I’m glad there is an onstage competition among the Top 30 this time, as after they were announced, there is then a sequence where each of them would be introduced with fresh new video footage of them running along a secluded beach with their voiceover talking a bit about themselves as onstage they walk in cocktail dresses.  It would’ve been perfect if there aren’t audio gaffes and some missed cues and missing video loads (like NIGERIA, for example).  One reason I think the people behind the production of Miss World is now more of a cottage industry instead of a professional operation.

BARBADOS – Ashley Lashley.  I’m baffled why the insiders like this lady so much.  For many pageant fans and pundits, her looks are just too “exotic” for comfort, yet somehow the insiders dig that type of “exotic” and shortlisted her in Top Model.  They also shortlisted her in BWAP for her diabetes project.  There is also her ambition to become the future UN Secretary-General–it seems a very lofty, impossible ambition so you wonder if she is aware what it takes to achieve that position.  Well, it seems she may have an inkling, even if it sounds naive at first.  I think the quality that made her win over the insiders is her upbeat, cheerful attitude.  Still, her over the likes of TRINIDAD & TOBAGO?  Anyway, she does have a catchy name and I wonder if I’ll be around in 30-40 years to see would indeed achieve her ultimate goal…

BANGLADESH – Jannatul Ferfous Oishee.  If Nobel peace prize winner Malala Yousafzai is a beauty queen, she will probably be like this lady, as this lady has a strong resemblance to her.  This is the second time this country made the cut, but unlike last year when it was solely because of a strong Bangladeshi internet fanbase propelling her placement, this lady earned her slot by successfully presenting her advocacy, beating…

Malala Yousafzai

NIGERIA – Anita Ukah.  She has the height and model frame that earned her a shortlist in Top Model, even if I felt there should’ve been room for RWANDA and TANZANIA there, as I felt those two had more charisma than this lady.  Anyway, I’m not mad at her inclusion (earned by winning over the insiders in interview) as I have to respect that people have different tastes.

SINGAPORE – Vanessa Peh.  Projection wise, she’s raw, but she earned her slot by winning the head-to-head challenge with her gift of gab.  She also got short-listed in BWAP for her awareness campaign to help the underprivileged and elderly in her country with lack of access to healthcare.

BELGIUM – Angeline Flor Pua.  She’s the child of two full-blooded Filipinos who moved to this country, yet from her speech and demeanor she’s very much a Belgian native.  This quality might have intrigued the insiders and earned her this Top 30 slot via interview.  She also got shortlisted in Top Model with her exotic Filipina features.  I find her a refreshing part of this Top 30, and our consolation prize for PHILIPPINES breaking the finals streak.

RUSSIA – Natalya Stroeva.  Her very Asian features (as a native Yakut, part of the Sakha Republic, the largest of many administrative divisions that comprise Siberia) does bring intrigue as Asian-looking Russians seeing action in international pageants are not common.  She got shortlisted in Top Model and BWAP (for her work with orphans, as it turns out she’s an orphan herself), though she earned her Top 30 slot via winning over the insiders in interview.

NORTHERN IRELAND – Katharine Walker.  Looks- and styling-wise I don’t think she’s worthy of landing Top 30, but well, the insiders just somehow liked her and gave her one of the interviewe slots.  Her sole fast-track highlight was making the shortlist in Sports.

VENEZUELA – Veruska Ljubisavljević.  She earned her slot by winning a head-to-head challenge slot, first by winning Group 3 and then knocking out Group 4 winner PHILIPPINES with her more fluid way of communicating her advocacy (basically any program to help out her beleaguered countrymen, who are mired deep in a hyperinflationary economic crisis).  She also turned out to make Top 10 in Multimedia.  Since Ivian Sarcos‘ win seven years ago, this powerhouse track record in this pageant has been spotty, so she can be seen as one of the brighter highlights in recent years.  There are pageant pundits who criticize her appearance, but I think she still passes muster and a worthy Top 30 quarterfinalist.

