Daily Archives: February 10, 2017

65TH MISS UNIVERSE: VIVE LA DIVERSITÉ! (PART 3)

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The Top Six question-and-answer (Q&A) round featured a mix of questions that deal with news events of the day, just like in last year’s Top Five  Q&A and a couple of less-demanding questions that are in a similar vein to the questions asked in the pre-Trump 1990s era.  Some have groused that the topical questions tend to be US-centric instead of something relevant to the finalists’ respective countries (like in last year) and I agree with the criticism–though people around the world do follow what is going on in the US,

Of course some opinions might differ, but I have to hand it that this year’s Top Six are a very satisfying and worthy bunch.  All of them were sterling in both swimsuit and evening gown (though some would debate that Mexico perhaps should’ve squeezed in instead of one of them based on gown performance).  The rankings of all the six finalists were also announced post-pageant–do I agree with the rankings?  Read on…

THAILAND – Chalita Suansane.  It turned out she was the Fan Vote winner and was the 13th semifinalist.  Now, it is subject for debate if she would’ve made the cut without it or did she need it to advance (my stance is the former) but still her compelling backstory, sympathetic personality, trim hourglass figure and undeniable charisma made her a favorite.  When called to the Top 13 Steve lobbed a puffball question about the fact she brought a whopping 17 suitcases to the pageant, and wondered what’s in them.  She gave a simple answer that they are basically clothes and accessories from her sponsors, and that’s that.  Even if it’s too simple that she could potentially be penalized like Indonesia and Brazil, her charming demeanor perhaps won over the judges that it wasn’t taken against her.  As I mentioned her trim hourglass figure was top-notch so it’s a cinch she advanced to the Top Nine to showcase a new gown–in homage to the elegant Queen Sirikit, she sported a black one-shoulder number.  It was utterly lovely that she truly earned her place in the Top Six in that number.

Now for the Q&A round, her question was “Name a current or past world leader whom you admire and why”.  She gave a nice and obvious answer: “For me that would be the king of Thailand. His Majesty has been working tirelessly on behalf of the Thai people ever since I was born. For all the Thai people, His Majesty has been like a father to us.”  She was referring of course to the recently deceased Bhumibol Adulyadej (officially the crown is currently vacant as the expected successor, the controversial Vajiralongkorn, decided to take a one-year period of mourning before assuming the throne).  In my reckoning her answer ranks fourth in the Top Six, and I thought she was simply penalized for the low degree of difficulty of her question (though some also noted she seemed to display a case of nerves, but I thought it’s not that much of a factor).  So why was she officially ranked sixth?  I suspect a couple of the “sorority”*2 members in the judging panel elevated another girl at her expense.

*2 The term I would refer to former winners at the judging panel.  Originally applied to such judges at the Miss World pageant.

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KENYA – Mary Esther Were.  I was rooting for her to advance though I thought then that Sierra Leone (Hawa Kamara) had the edge.  But as it turns out she proved to be more to the judges’ liking, and it’s fully justified as she possesses two awesome qualities: Spontaneous Dignified Eloquence (SDE)*3 and regal bearing.  It also helps she has a passing resemblance to Diana Ross, albeit trading diva-tastic glam for dignified elegance.  Those winning qualities helped propel a breakthrough for her nation, that after seven sporadic appearances in over 30 years, their eighth appearance proved the charm.

*3 It made me think about Miss World 2016 4th placer Catriona Gray again–I speculate she also has this quality too, but perhaps she was polished too much by her trainers that she ended up registering as Slick Polyanna Pabulum or “fake” to the powers-that-be at Miss World.

Her stock during the telecast rose tremendously during that film clip showing excerpts from the preliminary interview, where prior to seeing the judges she spoke that “(G)oing in you must be nervous because your thought process is overwhelmed with so many things you think they might ask.”  That is SDE at work, people, the way she delivered intelligent insight and kept it real.  Immediately after that sequence she was the first to be called to the Top 13, and when Steve asked her about her dramatic life story of being orphaned and having a near-death experience when she was a child, though he also misspoke, “you became the first contestant from your country…to become a Miss Universe contestant” to a slightly loud uproar of the audience (especially since this pageant ga-ga country know its history), and then he corrected himself to say “The first one to reach the Final 13.  How in the world did you get here?”  She replied, “Well, Steve, I have a very strong, loving, and supportive family.  My siblings and I are lucky to have been left in the hands of our stepmother who’s been our mentor and always encouraged us to chase our dreams without giving up, that we should always pursue that [sic] which we love.  As long as you keep yourself…keep hope alive, you’ll always make it.  And that is always, it’s like, it gives meaning to life knowing our days are numbered and our time is short… So I live my life like it’s the last moment and this moment right here I will live to remember.  Thank you very much!”  Yes, her answer was overly long, but it is riveting, profound, and you sense it’s coming from her heart.  Some might argue that Panama and Brazil (and probably even Indonesia) have better bodies in the swimsuit round than her, and Mexico wore a better gown than her long-sleeved red gown with a heart-shaped cut-out, but the impact of her speech was so indelible to the audience and the judges that almost everybody was rooting for her to go all the way to the end.

