MISS INTERNATIONAL 2016: STANDOUTS AND “FEARFUL” FORECAST (CONCLUSION)

The key quality that distinguishes the “Glorious Eight” from the rest is charisma (or potential for charisma in the case of one pre-arrival favorite whose buzz seemed to die when in Japan).  All are very strong that any one of them can conceivably win the crown.

A member of my “Glorious Eight” doesn’t seem to figure in the list of standouts among other pageant fans and pundits, even if she was a knockout in her national pageant and I saw vibes of two classic winners.  Colombia (Daniella Herrera) for me evokes the vibes of Miss International 2006 Daniela Di Giacomo and Miss Universe 2008 Dayana Mendoza, (incidentally, both from the neighboring country of Venezuela) and as such I’d love to give her the moniker “Dayanela“.  Yes, her charisma seems to be muted in Japan, but I’m not counting her out yet–I think she can pull off like Miss International 2001 from Poland, Malgorzata Rozniecka (who fell off the radar in the regard of pageant netizens during the preliminary activities) and bring on the sparkle when it counts to conceivably win it all.

14680741_1123364901084875_1292388944802141707_n
“Dayaniela”
daniela-dayana
Miss International 2006 Daniela di Giacomo (image courtesy of Thaimiss.com) and Miss Universe 2008 Dayana Mendoza (image courtesy of Miss Universe Organization).

Garnering major buzz since arrival and then rose in regard as front-runners are two ladies from the British Commonwealth realm, Canada (Amber Bernachi) and United Kingdom (Romy Simpkins).  Along with Nicaragua and Hawaii, they reportedly delivered the best speeches at the International Forum.  I also noticed they delivered strong presences onstage so I feel they do deserve to belong in this hallowed group.

can-gbr
Eloquent Commonwealth Stars: Canada and United Kingdom

Another Latina who evokes two (or maybe even three) classic beauty queens is Mexico (Geraldine Ponce), who during her coronation in her national pageant reminded me of a cross between compatriot Miss Universe 2010 Ximena Navarrete and Miss International 1984 Ilma Julieta Urrutia of  Guatemala==I dub her “Xilmena“.  She sustained her pre-arrival buzz during the early pageant events, and she even evoke another Central American winner–Miss Earth 2003 Dania Prince–should I modify her moniker to “Xildamena“?  But it seemed her buzz dropped a bit after the International Forum–was her speech less than stellar?

14650202_1123370594417639_1419387055160962510_n
“Xilmena” or “Xildamena”?
ilma-ximena-dania
Miss International 1984 Ilma Julieta Urrutia (image sourced from Lempimissti), Miss Universe 2010 Ximena Navarrete (image courtesy of Miss Universe Organization), and Miss Earth 2003 Dania Prince (image courtesy of Jay Directo for Getty Images)

Turning heads for sheer utter gorgeousness and a radiant girlish vibe is Poland (Magdalena Bieńkowska).  Poles are not that renowned for communication skills, but her beauty and charisma are simply too undeniable that she as long as she doesn’t stumble in her speech she can clinch it.

14642319_1123376181083747_7324638455721577660_n

The Miss Venezuela pageant typically crowned their representatives for this pageant about a year in advance, and when Edymar Martinez won last year, I was a bit mad at her because she put Jessica Duarte at an automatic disadvantage–there is no historical precedent for a back-to-back win in this pageant (though what typically would happen is that after the win the next representative would end up as first runner-up).  At that time, I felt it’s unworthy that this gorgeous stunner would likey “suffer” that fate and not win, as she is an amalgam of two of the most highly regarded beauty queens in Miss World history, her compatriot Miss World 1999 1st runner-up Martina Thorogood and Miss World 2013 Megan Young of the Philippines.  I dub her “Marmegantina“.  This vision of astounding beauty continues to remain on-point in Japan, though with so many astounding contenders competing with her, victory is definitely far from assured–heck even a 1st runner-up slot could be wrested away from her by other members of the “Glorious Eight”.

