MISS EARTH 2013: AT THE HOMESTRETCH (PART 1)

Though last year’s pageant in itself was conducted generally without incident, the entire Miss Earth pageant was rocked by a “scandal” caused by a hidden camera interview aired by Russian tabloid media.  It caused divisions amongst pageant fans and pundits, and led one prominent international pageant website to revoke the “Grand Slam” status it accorded this pageant.  It made believers like myself wonder if this pageant would be able to weather the storm, survive, and perhaps even thrive.  Then, came the devastating news of Typhoon Haiyan (as it is known internationally) / Yolanda (as it is known in the Philippines) wreaking havoc across the Visayas region, making one wonder if it makes any sense to continue with the pageant here this year.

Anyway, I’m pleased to report that this pageant managed to weather those storms just fine, as it still continues to enjoy strong pockets of support and sponsorship to keep going, and in the hearts of several pageant fans and pundits (with the exception of said international website) it still remains one of the premiere pageants in the world.  Somehow the environmental causes espoused by this pageant proved to be further impetus to continue its staging despite the devastating typhoon–it’s great that amongst its first activities this year is to have the candidates visit and comfort the survivors who decided to fly into Villamor Airbase to start life anew in Manila.

Miss Earth 2013 candidates with Typhoon Hiayan survivors

Moreover, this year’s pageant tied the record number of candidates it attracted, 88 (back in 2007).  They could’ve broken the record, but unfortunately, one candidate had to withdraw because she experienced food poisoning.  She was…

NEW ZEALAND – Nela Zisser.  She saw action in several of the early activities and made it to the Press Presentation.  Though I didn’t expect her to be in serious contention for the finals, I thought her presence was at least very welcome.

Like in previous editions, the Miss Earth candidates were divided into three groups to perform activities in various locations around the Philippines, like fashion shows, competitions, school visits, and the like.  Conicidentally, Miss New Zealand above was in Group 1, and this is where I shall begin my review…

AUSTRIA – Katia Wagner.  She is attractive though I don’t really think lookswise she is a standout.  But she has been making great initial impressions in these shores with other people, garnering a gold medal as being the most “Child-friendly” during her group’s school tour, shortlisted as one of the Top Five in swimsuit and talent in her group, and being part of a Top 10 list for top sponsor Hana Shampoo’s Beauties of Nature award.  I have to say that she is also seemed to be committed to the cause, so she could indeed have an inside track into the finals.

BONAIRE – Jeanine Ottenhof.  She was the last to arrive, having failed to make the Press Presentation.  Still, she makes a good enough impression to be a worthwhile contender.

BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA – Vera Krneta.  Lookswise, she’s one of the stunners in this year’s competition, standing out with her delicate beauty and flaming red locks–she reminds me of Melrose Place and Desperate Housewives star Marcia Cross.  She has not made the shortlists in the swimsuit, resorts wear, talent, or evening gown competitions, and thus far only garnered one sponsor’s prize, but there is still a strong chance for her to still make the final cut, especially in the crucial preliminary judging interview.

Marcia Cross (image sourced from fanpop.com)

CANADA – Sofiya Chorniy.  Her features are girl-next-door and she’s noted for being shortlisted among the “Top 10 Beauties of Nature” by Hana Shampoo awarded at the end of the Press Presentation.  In general, she is well-spoken, and that might be her ticket to be in contention for the Top 16.

CHILE – Natalia Lermanda.  She looked great in the Evening Gown competition, but otherwise, she is just making an okay but not quite a standout impression.  Still, you may never know as she can still pull off a sleeper surprise.

CHINESE TAIPEI – Lyu Ying Li.  She’s clearly raw and unpolished.  Definitely her best strategy is to just enjoy her nearly month-long stay in the Philippines.

COLOMBIA – Diana Carolina Ortegon.  To her credit, she is a bundle of lively energy and there were some more flattering photographs of her.  But lookswise in person, I was disappointed at her sight during the Press Presentation–I was expecting someone prettier and more buffed coming from this usual competitive pageant powerhouse.  Imagine my shock when she was shortlisted in the swimsuit competition in her group, and that she also made the shortlist in the talent competition.  Plus she garnered a silver medal for being the most child-friendly in her group during a school tour.  If she has the sash of “Philippines” she might be able to get away with going as far as maybe even the Top Eight, but I think she should be proud with what she has thus achieved thus far as she has already far exceeded a typical pageant pundit’s expectations.

CRIMEA – Maria Makater.  From this autonomous region of the Ukraine,  come this slim, long-haired brunette.  Her features remind me of Biggest Loser trainer Jillian Michaels and she has not garnered any sponsor’s prizes or shortlisted in any competition thus far.  Still, I regard her as a worthwhile contender.

Jillian Michaels (courtesy of People.com)

CURACAO – Archangela Garcia.  She is attractive, so I can consider her a worthwhile contender.

DENMARK – Josefina Mikuta Poulsen.  During the Press Presentation, I was actually most impressed with the environmental message she delivered, and I thought, “Do we have another Catharina Swensson (Miss Earth 2001) in our hands?”  I may quibble about the proportions of her figure, but then it seems she doesn’t seem to be making much impression since–she doesn’t even have an Eco-Beauty video, which I find ironic.  Her best hope is if she impresses in the closed-door preliminary judging interview.

ECUADOR – Ana Maria Weir.  I find her face a bit too angular for comfort, but she has a trim enough figure and is generally polished enough.  I could regard her as a worthwhile contender.

ENGLAND – Chloe Othen.  This blonde garnered a sponsor’s prize, and generally makes a positive impression.

GHANA – Amabel Klutse.  Africa has again fielded competitive contenders in this pageant, and for me, this lady might be the African-most-likely if we talk about looks and charisma.  Though I don’t expect her to make as big as splash as the stunning Miss World 2013 2nd runner-up Michelle Obama Carranzar Naa Okailey Shooter, I hope it’s time for her to give her country a breakthrough to this pageant.

INDONESIA – Nita Sofiani. This country is having a banner year thus far, with a 3rd runner-up finish in Supranational, Top 10 in Miss World and Top 16 in Miss Universe.  This lady looks poised to also make the final cut in this pageant, and she made a major splash winning a gold medal for the Asian continent in the National Costume competition.  She also was short-listed for the Talent competition and a bronze medal as best school tour teacher.  I wonder if she survives to go as far as the Top Eight she’ll wear that unconventional number show sported in the evening gown competition, a pants-and-skirt combo that polarized observers (fashion blogger Nick Verreos panned it).

National Costume medalists–Asia: Thailand (Bronze), Indonesia (Gold), Philippines (silver)

COMING UP:  ISRAEL to TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

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