Despite the upset absence of some perceived favorites (e.g., Israel, France, Poland, Bolivia, and some others), this year’s Top 16 is a satisfying bunch.  Determining who among them are Trump Ticket holders is not that easy to discern, with the exception of one.  There are reports that one could see the judges’ composite scores when you register in their “You Be the Judge” app and play along to judge the Top 16, and some Facebook posters disclosed the rankings and scoring, and interestingly if those scores are to be believed, the Final Five is based on average scoring of the evening gown and swimsuit rounds instead of simply using the evening gown scores as in previous years (like in 2008, for instance).  I also find it interesting that while most pageant fans and pundits (including myself) expected a more European mix, this year’s group has four Asians, tying the records set back in 1988 and 2007.  Without further ado, let’s proceed with my take on the actual Top 16 starting with…

NICARAGUA – Nastassja Bolivar.  Many pageant fans and pundits believed her Presentation Show performance was spectacular enough that it was likely she made the cut on her own merits (i.e., among the Top 9 as selected by the preliminary judges).  But it seems based on the telecast judges’ scores she is not their type that she got very low scores from them despite still showcasing a buffed bod (I would’ve ranked her higher than 16th, though not Top 10).  She earlier won Best National Costume, which was previously awarded during the presentation show.

CHINA – Jin Ye.  She is dubbed China’s answer to Angelina Jolie.  Sure she has relatively thicker lips than most Chinese ladies but that’s not enough to justify the comparison.  Her stage chops are undeniable, and whether she was a Trump Ticket holder or made it because of the prelimianry judges, I don’t object with her placement.   I loved it during the opening she came out with pageboy bangs.  I don’t know if they are clipped on or she could slick them back as they were gone by the swimsuit round for a “sexier” vibe.  Her figure, though undeniably trim, is not as buffed or defined as the other ladies in the Top 16, so that might be the factor that prevented her from advancing further.  Anyway, she’s the winner of Miss Congeniality–it’s rare to see the winner of this special award also make the final cut.

With bangs in her Sherri Hill dress during the opening and selection of Top 16

SWITZERLAND – Dominique Rinderknecht.  Now, this one is for me the most obvious Trump Ticket holder, as her presentation show performance doesn’t justify her placement at all in the Top 16.   If Trump & Co. were to want to select a pixie-haired delegate to advance, I would’ve preferred they select Miss Czech Republic instead, but I think there is this lingering anti-Anne Hathaway post-Oscars backlash going in within the Miss Universe Organization, so that is why they chose this Robyn deadringer instead.  Based on her swimsuit performance I would’ve scored her the lowest instead of Nicaragua.  But the telecast judges liked her enough to outrank Nicaragua and China.

INDONESIA – Whulandary Herman.  Though I think she is a recipient of a Trump Ticket, I think her placement in this hallowed group is justified as she has striking Asian-exotic features (almost like singer Anggun, an Indonesian singer now based in France).  But I know her figure is not as buffed as the other ladies who made the cut so her not advancing further is expected and justified.

Anggun at Eurovision 2012 (with her hunky gymnastic backup dancers)

PUERTO RICO – Monic Perez.  She was unconditionally sensational during the Presentation Show, so it is no surprise why she made the final cut.  I also thought she gave the same top caliber performance in this swimsuit round, so it was shocking why she didn’t advance further.  I would’ve wanted her to advance further instead of, say, India, Dominican Republic, and a certain Top Five finalist, even if those three have justifiable reasons to advance further.

COSTA RICA – Fabiana Granados.  I’m very pleased that she has become the fourth Costa Rican to make the final cut in the entire history of this pageant.  But just like her stint at last year’s Miss Earth, I am again frustrated that she failed to advance further as she has an exquisite body for sin that is worthy of making the next round.  It’s almost exactly the same sentiments I have with Puerto Rico.


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