I’ll now go to the award winners. This year, they featured “continental” awards. Now, it was quite unusual that they announced them prior to the announcement of the Top Ten. Most pageant fans and pundits usually think the continental awards reward best overall performance per continent, which is the case in Miss World and Miss Intercontinental, and slightly modified to a certain extent (non-Top-Five usually) in the case of Miss Tourism Queen International and Miss Supranational. Not only were these continental awards seemingly announced early as the announcement wore on many pageant fans and pundits were surprised at the countries that won–it felt topsy-turvy that the perceived front-runners were not given these awards (with the exception of one). As the evening wore on, it turned out that these continental titles may act as a replacement for the Miss Congeniality award. That’s the only reasoning that made sense in terms of the caliber of the winners of these awards.
MISS INTERNATIONAL – AMERICAS: ARUBA – Laura Marcela Ruiz. She is attractive, but her figure was clearly out of step with the buffer contenders out there and her matronly blue gown just do not help matters. If she didn’t win this award she would’ve belonged in the “first tier” of my essay.
MISS INTERNATIONAL – EUROPE: PORTUGAL – Isabel Vieira. Though there are photos where she had more flattering features, most of the time she’s projecting raw and plain. But it seems her likable and congenial nature may have earned her the continental award. If it weren’t for this award she would’ve been part of the same tier as Aruba.
BEST IN NATIONAL COSTUME: JAPAN – Arisa Nakagawa. I have to admit I found Miss Honduras costume presentation more dazzling, but I think the judges were in the mood for something more authentically cultural instead of over-the-top carnival so with the dramatic unveiling of the pink kimono underneath the black robe, this lady won the award. Many pageant fans and pundits are criticizing her for her overbaked stage presentation, often comparing her to the Macedonian representative to this year’s Miss Grand International, Dunavska Trifunovska, who was notorious for her flamboyant hand gestures. I agree her stage presentation was overdone, but still Dunavska still takes the cake. With the new “brutal” Top Ten format, this country seems to be unable to rely on “goodwill” to be guaranteed a slot–so knowing who won the national finals for this country this year, I’m not optimistic that Japan will break the shut-out next year.
MISS INTERNATIONAL – OCEANIA: HAWAII – Brianna Acosta. She garnered some early buzz and gotten some complimentary notices prior to the finals. She proved to be solid onstage that I would peg her in the third tier if she didn’t win the continental award.
MISS INTERNATIONAL – ASIA: KOREA – Park Ah-Reum. Just like Miss Hawaii, she’s a solid performer and she has merits if a “goodwill” choice was implemented and thrown in (but was not implemented with the new “brutal” Top Ten format).
Before I proceed to discuss the ladies who were stellar performers but just missed the final cut by a few slivers, I would like to cite one lady who delivered a spectacular performance in one segment:
PANAMA – Jhasmeiry Herrera Evans. If we base it on overall average, I would’ve pegged this lady in the previous tier/section of this review. She was solid, but not memorable in national costume and swimsuit–though she had a slim figure, it’s a wonder why she chose a one-piece swimsuit instead of a bikini. But in evening gown, she brought a lot of drama–with the choppiness of the original live feed I initially thought she was sporting a fur coat (but it’s actually a “coat” of multi-layered chiffon, that she then unveiled to reveal a chic white long-sleeved gown, and the “coat” became a train. I was thinking she could’ve been a candidate for “Best Dresser” but well, the one who won it was truly deserving.
Now, let’s proceed with the consistently stellar performers who had the misfortune of missing the final cut. If the semifinalist roster was expanded to the Top 15, we would be seeing these ladies up there.
ARGENTINA – Helena Zuiani. This country was actually on a roll in this pageant as this deadringer to Jane the Virgin actress Yael Grobglas was a great follow-up to last year’s semifinalist Josefina Herrero. She has a radiant smile and polished stage presence. It’s just that there are just too limited slots to make room for one more gorgeous Latina like her.
COLOMBIA – Natalia Ochoa. This lady is a great looker and a high caliber performer, and her country is traditionally a powerhouse in this pageant (especially since it was the winner of its first edition). It’s just such a shame there was only room for four Latinas this year and like Argentina, there just isn’t room for her.
HUNGARY – Linda Szunai. Many pegged her as the “European-most-likely” with a possibility of making the Top Five (and winning the crown) like what happened two years ago. She actually performed well as most expected, but as consistently strong as she is, there was one European who overshadowed her in national costume and evening gown. The judges had their eye on three Southeast Asian ladies (though I would’ve been content if only one or two of them advanced), four Latinas, and one vibrant African, so that leaves two slots for two Caucasians–one of them turns out to go to a front-running North American so there is only one slot for a European, and it was unfortunate that she was clipped at the finish line when the final cut was announced. I have a feeling she ranked 11th–too close, but too far from glory.
INDIA – Supriya Aiman. Besides being gorgeous, she also did everything right during finals night (though some might quibble about the long braid she sported during the swimsuit round)–I wish if they were to allot three slots to Asians, that this girl made it instead of one of the Southeast Asians who made the cut. Oh well, just like with last year’s delegate from her country, too close but too far from glory.
INDONESIA – Chintya Fabyola. This lady was also consistently top-notch in all three segments–I was initially divided about her long-sleeved gown but I then realized it evokes the traditional sarong kebaya dress and with that in mind I realize it was indeed lovely and elegant. Here is another signal that the so-called furor over Indonesian women in bikinis is no longer that big of a deal anymore, except perhaps if the event is hosted by this country and there was an agenda to discredit some powerful person. If they were to reward three Southeast Asians Top Ten slots this year, I would’ve rather add her instead of one of them who made it (and made it the furthest)…
MONGOLIA – Azzaya Tsogt-Ochir. I find it interesting that her eyes seemed larger and rounder than most typical Mongolians, but they are still undeniably Asian. I found her performances in all three segments top-notch that is why I deemed her worthy of this list.
POLAND – Ewa Mielnicka. I was impressed with her figure when Missosology released photos from the group swimsuit photo shoot that I thought she could’ve been a shoo-in. But I think the judges had quibbles about the seeming narrowness of her shoulders during the swimsuit round and that may have cost her a Top Ten slot (plus there was only one slot left for European and well, Miss Hungary was crowded out by this one lady…)
PUERTO RICO – Wilmary Moncion-Roman. Every time she was onstage, one thing popped in my mind: Miss Universe 2006 Zuleyka Rivera–a more likable, approachable version of that diva. I have a feeling that even though the reigning Miss International was at the judging panel and was voting and rooting for her countrywoman, the other judges just were not into thick thighs and big booties like what she possessed.
SPAIN – Christina Silva Cano. I had very high expectations that this lady would have an inside track into the semifnals, especially since this county historically had a very strong track record. I may quibble about her open-mouthed smile, she was undeniably a strong performer throughout. I think it’s just too brutal there aren’t enough slots so the likes of her and several of the ones above her in this list could go through.
All images courtesy of Stephen Diaz for Missosology except where indicated.
COMING UP: THE TOP TEN.