I think the judges were already mentally reserving a place for her in the Final Three when she was saddled with the most difficult question of the night:  “Arguably, no US president has had an active first 10 days in office. What are you most excited about, and what most concerns you when it comes to the presidency of Donald Trump?”  She was obviously stumped by the question so she ended up navigating to figure out her point like this:  “Politics…let me just start again. Donald Trump, having been elected as president of the United States may not have been the choice of many people living in the United States because of the divided support system for the outgoing president Barack Obama, who was supporting an upcoming woman president, who was supposed to be a woman president, Hillary Clinton. So so many people oppose his position, but I feel that once he took up his position, he was able to unify the entire nation.”  Obviously she was not convinced with what she delivered (I have a feeling when she talked about unifying the nation, it was about almost unifying a whole nation against him).  Admittedly I’ll also be stumped when confronted with the same question, as I couldn’t really think of anything positive that is coming out of Trump’s presidency (at least I can say something nice when asked about our own president Rodrigo Duterte even when I have numerous misgivings about him).  She duplicated her Miss World counterpart’s finish last December, though you feel that in this lady’s case, she could’ve gone farther if luck was in her favor in the Q&A round.  Still it’s worth rejoicing she and her Miss World counterpart delivered her country’s best finish in those pageants thus far.

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Diana Ross (image courtesy of Ron Galella for WireImage)

PHILIPPINES – Maxine Medina.  For those patriotic fans and supporters who couldn’t take constructive criticism, I would suggest you skip this section and move on to the Top Three.  For those who stay, well, here’s my take on Maxine’s standing and performance, and if she deserved her reported placement.  I have a gnawing feeling if the pageant was held in another country, with slightly less Filipino supporters (who would still undoubtedly make noise to cheer her on), and a different set of judges, there is a possibility that Maxine wouldn’t make it this far.  She has a trim and buffed swimsuit figure, but objectively I wonder, was it better than Panama and Brazil?  Some of course would justify “Yes”, and I can respect that opinion–it’s really a matter of taste as if you ask me there is a marginal difference amongst the Top 13 that everyone will have a jumble of rankings.  Then in the gown, is her sequined red satin gown better than Mexico’s?  Many fans of course would argue “Yes”, but I felt her green fringed gown during the preliminaries was better (even if it was less “photogenic”) and I felt I have seen that red gown before and didn’t find it anything special.  So in some scenarios, it is conceivable that Karla could knock Maxine out of the Top Six.

But we have to note major factors working in Maxine’s favor.  First, of course was the loud and supportive crowd rooting for her all the way.  Maxine obviously fed off that energy and to her credit returned the crowd’s enthusiasm by being strong onstage.  And this energy also swayed the judges (on top of at least two sorority members who would give her a high ranking no matter what) to look upon Maxine with favor.  Second was the presence of Miss Universe 1993 Dayanara Torres and Miss Universe 1994 Sushmita Sen in the judging panel.  These two ladies obviously view our country with great gratitude as we served as a launching pad for their careers.  I have a feeling without these two Maxine would’ve ended up in sixth place with her extremely weak answer in the Top Six Q&A (more on that later).  It’s conceivable Yari and Sush placed Maxine squarely in their Top Three (or even ranked her first) that they offset low rankings scored by the likes of Francine LeFrak, and this is why Maxine is in fourth place.  I won’t take it against those venerable beauty queens for giving Maxine high marks in spite of merit–it’s their prerogative, and I respect that.

When she was called to the Top 13, Steve mentioned about her pedigree as the 1990 representative Gem Padilla,*4 is her aunt, and he asked her if Gem gave her any advice.  Maxine gave a short and sweet answer: “Of course she just told me to be myself, and to be more confident since it’s going to be here in the Philippines.”  She exuded a lot of charm and confidence to her credit, but I have a feeling if it weren’t for the crowd, and if she was wearing another country’s sash she would be pegged down a bit like what happened to erstwhile favorites Brazil and Indonesia.

