GROUP 13:  One person advanced from this group, but it’s interesting that it wasn’t because she won the second round of the head-to-head challenge, but because she won not one, but two fast-tracks:  NEPAL (Shrinkala Khatiwada) won both Multimedia and BWAP with her project building a health center in a remote village.

BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA – Anđela Paleksić.  She’s like either a homelier version of a young Vanessa Paradis or a relative of a young Helena Bonham-Carter.  She expressed an interest studying the Serbian language–probably for most part that actually would be easy for her because by all intents and purposes it’s the same as the Bosnian (and Croatian) language, with perhaps a few changes in idioms and choice of words, plus the use of a different alphabet (Cyrillic instead of Latin as used by Bosniaks and Croats).  But well, she does make a good point about trying to bridge the conflicts that still simmer amongst these peoples, even if they speak practically the same language.  Still, it’s not compelling enough to make an impression with insiders.


Vanessa Paradis (L) and Helena Bonham Carter (R)

GUAM – Gianna Sgambelluri.  Now here is a round-faced girl who everyone would say is adorably cute.  She’s also intelligent and well-spoiken.   But as strong as she is, she is elbowed out by stronger standouts out there.  She’s another Holly Carpenter finalist, alongside…

LUXEMBOURG – Cassandra Lopes Monteiro.  She has a striking dusky look that would’ve made her a good fit for Top Model, but the insiders on hand did not dig her enough to make that shortlist.  Her communication skills is that of a typical European, so she doesn’t also make significant headway in the interview department, too.

MOLDOVA – Tamara Zareţcaia.  She’s a good-looking blonde, but she lacks a standout quality to make any inroads.  Her highlight is making the reserve list in the Sports fast-track.

GROUP 14:  This is the third of four groups with three members making the Top 30.  SINGAPORE (Vanessa Peh)’s eloquence helped her knock out the formidable NEPAL in their head-to-head showdown.  BELARUS (Maria Vasilevich) and MARTINIQUE (Larissa Segarel) earned their slots by winning over the insiders in interview.

CURACAO – Nazira Colastica.  She’s an otherwise solid contender, but she has a tendency to use highfalutin words to express something mundane and that may be taken against her in interview.

NETHERLANDS – Leonie Hesselink.  Her speaking style could be viewed as rough for some ears, but others (including myself) would view as refreshingly down-to-earth and forward.  Her main highlight was placing third in the Sports fast-track and winning the 60 m dash.

PUERTO RICO – Dayanara Martínez.  She’s actually a top-notch contender with a Stephanie del Valle-like drive and vibe.  But she didn’t make enough impact with the insiders and her highlight is making the Top 18 in Talent with her singing.

GROUP 15:  The clear winner of this group was THAILAND (Nicolene Pichapa Limsnukan), who dominated this group with her charm, gift of gab (thanks to an excellent command of English thanks to being raised in the United States) and outgoing personality.  Not that the other ladies in this groups are slouches, though.

AUSTRIA – Izabela Ion.  This farm girl shares a similar background raising animals with her next-door neighbor counterpart that her country used to share running an empire over 100 years ago.  But she’s deemed the lesser of the two even if she has undeniable good looks and likeable merits.  So she’s also another prime candidate for the Holly Carpenter award.

GREECE – Maria Lepida.  She got shortlisted in Top Model, and I have a feeling it’s because she has a resemblance to actress Jennifer Lawrence.  Otherwise her interview skills and overall presence are not the sort that impress the insiders.

Jennifer Lawrence (image courtesy of Vogue)

HUNGARY – Andrea Szarvas.  In the head-to-head challenge, Frankie was obviously fascinated with her story running an ostrich farm.  She seems to be a strong. lively, and eloquent communicator in her native language that perhaps she only miss making the Top 30 by very little.  She at least has the consolation of making the shortlist in Sports.

MONGOLIA – Erdenebaatar Enkhriimaa.  She’s a tad plainer and less charismatic than recent representatives from her country, but she still made inroads making Top 10 in Multimedia and Top 25 with her BWAP project on eradicating tuberculosis.

UKRAINE – Leonila Guz.  Here’s another Holly Carpenter finalist, who has undeniable good looks but well, did not figure in any fast-track shortlist.  There is a good reason–she seems shallow though she is aware of the issues at home (like the ongoing war with Russia, for instance) but well, not enough to impress the insiders that she has depth.

GROUP 16:  Like Group 8, this is a group that the winner of the head-to-head challenge ultimately failed to advance to the Top 30 but one member of the group made it via interview:  BELGIUM (Angeline Flor Pua) charmed the insiders enough to make the Top 30 and make up for the absence of PHILIPPINES in this group.