14642277_1123367621084603_1970975756532706905_n
“MARMEGANTINA”
martina-megan
Miss World 1999 1st runner-up Martina Thorogood and Miss World 2013 Megan Young (images courtesy of Miss World Organization)

Some other pageant websites listed Indonesia (Felicia Hwang) as the top favorite to win it all.  Initially I didn’t get it until I saw images in Japan and i was won over by her quiet, unassuming, dignified charisma.  I have a gnawing feeling she’ll deliver on the elegance and duplicate the outcome at the recently concluded Miss Grand International pageant and win it all.  But as stylish and regal as she exudes, I still have my heart for…

14708341_1123374664417232_7999105154927377767_n

Philippines (Kylie Versoza).  She is often the most stylishly dressed of the bunch, and delivers charisma with a lot of slick panache, and for that she looks like on track to delivering our sixth Miss International crown.  Like in the coronation night of Binibining Pilipinas, she continues to evoke the vibe of a haute couture princess, and unlike the Latina front-runners who channel beauty queens, she’s channeling Japanese music and style icons Namie Amuro and Ayumi Hamasaki.*  I dub her “Kylie Namiyumi“.  Her style may finally open the normally staid Japanese panel’s minds that they can embrace modern Japanese style and reward her for reminding them of it.  But then again, they may find the relatively less sleek Indonesia more refreshiing and give her the crown, or other members of the “Glorious Eight” may swipe the crown from her grasp.

*These icons heyday was in the late 1990s to early 2000s, where along with Hikaru Utada they ruled the Japanese pop scene.  These days Japanese pop is basically dominated by AKB48 and its offshoots, or any boyband from Johnny’s & Associates.

14642368_1123372881084077_1264001065311130506_n
“Kylie Namiyumi”
namie-ayumi
Namie Amuro (L) and Ayumi Hamasaki (R) (images sourced from J-Pop fansites)

Now here’s how my “Fearful” Forecast:

TOP FIVE:  INDONESIA, PHILIPPINES, POLAND, UNITED KINGDOM, VENEZUELA

TOP TEN:  CANADA, COLOMBIA, HAWAII, JAPAN, MEXICO

BUBBLING UNDER:  ARGENTINA, AUSTRALIA, BELGIUM, BOLIVIA, FINLAND, GUATEMALA, INDIA, KOREA, MALAYSIA, NETHERLANDS, NEW ZEALAND, NICARAGUA, PERU, PUERTO RICO,  SOUTH AFRICA, SWEDEN, UKRAINE, U S A, VIETNAM

STRIKING DISTANCE:  COSTA RICA, GUADELOUPE, MOLDOVA, NORWAY, PANAMA, RUSSIA

I’m both going to be so excited and heartbroken as I watch the livestream of this pageant tomorrow–excited as we have a stellar set of contenders to root for, and heartbroken that there are only ten slots available.  It will be fun if the outcome of this pageant is similar to Miss Grand Internatlonal–and me hoping that the Top Two places are swapped in this pageant for our favor…

JUST ME!

JOSEPH

kylie-felicia
Could this become the actual Top Two?

All images courtesy of Jory Rivera for OPMB Worldwide unless otherwise indicated.

MISS INTERNATIONAL 2016: STANDOUTS AND “FEARFUL” FORECAST (PART 1)

14670698_1123364001084965_6866057629061517712_n

Because of Miss International’s pageant format where there is no preliminary competition (with the exception of perhaps the forum and behavior throughout the cultural activities and sponsors visits), I feel it is pointless to do a homestretch review.  Instead, I’ll save that for a full delegates’ review like I did last year and I’ll use this article to take note of the big standouts and trot out my “fearful” forecast.

In my opinion this promises to be one of the most exciting editions of this pageant I have encountered, as there are eight compelling contenders who could win it all, along with whole slew of other comely contenders to appreciate.  This is one of those times you would rue the brutal Top-Ten-Only format implemented by the International Beauty Congress (IBC) since 2014, as it will be a big injustice for so many deserving ladies.

