MISS EARTH 2019 AT THE HOMESTRETCH: AIR GROUP (CONCLUSION)

GHANA – Abena Appiah.  This Miss Universe 2014 alumni caused a major sensation with Filipino fans especially when she chose to introduce herself in Tagalog, with witty puns referencing her country (like always having a good appetite–“palaging may Ghana!” or uising a wash basin to keep clean–“gumamit ng palang-Ghana!”  She also delivered a ferocious presence thorughout with her distinctive styling choices, so she’s turned into a big fan favorite.  The only question now, is–can she be the first black African to win the Miss Earth crown outright?*2  It would depend if the Filipinos have finally appreciate her brand of African beauty, but then again, even if they don’t, remember Karen Ibasco?  She can borrow a bit from Karen’s playbook to clinch the win, and she can do it because she’s fabulous and glamorous onstage–you just can’t miss her, and she definitely can ace the question and answer rounds.

*2 Yes, we already have a black African winner with Kenya’s Winnie Omwakwe, but remember that she wasn’t the original outright winner and was had to take over the dethroned original winner.

GUAM – Cydney Shey Folsom.   This lady is another standout in the Intelligence round, and she has great looks and a trim figure to boot.  But I have to note she’s not your typical Guamanian as she looks very Caucasian. 

HAITI – Vitania Louissaint.  She’s actually a worthwhile contender, though I don’t think there will be enough room for her in the semifinals.

INDONESIA – Cinthia Kusuma Rani.  This country has made serious inroads in other major international pageants but this pageant remains a holdout, as this country never made the final cut.  Sure, they fielded intelligent and articulate contenders, but the problem is, they always tend to fall short in the looks department, and this lady is no exception.

JAPAN – Yuka Itoku.  She’s a bit plain, lacks charisma, and didn’t make any major impression in the Intelligence round, so she’s an also-ran.

MAURITIUS – Gyanisha Ramah.  She’s a solid contender, but not enough to make serious inroads to the semifinals.

MEXICO – Hilary Islas.  She has this pretty brunette ingenue looks like ENGLAND, and she has that Latina flair and polish, so she is a possibility in the semifinals.

MYANMAR – May Thadar Ko.  Her interview dress with that gigantic rose attachement was a standout outfit but otherwise she barely makes an impression.

NORTHERN MARIANAS – Leisha Deleon Guerrero.  Well, it’s nice to see this US territory debut in this pageant…

PERU – Alexandra Caceres.  She’s a polished contender, but I’m not sure with the bevy of fierce Latinas if there would be room for her.

PHILIPPINES – Janelle Tee.  She’s solid, and yes, she’ll be a shoo-in for the semifinals.*3  Yes, she has strong interview and communication skills, but I do hope the inherent bias to place our country in the Top Eight and beyond  would not materialize this time as there are more compelling choices worthy to belong there instead of her.  A Top 12 finish would be a just result for me.

*3 The only times we miss the cut was when our rep somehow rubbed the organization the wrong way with her behavior (Imelda Schweighart, 2016) or it’s held overseas and our representative isn’t really a looker (Kris Psyche Resus, 2010).  I’m still mystified by what happened to our 2007 rep, but perhaps its the former that may have caused her to be shut out.

PORTUGAL – Bruna Silva.  Here is another gorgeous lady who could garner an element and possibly win it all, just like her predecessor, who I thought would’ve garnered an element but somehow just finished in the Top Eight.  There are so many worthy ladies scrambling for an element that it’s uncertain if she’ll clinch it or simply duplicate her predecessor’s finish.

U S A – Emanii Davis.  She’s a lovely woman of color who not only has stage polish and charisma, but intelligence and a strong advocacy.  She is also one heavily buzzed about to garner an element or maybe even win it all.  Let’s see if the judges are more open-minded to women of color this time.

ZAMBIA – Venus Mary Vlahakis.  She’s another strong African in a field of strong Africans in this pageant, but no doubt she’s clearly overshadowed by the flashy and splashy GHANA.  In the African pecking order, she also falls slightly behind SOUTH AFRICA and NIGERIA.

