If you see my postings on my Facebook account, I was present at the Miss Earth 2014 coronation night in UP Theater, Diliman, Quezon City. I only learned from my pageant friends at that moment that there was an attrition in the roster of 85, as Miss France (Letitia Penmellen) contracted amoebiasis after her Palawan trip, was confined in St. Luke’s Hospital for about a week, and departed the country one or two days before the finals. It’s so sad this happened because she was a highly regarded contender, and her gorgeous face could’ve made her a shoo-in. All I could say is–c’est malheureux (it’s unfortunate).
Anyway, my track record in predicting the Top 16 improved from the previous two years as I got 9 out of 16 correct this time. Five of those that I didn’t get were in my Bubbling Under list, and two were in my Striking Distance list. I may have gotten one elemental queen correct, but the remaining three were in my Top Eight, so I’m not that way off. I consider this year’s Top 16 to be one of the most satisfying lineups in the history of this pageant–there is a strong emphasis on facial beauty this time around, I noticed, and almost all delivered on charismatic presence.
With at least 40 high caliber contenders this year, of course there would be some favorites left out in the cold. And this is barring the controversy that there were supposed to be slots reserved for the winner (or winners) of the Yahoo Philippines online voting, which didn’t materialize during the pageant. Leading that online poll were Nepal (Prinsha Shrestha) and India (Alankrita Sahai). Wonder what caused that award to be scrapped?
Just like last year, I will award gold, silver and bronze for the Ruth Ocumarez award. I would have put India as my silver medalist. The bronze medalist for me is Puerto RIco (Franceska Toro) and the gold medalist is Paraguay (Sendy Caceres). There are several reasons why over the years several favorites in this pageant would fall off the final cut, but one crucial factor would be conduct behind the scenes based on chaperone feedback, and there were rumors about an incident in pre-judging about one favorite insistent on keeping her makeup on when there is a standard no-makeup policy (only lipgloss is allowed) being enforced during this stage. Could it be either of these ladies guilty of that transgression?
I’m also grousing the fact that dark complexions are not represented in the Top 16. I think the issue here is that the pre-judging panel have not yet fully developed an appreciation for a wider range of darker complexions–for a black lady to make the cut in this pageant she needs to be extraordinarily intelligent and committed to the cause (like the official Miss Earth 2002 Winifred Omwakwe of Kenya) or be stunningly doll-like gorgeous like in the case of the three black Miss Earth-Air winners Murielle Celimene of Martinique (2004), Amell Santana of Dominican Republic (2005) and Miriam Odemba of Tanzania (2008). I wish that somewhere down the line, they can open up their appreciation for this year’s likes of Dominican Republic (Mayte Brito), Kenya (Lydiah Linah Manani), Namibia (Paulina Malulu), Nigeria (Damola Akinsanya), Panama (Maria Gallmore) and U.S. Virgin Islands (Esonica Veira).
The closest thing to a head-scratcher in the Top 16 for me is Egypt (Nancy Magdy). Figure- and catwalk-wise she lagged behind the rest of the semifinalists, but I’m not mad at her inclusion as she’s still attractive and I heard reports that she is such a likable personality that she won over the pre-judging panel and the Carousel insiders.
I may have placed Slovak Republic (Daria Fabrici) in my Striking Distance list, but I didn’t realize how there are many pageant fans who looked beyond her frizzy hairdo to see that gorgeous face underneath. It also helps matters that she tamed her frizz when it counted the most, that is why ultimately she went as far as the Final Eight. The Phineas and Ferb song “Izzy’s Got the Frizzies” kept playing in my head whenever I see her, and with her surname, I fantasize creating a meme superimposing her face to the Isabella (Izzy) character of that Disney cartoon and call the song “Fabrici’s Got the Frizzies”. Anyway, excellent job on her!
There was some speculation of bad tidings by the other contestants over the results as they were not shown coming forward to congratulate the winners. Actually, being there at the venue I didn’t really hear such foul sentiments and after the cameras stopped rolling the girls did come forward to hug and/or congratulate the winners or do the requisite selfies with them. A case in point would be this picture I took from my cellphone of Kenya congratulating Miss Earth – Fire Russia (Anastasia Trusova). It’s nice seeing different races interacting together in harmony like that sight. It’s such a shame my cellphone battery fizzles out so easily that I wish I would’ve taken more pictures of the even (and pose with more selfies with the winners and candidates–as it is I only manage a selfie with Miss Earth-Fire, Russia
I am planning to do a full-fledged review of this pageant, though it is likely going to be posted after the Miss World pageant is over. Sure, there are pageant fans and pundits who would be grousing about the homeland decision, but this is a result I can live with and it is justifiable. I did observe that there is a pattern I noticed from six years ago when we last won the crown. For the Elemental Queens, all I’ll say is congratulations on a job well done!
Images courtesy of Bruce Casanova for OPMB Worldwide and this blogger unless otherwise indicated.