RESULTS REACTION: MISS INTERNATIONAL 2016

Before I proceed to talk about what I think about the results of Miss International 2016, below is a video that expresses how I feel about the whole thing:

There are actually a lot of things to be happy about this year’s Miss International pageant.  First, after the “brutal” Top Ten for the past couple of years, it has reverted back to the Top 15 format.  Second, the production stepped up–sure it still employs the same minimalist backdrop, but the music stepped up from the stultifying 1980s jazz muzak we heard in recent editions.  Third and most importantly, the quality fo this year’s delegates turn out to be at a very high level, and it shows at how the majority of them delivered the goods onstage–especially because of these stellar delegates, the otherwise traditional static pageant gained vibrancy and life.  Because of all this, on top of this results reaction I will do a full-fledged delegates’ review.

Since I only selected a Top Ten, I got six out of that 10 right, and well, still if you count my “Bubbling Under” list, I got 11 of the Top 15 (stretch to 12 if you add one lady in my “Striking Distance” list).  There are three that were outside of my radar that made the final cut.  For two of them, they are the closest thing to being head-scratchers:  Dominican Republic (Cynthia Maria Nuñez) and El Salvador (Margarita Elizabeth Cader).  I have to give them credit for being polished onstage, and that they also give good cultural speeches, but if you ask me if they performed well enough to shut out some members of the “Glorious Eight”?  It’s refreshing to see these two make it, but not at the expense of any “Glorious Eight” member.

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Biggest Surprises: Dominican Republic and El Salvador

The third person out of my radar who earned her keep in the Top 15 is Thailand (Pattiya Pongthai).  She was sensational onstage, especially in during the evening gown round as she brought drama with her lilac gown with sheer cape overlay.  Her speech relaying her thanks for the condolences on the death of their beloved king Bhumibol Adulyadej was lovely and heartfelt.

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Some might justify why two memebers of my “Glorious Eight” fell by the wayside: Colombia (Daniela Herrera) and United Kingdom (Romy Simpkins) were both very strong onstage, but there are several who exhibited such a growth arc that it can be understood why to the reckoning of the judging panel* these otherwise stellar ladies were overtaken.

*Iron Chef fans would be delighted to see that one of the members of this year’s judging panel was Yukio Hattori, that beloved food analyst/commentator on that show.

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But the first runner-up for the Ruth Ocumarez award is one who was knocking at the door of the “Glorious Eight” but I didn’t quite put her in that list–Hawaii (Guinevere Davenport).  I was mesmerized when she shook her booty in her hula costume (with ukelele prop) and she kept me spellbound in both swimsuit and evening gown rounds.  So I was flabbergasted when she wasn’t called into the Top 15 as I thought her performance was phenomenal.  A great injustice if you ask me, but there is a bigger injustice out there…

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The clear winner of this pageant’s Ruth Ocumarez award is Venezuela (Jessica Duarte).  Pageant fans and pundits will forever scratch their heads to dissect why the stunning “Marmegantina” failed to make the final cut.  I personally thought she was a stunner onstage and moved extremely well, and I’m decrying why did the judging panel ignore the luminous gorgeousness parading right in front of them?  Unlike when Miss International 2013 Bea Rose Santiago was in the judging panel, I have no doubt that the reigning Miss International Edymar Martinez did vote for her countrywoman to go through, but obviously she was overpowered by the rest of the judging panel. The only possible reason I could think of was that she probably failed during the Forum speech earlier.  Anyway, I’m so glad she gave a very gracious message to the Filipino fans congratulating Kylie’s victory on her Instagram account.

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I join with the millions of Filipinos rejoicing the Philippines (Kylie Versoza)‘s victory in this pageant, the sixth for our country.  But to my eyes, her victory wasn’t a decisive dominating victory–in fact unlike many fans, I was uncertain she’ll clinch our much coveted dream win after watching her walk in swimsuit and evening gown.  I had a feeling of exhilaration and relief after the announcement as my worst-case fears were thankfully not realized.  i’ll discuss more about my assessment of her performance in my full-fledged review.  Until then, all I could say is congratulations, Kylie!

JUST ME!

JOSEPH

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All images courtesy of Jory Rivera for OPMB Worldwide

RESULTS REACTION: MISS GRAND INTERNATIONAL 2016

With a quadruple whammy of pageants that went on this past week, I could not post results reactions for them in the usual time I used to post them (and I was not able to do a homestretch review for Manhunt International at that).  At least now the dust has settled and the four big pageants concluded, I can now share my thoughts of the results of those four pageants, starting with Miss Grand International.

