Miss Earth 2016: a post-pageant review

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Miss Ecuador Katherine Espin capturing the Miss Earth 2016 crown last Saturday, October 29, at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Philippines was an affirmation of her front-runner status. But no matter how deserving and convincing a win, it was still marred by controversies.

Espin was considered a heavy favorite before the finale. She won a lion’s share of corporate awards and ended on top of the medal tally after winning medals in the pre-pageant activities. In fact, her placement and eventual win broke the curse that anyone who tops that leaderboard will end up unplaced.

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Top performer
The 23-year-old future lawyer was one of the best performers of the night, alongside another top favorite Miss Venezuela Stephanie De Zorzi, Miss USA Corrin Stellakis and Miss Sweden Cloie Syquia Skarne. Espin gave the perfect balance of sexiness and elegance in both the swimwear and evening wear rounds. She was polished, well styled and was obviously shining on stage that night.

When USA and Sweden failed to make the final four, it was clear that the crown was just between Miss Ecuador and Miss Venezuela. But Espin cemented her win after nailing the final question round.

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Asked what will be her program to protect the planet from climate change, she answered: “I truly believe in the 5 R’s, which is re-think, reduce, re-use, recycle and respect. Because I believe that as human beings, if we apply that to our everyday lives, we can make a change and we will reduce the problem that we have just mentioned. If we apply that to our everyday lives, I believe that we as humans can save the place we live in, which is our Mother Earth.”

The win
The exclusion of Miss Sweden and Miss USA in the Top 4 also came as a surprise because both gave outstanding and well applauded answers in the Top 8 Q&A round. They could’ve given Espin a run for her money in the final Q&A.

Miss Vietnam Nam Em’s Top 8 placement was very welcome and deserved. Meanwhile, Miss Brazil Bruna Zanardo’s and Miss Colombia Michelle Gomez’s Top 4 placements were unexpected but their good performances throughout the finals night were proof that they earned it. Miss Venezuela started out strong but she faded during the first round of Q&A. She gave a better answer during the final question but Espin was just unstoppable.

But despite her solid performance in the finals, Espin’s victory wasn’t spared from issues. Some delegates and national directors are accusing her of being promised by a sponsor of the crown. Miss Philippines was caught on video throwing shade at her for allegedly having fake nose, chin and breasts (which Espin already denied). But the new Miss Earth remains unfazed.

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“I am very committed to work as Miss Earth. I have so many projects in mind. I really want to dedicate the whole year on working for the environment. I will leave everything else in my life and just focus on my reign as Miss Earth,” she said in a recent interview.

Best batch in history
This year’s batch of candidates was perhaps one of the strongest in history, with lots of stunners and girls who are very dedicated to the Miss Earth cause. That was why the actual Top 16 semifinalists was well-received. There were no surprise placements and all of the girls delivered well in both the swimwear and evening wear rounds.

It is also interesting to note that the Top 3 eco videos of Miss Moldova, Miss Ukraine and Miss Vietnam were really the best among the rest and are all deserving.

The letdowns were the exclusion of Miss Denmark Klaudia Parsberg, who was one of the most prepared and dedicated ladies in the competition, and Miss Vietnam and her interpreter struggling in the Q&A portion.

The non-placement of the Philippines after five years (including a back-to-back victory) did not come as a surprise, following Imelda Schweighart’s series of “transgressions” during the duration of the pageant. But it is also worth noting that Miss Earth got more media mileage because of Miss Philippines’ controversial statements.

Improvements
In terms of the production, the pageant showed a big improvement compared to last year. Holding the finals at the Arena was a welcome move as it gave more fans the chance to witness the momentous event.

The show let go of the live introductions and opted for VTRs instead and incorporated it to the opening number, which actually saved a lot of time. The announcement of the semifinalists wasn’t rushed. However, Miss Indonesia stepping in instead of Miss Italy was an “oops” moment. Other than that, there wasn’t any cringe-worthy moment unlike in previous years.

The Marc Nelson and Rovilson Fernandez hosting duo as gave the show a more elegant yet funny feel.

Bringing the pageant back to the Philippines is also a welcome move. Not only did it allow the girls to travel around the country, it also showcased how it is more fun in the Philippines through these pre-pageant activities.

Overall, Miss Earth pulled off a good show and the winners deserved their placements based on their finals performance. Despite the controversies that surround this pageant every year, this Big5 pageant just proved that no amount of vilification could bring it down. PageantFocus

This was first published in Missosology.Org.

