With the caliber of this year’s Miss Earth delegates, I was hoping for a resurgence for this pageant, with improved production and unquestionable results.  It unconditionally delivered on the first one, with the SM Mall of Asia Arena providing a grander stage and with the help of Star World’s live broadcast, a tight, sleek production.

Now, what about the results?  I had my best showing for this pageant in quite a while as I have l2 of the Top 16 correct, and I’m fine getting five of the Top Eight and two of the Final Four.  One I didn’t get (who eventually garnered an element) was in my “Bubbling Under” list, and the other three were worthwhile “Striking Distance” contenders.

I think I underrated the prospects of Korea (Lee Chae-Young), Macau (Clover Zhu) and Northern Ireland (JulieAnn McStravick) but it does turn out they have merits for belonging in this hallowed group.  All three of them have the right balance of great looks, articulateness, and commitment to the cause to be worthy of being part of the Top 16.

Worthwhile surprises: Korea, Macau and Northern Ireland

In the case of Brazil (Bruna Zanardo), I just felt she wasn’t as pretty as other Brazilian representatives before her, but I missed out on the fact that she’s a stage dynamo and gives great answers to boot.  As the night wore on there is no question why she deserved to garner an element.

(Photo by Bruce Casanova for OPMB Worldwide)

It’s time to for the Ruth Ocumarez Award.  Like in the various events, I’ll be awarding bronze, silver and gold for my own personal choices.  There is a tie for bronze, with two lovely African ladies Kenya (Grace Wanene) and Nigeria (Chioma Precious Obiadi) missing the final cut as there seems to only be space for one African this year and the committed and worthy South Africa (Nozipho Magagula) took it.

Ruth Ocumarez Award – Bronze: (tie): Kenya and Nigeria (Kenya photo courtesy of Noli Berioso and Nigeria photo courtesy of Bruce Casanova, both for OPMB Worldwide)

Garnering the silver medal for the Ruth Ocumarez award is Denmark (Klaudia Parsberg).  She’s undoubtedly a lovely lady who is committed to the cause with a very supportive national director who hyped her to high heavens over social media.  But I suppose there is only room for one blonde this year, and that slot was taken by the more impressive Australia (Lyndi Kean).  More about that national director in a bit.

Ruth Ocumarez Award–Silver: Denmark (Photo courtesy of Bruce Casanova for OPMB Worldwide)

For me the gold medal of the Ruth Ocumarez award goes to Bolivia (Eliana Pamela Villegas).  With the medals she garnered, on top of her strong Eco-Beauty video, I thought she’s got what it takes to make all the way to Top Eight.  But it turns out there are angles that may not flatter her and I suppose having eyebags in some occasions may have prevented her from making the final cut.

Ruth Ocumarez Award – Gold: Bolivia

For most pageant fans, I have a feeling they would award the Ruth Ocumarez to a different recipient:  the controversial Philippines (Imelda Schweighart).  But her antics are just too well-documented that it was no surprise why she failed to make the final cut.  In the aftermath, she still stirred up more controversy as she was caught conversing with her fans denouncing the winner for having fake nose, chin, and boobs on top of the fact that the winner wore her gown after she failed to make the final cut.  It’s a clear indication that she will not work well with the winner (which is part of her duties as Miss Philippines – Earth) so after an emergency meeting with Carousel Productions (and with her mom on tow) on 31 October, she voluntarily relinquished her Miss Philippines – Earth title.  For her own sake, I hope she finds peace as she stays for a long while in New Zealand.  Perhaps moving to New Zealand could be a path to a fresh start for her, and with her pop/rock star aspirations, perhaps she’ll be better off auditioning for X Factor Australia or New Zealand (if they will still plan to stage an edition) there and if she passes muster, she can rebuild her tarnished reputation.

Ruth Ocumarez Award – Popular Choice: Philippines

It’s been a long time percolating to witness an all-Latina elemental court like what took place this year.  It almost happened five years ago, but favoritism over the less-regarded (though personable and intelligent) hometown delegate led to one major front-runner getting shut-out.  I’ll do a full-fledged review of the pageant but lfor now I do say overall the performances delivered by the Final Four–Ecuador (Katherine Espin), Colombia (Michelle Gomez), Venezuela (Stephanie De Zorzi) and Brazil–made them deserving of their honors.

Final Four/Elemental Queens: Ecuador, Brazil, Venezuela, and Colombia

Basing solely on the performances I saw on TV, I should say indeed Ecuador‘s win was credible and almost unquestionable.  But then, unsavory accusations began to surface, such as Denmark’s national director John Paul Hamilton alleging that Katherine slept with the sponsors, and some tales about her stealing Mexico (Itzel Paola Astudillo)‘s evening gowns.  This on top of the finals evening gown brouhaha involving Miss Philippines.  There are also reports that contestants prefer to troop and congratulate the other elemental queens and reluctant to congratulate Katherine’s victory.  I feel sad that just as I hoped Miss Earth recovers from the controversies hurled at it over the past few years that this is yet another year where there was mud to be slung.  I’m still keeping the faith on this pageant, but it’s such an uphill battle for me to hold on and address the numerous detractors on why this pageant is still prestigious (as for me it still is).




All images courtesy of Carousel Productions unless otherwise indicated.