*4 Gem placed 12th in Miss Universe 1990–too bad they were only choosing a Top 10 at that time, so it was frustratingly so close, but so far from glory.

Now, about her Top Six question: “What is the most significant change you’ve seen in the world in the last 10 years?”  It was a generally simple question with a potential strong answer that she can mine from everyday life.  Without her prompting a Filipino interpreter translated the question in Tagalog and then Maxine chose to answer…in English!  And her answer was:  “The last 10 years of being here in the world is that I saw all the people being in one event like this in Miss Universe, and it’s something big to us that we are one, as one nation, we are all together.”  Even if she delivered that message in Tagalog, many people know that answer is shallow.  Why didn’t she talk about something a bit more obvious, like social media?  Doesn’t she use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and/or YouTube?  Though my father sometimes criticizes me for lacking “common sense”, that question can be answered using common sense–breathe a little and use it even if you’re caught up with a case of nerves.  It also somehow makes me wonder about the state of our educational system.*5

*5 I learned that Maxine used to go to school at Angelicum College for grade school and high school–this was also my alma mater for those years, when it was still known as Angelicum School.  It makes me wonder how much our educational system has deteriorated since I graduated from college almost 26 years ago, and since I left the educational publishing industry 13 years ago after a six-year stint there.  I mean, media people who thought December 30 was Jose Rizal‘s birthday instead of his execution/death day?  Or how gullible Maxine could be in believing Imelda Marcos invented the terno?  But then again, even during my high school days, we had this religion teacher whose English was so atrocious we students actually made fun of her behind her back.

I know there are also fans out there who were dreaming of a back-to-back win with Pia crowning this lady as her successor and duplicating Venezuela’s feat in 2008-09.  Knowing her performance at Binibining Pilipinas, I never had that delusional expectation*6, that even if she improves significantly in her interview skills it will still be an uphill battle as there would always be more poised and confident communicators out there and it would take a very particular set of circumstances for her to achieve victory.  I’m always going to be content with a semifinalist finish for any of our Philippine representatives in any pageant and a finish higher than that is pure gravy.

*6 It irked me that when Miss Universe 1969 Gloria Diaz expressed her honest opinion on Maxine’s chances of winning, irrational Filipino netizens were in an uproar to the point that Gloria was forced to capitulate and reluctantly say to the effect of, “Okay, okay, yes she can win…” to appease the crowd.  She should’ve stuck to her guns if I were her.

I know I could be accused of being a basher based from what I have written above.  Her handlers use the argument of “try to walk in her shoes and see if you can handle the same pressure situation?” when they come to her defense against bashers–but then again, all beauty queens are going to be subject to the same pressure anyway, and it’s a simple matter of if they can handle it or they can’t.  There are no excuses if anyone has inherent limitations.  We as observers expect that any person who chose to be in this arena should be aware and prepare herself for these kinds of situations.  Many of us observers are aware of those said pressures and of course would as much as possible avoid being there that is why we stay out of it.  On the other hand, all of us can learn from the situations we see in beauty pageants as they can be applied in everyday life, like in a job interview, for instance.

Despite all those notes, I’m not at all disappointed with Maxine’s showing.  I accepted her limitations and even if I hoped she’ll rise above them, if this is as far she’ll go, I accept it and love her nevertheless.  In fact it’s a pleasant surprise she even got a 4th place showing despite that Q&A debacle.  She now joins in the hallowed ranks of Lalaine Bennett (1963), Chat Silayan (1980), Desiree Verdadero (1984), and Ariella Arida (2013).

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Just like Kenya, it’s also an interesting parallelism that she equaled the finish of her Miss World counterpart.  But there is also another big coincidence:  they both are in long-term relationships with handsomely hunky and swoonworthy model/actors–Maxine has Marx Topacio and Catriona of course has Clint Bondad.  Catriona and Clint are like the divine high society couple, while Maxine and Marx are like the down-to-earth middle class sexy couple.  I’m rooting for both couples to stay together to the end.

Maxine Medina with boyfriend Marx Topacio
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Miss World 2016 3rd runner-up Catriona Gray and Clint Bondad

COMING UP:  THE FINAL THREE

 

65TH MISS UNIVERSE: VIVE LA DIVERSITÉ! (PART 2)

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Twelve of the Top 13 onstage awaiting the announcement of the Fan Vote winner.

