MEXICO – Karen Bustos.  I actually found her very vivacious in interview and at first listen thought she was one of the standouts.  Reviewing her interview again, and I realized she botched her answer on the question of Trump building a wall at her border, but perhaps that’s a matter of translation–she might have been pointing out that this kind of news generates publicity and attention for her country and this could be a moment for her country to rise up with self-determination.  Anyway, she was oozing with outgoing charm that perhaps any objections about the content of her answer would be overcome by that charm.

NORTHERN IRELAND – Maire Lynch.   Like last year, all three lasses from the British Isles are a comely, articulate, intelligent bunch.  Though only Wales has been garnering medals among them, this lady’s beauty should not be denied or ignored.

PORTUGAL – Glória Silva.  The countries beginning with the letter “P” is typically a fierce group and most of the time the weakest link would be this country.  Most would say that the same would apply for this pageant, but to this lady’s credit, she’s attractive and fit enough and was generally solid in interview.

PUERTO RICO – Karla Victoria Aponte.  This blonde Latina generated a sensation from the get-go, garnering two gold medals in swimsuit and evening gown.  She is also proven her worth in interview, and considering the damage wrought to her island by hurricanes Irma and Maria, rewarding her with an element might be the right thing to do.  I’m rooting for her to gain one.

REUNION ISLAND – Emma Lauret.  She’s attractive and trim enough but her interview was a tad weak.

RWANDA – Uwase Hirma Honorine.  Based on face alone, this lady’s the prettiest among the Africans.  She’s also a solid communicator.  The issue that hinders her from becoming the African-most-likely is that her bottom, like most typical African women, are disproportionately heavier than the top, and this is not rated high in this pageant.  She also missed out on the public “Form and Figure” event (I suppose she is very staunch in her modesty as if you see in her appearances she likes to be covered up in swimsuit).

SERBIA – Marija Nikic.  Among the Balkan contingent, she proved to be the strongest communicator.  It might point to a possible sleeper surprise Top 16 placement for her.

SRI LANKA – Shyama Dahayanaka.  She garnered positive notices for her looks.  If we base our impression on her communication skills based on her Eco-Beauty video, you would assume she would be a strong communicator.  But it was revealed during the interview that she’s actually not fluent in English, and she was a major nervous disappointment as a result.

SWITZERLAND – Sarah Laura Peyrel.  Like the representative from her country ten years ago, this comely brunette made heads turn with her gorgeous face and distinctive short haircut.  She garnered two silver medals in swimsuit and friendship, plus she acquitted herself well in interview.  She is a strong possibility for the Top 16.

TONGA – Diamond Langi.  She’s a tad trimmer compared to her Pacific Islander counterparts and she does have a compelling message about how climate change is affecting the viability of her islands.  She’s got a moment in the spotlight with a gold medal in friendship.

UKRAINE – Diana Mironenko.  She’s trim and attractive with an interesting Eco-Beauty video showcasing her culture and a mythological folkloric character that delivers her environmental message.  She also garnered a bronze for resorts wear.  I think her weakest point was interview, as though it was solid, she was not as effective in getting her message across.

U S A – Andreia Gibau.  Her name is Portuguese-sounding for a good reason–her parents were originally from the country of Cape Verde, which is off the coast of Africa.  I learned from watching the Geography Now video about Cape Verde that there is a huge population of Cape Verdeans living in America, concentrated in the northern East Coast (so it makes sense why she’s a New Yorker) and even exceeding the population of the homeland.  There are a significant amount of pageant fans or pundits who feel she’s a near shoo-in for an element.  She did garner a silver for resorts wear and bronze in swimsuit.  She was a strong interview, but I was more impressed with, say, U.S. Virgin Islands instead of her.  Still a path to an element is still highly conceivable.


VIETNAM –  Lê Thị Hà Thu.  I don’t know what’s the criteria to win a gold as an Eco-Warrior, but she won this medal.  She also garnered golds for resorts wear and photogenic, plus bronzes for talent and evening gown.  I’m not that crazy about her, but it seems there is significant support that she looks to be element-bound, also.

