ARUBA – Anouk Eman.  She has a great human interest story with her issue with scoliosis and her synchronized swimming background.  She also made waves by figuring in the Sports fast-track and she is a great interview.  That could be her ticket in securing a judges’ interview slot, but she might have to deal with her “mother” country who also is aces in this department.

LAOS – Tonkham Phonchanheung.  This country in its debut foray into pageants has fielded a commendable array of pretty lookers, leading to a Top 20 finish at Miss Grand International and a Top Eight finish at the recently concluded Miss International.  Unfortunately this lady is not likely to make as big a splash as she’s overshadowed by the formidable contenders from her region out there.

GHANA – Afua Asieduwaa Akrofi.  She has a radiant smile and is a strong, intelligent communicator.  But could she impress enough in interview to secure one of the 15 judges interview slots?

HUNGARY – Virag Koroknyai.  She’s good looking though not as assertive as some of her predecessors.  At least she has a moment in the spotlight as her contemporary dancing background gave her a showcase at the Talent show.

NETHERLANDS – Philisantha Van Deuren.  Her resemblance to veteran actress Mariel Hemingway may not be to anyone’s taste, but she proved to be aces in the communication skills department that even if it is unlikely she’ll win the Head-to-Head challenge she’ll be in contention for one of the 15 judges’ interview slots.  She also had a moment in the spotlight being shortlisted for Sports.

Couldn’t find a good Sports photo so this yellow-jacketed trip photo earlier would have to do.

Mariel Hemingway (image courtesy of the New York Times)

INDONESIA – Achintya Nilsen.  We are being conditioned to anticipate a win for this country with those two consecutive 2nd runner-up finishes.  It seems that the conditioning will finally pay off with this lady.  Sure she’s not conventionally pretty, but she’s totally aces when she opens her mouth.  She’s also highly favored with her winning the Designer Dress competition and making the cut in Top Model, Talent and Beauty with a Purpose.  Unlike her predecessors, I will not object to her high placement and probable win.  As most have expected she won this Head-to-Head challenge.  Let’s see if she wins the Beauty with the Purpose fast track to pave the way for other ladies in her group to secure slots from interview and the Head-to-Head challenge.


CHINA, P.R. – Guan Siyu.  She does exude abundant charm even if she is not as pretty as say, those two Miss World winners Zhang Zilin and Yu Wenxia.  She made a splash as she has a 4th place finish in Top Model under her belt.  She or Hong Kong were expected to win in the Head-to-Head challenge, but it turns out she was outvoted by…

MOLDOVA – Ana Badaneu.  She’s pretty, but she’s drowned out by way more active contenders out there.  Thankfully, she seems to have a significant fanbase who voted her in to win this Head-to-Head challenge.  It goes to show that being the best in the group does not necessarily follow that she would garner the most votes.

No Top Model photo so this will have to do…

DENMARK – Amanda Petri.  She seems to believe in a less-is-more philosophy as her makeup is often very minimal.  She made a great impression in this Head-to-Head challenge and with her terpsichorean skills she got a spotlight in the Talent show.

EQUATORIAL GUINEA – Catalina Mangue Ondo.  She’s actually good looking and articulate, but she’s not making much impact.  The most she can be at this point is a worthwhile contender.

UKRAINE – Polina Tkach.  She figured in two fast-track events, Top Model and Talent, but as good as her communication skills actually is, is it enough to secure one of the 15 interview slots?

HONG KONG CHINA – Emily Wong.  She also possesses abundant charm and is a strong communicator.  Will that be enough to impress the judges?


ENGLAND – Stephanie Hill.  This blonde is not conventionally pretty but she is driven, overachieving, and articulate.  She made a splash by placing 4th in Talent (singing) and being shortlisted for Beauty with a Purpose.  I would’ve presumed she would’ve been a possible winner of the Head-to-Head challenge (or perhaps even Fiji) but it turns out the challenge winner went to someone worthy but slightly surprising.  She’s still a lock to secure one of the judges’ interview slots.

CROATIA – Tea Mlinaric.  Her looks helped her make a major splash in Top Model, placing third.  She also makes a great impression in the Head-to-Head challenge–could she get a slot via the judges’ interview because of this?

GUATEMALA – Virginia Hernandez.  She made a great impression in the Head-to-Head challenge, but she has not made inroads in any fast-track.  Thankfully, she garnered enough voting support that she won this group’s Head-to-Head challenge.

SENEGAL – Nar Codou Diouf.  She does look good, but she’s slightly hampered by a lack of confidence in communication skills.  At least this is a worthwhile debut of this country in this pageant–yes, even if this country saw action in Miss Universe and Miss International decades ago, this is the first time for this country in this pageant.

No Top Model catwalk photo so this selfie with other contestants will have to do.

ROMANIA – Mihaela Bosca.  Her main highlight is being shortlisted in Sports.