BULGARIA – Kalina Miteva.  She actually has the qualities worthy of a Top 30 placement as she has great looks (which is Top Model worthy even if she didn’t make the shortlist there), has an interesting talent with her spoon dance routine (which she got to perform in the finals and yes, gave her a Talent shortlist), has a good human interest story with her family offering foster care for disadvantaged children, and she has strong communication skills.  She won the head-to-head challenge in tis group, but was knocked out facing the obviously formidable THAILAND.  Such are te tough breaks in this pageant, sometimes.

COLOMBIA – Laura Osorio.  She’s actualy a polished, well-spoken contender, but she ended up a Holly Carpenter award finalist as her advocacy and personality didn’t pop out to catch the attention of insiders.

LAOS – Kadoumphet Xaiyavong.  The Bulgarian supporters are probably breathing a sigh of relief that this Southeast Asian country is only a fledgling newcomer with a smaller fanbase unlike the likes of Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, hence they were able to beat this country.  This lady is generally a solid contender, but not enough to make inroads with the insiders.

PORTUGAL – Carla Rodrigues.  This lady is very charming and vivacious so it’s probable she’s only crowded out by the very limited slots available for interview performers.  She is technically a finalist for the Holly Carpenter award, but she got a Top Five citation in Designer Dress (a poufy, flouncy orange number as I saw in some pics).

ZAMBIA – Musa Kalaluka.  She’s attractive enough and she is intelligent and eloquent, but was obviously crowded out by other African standouts.

COMING UP:  GROUP 17 to 20


GROUP 9:  Two intelligent, well-spoken Southeast Asians with strong advocacies were in this group and both advanced to the Top 30.  MALAYSIA (Larissa Ping) won for this group and beat the Group 10 winner in their head-to-head presentation.  INDONESIA (Alya Nurshabrina) continued her country’s streak by winning over the insiders in interview (deservingly so because she is a superb communicator).

ALBANIA – Nikita Preka.  She on the surface has a good resume and expressed a willingness to help.  Unfortunately, she’s a bit vague about her advocacies and even if she named one specific project, it doesn’t seem to be focused and deep enough so in the eyes of the insiders, she’s in the bottom of the pack.

ENGLAND – Alisha Cowie.  She has a great human interest story as she is studying to become a CSI, fueled by her friend’s suicide.  She got a citation for her multimedia campaign promoting Sanya tourism, making Top Five, but she didn’t figure in any fast-track event otherwise.  I have a feeling she fared well enoug in interview

KAZAKHSTAN – Ekaterina Dvoretskaya.  She’s a great-looking brunette with Eurasian features.  She aspires to be a diplomat and her message about stopping wars make me think she’ll be perfect for Miss Grand International.  Interestingly her highlight is being shortlisted in Sports.

RWANDA – Liliane Iradukunda.  She has striking looks and a stylish haircut, though she fell short in Top Model.  She at least made an impact in BWAP, with her project involving malnutrition.  Between her and SENEGAL, I find this lady a more stronger communicator with a more outgoing personality.  Probably there are just so few slots for her continent available and she just fell a tad short.

GROUP 10:  Just like Group 4, the winner of this group ultimately didn’t advance to the Top 30 as she was handily beaten by the eloquent delivery by MALAYSIA, and none of her groupmates made a strong enough impact to make the cut also.  Which again poses the question:  are they really this weak?

CYPRUS – Andriánna Fiakká.  She has a refreshingly clean look, but not enough to impress the insiders even if she could make a great choice for a Top Model shortlist.  Her communication skills are also not that remarkable so she couldn’t catch a break..

GUADELOUPE – Morgane Thérésine.  She’s the winner of the head-to-head challenge for this group, as she’s proven to be the most outgoing personality of this group.  Like PHILIPPINES, she also made the shortlist also in Top Model.  I would’ve preferred her to make the cut instead of her roommate MARTINIQUE (Larissa Segane), but a late makeover gave her that needed edge, it seems.

LESOTHO – Rethabile Thaathaa.  See BOTSWANA, but even rawer and plainer.

NICARAGUA – Yoselin Gómez Reyes.  She’s an attractive native Latina, but as worthwhile her advocacy with the blood bank is, she’s not quite enough of a standout to make the final cut.  Making the Talent fast-track with her street dance routine would be her highlight.