ZAMBIA – Abigail Chama.  She’s solid, but there are other Africans I found prettier and buffer.  She at least got the consolation of earning bronze for Darling of the Press–I have a feeling the press people were just in the mood to award this to a random  African country and since she came in last, that’s probably what they put in their ballots.




GROUP 3:  There are 30 ladies in this group, the largest of the three.  Pageant fans and pundits do not buzz that much about this group with the exception of three standouts likely aiming for an element.

ARGENTINA –  Fiorella Hengemühler.  This blonde is generally solid but overshadowed by more charismatic ladies in other groups.

BAHAMAS – Brittania Alexa Mitchell.  She’s also another solid contender, but again there are prettier standouts out there.

BOLIVIA – Giancarla Fernández.  She has a pretty face and a sexy figure, but there are other Latinas that are garnering way more attention.  At least she got a piece of the spotlight with a gold medal in national costume.

BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA – Lela Karagic.  She is one of the pretty babes from the Balkans this year.  However, her interview turned out to be shallow and relatively sub-par, and this would hinder her chances of making the Top 16.

BRAZIL – Yasmin Engelke.  Brazil is a powerful sash lately, as lesser heralded ladies have been garnering elements.  This lady is deemed less attractive than her predecessors, and although she has a polished presence and a human interest story recovering from a coma.  If you ask me, this should be the time that this country makes way for other countries to have their chance to shine as there are at least more than 20-30 contenders worthier than her in the Top 16.

CAMBODIA – Em Kun Thong.  It’s nice to see this country return to this pageant after a 12-year absence.  Though we don’t expect her to make serious inroads into the Top 16, her presence is highly welcome.

CHINA – Mei Zhan.  She may not be much in terms of facial beauty, but she does have a lean figure and is surprisingly a strong interview.

COOK ISLANDS – Mona Louisa Taio.  She’s a solid interview and has an attractive face, but hindering her prospects is her figure is obviously too voluptuous for typical pageant standards–and this pageant still adheres strictly to that.  At least she got her turn in the spotlight with a silver medal in talent.

CROATIA – Bonita Kristic.  She may not be as pretty as Bosnia & Herzegovina, but she proved to be a more solid interview than her.

CYPRUS – Artemis Charalambous.  She could be a sleeper choice to make the Top 16, as she has been generating a bit of buzz among pageant fans and pundits.  She garnered a gold in talent and silver in national costume.  Wonder what happened to her that she missed out on the evening gown competition?

GUADELOUPE – Morgane Nestar.  See BAHAMAS, albeit she speaks French.

HAITI – Anaika Vanessa Gaspard.  People wonder if she’s actually still in the competition and was simply too ill to participate–she missed out on the press presentation and national costume competitions, and she also missed out on her group’s evening gown event, and while practically all the ladies in Groups 1 and 3 were shown to be interviewed, she’s one who missed out.  I haven’t read anything about her dropping out, so at this point we should still treat her as still officially “in”.

INDIA – Shaan Suhas Kumar.  She has a trim enough figure, but she proved to be a stellar interview.  Would that be enough to overcome reservations about her facial beauty?  At least she got the consolation of garnering a bronze medal in friendship.

ITALY – Fabiana Enrica Barra.  Her styling tends to be a tad over-the-top but she’s proven to be an outgoing, vivacious personality.  She got a silver medal for her 1700s-era costume.  During the interview round, she took initiative to speak about herself, her background and her causes before the judges asked any question–I don’t know if that’s a good idea, especially with her choppy English but I have to salute her chutzpah to do so.

MALAYSIA – Cherish Ng.  She may not be much in terms of looks, but we have to give her credit for her outgoing, vivacious personality.

MALTA – Christie Refalo.  She’s a good looking girl with a subdued, down-to-earth personality.  That subdued quality is a reason why she’s easily overshadowed by the big stars out there, but she’s a worthwhile representative from this country.



JAPAN – Yasuyo Saito.  She has one of the cutest faces and I like her interview.   She earned a gold for friendship and a silver in national costume.  I’m rooting for her to advance in the Top 16.

