INDIA – Alankrita Sahai. She’s one of the most bemedalled delegates in this year’s batch. She garnered a gold for evening gown, then silver in the online photogenic voting, and a couple of bronzes in swimsuit and costume, on top of having one of the 10 best Eco-Beauty videos. Though her beauty is of an unconventional sort, she seems to be right on track to breaking a three-years-and-counting drought since Nicole Faria’s win four years ago.
ITALY – Beatrice Valente. I find her features vaguely Asian–I actually confused her for an Indonesian. She doesn’t seem that bad, but her face is one of the homelier ones in this year’s batch.
JAPAN – Reina Nagata. There are some good angles and some less flattering ones, but she is undeniably a very serious contender to reckon with. She is one of several worthy contenders battling it out for a Top 16 slot.
MADAGASCAR – Judie Jaomarina. If this were Miss World, her slender frame and exotic features would have garnered more serious inroads. But as she is, she is a tad too exotic for Filipino tastes to make serious inroads into the Top 16, but I regard her as a worthwhile contender, still.
NORTHERN IRELAND – Justine McEleney. I may have quibbles about her squarish jaw, but she is good looking and a worthwhile contender.
PERU – Elba Fahsbender. For someone who garnered a silver as Best Teacher in her group, it’s quite odd that she doesn’t have an Eco-Beauty video on the Miss Earth YouTube channel. She also garnered another silver in cocktail wear. Despite the absence of an Eco-Beauty video, she is still in serious contention of making the Top 16–I have a feeling she’ll ace the pre-judging interview round the way she was able to make the Top 20 in interview at Miss World last year.
PHILIPPINES – Jamie Herrell. I wonder what happened to her during the evening gown competition as I find no pictures of her anywhere in that event? Anyway, at least she took part in most others so this Cebuana seems to still be on track to make the final cut. She has what it takes to bring our nation its second Miss Earth crown (won six years ago by fellow Cebuana Karla Henry) and unlike the derision by foreign pageant fans and pundits, this lady’s looks are unquestionably regarded as beautiful. She garnered two golds so far, winning overall Darling of the Press during the Press Presentation and best in cocktail wear, plus a silver with her dramatic presentation in her glimmering white Filipiniana national costume.
PUERTO RICO – Franceska Toro. She exudes a lot of star quality so I think she could be a shoo-in for the Top 16 and could even go as far as Top Eight and beyond. She garnered three bronzes for Darling of the Press, cocktail wear, and resorts wear, and she is awarded as one of the Top 10 best Eco-Beauty videos. Let’s see if she can beat Yeidy Bosques’ Miss Earth-Fire finish four years ago.
SLOVAK REPUBLIC – Daria Fabrici. Her key standout quality is her frizzy hair. I’m torn about this feature, as it does make her stand out, but it also distracts from her pretty face. But if you straighten her hair or pull her hair back, she doesn’t quite stand out. She’s worthwhile for me, but I’m not sure if she’ll go far–but then again, if several ladies fall by the wayside because of the no-makeup pre-judging portion, she may have a chance and pull off a sleeper surprise.
SOUTH AFRICA – Ilze Saunders. She seems to be competing at a high level, and garnered gold for her costume and silver for friendship. I wonder how pageant fans and pundits would feel if she is the only African to make the final cut–she’s a blonde Caucasian and there are fierce black Africans in the lot (in my reckoning they are Kenya, Namibia, and Nigeria).
SPAIN – Zaira Bas. This is the lady most buzzed about to win it all, as many were enamored with her smoldering sex appeal, gorgeous Latin features, and buffed frame. It’s no surprise she earned golds in the events that showcased the most skin–swimsuit and resorts wear. But her stage presence made her someone to reckon with in costume, earning a bronze, and silver in evening gown. To many pageant fans and pundits, it is inconceivable to envision her not garnering an element, much more missing out of the Top 16. Let’s see if she’ll finally outdo the fourth place finishes her country garnered back in 2007 and 2009.
TAHITI – Hereata Ellard. I don’t really hear that much buzz about her, but for me she’s a gem worth reckoning–I love her gorgeous face, and she seems to have a standout elegant style and a trim beach-worthy figure. She garnered a silver in talent and bronze in evening gown. I am rooting for her to make it all the way to the Top 16, even go as far as Top 8 (and maybe even garnering an element like Kahaia Lesage 10 years ago).
TANZANIA – Nale Boniface. I have to hand it to her that she’s polished and dignified. But she needs to bump out the likes of Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, and South Africa to make serious impact.
U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – Esonica Veira. This lady comes with a strong track record, having made the Top 15 in Miss World 2011 and 4th runner-up in Miss Supranational 2013. In all three pageants, she got to showcase her Michael Jackson act and expectedly earned acclaim–in this pageant, she garnered gold (she was second in the talent events at both World and Supranational). She garnered another gold as Best Teacher in her group’s school tour. Many Filipino pageant fans and pundits have not considered her in their shortlists, but I think she should be a force to be reckoned with. Now, I miss the distinctive bob she sported at Miss Supranational last year–she effectively channeled Rihanna that time, and now with longer tresses, perhaps that is why Filipino pageant fans were not giving her a second look.
ZIMBABWE – Sandiswe Bhule. Though she missed the Press Presentation, she made some impact with a silver as Best Teacher and a gold for being the friendliest in her group. She’s attractive, but there are better looking black Africans out there.
All images courtesy of Carousel Productions and Bruce Casanova for OPMB Worldwide unless otherwise indicated.
COMING UP: GROUP 2, BOTSWANA to LEBANON