Admittedly, I was pretty off in my predictions:  I only got 11 of the Top 20 (eventually 21 since the popular vote winner leapfrogged into the Top 10), four of the Top 10 and one of the final five.  Still the ones I didn’t get were either in my “Bubbling Under” or “Striking Distance” lists so no outright headscratchers on the final roster.

It turns out three in my “Striking Distance” list, Jamaica (Dianne O. Brown), Macau (Hio Mao Chan) and Portugal (Ana Bomfim) deserve to be in higher regard and are worthy of belonging in the hallowed group.  Though I would’ve preferred that Macau not advance further to the Top 10, but well, the taste of the pageant owner Nawat Itragrisil prevails.

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Worthy sleeper hits: Jamaica, Macau, Portugal

There was one girl who made the cut by virtue of popular internet vote–Korea (Cho Yeseul).  Though she’s good looking, many pageant fans and pundits may resent her presence in the Top 10 as she in a way she took away a slot that could’ve been meant for someone in the Top 20.

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For me I resented Korea’s presence in the Top 10 (and to a lesser extent Macau) because one of the ladies who languished in the Top 20 was Venezuela (Debora Paola Medina).  Onstage she had charisma and performed at a stratified (Top Three-worthy) level, but well, she was cut off at the swimsuit round and not given the opportunity to make a speech or parade in evening gown.  But it seems that perhaps Nawat also rubbed her the wrong way as she posted negative things about this pageant afterwards on her social media account.

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Now, who wins the Ruth Ocumarez Award for this pageant?  There are a whole host of worthy contenders, but holding the “Royal Court” with the public are Brazil (Renata Sena), Ecuador (Carmen Veronica Iglesias Lopez), and Poland (Marta Redo).  The public may choose South Sudan (Teresa Yuol) but in my reckoning I can see why she doesn’t garner favor especially since Nawat practically makes all the key decisions on who makes the cut–just like the Miss Iceland incident, it turns out he considers her body frame “fat”.  For me, the girl who wins the Ruth Ocumarez Award is Colombia (Juliana Florez Herrera)--why did her gorgeousness fall short in Nawat’s reckoning, I wonder?

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Ruth Ocumarez runners-up: Brazil, Ecuador, Poland
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Ruth Ocumarez Awardee (Popular Choice): South Sudan
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Ruth Ocumarez Awardee (Personal Choice): Colombia

I’d like to salute two ladies who proved their worth in the Top Ten, delivering on charisma and putting on a great fight:  Bahamas (Selvenique Wright) and Ukraine (Veronika Mykhailyshyn).

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But there was one surprise in the offing as another favorite was shut out of the Final Five:  Peru (Priscila Howard).  Wonder why she fell short in Nawat’s reckoning?  She seems to have it all…

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Now, I’m fine with the Final Five, though I wish that any of them (with the exception of Thailand [Supaporn Malisorn], who I feel is the only one indispensable in this group) could be replaced by the likes of Peru and Venezuela, but they all have justifiable merits to belong there and gain favor with Nawat.  I hate the politically-charged final question about choosing between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to help further the “Stop the War” cause, but at least it does help drum up publicity for this pageant–just like all that tabloid-y publicity for Miss Universe during the Trump years.  Which path to take, the “correct” one (Clinton) or the “difficult/incorrect” one (Trump)?  Puerto RIco (Madison Anderson), Thailand, and Indonesia (Ariska Putri Pertiwi) chose the former, with Indonesia giving the most poised argument why she chose Hillary.  United States of America (Michelle Leon) and the Philippines (Nicole Cordovez) took the more challenging choice and garnered audience boos in the process, though the Philippines managed to come up with a strong argument to support her contrary position.

The production of this pageant attempted to mimic Miss Universe 2015 on a lower budget, and despite cluttering up the backdrop with bright visual background effects, the copycat vibe was just too glaring that it made the pageant seem cheaper than it already is.  Post-pageant, there are a significant amount of disgruntled directors and contestants expressing their displeasure at the conduct of this pageant, with allegations that the results are rigged for the Final Five and complain about Nawat’s almost total control in the decision-making.  Those concerns could cause further attrition in future editions (unless Nawat can secure willing directors that can take their place–Miss Earth has a knack of managing a revolving door of directors over the years).

I have no regrets covering this pageant, as the winner is a credible choice (even if she’s not necessarily my cup of tea) and the hosting by Vietnam next year may help this pageant recover from its messy proceedings this year.  But I’ll be observing the caliber of next year’s contestants and the coverage and production for next year to see how it all goes before I commit to another review.  Anyway, congratulations to Southeast Asian trio of Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia taking the Top Three slots.

JUST ME!

JOSEPH

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The royal court: 3rd runner-up Puerto Rico, 1st runner-up Philippines, Miss Grand International Indonesia, 2nd runner-up Thailand, and 4th runner-up United States of America