GERMANY – Josefin Donat. Her petite height and bobbed blonde hair reminds me of morning talk show host Kelly Ripa. Her national costume is cited as one of the five finalists. It seems not much to look at judging from the photo but it turns out it has a very relevant message–it commemorates the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
GHANA – Abena Appiah. In her web interview, this lady noted she recorded charity singles about the Boko Haram kidnapping of 300 Nigerian schoolgirls and the Ebola outbreak. On top of that she’s also an aspiring fashion designer–and it’s reflected in her unique styling in most of her appearances. Could she be the next Korto Momolu?
GREAT BRITAIN – Grace Levy. There are pageant fans and pundits raving about her, but I feel she’s not competing in the same level as, say, her predecessor, Amy Willerton. To my eyes, she’s more of a P.A.T.I.S. level performer.
GREECE – Ismini Dafopoulou. Here is another member of the P.A.T.I.S. crew.
GUAM – Brittany Bell. She previously competed at Miss USA representing Arizona back in 2010. But she noted in her web interview that she’s always close to her mother’s side of her family, and they are from Guam. So might as well reside there. She’s undeniably polished, but well, her performance is still just P.A.T.I.S. crew level.
GUATEMALA – Ana Montufar Urrutia. I love her elaborate feathered costume, but otherwise this lady is a member of the P.A.T.I.S. crew.
GUYANA – Niketa Barker. She is arguably the strongest contender ever fielded by this country to this pageant. Could she deliver the breakthrough?
HAITI – Christie Desir. She made a stronger impression here than in her stint at Miss International thanks to her web interview, where we hear her speak excellent English and learn she used to intern for Diddy. Still, she’s overshadowed by a few black stunners out there.
HONDURAS – Gabriela Ordoñez. It’s rare to see a blonde representing this Central American nation. She is better looking than a typical representative fielded by this country, but still her performance only merits her a membership in the P.A.T.I.S. crew.
HUNGARY – Henrietta Kalemen. She is good-looking, but it seems her national franchisee has not really prepared her well for this competition. Her catwalk is raw, and her Presentation Show evening gown looks off-the-rack. No way will she duplicate the feat of her counterpart at Miss World 2014, 1st runner-up Edina Kulcsár. Is a Trump Ticket in order?
INDIA – Noyonita Lodh. Several pageant fans and pundits are enamored with her exotic looks. However, her Presentation Show performance generated polarizing reactions–there were those (like myself) who felt she delivered on her favoritism and secured a placement in the finals, while there are others who thought she fell short. I don’t quite understand where the negative buzz is coming from as I thought she did her thing and was performing at a high level.
INDONESIA – Elvira Devinamira. She is one of the five shortlisted for National Costume. She also made a milestone as she is the first Indonesian to appear in the Miss Universe stage in a bikini (remember supposedly to concede to so-called “sensitive” parties, they had to be in one-piece swimsuits). Thank goodness there seems to be no furor about this. But then again, her web interview reveals that she’s a modern, liberated, and forward-thinking woman, and the rest of her family is of the same vein–her parents are divorced and her mother is such a career woman that her father initially had custody of her when she was a child as her mother had to work far away. Another interesting takeaway from her web interview is that she noted that Indonesia is an archipelago with 13,000 islands during high tide and 16,000 during low tide–Filipino pageant fans would recall Charlene Gonzales’ famous interview over 20 years ago, where she also talked high-tide and low-tide number of islands. Apparently in Indonesia, there are so many islands that sink during high tide, while in the Philippines there is only one island that sinks…
IRELAND – Lisa Madden. She’s good looking, but her figure is not up to the buffed level of others.
ISRAEL – Doron Matalon. Interesting irony–her facial features remind me of the 1976 Miss Universe 1st runner-up from Venezuela, Judith Castillo (who her countrywoman, RIna Messenger, beat that year), with the angular nose of Alexa Ray Joel (Billy Joel’s musician daughter). I know she’s now more famous for the “photobomb” she committed that caused an international incident (similar to what took place more than 21 years ago at Miss World), but she does have merits that one could consider seriously. A worthwhile contender in my book.
ITALY – Valentina Bonariva. Her face is too angular for my comfort, but she actually reminds me of a big-name supermodel: Gisele Bündchen, albeit with the features somehow off their intended places. One of my pageant-loving colleagues in the office told me she seems to be similar to this year’s Miss Spain, albeit her older sister. I agree with that take. Her stage chops are fierce, and she does have a lively personality. Her only drawback is her face. Let’s repeat the mantra…”If Claudia Moreno could get away with it…”
COMING UP: JAMAICA to NICARAGUA