The thing about Miss World is that with the current system, you now know half of the Top 30 in advance. But this year and last year, they decided to guarantee slots for all Top Five Beauty with a Purpose (BWAP) finalists–potentially that would’ve been 19 slots out of 30, but with NEPAL (Shrinkhala Katiwada) already securing a slot via Multimedia and MEXICO (Vanessa Ponce) via the Head-to-Head challenge, that at least opened up 13 slots from the judges’ interviews.
Of the 13 remaining slots that I had to forecast, admittedly I was rather off as I only got six. And though most are within my radar, there is one who turned out to be a big surprise for me…MARTINIQUE (Larissa Segarel). I actually put her in my bottom six, even if she has good looks as I was not impressed at all with her during the Head-to-Head challenge. But I think something changed between the Head-to-Head challenge and the judges’ interview–first, she decided to make herself over and sport an Afro bob (not sure if that is her natural hair or if it’s a wig–I presume the former) and that made her create a more striking presence that somehow won over the insiders interviewing her. They were so impressed that she eventually ended up going as far as the Top 12.
I only put BARBADOS (Ashley Lashley) in my Striking Distance list because I found her stated ambition to become the UN Secretary General to be too ambitious and far-fetched and I wonder if she thought things through regarding exactly what it takes to achieve that position. But then again, anything is possible and if she has the drive, determination and political savvy, she might be able to achieve it several decades from now. Still, I think she edged out other Caribbean ladies mainly by the catchiness of her name.
BELARUS (Maria Vasilevich) was in my radar as she was indeed a strong communicator with a refreshing vibe and that helped her ultimately edge the big European favorite, FRANCE (Maeva Coucke). Meanwhile I probably way underrated SCOTLAND (Linzi McLelland) and NORTHERN IRELAND (Katharine Walker) as I put them both in my Striking Distance list–I simply underestimated their strengths.
BELGIUM (Angeline Flor Pua) was also in my Bubbling Under list, so I’m not that surprised she made it and found her a refreshing choice. For us Filipino fans, she’s also a consolation as at least there is still a Filipina present in the Top 30, albeit not carrying the Philippine sash and has a speaking pattern that is very Belgian and not Filipino.
NIGERIA (Anita Ukah) may have features that may register as angular but she’s undoubtedly very striking and that may help her impress the insider panel in the interview round.
I was under the impression BRAZIL (Jessica Carvalho) would be a shoo-in but somehow the insiders are not as impressed with her than the others mentioned above, and she didn’t win any challenges to secure her slot–she probably fell short by just a bit. I thought KOREA (Bo Ah Cho) would have an edge with her Top Five placement in Top Model and her distinctive chic techie girl persona would also give her a heads up with the insiders, but well, she also fell a tad short. I was similarly impressed with PUERTO RICO (Dayanara Martinez) during the Head-to-Head challenge plus that high ranking in the Sanya Tourism activity that I thought she might also have an edge, but again, like KOREA and BRAZIL, just fell a tad short.
Post the Top Model Top 32 shortlist and the first-round win in the Head-to-Head challenge, there were signs that PHILIPPINES (Katarina Rodriguez) is not really impressing the Miss World insiders that winning that head-to-head second round with VENEZUELA (Veruska Ljubisavljević) would’ve been crucial in securing our streak. Unfortunately that fell through and our prospects were in jeopardy from then on. I’ll discuss this more in my full contestant review for this pageant. Many Filipino pageant fans would declare Katarina the winner of the Ruth Ocumarez award for this pageant, but there are three bigger candidates I have in mind for that title.
I thought based from the head-to-head challenge ENGLAND (Alisha Cowie) would’ve tugged at the insiders’ heartstrings but turns out two other representatives from her nation impressed the insiders more, and since the Sanya Tourism Promotional Video award has no bearing like with the other challenge events, she is the technical winner of the Holly Carpenter award. Since I thought she would go far, she’s my 2nd runner-up for the Ruth Ocumarez award. Meanwhile, KENYA (Finali Galanya)‘s strong communication skills and strong showings in Multimedia (3rd place) and BWAP (Top 12) should’ve presumably secured her a Top 30 slot, but again with such limited slots she fell a tad short.
Though in my “Fearful” Forecast, I only pegged TRINIDAD & TOBAGO (Ysabel Bisnath) in my Top 15 and ranked ENGLAND and KENYA higher than her, retroactively I realized she probably has more compelling qualities to go far over those two, so I decided to declare her the winner of the Ruth Ocumarez award. It was by bad stroke of luck she missed securing a Top 30 slot via the 2nd round of the Head-to-Head challenge because she was pitted against the powerhouse favorite MEXICO (Vanessa Ponce) and her BWAP project was good enough for a Top 12 shortlist so it’s a headscratcher why the insiders preferred other Caribbean ladies over her, as with her overachieving background she should’ve been one who can shake up the apple cart and come close to challenging the eventual winner for the crown. For many, it’s an outrage she’s shut out of the Top 30.
I have mixed feelings with the Miss World Organization’s decision to revert back to the Continental format they implemented from 2005-2006. Though it yielded some refreshing breakthroughs with the best finishes ever for BELARUS, UGANDA, and THAILAND (Nicolene Pichapa Limsnukan), it also means to make way for the likes of BARBADOS and MARTINIQUE they would shut out a host of Asian standouts like CHINA (Mao Peirui), COOK ISLANDS (Reihana Koteka Wiki), INDIA (Anukreethy Vas), INDONESIA (Alya Nurshabrina) and JAPAN (Kanako Date). To a certain extent, I can also speculate this system also prevented CHILE (Anahi Hormazabal) for the Americas and SOUTH AFRICA (Thulisa Keyi) from advancing further but then again, it might be the final night judges just took a liking for more refreshing choices like MAURITIUS (Murielle Ravina) and PANAMA (Solaris Barba) in their stead.
The winner from MEXICO (Vamessa Ponce) was a big favorite from the get-go so at least I can console myself that I got that right. It’s also been long overdue for this country after some close calls last year, 2005, and most especially 2009. Though most Filipinos would tend to tune out and feel this year’s results are disheartening, I think we should still keep the faith and with the right set of circumstances we still have the Miss World Organziation on notice. Anyway, congratulations to the winner and may she have a fruitful reign.