There is a major change in the competition format–besides cutting down the number of semifinalists from a Top 15/16 to a Top 13, they reintroduced a live interview format (last in place in 1999).  In this edition, after each semifinalist was called out, Steve Harvey would interview the semifinalist from a tidbit on her bio which the semifinalist would expound further.  I like the return of the interviews in this round–but many thought Megan Young did it better at the recently concluded Miss World pageant, and cutting into commercial after only four were called feels too time-consuming–many (including myself) felt perhaps they should split it into two segments instead of three.  Now, one would wonder–did this chit-chat have any bearing in the judges’ decision to select who would make the next cut?  I believe it did.

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The Top 13 awaiting the announcement of the next cut.

After film clips displaying the forum discussion amongst the five contestants, along with Ashley Graham and Pia Wurtzbach’s tour of Bohol, it was time for the swimsuit competition.  Almost like the preliminary competition, the Top 13 were presented in groups of two or three.  This was set to the audio recordings of Mike Posner’s “I Took a Pill in Ibiza [Seeb Remix]” and The Chainsmokers featuring Daya’s “Don’t Let Me Down”.  Many viewers objected to this new “en masse” format and preferred this (and the evening gown) segment be longer and the semifinalists parading one-by-one like in all editions past.

As I previously noted in my results reaction, diversity is a major theme for this pageant, and this year’s mix delivered on that count, with a record five delegates of black or mulatta heritage, three Asians, three fair-skinned Latinas, and two Caucasians, only one of which was representing a European country.  Without further ado let’s discuss them starting with:

INDONESIA – Kezia Warouw.  Though Indonesia has been enjoying a four-years-and-counting streak making the semifinals, they never advanced beyond the swimsuit round.  There was hype that this statuesque and cosmopolitan lady can break out and bring forth Indonesia’s best finish in this pageant.  However, it looks like her fate was sealed when she was interviewed by Steve Harvey about what her life was like being a tall girl (being 6′, she’s a whole foot taller than the Indonesian average of 5′).  She was obviously nervous and haltingly replied, “Yes, I feel I’m so blessed because I think… this is gift from God [sic] so… I can help to others [sic].”  Even if she redeemed herself somewhat with a strong swimsuit performance, that brief, shallow, and choppy answer sealed her fate and she couldn’t advance.  She could’ve pointed out that she was bullied when she was young and how her mom encouraged her to model and told her about that “gift-from-God” thing, and that would’ve made her answer much stronger and more touching–she mentioned all that in her Up Close video.

Kezia Warouw, Miss Indonesia 2016 competes on stage as a top 13 finalist in Yamamay swimwear and Chinese Laundry shoes during The 65th MISS UNIVERSE® Telecast airing on FOX at 7:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed on Sunday, January 29 from the Mall of Asia Arena. The contestants have been touring, filming, rehearsing and preparing to compete for the Miss Universe crown in the Philippines. HO/The Miss Universe Organization

BRAZIL – Raissa Santana.  She was the choice of many pageant fans and pundits (including myself) to win this whole thing, but what killed her chances was her chit-chat with Steve–Steve asked her what it means to be the first black girl from her country to represent her country in 30 years.  She was obviously tense and nervous and could only come up with, “I am proud… I am very proud to be an example to other girls like me.”  It’s a solid answer, but with everybody else delivering stronger responses or making more memorable impact, her answer was drowned out in the din, and it probably colored the six judges’ perceptions (I think most especially the “East German” judge Francine Lefrak) that even with a finals-worthy swimsuit figure and catwalk, she was not allowed to advance.

Raissa Santana, Miss Brazil 2016 competes on stage as a top 13 finalist in Yamamay swimwear and Chinese Laundry shoes during The 65th MISS UNIVERSE® Telecast airing on FOX at 7:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed on Sunday, January 29 from the Mall of Asia Arena. The contestants have been touring, filming, rehearsing and preparing to compete for the Miss Universe crown in the Philippines. HO/The Miss Universe Organization

PERU – Valeria Piazza.  She was a worthwhile sleeper choice for the finals and her spontaneous remark after being called that “Oh my God, my heart is going to explode with happiness” was very apt (she’s probably as surprised as most people were).  I know she has strong communication skills, but I forgot she also has a compelling human interest story as she survived a horrific car accident in October last year.  Steve asked her to expound on that.  “Yes I had a car accident last year and it was very painful.  Many doctors told me that I couldn’t come to Miss Universe.  But you know, Miss Universe was my biggest motivation, so I started to go twice a day to therapy to recover fast, and now I am here and I am more grateful than ever and this is the best moment of my life so far.”  In my reckoning she performed 12th in swimsuit, but I would rank her higher than Brazil and Indonesia overall because of that human interest story, and that she’s a strong communicator (yes, she speaks English with an accent but her enunciation was crystal clear).

