The Top Ten again featured another fashion sequence–this time a red-or-black motif, with half the semifinalists in red and half in black. The sequnce was set to a cover of “Gecko (Overdrive)” by Oliver Heldens and Becky Hill. Then the Top Five were chosen.
Though I only got six of the Top Ten right, this list is still a worthy sort, and there is justification for them belonging in this hallowed group.
10TH PLACE: SLOVAK REPUBLIC – Lenka Tekeljaková. She does have good looks, good catwalk and a trim figure, but she has this smirk that hints at something sinister, and based on reports I heard from some people with ties to some of the contestants, her attitude towards them could be described as “bitchy”. She does fit perfectly the part of a villainess. But because her country shared hosting duties with Poland, that attitude was overlooked and she was granted a slot in the Top Ten. But I would rather she be replaced by another lady with stereotypical villainess features, Mexico, or perhaps to a lesser extent Vietnam or even Philippines.
9TH PLACE: MYANMAR – Swe Zin Htet. She does exude oodles of likable charm that she does earn her slot her in the Top Ten. I was expecting three Southeast Asians in the Top Ten and thought she will end up probably knocking within the Top 25. But with Philippines admittedly fizzling and Thailand not garnering much favor witht he judges, this lady ended up the second best Southeast Asian in this year’s pageant. Her likable charm earned her a Miss Personality special award.
8TH PLACE: POLAND – Ewa Mielnicka. Her Top Ten placement is perfectly expected, not simply because she is the host contestant, but also she has the looks and presence to belong here.
7TH PLACE: INDONESIA – Intan Aletrino. Supposedly she earned her Top Ten slot because of Mobstar votes, but based on her rank, she made the cut on merit. She did receive strong buzz. I’m not sure about the criteria for Miss Elegance award, but she’s the winner of that honor–I would’ve preferred a front-runner like Venezuela for that distinction.
6TH PLACE: BELARUS – Polina Pimahina. She does have merits belonging here, but I think her key advantage is that the Poles love Belorussians (probably because of historical ties from the old Polish Empire). But I would rank Indonesia and Poland above her if I were the judge, but I respect this result.
Last year, they introduced an interview round in this pageant. That time, it was more of a brief chit-chat with the Top Ten and the winners were announced from that group. This time, they whittled down the Top Ten to a Final Five, and there is a more formal interview round. This time it’s more like a serial tag format–after the five finalists were announced, the finalist called first would be asked a question from the finalist called last, then the second finalist will receive a question from thefinalist called first, and so on. After the interview round, there is another fashion round, this time them in gowns with a gold motif and they walk to the strains of a cover of Coldplay’s “Adventure of a Lifetime“.
I got three of the Final Five correct. One of those I missed I did have a high regard even I only placed her in the Top 25 (she was bubbling under the Top Ten in my book) and the other one was firmly in my Top Ten–I didn’t expect the ultimate outcome.
4TH RUNNER-UP: HUNGARY – Korina Kocsis. Well it is expected that this lass is the strongest-performing European in this batch, and she doesn’t disappont all throughout. She was asked by Miss Sri Lanka, “What makes you happiest in life?” Her answer: “Happiest for me would be if you are balanced with yourself. If you are good and your soul is good, I think it’s the happiness. And if your balance is good this could be the happiest thing.” It’s definitely a solid answer, and to be honest, I would make her rank a notch higher and swap places with…
3RD RUNNER-UP: SRI LANKA – Ornella Mariam Gunesekere. I think it helped that Miss Supranational 2014 Asha Bhat was present in the judging panel, and this is one big beneficiary of her presence. As a result, instead of Southeast Asia being the strongest performing Asian region, it turns out to be South Asia’s time for this pageant. But I do have to hand it to her–there is nothing you can fault from her performance all throughout the night, and she did give a strong answer to the question asked of her by Miss Suriname: “What is the definition of beauty for you?”. Ornella eloquuently puts it thusly: “Beauty to me is inspiration, beauty evokes inspiration. Beauty is something not just on the physical; it’s something that makes you feel. Beauty is something you feel with your eyes closed, it’s the way a person talks to you, the way a person looks at you, and the way a person makes you feel. And that to me inspires people, and that is beauty.””
2ND RUNNER-UP: SURINAME – Jaleesa Pigot. With her “Black Barbie” vibe, it is no surprise she generated a major historical breakthrough for her country as she delivered its best showing in a major international pageant thus far. Her beauty is worthy indeed of being dubbed Miss Photogenic (though I might probably would’ve awarded it to Turkey for the fact that her photos are such a major difference from her actual presence). She was asked by Miss India a question that one Miss Universe fan might recall from 1996: What a man can learn from women and what a woman can learn from men? One any quality?” Jaleesa gave a sincere and thoughtful answer: “Men can learn from woman patience. A lady carries her baby for 9 months, and you need patience for that. What women can learn from men is to take care and to do your utmost best for your loving family.”
1ST RUNNER-UP: VENEZUELA – Valeria Vespoli. For many observers including myself, this blonde is the one who was expected to win the crown. And she never let up during the finals, looking luminous all evening through all sequences. She particularly looked fierce and queenly in her final gold-embroidered gown. For her final question, she was asked by Miss Hungary, “What is or what are the most important human character for you?” Valeria answered, “(W)ell the most important human character is to respect his elder, to love, to be honest, and always be happy and try to be the best person. Just be positive all the time.” When she was one of the last two standing, I thought the crown is fully hers. But there was a little surprise in store…
MISS SUPRANATIONAL 2014: INDIA – Srindhi Shetty. I pegged her as going as far as Top Ten, though I do think she could become Top Five worthy given the right opportunity. Little did I know that there was that opportunity–Miss Supranational 2014 Asha Bhat held significant sway with the panel and thus propel this lady to bring forth India’s second victory in this pageant. Still we can justify her victory as the judges may be in the mood for a more girl-next-door look instead of the high-powered Glamazon served up by Valeria. Valeria was the one who asked Srindhi her final question: “What is the best thing you have experienced in this beauty competition?” Srindhi’s response: “Seventy-one countries 71 delegates fighting for same purpose that is the crown, with unity and love, that’s one thing I am going to cherish forever in my life.”
I’m generally satisfied and fine with the final results, and I observed Srindhi’s win was warmly welcomed by most of her peers, so even if I’m still convinced Valeria should be the winner, I’m fine with Srindhi’s win. I hope her reign will help attract more countries to compete in this pageant and that the level of production would continue for years to come.