First, I have to start with the host country, Japan (Junna Yamagata)–this country was shut out of the final cut for three consecutive years since the victory of Ikumi Yoshimatsu (and controversy involving a mob-affiliated talent agency that prevented her from dispensing with her duties) but I have a feeling the tides will turn and this lady will break the drought.  She got media mileage as part of the team promoting Tokyo’s hosting of the next Olympics at the close of the recent Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, and she exudes charisma in many photos taken of her.

14729117_1123372214417477_8560930909915485410_n

Besides Japan and two other Asians who to me are crown contenders that I’ll dub the “Glorious Eight”, there are several other Asians worth reckoning, that it’s going to be a challenge to find room for them.  But we have to give a shout out to India (Rewati Chetri), Korea (Min Jeong Kim), Malaysia (Olivia Nicholas), and Vietnam (Phạm Ngọc Phương Linh.

ind-kor-mas-vie
Worthy Asians (L-R, top to bottom): india, Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam

The blonde contingent are also forces to be reckoned with.  First, there is the traditional bias toward reasonably attractive (albeit less-than polished) Finnish girls, which would bode well for Finland (Emilia Seppänen).  Other blonde European babes to reckon with include Finland’s neighbor, Sweden (Maria Taipaleenmäki) and Netherlands (Melissa Scherpen).  The big countries from Oceania also featured standout Caucasian blondes, namely Australia (Alexandra Britton) and New Zealand (Jessica Tyson).  But in my reckoning the strongest blonde (besides the Glorious Eight I’ll be discussing later) is USA (Kaityrana Leinbach), who can conceivably equal last year’s 4th runner-up finish.

blondes

Eastern Europe is renowned for its beautiful women, too, and one is a member of the “Glorious Eight”.  There are some pageant fans and pundits who rave about Moldova (Alina Chirciu) but I think she seems to lack sparkle.  To a lesser extent the same could be said about Russia (Alisa Manenok).  I personally like Ukraine (Viktoria Kiose)’s looks.

mda-rus-ukr
Eastern European lookers: Moldova, Russia and Ukraine

South America typically provides a bumper crop of competitive standouts and this year is no exception.  Besides two members of the “Glorious Eight”, also looking great are Argentina (Yoana Don), Bolivia (Katherine Añazgo), and Peru (Danea Panta).

arg-bol-per

Central America is a lesser-heralded region, but this year they are also representing strongly.  One garnered major buzz after the Forum that she deserves her own spotlight, but another three that deserve notice are Costa Rica (Raquel Guevara), Guatemala (Laura Vadillo Urrutia) and Panama (Daniela Ochoa Barragan).

crc-gua-pan
Worthy Central Americans (from L-R): Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama)

Africans and non-Latin blacks made a breaktrhough last year with Kenya’s Eunice Onyango’s 2nd runner-up finish.  I don’t foresee any African making the same impact this year, but there is some strong complimentary buzz for South Africa (Tharina Botes), but she isn’t black.  The black girl that caught my eye thus far is from the Caribbean, Guadeloupe ( Presile Adolphe).  Another lady with African features that I found good-looking is representing a Nordic country, Norway (Camilla Devik).

rsa-gud-nor
African/colored contingent (L-R): South Africa, Guadeloupe and Norway

Those that didn’t quite fit in any of the above categories but worthy of notice are Belgium (Palina Tsehalka) and Miss Supranational 2012 and Miss Universe 2014 veteran Puerto Rico (Gabriella Berrios).

bel-pur
Noteworth: Belgium and Puerto Rico

From reports at the International Forum event, two ladies seemed to have their stock rise precipitously, to the point some are tagging them as possible usurpers to the front-runners.  I don’t think the International Forum holds all the weight, as the classic looks format will still play a significant part.  Still, Hawaii (Guinevere Davenport) and Nicaragua (Brianny Chamorro) are forces to reckon with, though in my opinion, not necessarily as charismatic as the “Glorious Eight”.

haw-nca
Forum Standouts: Hawaii and Nicaragua

COMING UP:  THE “GLORIOUS EIGHT” AND THE “FEARFUL” FORECAST

All images courtesy of Jory Rivera for OPMB Worldwide unless otherwise indicated.