FIJI – Nanise Rainima.  With the exception of Papua New Guinea’s Eva Arni, who won the Miss Asia Quest back in 1975, Melanesians typically figure in the bottom rung in beauty pageants.  This lady is proving to be one of those rare exceptions.  Yes, she doesn’t fit many people’s notion of beauty, but she has special qualities like intelligence, charm, talent, and a good heart that she’s making an extraordinary impact in this pageant.  She placed second in the Talent fast-track and she’s short-listed in Beauty with a Purpose.  I have a feeling she’ll secure one of the 15 judges’ interview slots.




GUAM – Destiny Cruz.  She has a shortlist in Talent to sing about when she gets home and she is a worthwhile contender.

BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA – Aida Karamehmedović.  She’s not as pretty as previous representatives from her country, but she’s striking enough to be shortlisted for Top Model.  She also has the athleticism to be shortlisted in Sports.

MACAU (CHINA) – Cloe Lan Wan-Ling.  Her strong communication skills and the Chinese fanbase helped her standout and win the Head-to-Head challenge (since the actual presumed winner, Dominican Republic, got fast-tracked by her Sports challenge win).  She’s a refreshing choice for a Top 40 quarterfinalist.

HONDURAS: Celia Monterros.  She made a weak impression in the Head-to-Head challenge and some pageant pundits consider her a cellar dweller.  But I do find her features intriguingly attractive and it seems to look Asian, plus she’s shortlisted in Top Model, so that’s not the mark of a cellar dweller in my book.

ICELAND – Ólafía Ósk Finnsdóttir.  She was hyped as a possible front-running favorite prior to the arrival of the contestants in China, but buzz faded on her since then.  Instead, she is now one prime candidate for the Holly Carpenter Award.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – Aletxa Mueses Santana.  She’s not conventionally pretty unlike her predecessor (who placed 1st runner-up).  But she has personality and communication skills in spades that proved to be a winning factor in the Head-to-Head challenge.  However, she has to relinquish this spot because she earned another ticket to the Top 40 by winning the Sports fast-track.  It is possible she can advance further to the Top 15.


KENYA – Magline Jeruto.  She makes a striking impression with her short hair and pretty face that it’s obvious why she was shortlisted in Top Model.  She also has the athleticism to be part of the Sports shortlist.  Hope she scores high enough in interview to make the cut.

In the pool with Fiji.

IRELAND – Lauren McDonagh.  She’s good looking but struggled in the question-and-answer portions of the Head-to-Head challenge.  A little more polish she could’ve made more inroads, or at least be in contention for that award named for her countrywoman, the Holly Carpenter award.

RUSSIA – Polina Popova.  Many people consider her a big favorite to win, even if se registered as subdued, shy and reserved during the Head-to-Head challenge.  Though she isn’t the winner of her group, with her Top Model and Beauty with a Purpose shortlists all but assure she would make the final cut and advance to the Top 15 and yes, beyond (even though sentimentally I would prefer others to go ahead of her).

CYPRUS – Helena Tselepi.  Her terpsichorean skills allowed her to have her time in the limelight as she performed her dance in the Talent show.

MONGOLIA – Enkhjin Tseveendash.  She’s almost as splashy as her predecessor, who made Top 11.  She made the cut in Sports, Top Model, and Beauty with a Purpose.  She won the Head-to-Head challenge for this group, so she has secured her place in the Top 40.  UPDATE:  There are unconfirmed reports she also won the Multimedia challenge.  Wonder if this means the Head-to-Head challenge slot will now be given to the lady who placed second behind her, and who could that be?  I hope that would be Russia…

SINGAPORE – Laanya Asogan.   This lady of Indian ethnicity is well-spoken and made the Sports shortlist, but most likely those are going to be the highlights of her journey here.

The only Sports challenge photo I can find of her, holding the rear with her Yellow teammates.


INDIA – Manushi Chhilar.  This country is roaring back to pageant prominence with this polished and classy lady, who like France, Brazil, and Russia got shortlisted in both Top Model and Beauty with a Purpose.  There is unofficial word that she also made the Top Five of the Multimedia fast-track, though she already secured a slot by winning this Head-to-Head challenge, leaving others scrambling to create a strong impression in interview to earn their keep.  Or if this lady wins Multimedia, this leaves room for those Latinas to advance.

BULGARIA – Veronika Stefanova.  She’s pretty with a worthy cause (her advocacy is for teenagers with eating disorders) but other than that she registers a bit as a bimbo.  If India wins Multimedia, there is a possibility that she could be a wildcard Head-to-Head challenge winner as I know previously the Bulgarians have the ability to deploy fans to watch a previous representative’s YouTube videos, so maybe they can now channel their energies to pump up the vote–though to be honest I hope that doesn’t materialize.

GREECE – Maria Psilou.  She’s pretty but not that polished a communicator, so at most she’s a worthwhile contender.