SERBIA – Ivana Trišić.  She likes to present herself as a journalist, but interestingly the fast-track she made an impact in was Top Model.  She’s smart and lively enough, but perhaps just not enough to impress the insiders to make te final cut.  She’s a worthwhile contender.

SLOVENIA – Lara Kalanj.  She has a lively ingenue charm about her, but she prides herself with her athletic prowess, especially in track events.  It is justified since she made the shortlist in Sports.  I have a feeling even if she didn’t make te Top Three in that fast-track event, she probably turned in a strong performance.

GROUP 11:  Like in the previous group, the winner of this group ultimately didn’t advance to the Top 30, losing in her knockout battle with the Group 12 winner (from a formidable powerouse country).  One person from this group did make the cut, thanks to her Top FIve showing in BWAP:  NEW ZEALAND (Jessica Tyson).

ARMENIA – Arena Zeynalyan.  She’s actually an above-average contestant, who has a passion for art (like painting and jewelry), and she articulate herself in this field well.  She may have fallen short but she is a great step in the right direction for her country.

BELIZE – Jalyssa Arthurs.  I have a feeling even if she is more attractive than some of the African contestants out there, she placed last amongst the insiders in interview as all she cares about is fashion, and even then, she couldn’t communicate her fashion passion as well as, say TURKEY, and her styling choices are definitely not on point.

GUATEMALA -Elizabeth Gramajo.  She’s one of the plainer Latinas in this batch but she makes up for it with her strong communication skills (in Spanish).  Still, with other standout advocacies and stunners out there, there is little room for her to make any headway.

ITALY – Nunzia Amato.  Her gorgeous looks were very undeniable so it’s expected she’ll be shortlisted in Top Model.  Her project with the generic description of “giving love and helping disadvantaged” was presented well enough that it made the Top 25 BWAP shortlist.  At least she has those highlights as consolation for not making the Top 30.

MYANMAR – Han Thi.  She’s actually stronger than a typical representative from this country.  She got shortlisted in BWAP with her school renovation project.  The heavy fan base coming from this region helped her become the winner for this group, but she faced an intimidating opponent in the second round and was knocked out.  Such are the tough breaks, sometimes.

GROUP 12:  This is the second of four groups with three members advancing to the Top 30.  INDIA (Anukreethy Vas) won for this group and knocked out MYANMAR to secure her slot via the head-to-head challenge.  VIETNAM (Tran Tieu Vy) earned her slot by being among the Top Five in BWAP.  Finally, the insiders were so enamored with PANAMA (Solaris Barba)‘s advocacy that they granted her one of the interview slots.

EGYPT – Mony Helal.  She has similar features to LEBANON, but with a less compelling human interest story.  She’s actually a stronger communicator than your average contestant from this country but well, not enough to pique the insiders’ interests.

MONTENEGRO – Natalija Glušcević.  Her round face can be viewed as adorably cute for some people, but homely for others.  She has a human interest story with a sister who has special needs, but well, with her raw presence and below-average communication skills she could not make serious inroads.

SOUTH SUDAN – Florence Thompson.  She has a great advocacy and ambition becoming an orthopedic surgeion, fueled over her experience with her grandmother’s death.  Like SIERRA LEONE, it’s most likely she’s crowded out by more compelling Africans.  She’s also a finalist for the Holly Carpenter award.

COMING UP:  GROUP 13 to 16


GROUP 5:  This is one of four groups that had three ladies advancing to the Top 30.  NIGERIA (Anita Ukah) won in this group but actually lost in the 2nd round battle against the Group 6 winner, but nevertheless won over the insiders to make the cut.  JAMAICA (Kadijah Robinson) and SCOTLAND (Linzi McLelland) also scored their slots by winning over the insiders.

CANADA – Hanna Begovic.  She provided the big revelation in this group.  She looks like a blonde WASP, but her surname obviously indicates she’s actually from the region that formerly formed the country of Yugoslavia.  She then hinted in her introduction video that her parents were war refugees–so most likely that would mean she’s probably Croat, Serb, or Bosnian.  In the final question, she revealed her heritage–she’s Bosnian, because she announced she’s actually Muslim.  Though she ultimately did not make the final cut, her dance/gymnastics background served her well in the “homely” fast-tracks of Sports and Talent, making the Top 18 in the former and third place in the latter with her gymnastic dance routine set to that ballroom dancing staple, “Sway” (originally known in Spanish as “¿Quién será?“)..

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – Denise Romero.  This lady is actually based in New York, so she has a strong command of English,  However, apart from being shortlisted in Sports, she doesn’t quite have enough of a standout quality that the insiders overlooked her in the end.