Valeria Piazza, Miss Peru 2016 competes on stage as a top 13 finalist in Yamamay swimwear and Chinese Laundry shoes during The 65th MISS UNIVERSE® Telecast airing on FOX at 7:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed on Sunday, January 29 from the Mall of Asia Arena. The contestants have been touring, filming, rehearsing and preparing to compete for the Miss Universe crown in the Philippines. HO/The Miss Universe Organization

PANAMA – Keity Drennan.  She was in the radar of many pageant fans and pundits, who raved about her buffed body and strong stage presence.  So her making the cut was not that much of a surprise (it was just a matter of personal taste that I preferred others over her in my “Fearful” Forecast).  Steve asked about her background as a child of a single parent and how it prepared her in competing in this competition.  Her answer was strong:  “My mother told me and my sister that with effort, working hard, you can have everything you want, and it definitely give me the confidence and the strength to pursue my dreams.”  It’s a strong, well-articulated answer, but there were others that made stronger impact.  Hence, despite her superb performance in the swimsuit round, she missed advancing to the Top Nine.

Keity Drennan, Miss Panama 2016 competes on stage as a top 13 finalist in Yamamay swimwear and Chinese Laundry shoes during The 65th MISS UNIVERSE® Telecast airing on FOX at 7:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed on Sunday, January 29 from the Mall of Asia Arena. The contestants have been touring, filming, rehearsing and preparing to compete for the Miss Universe crown in the Philippines. HO/The Miss Universe Organization

This year the announcement of the Top Nine was done in a mock-suspenseful split fashion.  After eight of them were called, they cut into commercial break before the final finalist was called.  I dislike the format and would prefer all nine were called in one go.  In essence, after each of the Top Nine was announced, they aired her Up Close video–last year, the video profile airing was done during the Top 15 announcement but with the live interview format this time, this is where they choose to place it.

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The Top Nine then paraded in evening gown, this time set to Kiiara’s “Gold”.  Interestingly, Miss Earth also used this song during the evening gown segment, albeit in a remixed version.  The song probably was deemed a perfect elegant catwalk song that was why it’s chosen as an evening gown catwalk soundtrack.  Seven of the nine semifinalists in this round switched their gowns from the preliminaries.

Deshauna Barber, Miss USA 2016; Kristal Silva, Miss Mexico 2016; Siera Bearchell, Miss Canada 2016; Chalita Suansane, Miss Thailand 2016; Mary Esther Were, Miss Kenya 2016; Raquel Pelissier, Miss Haiti 2016; Iris Mittenaere, Miss France 2016; Andrea Tovar, Miss Colombia 2016; and Maxine Medina, Miss Philippines 2016; await to see which of them will be announced as the top 6 finalists during The 65th MISS UNIVERSE® Telecast airing on FOX at 7:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed on Sunday, January 29 from the Mall of Asia Arena. The contestants have been touring, filming, rehearsing and preparing to compete for the Miss Universe crown in the Philippines. HO/The Miss Universe Organization

The message of diversity turns out to not only apply towards race and ethnicity, but also towards body types and sizes, which threw many pageant fans and pundits (including myself) in a loop.  The presence of one lady whose had been a target of “fat-shaming” in the Top 13 and Top Nine polarized many people–perhaps it is IMG’s intention to make people appreciate that beauty comes in a variety of sizes.  Anyway, the lady in question is…

CANADA – Siera Bearchell. She was deemed in “ideal” shape when she competed in Miss Supranational 2015 (and ended up as 1st runner-up) and when she won her national pageant.  I’m not sure what happened between her national pageant and this pageant, but well, many pageant observers took notice and internet trolls came in droves to criticize her.  But to her credit, she embraces the shape that she’s in and the viral story turned her into a poster child for another type of diversity, and this pageant decided to embrace it by allowing her to make the cut (when in other editions like in the Trump era, she would be relegated to the bottom of the pack).  Her fabled communication skills serve her well as an advocate embracing body-type diversity, and I have to admit it is refreshing that she became a token symbol for people like me. and make me rethink my preconceived notions that bigger sizes can’t make inroads in modern pageants.  Still there are those who do not quite subscribe to this message–fellow Canadian Miss Universe 2005 Natalie Glebova, who was in Manila with her family to watch this pageant made some salient points about this issue–here is her take from her own review of this pageant:

