32 finish in Beach Fashion.  Granted Venus has a special charisma about her that this lady kinda lacked, so perhaps that is why Karen could only go as far as she did.  In Top Model, I was surprised that she also got to channel another well-regarded beauty queen:  Miss Earth 2003, Dania Prince of Honduras.  Too bad with so many gorgeous conventional beauties out there, her unconventional brand of beauty was not able to make serious inroads.

Miss Universe 2010 4th runner-up Venus Raj (image courtesy of Miss Universe LP, LLLP)
Modeling shot of Miss Earth 2003 Dania Prince (image sourced from gallerysocial.mihhonduras.maslarevista.com)
Modeling shot of Miss Earth 2003 Dania Prince (image sourced from gallerysocial.mihhonduras.maslarevista.com)

ZAMBIA – Christine Mwaaba.  With Miss Guinea-Bissau, she was a late arrival.  She’s attractive as long as she kept her mouth closed, as she has a large gap in her front teeth when she opens her mouth.

With the Green Team all accounted for, let me trot out my leaderboard for this team:

TOP CONTENDER:  BRAZIL

SHOO-IN:  ENGLAND

LIKELIEST:  GUYANA, KYRGYZSTAN, MOLDOVA, NEW ZEALAND, PANAMA, PARAGUAY, PERU, THAILAND, VENEZUELA

CHALLENGE EVENT FACTOR:  NEPAL

EXCELLENT:  BELARUS, BOTSWANA, LITHUANIA, MEXICO, PUERTO RICO

VERY STRONG:  GUADELOUPE, KAZAKHSTAN, SEYCHELLES, SRI LANKA

STRONG:  COLOMBIA, ICELAND, KOREA, MAURITIUS

VERY GOOD:  MONGOLIA, PORTUGAL

GOOD:  ANGOLA, LATVIA, ZAMBIA

FAIR:  GUINEA-BISSAU, ROMANIA