GIBRALTAR – Star Isabel Farrugia.  She’s good looking but clearly she’s the weakest link of this group as she’s not as polished or interesting as the other ladies in this group.

GROUP 6:  This group featured two historical powerhouse countries in this pageant but only one, the host country CHINA (Mao Peirui) advanced, and the other was surprisingly left out.  I think we can now concede for any voting-based challenge, BANGLADESH (Jannatul Ferdous Oishee) will win it, but in this case because she was able to better articulate her advocacy in 90 seconds, she got to knock out her rival and made the Top 30.

BRAZIL – Jessica Carvalho.  It’s so strange for a Top Model Top 32 shortlister, she doesn’t have a published photo from that event.  She also made Top 25 in BWAP, so it looks like it’s more a matter of luck that she fell short of making the Top 30 overall.

BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS – Yadali Thomas Santos.  She’s an above-average delegate from this country and she’s not originally from those islands–she’s from Dominican Republic.  Nevertheless, she was also affected by the onslaught of Hurricane Maria and expressed her gratitude when Miss World visited her adopted shores for some charity rebuilding projects.

DENMARK – Tara Jensen.  This atractive brunette has a human interest story being a domestic abuse survivor, but otherwise she doesn’t have a standout quality that piqued the interest of the insiders.

IRELAND – Aoife O’Sullivan.  Imagine Frozen star Idina Menzel or Glee star Lea Michele, but with an Irish accent and you get this lady.  Other than making the Sports fast-track shortlist, she doesn’t really have a standout quality otherwise.

Idinia Menzel and Lea Michele

GROUP 7:  This group featured three standouts, two of them from East Asia and one from South America.  The South American one, CHILE (Anahi Hormazabal) won in this group and secured her place in the Top 30 by winning against the Group 8 winner, who otherwise has a compelling advocacy and human interest story.  One compelling East Asian, JAPAN (Kanako Date) advanced by winning the Talent fast-track with her top-notch opera singing.  What happened to the third East Asian?  Read on…

BAHAMAS – Brinique Gibson.  She has an anti-obesity advocacy called “Eat Wise” as she herself lost a significant amount of weight.  Well, the insiders don’t seem to cotton to her brand of exoticism so she was shut out.

BOTSWANA – Moitshepi Elias.  She’s intelligent and articulate, but admittedly plain and for that she missed out of the Top 30.

KOREA – Ah Cho.  She has a distinctive persona as she’s a techie babe.  She also made an initial splash by placing fourth in Top Model but after that, along with a plethora of standout Asians, she was crowded out of a Top 30 slot.

ZIMBABWE – Hajirah Belinda Potts.  She’s actually solid in all aspects, but not enough to standout or figure in any of the fast-track shortlists.

GROUP 8:  This probably was the most somber head-to-head challenges filmed this year, with some serious, emotional moments that provided unexpected gravitas over what is supposed to be an upbeat series.  Two eventually advanced to the Top 30, but interestingly the winner of this group challenge wasn’t one of them, losing in her final head-to-head heat with the more eloquent CHILE.  COOK ISLANDS (Reihana Koteka-Wiki) advanced via winning over the insiders in interview, while the UNITED STATES (Marisa Butler) advanced thanks to winning the Sports fast-track.  Interestingly, her runner-up in that event is also in this group, namely…

…BOLIVIA – Vanessa Vargas.  She’s actually renowned for her thoughtful personality and strong communication skills, but interestingly she shone best in Sports, winning the long jumb and ending up 2nd place overall behind the winner.

CAMEROON – Aimee Caroline Nseke.  She has a good advocacy with the fight against blindness, but she’s not really a good communicator, and her features are probably also too exotic even for the exotic-loving insiders.

LEBANON – Mira Al-Toufaily.  Looks-wise, I find her features too angular, but she became the highlight of the Head-to-Head challenge with her touching background being an abandoned infant, but she was adopted and now she is using that background as an advocacy to help orphans.  Her advocacy is so strong and remarkable that her project is one of the Top 12 BWAP projects.  That compelling message and story made her win this group, but was held back and ultimately did not advance because she lost the second round, and let’s face it, her communication skills was not as strong to win over the insiders in interview.

SLOVAKIA – Dominika Grecová.  SHe’s one of the finalists for the Holly Carpenter, as she has undeniable good looks but did not figure in any fast-track shortlist.  Her key weakness is her communication skills as she’s not as deep as the other ladies (especially this group) and doesn’t have anything as compelling to offer.