I honestly think Canada could have won the crown, had she worked on her body and looked the way she did last year. I was Siera’s biggest fan when she won Miss Canada and even before that, and always felt she had huge potential to be the 3rd Miss Universe from Canada. In the end, as we see, it takes more to win, and I think Siera missed her chance. While her message of body confidence is a very important one to young women, what I think is even more important to tell the younger generation is that if you settle for what you have and don’t work to improve yourself, it can only get you so far, but with a bit more perseverance and determination, you can go all the way to the top! The new generation is at a risk of feeling entitled and spoiled by getting ribbons for participation and trophies for coming in last, so if we don’t teach them that it takes hard work, sacrifice, discipline, setting goals, and never settling for less, we stand to have very unsatisfied and unfulfilled generation of young people, who never truly get to live their dream.

I highly recommend reading Natalie’s full review of this pageant.  You can click on the Facebook link here or as published on Pageanthology101.com.  Anyway, to help advance the impression that her body size was still “healthy”, when she was called to the Top 13 Steve noted that she recently ran her first marathon and ask her about how being athletic gives her an edge in this pageant.  As expected, she confidently spoke that “Running a marathon along 42.2 km or 26 miles takes determination, perseverance, patience, and a lot of stamina and all of those seem like attributes that a Miss Universe seems to have, so…”  After the swimsuit round, Steve went into a slightly lengthy chit-chat with the judges and put some of them on the spot on who were their top choices.  All who were interviewed included Canada on their list, so even if many pageant fans and pundits disagree, she overtook the likes of Brazil and Panama in the swimsuit round and made it to evening gown.  Now, she changed from her pink number in the preliminaries to a white gown.  I suppose this is enough justification for the judges to not let her advance further, that her presence in the Top Nine is enough of a statement–I can recall a fashion rule that white makes you add pounds, and is usually considered unflattering for plus-size figures.  No doubt she has made an indelible mark that will be debated upon for years to come.  It reminds me of Camryn Manheim‘s battlecry when she won the Emmy award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama for her role in The Practice: “This is for all the fat girls!!!

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U S A – Deshauna Barber.  Though many pageant fans and pundits don’t put her looks in high regard, her sash and her sterling communication skills helped secure her placement in this group.  I’d like to note that prior to the announcement of the Top 13, they broadcasted excerpts from the preliminary interviews.  We saw Bulgaria (Violina Ancheva) and Romania (Teodora Dan) flub their interviews, while shining brightest were two eventual Top Six finalists whom I shall discuss later, and this lady, who confidently explained that besides having “a master’s degree in computer information systems, I am also in the military–meaning that not only can I fix the software of each of your computers, I can also kick the butt of a 250-pound man who tries to take your computer.“.  Memorable soundbite, no?  As she was called to the Top 13, Steve asked her what it meant for her to change from her fatigues to being glammed up and campaign “as Miss Universe”.  Deshauna corrected Steve, “Hopefully as Miss Universe, if I have the privilege enough to be crowned, but as Miss USA, I have had the opportunity to really just go around and show the world the diversity that we have as women, and I, myself, and the other 85 contestants are so diverse that we represent so much coming from  our countries that I’m incredibly excited, honored, and humbled that I represent strong, powerful women, especially women that serve our country.”  She also has an undeniably trim, toned figure and a polished stage presence so it’s inevitable that she advanced to the next round.  She switched from the low-cut red gown in the preliminaries to a long-sleeved lacy red gown for the finals.  It’s a solid number, but admittedly other gowns had more impact, hence this is as far as she would go.  If she advanced further, she would have been a major threat in the question-and-answer rounds.

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MEXICO – Kristal Silva.  As she was announced as one of the Top 13, she was asked by Steve about the fact she once tripped and fell in a pageant.  “It was three years ago in a catwalk,” she answered, “and obviously I felt nervous… and…I think that I take advantage of that opportunity because there were judges, there were media, and I say, ‘This is my opportunity to say I’m here, I’m Mexico! ‘ and, well, I take advantage of that I say, ‘nothing happened.’”  This led Steve to reference his legendary flub, “That’s what I said after last year.”  She showcased a lovely hourglass figure in the swimsuit round and it was a cinch for her to advance.  She probably missed the Top Six by very little as her sexy silver evening gown (unchanged from the preliminary competition) was flawless.

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COMING UP:  THE TOP SIX