SOUTH AFRICA – Yajna Debideen. Her angular face detracts what is otherwise a polished performance from her.
SOUTH SUDAN – Eyga Mojus. She’s the strongest candidate from this year’s black and African contingent, especially making a major splash in her sexily stylish embroidered white evening gown.
SPAIN – Mariana Rico. See SLOVAKIA.
SRI LANKA – Visna Fernando. She has an appealing exoticism about her, and she brought some drama in the evening gown round as she played around with the train of her red gown and delivered a mix of the Riyo Mori Gucci Flash mixed with Shania Twain‘s “From This Moment On” video.
SWEDEN – Maja Westlin. She has a refreshing prettiness about her. Her presence is a tad subdued but she has been receiving positive notices.
TANZANIA – Batuli Mohamed. She’s model slim and polished but her facial beauty is an acquired taste.
TATARSTAN – Aigul Zaripova. She’s pretty and is distinguishable with her waist-long tresses, but she’s a tad unpolished and a tad too skinny. Anyway for those not in the know, Tatarstan is a “Republic” within Russia which has the greatest amount of control over its own affairs, similar to a state within the United States. Sure I know some would have misgivings about giving separate representation for this entity but at least this has better justification than, say, Fernando de Noronha…
THAILAND – Premika Pamela. During the early goings of this competition, she seems on track to be in the Top FIve, delivering fierceness in her faraway official photo shot and delivering drama with her unconventional national costume. However during the preliminary competition, though she looked va-va-voom sexy in her form-fitting evening gown, she looked a bit lost onstage and seemed to missed her cues, and even ended her evening gown performance with a trip as she exited. We’ll see if that would be factored in for tonight’s final, or if she’ll overcome that misstep and deliver on her potential.
UGANDA – Priscilla Achieng. She’s not conventionally pretty but she exudes a strong presence. If enough people appreciate her exotic native African features, she could make the final cut.
UKRAINE – Snizhana Tanchuk. Just like TATARSTAN, she is notable for her waist-length brunette hair and she has made a strong impression with her pretty face and polished presence.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – Taylor Kessler. Her name seems all-American, but her features evokes something intriguingly ethnic. But which kind of ethnic? Latino? Middle Eastern? Asian? Native American? She is very polished, and made an impact wearing the current Wonder Woman costume popularized by Gal Gadot, but admittedly her ethnic features are not to anyone’s taste. Anyway, she is representative of America being a melting pot, despite what this country’s current administration would like to have everyone believe. Intriguingly, looking more all-American is…
U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – Brianna Key. You rarely see a Caucasian representing this U.S. territory, which like Puerto RIco has been battered by both Hurricanes Irma and Maria. This blonde is polished enough but not at the level of her counterparts.
VENEZUELA – Tulia Aleman Ferrer. She is also poised to vindicate the relatively weak showing of her predecessor, Debora Paola Medina, who made the Top 20 but deserved to go beyond that. She delivers the goods onstage, and at some angles she resembles Miss Universe 2007 2nd runner-up Ly Jonaitis. There are people hyping her to make it all the way to the Top Five, but her main disadvantage is that she couldn’t speak English at all–I doubt Nawat has a strong Spanish translator at hand if she makes it this far…
VIETNAM – Nguyen Tran Huyen My. She is distinguished by her rounder-than-typical eyes plus that nude-colored sequined hot pants number she sported for her official photos (we Filipinos have a vulgar term for her high-cut shorts which I’ll not repeat here). But what is remarkable about this host candidate is her stage presence, and she was impeccable during the preliminary competition. She looks like a lock for the Top FIve at this point.
WALES – Nadia Suliman. She exudes a sultry, swarthy sex appeal as her name belies an Arab heritage. She is a polished worthwhile contender.
Now that all 77 are accounted for, let me trot out my leaderboard:
TOP CONTENDERS: ECUADOR, PERU, VIETNAM, VENEZUELA
SHOO-INS: INDIA, INDONESIA, PARAGUAY, PHILIPPINES, SOUTH SUDAN, THAILAND,
LIKELIEST: ARGENTINA, BELGIUM, BRAZIL, CHINA, COSTA RICA, CZECH REPUBLIC, HUNGARY, JAMAICA, JAPAN, LAOS, LITHUANIA, MALAYSIA, MEXICO, NETHERLANDS, PUERTO RICO, RUSSIA, SPAIN, SRI LANKA, SWEDEN, UKRAINE, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
EXCELLENT: AUSTRALIA, BOLIVIA, BULGARIA, CANADA, COLOMBIA, ENGLAND, ETHIOPIA, FIJI, FINLAND, KOREA, NORTHERN IRELAND, SCOTLAND, SIERRA LEONE, SLOVAKIA, TANZANIA, UGANDA, WALES
VERY STRONG: CHILE, CUBA, DENMARK, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, ESTONIA, FRANCE, LEBANON, MONGOLIA, MYANMAR, NICARAGUA, NIGERIA, PORTUGAL, SOUTH AFRICA, TATARSTAN, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS
STRONG: BELARUS, CAMBODIA, EGYPT, GUADELOUPE, GUATEMALA, MACAU, NEPAL, NEW ZEALAND
VERY GOOD: GERMANY, PANAMA, SERBIA
FAIR: BAHAMAS, HONG KONG
And here is my “Fearful” Forecast:
TOP FIVE: ECUADOR, INDONESIA, PERU, VIETNAM, VENEZUELA
TOP TEN: INDIA, PARAGUAY, PHILIPPINES, SOUTH SUDAN, THAILAND
TOP 20: ARGENTINA, BELGIUM, BRAZIL, COSTA RICA, CZECH REPUBLIC, LAOS, LITHUANIA, MALAYSIA, NETHERLANDS, PUERTO RICO
BUBBLING UNDER: CHINA, HUNGARY, JAMAICA, JAPAN, MEXICO, RUSSIA, SPAIN, SRI LANKA, SWEDEN, UKRAINE, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
STRIKING DISTANCE: AUSTRALIA, BOLIVIA, BULGARIA, CANADA, COLOMBIA, ENGLAND, ETHIOPIA, FIJI, FINLAND, KOREA, NORTHERN IRELAND, SCOTLAND, SIERRA LEONE, SLOVAKIA, TANZANIA, UGANDA, WALES
It looks like the prominent regions are those with “South” in its designation: South America and Southeast Asia, with the former seemingly having the upper hand. We’ll see how it all unfolds tonight.