SOUTH AFRICA – Thulisa Keyi.  She made an initial splash being co-winner of the designer dress award and making Top Five in Top Model, but after that buzz dissipated.  She secured her slot by winning over the judges’ interview, and though she has strong merits, the judges’ had their eye on more refreshing countries.

INDIA – Anukreethy Vas.  She possesses the charisma of a Bollywood star, but interestingly though she figured in the Multimedia fast-track in the Top 10 and made the shortlist in Talent with her traditional Indian dance, she missed the shortlist in Top Model and BWAP.  She secured the slot by winning the head-to-head challenge.

VIETNAM – Trần Tiểu Vy.  Interestingly, she reminds me of our representative last year, Laura Lehmann.  Like Laura, she placed Top 5 in BWAP with her project helping bring water to a remote village.  Unlike Laura, she won insiders’ favor by getting shortlisted in Top Model.  She’s a worthy Top 30 placer indeed.

Laura Lehmann (image courtesy of Miss World Philippines)

INDONESIA – Alya Nurshabrina.  Her BWAP project helping a village with its water, sanitation and irrigation for agriculture was so lofty and worthy that she was in a tie in 2nd place with New Zealand and secured her Top 30 slot with her BWAP ranking.  She also got shortlisted in Talent (with her Broadway performance of “Good Morning Baltimore” from Hairspray) and placed Top Five in Multimedia.  She’s also a great communicator, so her placement is not that surprising.  Still, one expected her to win her head-to-head heat but was beaten by the less pageant-crazy country of…

,,,MALAYSIA – Larissa Ping.  Considering this country is not normally as pageant ga-ga as INDONESIA is lately it’s so interesting how this country won the popular vote with both of them pitted in the same group.  I’m not crazy about looks-wise, but she does have great qualities like a gift of gab, a strong advocacy (her BWAP project installing computers in schools made Top 12), and she interesting made a splace in Top Model, making the shortlist and Top Five in designer dress.  She also made Top Five in Talent with her skill singing and playing a traditional string instrument called the sape.

UNITED STATES – Marisa Butler.  She earned her Top 30 slot by winning the Sports fast track, but she also proved a formidable force in Talent as she’s an opera singer.  She’s actually good looking and a great personality, but it’s interesting that she made the most impact in the “homely” fast-tracks.

COOK ISLANDS – Reihana Koteka-Wiki.  Her country made the cut the first time two years ago by winning the Sports fast-track.  This time, this country earned its slot in the Top 30 by interview, as she’s definitely a strong communicator with a great international background, having traveled to 20 countries so far and residing in seven of them thanks to her father’s position in the UN (most likely under the New Zealand delegation as this country is a protectorate under that country).  She also is a force tor reckon with in Talent, with her booty-shaking traditional dance (think Tahitian dance) and her BWAP project on mental health awareness made the shortlist.  SHe also was in the reserve list for Sports.  If there was no continental divisions and the next cut was expanded to a Top 15, she would’ve advanced to the next round, easy.

CHILE – Anahi Hormazabal.  Many people (including myself) thought she has what it takes to be in the overall Top Five.  However, with a certain lady from her continent being anointed as the favorite and reports that she doesn’t really want to win it all, she had to content herself that she advanced to the Top 30, made the shortlist in Top Model and Top 12 for her BWAP project integrating Haitian immigrants to Chilean society.

JAPAN – Kanako Date.  She’s not conventionally pretty but she’s a very fascinating person as she is skilled in several languages, is very well-read and educated, and is an opera singer (she’s the winner of the Talent fast-track).  She also made the BWAP shortlist with her project trying to stamp down syphilis.

CHINA – Mao Peirui.  This lady is a cosmopolitan lady with a great command of English as she runs an educational company.  She also made a big splash in Top Model, being a co-winner for designer dress and 3rd place in Top Model, and she made an even bigger splash in talent, placing second behind Japan with her classical piano playing skills.  She also made the shortlist in BWAP with her education profession and project.  If it weren’t for the Continental allocation, I believe she would easily have made the Top 12 and possibly even beyond.


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