Now that all 85 delegates are accounted for, let me trot out my leaderboard:

TOP CONTENDERS:  GHANA, INDIA, PORTUGAL, PUERTO RICO, SPAIN, UKRAINE, U S A, VENEZUELA

SHOO-INS:  BELARUS, COLOMBIA, CZECH REPUBLIC, ENGLAND, NEPAL, NEW ZEALAND, PHILIPPINES, THAILAND,

LIKELIEST:  ARGENTINA, AUSTRALIA AUSTRIA, BRAZIL, CANADA, CHILE, COSTA RICA, CROATIA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, GUAM, GUYANA, KOREA, MEXICO, MONGOLIA, NETHERLANDS, NIGERIA, PARAGUAY, POLAND, RUSSIA, SOUTH AFRICA,

INTELLIGENCE/ADVOCACY FACTOR:  INDONESIA, TONGA, U S VIRGIN ISLANDS,

EXCELLENT:  BELGIUM, BOLIVIA, DENMARK, ECUADOR, FIJI, FRANCE, GERMANY, GUADELOUPE, GUATEMALA, HAITI, ISRAEL, ITALY, KAZAKHSTAN, MAURITIUS, NORTHERN IRELAND, PANAMA, PERU, REUNION ISLAND, SERBIA, SIERRA LEONE, SLOVAK REPUBLIC, ZAMBIA, ZIMBABWE

VERY STRONG:  ARMENIA, BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA, CRIMEA, HUNGARY, MALAYSIA, RWANDA, SLOVENIA, SOUTH SUDAN,

STRONG:  BOTSWANA, HONDURAS, KENYA, MYANMAR, NORTHERN MARIANAS, SINGAPORE, VIETNAM

VERY GOOD:  CHINA, JAPAN, MALTA, MONTENEGRO, PAPUA NEW GUINEA

GOOD:  CAMBODIA, CAMEROON, LIBERIA

There is some speculation that they are calling out a Top 20 this year instead of a Top 18.  Assuming a Top 20, here is my “Fearful” Forecast:

FINAL FOUR:  GHANA, INDIA, PUERTO RICO, U S A

TOP EIGHT:  PORTUGAL, SPAIN, UKRAINE, VENEZUELA

TOP 12:  BELARUS, ENGLAND, NEW ZEALAND, THAILAND

TOP 20:  CHILE, COLOMBIA, CZECH REPUBLIC, MEXICO, NEPAL, PHILIPPINES, POLAND, RUSSIA

BUBBLING UNDER: ARGENTINA, AUSTRALIA AUSTRIA, BRAZIL, CANADA, COSTA RICA, CROATIA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, GUAM, GUYANA, KOREA, MONGOLIA, NETHERLANDS, NIGERIA, PARAGUAY, SOUTH AFRICA

STRIKING DISTANCE: BELGIUM, BOLIVIA, DENMARK, ECUADOR, FIJI, FRANCE, GERMANY, GUADELOUPE, GUATEMALA, HAITI, INDONESIA, ISRAEL, ITALY, KAZAKHSTAN, MAURITIUS, NORTHERN IRELAND, PANAMA, PERU, REUNION ISLAND, SERBIA, SLOVAK REPUBLIC, TONGA, U S VIRGIN ISLANDS, ZAMBIA, ZIMBABWE

This promises to be one of the more exciting Miss Earth editions, as we have at least eight element-worthy contenders, with a whole host of usurpers waiting in the wings.  In other years, many of those who are in the Top 20 in my list would have been Top Eight-caliber shoo-ins.  Let’s see if the Okada venue will deliver s show that is worthy of the caliber of this year’s delgates.

JUST ME!

JOSEPH

 

MISS EARTH 2019 AT THE HOMESTRETCH: AIR GROUP (PART 1)

BELARUS – Alisa Manenok.  She made a major splash with her classically beautiful blonde features, and her statuesque 6′ model’s frame, that she’s considered one of the contenders for an element.  I’m not that wowed by her interview at the Intelligence round though, but her stunning looks might be enough for her to advance and maybe go all the way in the Top Eight, and if she somehow delivers a strong answer (or the other strong communicators falter), perhaps she may have a shot for an element.

BELGIUM – Caro Van Gorp.  She’s actually a worthwhile contender, even if her figure is probably a hindrance to her chances to advance.

BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA – Džejla Korajlić.  This country fielded someone atypical this time, as they fielded a blonde instead of their usual bevy of brunettes.  Sure, she does turn some heads, but she registers a bit too pageant patty-ish, and the traditional “Bosnian Drusilla Magic” may not apply this time.

BOTSWANA – Modiane Seitshiro.  She’s a solid contender in a field of solid to strong contenders from her continent, but we all know who the standouts are…

CAMEROON – Jessica Djoumbi.  See LIBERIA.

CHILE – Fernanda Méndez Tapia.  She has a mild resemblance to her countrywoman who won Miss Earth 2006, Hil Hernandez.  She has an inside track of making the semifinals.

