As with a major win for our nation, it’s time tor me to trot this video:


Needless to say, I was one of the 104 million Filipinos screaming with joy when “PHILIPPINES” was announced as the winner.  I’ll discuss more about my feelings and my analysis of Catriona Gray‘s performance in my full-fledged review.

We have to salute the rest of the delegates competing in ths pageant as they proved to be highly competitive.  Hence, I know that getting 12 out of 20 correct seems lowly but with so many worthy ladies, I know there might be some switches afoot.  Most of those I didn’t are in my “Bubbling Under” list anyway, so their inclusing was not that surprising.  There are two who I pegged in my “Striking Distance” list, though, but it turns out I underestimated them or I didn’t know they have such a strong, winning quality that won over the all-female selection committee, especially in the case of…

COSTA RICA (Natalia Carvajal).  I should’ve taken note of her background as a television presenter as this was the key that helped her win over the selection committee and ultimately made her a sensation in the final broadcast, as she generated a moment with host Steve Harvey as she referenced his infamous 2015 snafu.  She did it with humor and charm and her strong communication skills are in full effect here.  So not only did she make the Top 20, that moment (and her strong 15-second speech) likewise went further and made Top 10.

Meanwhile, I shouldn’t have second-guessed myself when a fellow pageant pundit criticized HUNGARY (Enikő Kecskès)‘s slender frame as “unhealthy”, as prior to that I would’ve also put her in my “Bubbling Under” list instead of lower.  She also reminds me of celebrity chef Giada de Laurentiis, so it shouldn’t be that surprising how she made the cut.

I got six of the Top 10 correct.  The four ladies I thought would make it this far missed the Top 20 entirely so they are obviously big candidates for the Ruth Ocumarez award*1.

*1 I refuse to call it by its new, more popular moniker, “El Tocuyo” because I find that such an award deserves to be named after a person instead of something as impersonal as a place.

Many presumed that the newsworthy fact that SPAIN (Angela Ponce) was transgender and the host country Thailand is home to a thriving transgender (and transvestite) culture would give her a heads-up and secure a place in teh Top 20 and even make it far into the Top 10.  But I can understand why the selection committee would think she fell short of being worthy of a Top 20 slot, so a dedicated television tribute to her participation is great consolation.

Many pageant fans and pundits (including myself) felt ECUADOR (Virginia Limongi) and MEXICO (Andrea Toscano) have got what it takes to go far.  But I have a feeling the selection committee felt that as good as they were, the likes of COSTA RICA proved to be more impressive in interview.

But for me (and for several others), the winner of the Ruth Ocumarez award is COLOMBIA (Valeria Morales).  Many (including myself) believed she got what it takes to sustain not only this country’s Top 20 streak, but even a Top Five or even a Final Three streak from its win in 2014.  Alas, both streaks are broken.  Some might speculate that she was given the most severe penalty over the “racist non-English” incident with AUSTRALIA (Francesca Hung) and U S A (Sarah Rose Summers) because the incriminating video was posted on her Instagram.  The latter two still managed to make the Top 20 but prospects for advancing further than that were obviously clipped.

I have to pay tribute to one country that made a big breakthrough–NEPAL (Manita Devkota).  I know many fans and pundits were fixated over INDIA (Nehal Chudasama) but I had a feeling this lady had a more fluid communication style and presence that the selection committee connected with better than INDIA, hence this lady was given preference and it’s a refreshing treat to see her go as far as Top 10.

The six I pegged in my Top 10 that actually made seemed to turn out to be competing very closely, with a very small margin separating first to sixth place.  Since there is only room for a Top Five, one fierce competitor had to be left out.  It’s unfortunate it had to be CANADA (Marta Magdalena Stepien) but I have a theory why ultimately she was ousted from a near-sure Final Five slot–more on that on my full-fledged review.  Anyway, it’s vindication for her unjust non-placement at Miss International 2017.

Many pageant fans and pundits are raving that this year’s Miss Universe is one of the best editions in recent years.  I agree with that assessment, as the competition turned out to be exciting.  We have the Top Six to thank for this (yes, I’m including CANADA in this) as these ladies competed at the top of their game.  Though CANADA was ultimately sacrificed, the Final Five likewise provided compelling arguments why they deserve to be there and then deserve to advance to the Final Three.

It turns out as predicted by so many pageant fans and pundits as early as several months prior to the competition, it ultimately was a head-to head showdown between two formidable contenders, and it’s almost like a brutal, metaphorically bloody, nail-biting 12-round boxing match watching these proceedings.  SOUTH AFRICA (Tamaryn Green) and PHILIPPINES (Catriona Gray) delivered great moments and had a few fumbles and recoveries throughout the three-hour telecast.  As much as I’m for Catriona all the way, I had moments where I second-guessed her strategies and other moments during the finals.

But in hindsight, all those strategies paid off and whatever fumbles observed are forgotten, and ultimately Catriona Gray fulfilled many a Filipino pageant fan’s dream and clinched the win.  No doubt her reign would be loaded with heavy publicity and will be remarkable.  Looking forward to watch her reign as Miss Universe unfold.  Congratulations, Catriona, for the win, and to all the other Miss Universe delegates, we salute you for a job well done!



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