In hindsight, all ladies in this Top Ten are fully justified in their placements. I underrated two European contenders who made this far and placed them in my “Bubbling Under” list mainly because I found their stage catwalks a bit too over-the-top. But then, I need to remind myself this is the pageant that made Macedonia’s Dunavka Trifunovska an internet legend, so going a tad over-the-top is encouraged, though finesse is now the prevailing directive.
UKRAINE – Snizhana Tanchuk. Her waist-length brunette locks, trim figure, and pretty face has its strong adherents, and this is how she edged out some other competitive contenders like Costa Rica, Brazil, Paraguay, and India. She sported a dreamy pink sequined gown with train, and she did look like a modern glam princess in it. Now, for me, why I put her in 10th place is because I found her Top 10 speech too overdramatic and rambling, even if she has otherwise a solid message: “On our planet there are seven billion people. And there’s nothing more terrible than war. War threatens the most important good people have–its life. We are people, let’s not forget about it. World goes crazy. People stop hearing each other. All the time conflicts and wars. What are we fighting for?! When will this end?! Why do people want blood?! [pronounced bled] We must unite to stand on end, to stop an evil coming to our hearts. You will ask me, ‘What we can do for peace?’ Prosperity and friendship, that’s what we need for happiness. In my country, the for the year it’s war. For Ukraine, it’s a terrible time. There is no passing day when I do not think how to stop the violence. And now, I want to say not like a contestant in an international beauty pageant but as a future mother: ‘Stop the war! Stop the violence!’ I want our children born under a peaceful sky and never hear a word like ‘war’. You will ask me what we can do for love in the whole world and I will answer, ‘We have to love this world more. We have to respect each other more.‘”
SOUTH SUDAN – Eyga Mojus. Her elegant bearing made her deliver on her status as the “black-lady-most-likely” and not only is she the only woman of color in the Top 20, she went all the way to the Top Ten, where she made a standout impression with the white evening gown she wore in the preliminaries. She had a potential to deliver a great speech as being a refugee now residing in the US, she has excellent English-speaking skills. However, her otherwise moving speech was felled by nerves which led to a couple of lapses in her train of thought. Here’s how her speech exactly went: “By the age of 12, I was a refugee of the longest civil war on record that lasted 22 years between Sudan and South Sudan. Because of the war in my country, I was not able to attend school. In fact, before migrating to America I didn’t know how to read or write in any language. I only know how to speak Arabic. I believe education to be provided for every human being.[pause] I advocate for children to learn and to educate themselves because I, myself, did not have the opportunity to do so until I was 12 years old. I believe the only way to stop the ongoing war in this world–not just in my country, but around the world–is to provide education for everyone regardless of our skin tone, complexion, age, gender…[pause] It provides a perfect economic system in the world, it provides a pathway out of poverty.”
THAILAND – Premika Pamela. This lady changed from her shimmering pink evening gown from the preliminary to a nude long-sleeved gown with black embroidery. She’s generally faultless onstage during the finals, but did not really make as standout an impact as she did in earlier activities; In some ways, her Top 10 speech reflected that as she started out really strong but her finish didn’t tie together the strong thoughts she set forth in the main body of her speech: “We think too much and feel too little. Our cleverness has made us hard and uncaring. But this is not the nature of mankind. Humanity was born and raised on a foundation of love and hope. We don’t want to hate or despise one another. We want to show kindness and gentleness to each other but we have lost our way. We focus on ending war and violence yet we forgot how it means to feel. Social media has brought us closer together and the very nature of these inventions cries out [sic] for universal brotherhood–a united humanity. More than power, we need gentleness. More than wealth, we need humanity. Without these qualities there will be no change. So let us all unite for the common purpose of ending war and violence once and for all.”
INDONESIA – Dea Goesti Rizkita Koswara. I have to say what a far cry this country’s attitude towards pageants has gone in over 20 years. After years of trepidation about furors over modesty by Islamic clerics, now it’s no big deal for contestants from this country to wear bikinis, or for the evening gown, wear a provocative skin-baring black gown like what this lady wore. Not to mention, this country is now one of the countries with a huge pageant fanbase. I have to salute the creativity of her Top 10 speech especially with the effective use of metaphor, as follows: “Tonight, I want to tell you the story about white paper. The story begins as I visited Moluccas, one of province in my country couples months ago [sic]. A massive conflict happened in this province in 1999 due to religion propaganda [sic]. Thousand people killed! [sic] Thousand houses burned! And a lot children saw their parents killed in the front their eyes. But the current condition is so much better than before. I can feel peace within them. When I asked them what makes Moluccas condition much better than before, and the answer is only one: how the parents can educate their children about tolerance. And my favorite psychology figure John Locke mentioned about tabula rasa. Tabula rasa explained how all the children born to this world are like white paper, so the color of their paper depend upon the family and depend on society [pronounced so-see-eh-tee]. So ladies and gentlemen, I believe we can prevent war and I highly encourage you to have peace in mind [sic] and to start rebuild tolerance from your family. To stop the war, let’s color and educate our new generation about how to love, care, share, and respect each other so they will be grow up strong, united generation that will not be that easy to break up [sic]. The white paper must be grow up [sic] and color the world with unity and harmony in diversity.”
VIETNAM – Nguyen Tran Huyen My. The host contestant is a proven commodity onstage, and she made a standout impression by changing into a dramatic fire-engine red evening gown. Her speech was memorable for citing specific aspects of her country, as follows: “War. Such a short word. But has massively destructive consequences. Growing up in a country that has been through many wars, I deeply understand the aftermath they left behind–mothers losing kids, wives becoming widows, people still dying because of leftover bombs, millions of soldiers’ bodies not having been found, and most seriously the illnesses caused by Agent Orange until today. In every war, all parties want to be the winner but at the end of the day, it’s just a losing game for everyone. Is it worth it? War is created by us, so it can be stopped also by us. All we need to do is to open our hearts, spread the message of love, peace, and kindness [though she pronounced the last word as if it sounded like “carnage”] to one another. Our great leader, Ho Chi Minh, once said, ‘Nothing is more precious than independence and freedom.‘”
COMING UP: THE TOP FIVE.