ECUADOR – Romina Zeballos.  She’s good looking and a strong communicator, but she hasn’t figured in any of the fast-tracks.  Would her interview be enough for her to make the Top 40, or do we have another Holly Carpenter Award candidate?

EL SALVADOR – Fatima Cuellar.  Many pageant fans and pundits are raving about her and rating her as a potential spoiler or even front-runner.  I do like her and she got noticed with a Top Model shortlist.  It is conceivable also if India wins the Head-to-Head challenge she can score high enough in the interview to make the Top 40.

FINLAND – Adriana Gerxhalija.  Her surname seems to indcate she’s actually of Albanian or Kosovar origin.  Whatever, I actually like her in the Head-to-Head challenge and thought she’s great looking and a strong communicator, one of the better contestants fielded by this country in recent years.  She’s an underrated gem.




AUSTRALIA – Esma Voloder.  She only figured in one fast-track so far, Beauty with a Purpose, but I’m confident she’s likely to secure a slot by faring strongly in the judges’ interview.

FRANCE – Aurore Kichenin.  She is considered one of the possible front-runners for the crown, and with a potent combination of a Top Model and Beauty with a Purpose shortlist, she seems to be on her way to the top.  She already secured a spot by winning this group’s Head-to-Head challenge.

GERMANY – Dallila Jabri.  Her features register as exotic but she’s obviously too raw to make significant impact here.

ARMENIA – Lili Sargsyan.  She has striking cheekbones, but otherwise she’s registering as raw and unprepared.

EGYPT – Farah Shaaban Mostafa.  She is surprisingly a strong communicator compared to others before her, and I would give her props for that even if she isn’t making much impact in this pageant.  For me she’s a worthwhile contender.

JAMAICA – Solange Sinclair.  This country is a powerhouse in this pageant, and this articulate and charming lady is unlikely to break that chain.   She got shortlisted in Sports but it looks like her ticket to fare well in this pageant is the judges’ interview.

Hanging out with South Africa and Brazil at the Sports event.


CURACAO – Vanity Girigori.  She has appealingly exotic features but though a solid communicator she doesn’t quite hold people’s attention that much.

PARAGUAY – Paola Oberladstatter.  She’s an attractive lady and a strong communicator with a great dancing talent that she got to showcase in the Talent Show.  


GIBRALTAR – Jodie Garcia.

COLOMBIA – Maria Daza.  Her features may seem a tad exotic to some tastes (like myself) but it turns out to be her ticket to get a Top Model shortlist.  She may have spoken in Spanish but she delivers intelligent answers in her native language.  She secured her place in the Top 40 by winning the Head-to-Head challenge for this group.

PORTUGAL – Filipa Barroso.   In her introduction video, she does exude some old-school Hollywood glamour with that lovely back-lighting framing behind her hair, making her glow.  But otherwise she sometimes registered as a tad mature and has not made significant impact.

COOK ISLANDS – Alanna Smith.  She earned a bronze medal in Sports and was shortlisted in Beauty with a Purpose.  Could this be her ticket to make the Top 40?


CANADA – Cynthia Menard.  She actually makes a strong positive impression in the Head-to-Head challenge, but so far she hasn’t figured in any fast-track event.  Could she make a strong-enough impression in the judges’ interview or are we seeing another possibility for the Holly Carpenter Award?

ETHIOPIA – Kisanet Molla.  She is making a positive impression even if she struggles with her English.  Her hair was a huge dramatic frizz during the Top Model event, giving me visions of Diana Ross, albeit less polished.  

BOTSWANA – Nicole Lisa Gaelebale.  She made a great splash in the Head-to-Head challenge, as she proved to be the strongest communicator out there.  Could she impress enough in the judges’ interview to secure one of the 15 interview slots?

BRAZIL – Gabrielle Vilela.  Like France, she has shortlists in Top Model and Beauty with a Purpose on her belt, and with that she can be perceived as one of those with an inside track to the finals.  But unlike France, she would need to score with the judges’ interview as se didn’t win this Head-to-Head challenge, as surprisingly the winner was…

BANGLADESH – Jessia Islam.  For many pageant fans and pundits, she is deemed the least worthy winner of the Head-to-Head challenges thus far, as many perceived her as the weakest link in this program.  Her win seemed obviously buoyed by an active Bangladeshi netizen fanbase, bolstered perhaps with a little help from Indian and Nepalese internet pageant fans.

SOUTH AFRICA – Ade van Heerden.  She made a great impression in Sports and Beauty with a Purpose–the latter it is confirmed she’s in the Top Five.  Though I’m confident she’ll shine in interview, it looks like the Beauty with a Purpose fast-track would be her big ticket to advance further, as she’s the only one of the five who didn’t win in her respective Head-to-Head challenge.

Hanging out with Sports Fast-Track champion Dominican Republic