At the Press Conference

MONGOLIA – Bayartsetseg Altangerel.  If there 15 slots available, I would’ve pegged her for one of the “goodwill” slots though she does have the great looks to be worthy of belonging in the semifinals.  Moreover, she reportedly could speak fluent English, as she’s reportedly an actress based in Los Angeles, USA {unlike a typical Mongolian contestant who tend to speak English incoherently and mumble unintelligibly).  It’s just such a shame this year the slots are extremely limited, and compounding matters there are simply a boatload of extremely strong Asian contenders jockeying for those limited slots.

MYANMAR – May Bayani Thaw.  If this was last year, she would’ve made more serious inroads.  But this year, she is simply overshadowed by such an embarrassment of riches amongst the Asian contingent.

NEPAL – Sonie Rajbandhari.  See MYANMAR.

NETHERLANDS – Shauny Bult.  She clearly is one of the prettiest faces in this year’s pageant, and she sparkles in almost every photo taken of her, so again pageant fans and pundits are rating her as one of the likeliest to make the Top Ten.  I’m also optimistic about her prospects, that perhaps she’ll overcome her shock non-placement at Miss Earth two years ago.  But then again, there is still that possibility that the “shock” would recur.  I hope not for her sake…

NEW ZEALAND – Rachel Harradence.  She’s attractive, but she’s not generating any buzz.  Sure, that can also be said about her predecessor, Casey Radley–who became 2nd runner-up in this pageant–but Casey has that sympathetic girl-next-door appeal going for her that this girl doesn’t seem to project.  I’ll still rate her as a worthwhile contender.

NICARAGUA – Jeimmy Garcia.  Her features are just too native and exotic for most people’s tastes, much less the Japanese, so it is doubtful she’ll make serious inroads into the finals.

NORWAY – Thea Cecilia Nordal Bull.  I think she and Miss Italy could pass off as sisters–except that at least this lady seems to know how to project a refreshing ingenue vibe.  She could be a sleeper surprise.

PANAMA – Aileen Bernal.  See BOLIVIA and ECUADOR.

 PARAGUAY – Jessica Servin.  I find her great looking and polished.  If this were last year, she would’ve been a semifinalist shoo-in but this year, there are some fiercer Latinas jockeying for those extremely limited spots in the Top Ten.  I’m not sure there is enough room for her, but it’s still possible.

PERU – Fiorella Ximena Peirano Medina.  Several pageant fans and pundits have rated her highly, regarding her as having an inside track into the Top Ten.  She is indeed a top-notch performer, but I’m keeping an eye on at least three other Latinas but she can pull it off.

PHILIPPINES – Mary Anne Bianca Guidotti.  I know Filipino pageant fans and pundits are salivating at the prospect that we are going to achieve a back-to-back win in this pageant and that we will tie Venezuela for the most Miss International wins.  If you ask me, that scenario would be possible if the caliber of delegates this year was exactly the same as last year.  I have to play devil’s advocate and say that unfortunately, that’s not the case this year.  First, there are a whole bevy of utterly lovely pretty faces this year, and Bianca’s features do not qualify as “classically beautiful” in the way Vianney Vasquez and Shauny Bult are (again, Filipino pageant fans and Viola Davis, please don’t be offended).  There is also this lingering fear that I pray would not be realized–I’ll provide details about that in my results reaction but the hint I’ll leave is this–local TV interview.

But then again, I have to note that Bianca has been projecting the right way throughout her stay in Japan–she is one of the three best Asians in my opinion, along with India and Thailand.  Besides, being not “classically beautiful” didn’t hamper Goizeder Azua from winning in this pageant 11 years ago, and Bianca’s stage projection skills are top-notch.  Moreover, she clearly has learned from the mistakes from her Binibining Pilipinas stage interview and I’m confident she’ll deliver a sterling cultural speech in the finals.  Plus, to ward off the “fear” I mentioned above, I think we have a very potent talisman–Ruqayyah Boyer.  So far Ruqayyah Boyer seems to be around in our recent most sterling pageant successes, with Janine Tugonon’s 1st runner-up (should’ve been the winner in my opinion if it weren’t for “current events” at that time) at Miss Universe 2012 and Megan Young’s landmark victory at Miss World last year.  Could she bring the same good luck to our Bianca?

Ruqayyah Boyer with Miss Universe 2012 1st runner-up Janine Tugonon
Ruqayyah Boyer with Miss World 2013 winner Megan Young
Ruqayyah Boyer with Bianca Guidotti

POLAND – Zaneta Pludowska.  She’s a worthwhile contender, but so far she doesn’t sparkle as consistently as other contenders out there.  But then again, all that is needed is to sparkle at the right moments to make an impact, and she can potentially do that.

PORTUGAL – Rafaela Pardete.  She is not that buzzed about but I find her refreshingly good looking, and that sometimes could be the ticket to the semifinals and sometimes, beyond.

PUERTO RICO – Valerie Hernandez Matias.  She is undeniably polished, but I think her features are of the “not-classically-beautiful” sort (oh, Viola Davis, please forgive me again…) that typically are not the Japanese cup of tea.  There is also that obstacle that she is a woman of color, and there are at least three women of color that are garnering way more attention.

ROMANIA – Anca Francesca Neculalasa.  There are some flattering angles of her like in the photo below, but most of the time, she just blends in the background.

Images courtesy of Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images, Stephen Diaz for Missosology, Miss International Organization, plus personal photos from the contestants themselves unless otherwise indicated.


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