It’s a given that the Miss International Beauty Pageant may have made very subtle changes from year to year, but the Japan editions will always stubbornly stick to tradition, and this year is no exception.  All 70 delegates parade in national costume, swimsuit, and evening gown–for the past three or four editions, they are backed by 1970s-1980s era smooth-jazz muzak.  The only thing I noticed that in an effort to streamline the show, they no longer present all delegates en masse–after the last delegate exited it’s off to the next round.  Still, we encounter 20 minute lags in-between segments for wardrobe changes.  The only new twist for this edition is the announcement of continental queens–but based on the results, the continental queens are not based on overall performance (like in other major pageants), but is either the equivalent of the Miss Congeniality prize (not awarded this year) or something the organizers voted on behind-the-scenes.

The hosts, I think, are the same as last year, though I can hear another female voice with a distinctly American accent off-camera during the awards announcements giving instructions for the awardees (and the awarders) to pose for pictures.  They seem to prefer to resolutely conduct the entire proceedings in Japanese, with only a smattering of English when announcing the results.  The female host announced the countries’ English names in her Japanese accent of course, but I found some peculiarities–she calls Slovakia “Slovakia Republic” and Zambia “Jambia”.  I’m a bit peeved that they should be educated enough to know they either call the country “Slovakia” or “Slovak Republic”, and you should not combine both.  For “Jambia”, I suppose you need to understand Japanese phonology–if the “a” sounds like the ones in English words like “can”, “jam”, or “captor”, the Japanese would transliterate it as “ya”.  The Japanese doesn’t have a “zh” sound, so when they combine a “z” with a “ya”, it will become a “ja”.   Why not have that off-camera voice announce those countries and be the co-host instead?

Meet “Slovakia Republic” (Barbora Bakošová) and “Jambia” (Brandina Lubuli)

I know my “Fearful” Forecast featured a Top 15 instead of a Top 10 as I (and many pageant fans and pundits) aren’t that aware if they’ll revert to the Top 15 format or not.  Turns out the brutal Top Ten final cut is here to stay.  Nevertheless, I’m glad I got seven out of ten correct, and two were in my “Bubbling Under” list and one was “Striking Distance”.

The one in my “Striking Distance” list was Vietnam (Phạm Hồng Thúy Vân).  I was so not into her looks, yet, I noticed she was very prominent in various pageant activities that she might be granted a slot–little did I know she would even go further than that.  More about her in my full-fledged delegates’ review.

Surprise, but not really…: Vietnam (Phạm Hồng Thúy Vân)

The “Ruth Ocumarez” award is very obvious–many pageant fans and pundits (incluidng myself) had their eye on Hungary (Linda Szunai).  She actually performed at a stratified level, but I suppose she just missed it by very little as another European (there was only one European who made the final cut) had a slightly flashier presentation to eke her out of the Top Ten.

Ruth Ocumarez Award: Hungary (Linda Szunai)

Admittedly, even though I rated the eventual winner, Venezuela (Edymar Martinez) as one of the Top Contenders, I didn’t put her in my Top Five as I was more enamored with the faces of the likes of Mexico (Lorena Garcia) that I placed the latter in my Top Five instead of her.  But I have to concede that Edymar made a very convincing case for herself  during finals night and delivered the goods onstage, especially in the swimsuit segment.  Her “Miss Perfect Body” win is deserving and unquestionable.  With Hungary out of the picture, this lady was undoubtedly a Top Five shoo-in.   More on her sterling performance in my full-fledged delegates’ review.

Miss Perfect Body: Venezuela (Edymar Martinez)

I was expecting based on overall performance that the Philippines (Janicel Lubina) would be a Top Five shoo-in, but I was slightly downbeat when she missed the magic circle.  I was jubilant she vindicated Bianca Guidotti’s non-placement last year and she seemed to be on the path of securing our sixth Miss International crown with her consistently superb performance all throughout.  But a brief conversation post-pageant I had with my friend Lex Librea made me realize a possible culprit to her missing the Top Five.  Still, even with that in mind, I still feel that she was robbed of a Top Five spot–but I’m not going to blame Edymar, but someone else who I deemed less worthy.

Best Dresser: Philippines (Janicel Lubina)

I know the Edymar was truly worthy of winning the title, and many pageant fans and pundits did peg her as the favorite to win.  But I was so wishing she didn’t, not because of this moment, but because I was already thinking ahead of next year.  Again, more details on that in my full-fledged delegates review.  But anyway, I still send my congratulations to Edymar for a job well done (and so too, for Janicel).



Congratulations, Edymar!

All images courtesy of Stephen Diaz for Missosology