I knew that surprises are in store for this edition of the Miss International pageant, as prior to the finals I could barely figure out who is standing out. So, even as I anticipated the ennui-inducing production that is characteristic of the Japan editions of this pageant, I couldn’t help but tune in to check out who eventually would pull out from the pack. Thank goodness unlike last year, the Ustream webcast feed did not have as much disruptions on my end, and I got to see the program in full.
I’m slightly surprised at my track record as it actually improved from last year–I got five out of ten correct, with two in my “Bubbling Under” list and one in “Striking Distance”. The two I didn’t get at all include the one who eventually won it all, and one headscratcher. Surprisingly, I also got three of the Top Five right. I’ll be doing a full-fledged review later this week, so I’ll provide details of my take of the Top Ten by then.
I have to report that it seems my “fear” has come to pass, and the presence of the talisman didn’t seem to work this time. Because of the high expectations set, the winner of the Ruth Ocumarez award is Miss Philippines (Bianca Guidotti). I’ll report more about her actual performance in my full-fledged review, but I’ll now disclose why I had appreshensions that she would miss the final cut–I can recall last year, the reigning Miss International from Japan, Ikumi Yoshimatsu, was forced by the organization not to perform her duties because of a controversy involving a shady but powerful talent manager, and it seems one immediate fallout from it was shutting out the host nation from the Top 15 that year (I know Japan was shut out again this year, but I think it’s because of the more brutal Top Ten format, and the Japanese panel justifiably felt she fell short compared to those who actually made the cut).
What does last year’s issue have to do with this year? Remember that prior to trooping back to Japan, Miss International 2013 Bea Rose Santiago went on local TV griping about the limitations imposed on her that didn’t allow her the opportunity to travel as much as other reigning queens from other pageants or to pursue the charities she wanted to espouse. Some people might assume that all seems to be well when Bea returned to Japan to be present in all activities and crown her successor (plus being part of the board of judges as tradition in Japan dictates). But I have this gnawing feeling that underneath the happy appearances all is not really well–we live in the Internet age and clearly someone from the Miss International organization have caught word about that pronouncement, and even as polite as the Japanese are, they can retaliate brutally while keeping up with placid appearances. I felt that to penalize Bea’s behavior, the Japanese organizers (with the Japanese panel) decided to apply the penalty to poor Bianca.
Knowing the Filipino’s sad penchant for crab mentality, another possible (though not so crucial) factor also entered my mind–Bea and Bianca are from opposing rival beauty camps back in the Philippines, and there is that possibility Bea voted against letting Bianca through the Top Ten. But I’m giving Bea the benefit of the doubt here and I believe she tried to push for our bet, but unfortunately she’s overruled by the majority.
What’s my opinion of the final results? I may respect the decision, but it felt like Miss Universe 2013 all over again–if you ask me who ranked the best amongst the Top Five (or even the Top Ten), I would have a very different ranking. Still, I started to appreciate the “not classically beautiful” features of the winner, Puerto Rico (Valerie Hernandez), and I have to concede she really looked impeccably elegant when it counts. More on that in my full-fledged review later this week.