KYRGYZSTAN –  Begimai Nazarova.  She’s attractive, but obviously less-than-polished.  She is one of the few who didn’t register well in the acid-test “Beauty of Face” round.

LEBANON –  Elsa Antoun.  She is actually a pretty, worthwhile contender who garnered a silver for talent.  But she is overshadowed by an embarrassment of riches in terms of standouts.

MAURITIUS – Yanishta Gopaul.  She has a slender trim figure and is good looking–and in recent years they became pleasant sleeper surprises by making the cut in 2013 and 2015.  I’m not that confident that she can pull off that sleeper feat this time with the abundance of stellar standouts out there.

MOLDOVA – Veronica Buzovoi.  For me she is one of the standouts in the “Beauty of Face” round–in my opinion one of the most gorgeous no-makeup faces in the entire batch.  I have not seen her interview but it is conceivable she can become one of the sleeper surprises in the Top 16.

MYANMAR – Tin Sandar Myo.  She’s a polished, solid contender, but her key disadvantage is that she doesn’t register that well without makeup.

NEPAL – Rojina Shrestha.  She’s one of the fuller-figured ladies in this year’s batch, and knowing this pageant that is considered a big disadvantage.  Though we don’t see interviews from her group, perhaps her ace is in that category.

NIGERIA – Eucharia Akani.  Her beauty is of a less conventional sort, but at least she made a splash in evening gown as she garnered bronze there (it was also noted in Nick Verreos‘ blog, and for him this is his favorite gown).

PAKISTAN – Ramina Ashfaque.  She’s a polished enough contender though again, as I repeat my mantra: “She’s overshadowed by other standouts out there.”

PERU – Karen Isabel Rojas Chávez.  For this group she along with Philippines and Russia, have been hogging most of the medals, garnering gold in evening gown, silver in swimsuit, and bronze in resorts wear and friendship.  She was one of the stronger interviews among the Latina contingent, so it is likely she’s one of the shoo-ins for the Top 16.  Now, garnering an element will be a challenge as there are at least 10 ladies in contention for the four elements at stake.

PHILIPPINES – Karen Ibasco.  There are many detractors who feel her beauty is not of the conventional sort, but since this pageant is held in these shores and unlike her notorious predecessor Imelda Schweighart, she is one who is committed to the cause and to the responsibilities required for her title, so it is likely she will rank high despite reservations about her looks.  But to her credit, it can be argued she is better looking than some of our recent high-ranking predecessors, so her possibly garnering an element would be acceptable enough.  One can justify she garnered a lion’s share of medals, with gold as Darling of the Press, national costume, and swimsuit, and a couple of silvers for resorts wear and evening gown.  But making her win it all would be overkill, especially with those two big contenders in Group 1.

RUSSIA – Lada Akimova.  She has made a standout impression in the medal events, garnering three golds for resorts wear, talent, and national costume, and a silver in swimsuit.  She also did very well in the three rounds that truly count, possessing a trim figure, a pretty face that passes muster sans makeup, and held her own in interview.  She is one of the shoo-ins for the Top 16, with sights in the Top Eight and beyond.

SAMOA – Olivia Howman.  Like the other Pacific Islander representatives to this pageant, her figure ends to be on the voluptuous side and that tend not to be highly valued by the powers that be.  Still, she has an attractiveness about her that her presence is worthwhile.

SLOVENIA – Sara Gavranič.  Of the ladies from the Balkan region, she is probably deemed the weakest link in terms of looks.  But she is reportedly one of the nicer personalities around as Japan cited her as being the most helpful to her in her interview.  She at least got a highlight garnering a bronze in national costume for Eastern Europe.

SPAIN – Ainara de Santamaría.  There are angles where she registers as pretty and others where she looks angular.  I have to compliment her for the way she handled herself in her interview–she was asked the touchiest of questions about Catalonia’s recent unilateral declaration of independence, her allegiance between either Real Madrid or Barcelona, and her stand on bullfighting.  I salute her poise and her skillfully diplomatic yet spontaneous way of answering those questions, that even if I feel the judges probably didn’t score her that high, she has my undying respect and admiration.