COLOMBIA – Yenny Carrillo.  This country has a three-year element streak so far.  This lady is a high quality contender, but I’m not bullish that she is strong enough to sustain an elemental streak, though she can make a serious play for the Top Eight.

COSTA RICA – Linda Ávila.  She seems to tick all the boxes, so she also seems to have an inside track for the semifinals.

CRIMEA – Anastasia Lebediuk.  She’s solid, but her angular facial features may hinder her from making the semifinals.

CZECH REPUBLIC – Klára Vavrušková.  She’s one of the major Eastern European stunners this year, and I think she’s a shoo-in for the semifinals–question is, can she go far as Top Eight?

ENGLAND – Stephanie Wyatt.  She could be a wildcard, as she has this fresh ingenue look about her, and she is one of those who is most impressive in the Intelligence round.  She could be a possible upset choice for an element.

FIJI – Zaira Begg.  She’s poised and polished but  her features are the less conventional sort not exactly prized by these shores.

FRANCE – Sonate Terrassier.  This blonde’s pretty, but not quite making an impact as other standouts out there.  She’s a worthwhile contender, though.

COMING UP:  GHANA to ZAMBIA

 

MISS EARTH 2019 AT THE HOMESTRETCH: WATER GROUP (PART 2)

NEW ZEALAND – Tashan Kapene.  She has this exotic Maori look twith a hint of a Caucasian mix.  But her main ace is her strong advocacy for the environment and sterling communciaton skills–some fans and pundits are buzzing she can finish in the Top Eight.  I wouldn’t mind if that happens.

NORTHERN IRELAND – Shannon McCullagh.  She’s a pretty looker whho could pull off a sleeper surprise, granted that she is not severely penalized for her voluptuous figure.

PANAMA – Marianna Fuentes.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA – Pauline Tibola.  It’s been 29 years since this country saw action in a major international pageant so it’s a refreshing surprise that this country is tipping its toes back in this arena.  Admittedly during the years it has competed, it tends to be regarded as one of the cellar-dwellers, as back in those days there was no appreciation for the Melanesian features.  I think with all the ongoing body positivity movements and appreciation for more diverse types of beauty, maybe there is room to appreciate the type of featues we see in people from this country.  She is actually a good start as she does exude a radiant presence which is refreshing.

PARAGUAY – Jociani Repossi.  She is a consistent performer who could have an inside track to the semifinals.

PUERTO RICO – Nellys Pimentel.  Many pageant fans and pundits are buzzing about her charismatic presence that she is touted as one of the big front-runners for the crown.  Many have pegged her as garnering an element, or even perhaps winning it all.  I think that is indeed very possible.

REUNION ISLAND – Anaïs Payet.  She’s generally attractive and solid, but not in serious contention of making the semifinals.

RWANDA – Paulette Ndekwe.  She’s a quality contender, though we’ve seen prettier representatives from her country before.  Still, she’s a worthwhile contender.

SERBIA – Ljubica Rajković.   She’s solid and attractive, but not making much of an impact.

SLOVAK REPUBLIC – Stanislava Lučková.  I see an old-fashioned Hollywood glmour about her that I like a lot.  However, she’s one of the weakest interviews in the Intelligence round,s o that could hamper her chances to advnce.  Normally there might be room for her to get away with it the way, say a recent representative from Bosnia & Herzegovina did, but there are more compelling stunners from her continent to contend with that she may not be able to pull it off with gorgeousness alone.

SLOVENIA – Charnée Bonno.  See SERBIA, but she has a distinctive gimmick of almost always wearing a flowr headdress.

TONGA – Titania Matekuolava.  She’s good looking and very articulate, but I think she’s overshadowed by the presence of NEW ZEALAND that she could be drowned out and have a lesser chance of making the cut.

UKRAINE – Diana Shabas.  Here is another favorite highly buzzed about by pageant fans and pundits, and I can get it–I’m not sure which Hollywood actress she resembles (Keri Russell?  Margeaux Hemingway?  Mariel Hemingway?  Denise Richards?) but she has made heads turn–some contestants even consider her as the one to beat.  If she gets to advance to the Final Four and nail her answer in that round, she mgiht indeed be the one to win it all.

VIETNAM – Hoàng Thị Hạnh.  Unfortunately she’s not quite a good follow-up to the reigning Miss Earth, Nguyen Phuong Khanh (pronounced “Win Pongkan*1”  Plain, but she does have a trim figure.

*1 Our local term for the yummy mandarin orange.

COMING UP:  THE AIR GROUP (from BELARUS to FRANCE