Latin America has typically been very strong in this pageant, with several recent editions featuring the regular appearance of Brazil and Venezuela in the elemental court, Usually, a full-Latin domination would be prevented by the presence of the Philippines in the elemental court, like in 2011. Now that Philippines was out of the final cut this year, and the Philippine-surrogate (Sweden) deemed not strong enough to belong in the hallowed court, this made room for a full-on Latina domination.
For the final round, they were all asked this lengthy question: “The Paris agreement on climate change is a historic international deal that seeks to limit global warming to below 1.5 degrees centigrade. If you were selected as Miss Earth 2016, what would be your program to protect Mother Earth from climate change?”
MISS EARTH – FIRE: BRAZIL – Bruna Zanardo. In some ways she was an underdog as most would expect USA or Sweden to be in this place over her. Despite not being as pretty as several representatives before her, her superb stage chops, shapely and buffed figure, and that well-styled olive green satin gown gave her a strong edge over the rest of the competition. She also gave strong answers in the Top Eight speech and in the Final Four question. For her speech, she has to expound on hashtag #MissEarth2016. Her translator;s verbatim goes like this: “The Miss Earth 2016 has a very important role in a society. Besides from bringing beauty and inamurd [sic] of women, she should be very smart, very intelligent and always be pro to fight for the environment so that we can build an education pro-environment for the preservation of the environment.” The first sentence translation was perfect, but though I don’t know Portuguese, from what I pick up from her key phrases I think the next sentences should be translated thusly: “Besides presenting the beauty of women, she should be intelligent and stand for the cause of the environment. So we can build and promote education for our environment.” It’s a strong answer and relevant to what the title entails, so she edged USA out of the elemental circle. For the final question, her answer is: “My project to protect my mother Earth, it’ll be a project about concentration, ecological conscientization. Just that way we can change everything that’s happening in the world today. If I’m elected Miss Earth today, I promise to create a social environment culture. That’s the only way we can solve all the problems.” Arguably she gave the second best final answer of the quartet, but in terms of overall performance this placement is fully justified.
MISS EARTH – WATER: VENEZUELA – Stephanie de Zorzi. It’s a bit of a vindication after being prevented by Osmel to compete here two years ago because she was reportedly “overweight” (an issue that seemed to affect the Miss Venezuela 2013 queens). With Miss Earth 2013 Alyz Henrich taking over the franchise and designating her as the representative, she kept her figure in fighting form and delivered a luminous presence onstage, particularly shimmering in her red sequined gown. For the Top Eight speech, she expounded on the hashtag #EcoTourism. Her take, as relayed by her translator: “With the youth, the can learn how to prevail the earth. We have to learn from the youth to the grown-ups and from them, we can help the earth.” She then punctuated that speech by repeating the hashtag. To be honest it’s actually an off-tangent answer as it’s not really related to eco-tourism at all, but I suppose because of overall charisma the judges gave her a pass. Now, for her final answer, she actually went bilingual. Here’s how the Spanish part of her answer was relayed by her translator: “Hello, I am not the wonder woman but I will promote education with the child and respect to prevail the mother Earth.” I have to note that she didn’t say “Wonder Woman” in Spanish but “Super Woman”. She then uttered this message in English: “We are the change. This is our home.” Obviously this is a trite, generic statement so as much many are rooting for her to go further, this is as far as she get, interestingly equalling the placement of her 2014 counterpart.
MISS EARTH – AIR: COLOMBIA – Michelle Gomez. I should have had more faith in her–I thought she would be overshadowed by the likes of Australia, USA, Mexico, Bolivia, that I reluctantly was forced to relegate her to the Top 16 even if she’s Top Eight-worthy at the very least. She hit all the right notes on finals night, with a fierce catwalk and trim figure during the swimsuit round, and shimmering brightly in a glittery silver sheath gown. It’s commendable that she and Ecuador decided to speak in English, and for most part delivered strong messages. For the Top Eight speech, she expounded on the hashtag #GirlsGeneration, and she said: “I want to tell everybody that here tonight, we are 84 women that belongs to a generation that wants to create a change that wants the world be better, that wants the world has conserve the things that we have now so we can, kids can see the beautiful things that we can see now. So, I think we should be proud of our generation.” With a strong answer, it’s inevitable she advanced to the Final Four. Now, she kinda rambled for her final answer as follows: “My programme to protect Mother Earth of climate change would be with small changes. That’s what I always say; that’s what I’ve always gonna say. If we can make changes in ourselves and if we can change our hearts, we can create a big change. We can change the world so if we gonna change, like turn off the light, we’re gonna protect all the environment so that’s the way I’m gonna do it.” She displayed a hint of nerves and though there is some substance to her answer, it came off as a bit too generic and that probably was the factor that prevented her from bringing forth the first win for her country in this pageant. But we have to salute her that she brought forth a breakthrough for her country in this pageant as prior to this Colombia never garnered an element.
MISS EARTH 2016: ECUADOR – Katherine Espin. She was the buzzed-about favorite from teh get-go, and she didn’t disappoint at all during finals night. She was fierce and sexy in the swimsuit round, and she was a fierce, elegant diva in that yellow gown with dramatic chiffon shoulder drapes. For the Top Eight speech, she elaborated on #ClimateChange, and her message is thus: “I believe that the climate change is the most important hashtag right now as it’s because that’s the main issue and problem that the planet earth is facing nowadays. We as humans need to really think the climate change is causing many events around the world and so many people are actually losing all their belongings of a lifetime. So, we must really think about them and future generation and be the change.” It’s definitely on-point, and she also delivered a strong answer to the final uestion: “I truly believe in the 5 R’s which is Recycle, Reuse, Reduce and Respect because I believe that as human being if we apply that to our everyday lives, we can make a change and we will reduce the problem that we have just mentioned. If we apply that to in our everyday lives, I believe that we as human beings can save the place we live in which is our mother Earth.” It’s not surprising that she ended up clinching a second crown for her tiny country.
Based on everything most of us see, especially on final night, Ecuador’s win was fully meritorious and justified, and I thought finally we may have a critic-proof outcome. But immediately after her win came several denunciations against her. First was the controversy that her evening gown was meant to be worn originally by the controversial non-finalist Imelda Schweighart. Then came Imelda denouncing her as she greeted her fans post-pageant, with her claims that Katherine’s nose, chin, and breasts are fake (ultimately leading to her resignation as Miss Philippines-Earth). Finally came the ugly allegations that Katherine slept with the sponsors–it reminds me of the Hairspray song “(The Legend of) Miss Baltimore Crabs“. I’d like to give Katherine the benefit of the doubt here, but still it’s tough to be saddled with this baggage as this further reinforces the perception of some foreign pageant fans and pundits about this pageant’s integrity and reputation (which I feel is rather unfair). Anyway, I just hope that she’ll conduct her reign with diligence and commitment to the cause–her predecessor at least had that. I hope the following editions may not be saddled with tawdry talk like this as this pageant has the potential to bring forth a lot of good.