Ecuador’s Katherine Espin is Miss Earth 2016

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Latinas dominated the Miss Earth 2016 as Ecuador scored its second win in the pageant while three other South American beauties finished in the podium.

Katherine Espin,23, bested 82 other delegates to win the title. Ecuador first won the crown in 2011 with Olga Alava.

“I feel very blessed,” Espin told Missosology moments after winning. “I was able to [make] my dream come true.”

Colombia’s Michelle Gomez was named Miss Earth-Air, while heavy favorite Stephanie De Zorzi of Venezuela settled for the Miss Earth-Water title. Brazil’s Bruna Zanardo was crowned Miss Earth-Fire.

Espin impressed the judges in the final round when she was asked, “If you were selected as Miss Earth 2016, what would be your program to protect Mother Earth from climate change?”

She replied: “I truly believe in the 5Rs – Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, [Recycle], Respect – and I believe that as human beings, if we apply that to our everyday lives, we can make a change and reduce the problems just mentioned…we can save the place we live in which is Mother Earth.”

No stranger to pageants, Espin competed at Miss Bikini Universe 2013 and Top Model of the World 2015.

Completing the Top 8 finalists were Miss Russia Aleksandra Cherepanova, Miss Sweden Cloie Syquia Skarne, Miss USA Corrin Stellaki and Miss Vietnam Nguyen Thi Le Nam Em.

The rest of the 16 semifinalists were Miss Australia Lyndl Kean, Miss England Luissa Burton, Miss Italy Denise Frigo, Miss Korea Chae-Yeung Lee, Miss Macau Clover Zhu, Miss Mexico Itzel Astudillo, Miss Northern Ireland Julieann McStravick and Miss South Africa Nozipho Magagula. Miss Philippines Imelda Scweighart failed to make the cut.

Miss Moldova Tatiana Ovcinicová won Best Eco Video while Miss Wales Charlotte Hitchman was named Miss Eco Warrior.

The finals, hosted by Marc Nelson and Rovilson Fernandez, was held at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Philippines. PageantFocus

 

Miss Earth 2016: Fearless predictions

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This year’s edition of the Miss Earth is one for the books.

The more than 80 delegates had the chance to explore the beauty of the Philippines, through the support of both the LGUs and the private sector. Aside from that, this year’s pageant is graced by a lot of stunners and very dedicated ladies making it very difficult to choose only 16.

But that task needs to be done. And after seeing all the ladies in the flesh (except for Miss India), here’s my final list for Miss Earth 2016.

For the alternates:

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Italy’s Denise Frigo has resemblance to Miss World 2013 Megan Young. Her authentic charm and smile will capture anyone’s heart.

Miss Panama Virginia Hernandez is a good follow-up to last year’s stunner (but unplaced) Carmen Jaramillo. She oozes with the right amount of elegance and sexiness that is hard to ignore.

Miss Philippines Imelda Schweighart is probably the most controversial delegate this year (and the most bashed Miss Philippines Earth since Athena Imperial). But discounting all her social media misdemeanors, she could also give the host country another placement. After all, a Miss Earth edition without a Miss Philippines is incomplete.

Miss Brazil Bruna Zanardo is another stunner with a wll-proportioned body. Couple that with her polished walk and she sure will standout.

Now on to the Top 16:

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16 Peru – Brunella Fossa
This Pia Wurtzbach dead-ringer is among the most underrated beauties in the competition. But if you see her upclose, she is really stunning! She hasn’t won any medals in the pre-pageant activities but Brunella humbly made her presence felt in the competition.

15 Thailand – Atcharee Buakhiao
Tian was under the radar at the start of the competition but she made a huge impact after winning the gold in the national costume competition. With the Land of Smiles doing good in international pageants these days, it won’t be a surprise if this girl makes it. She had the height and the pretty face to help her make it.

14 Kenya – Grace Wanene
Grace is one of the most stunning African delegates to have ever graced the Miss Earth pageant. Her bubbly personality is what makes her lovable but on stage, it’s a different story. She was fierce and fabulous during the fashion show in Davao! She also a well-spoken lady.

13 Ukraine – Alena Belová
One of my sentimental favorites, Alena has slowlu but surely made her presence felt in the competition. Her silver medal in resorts wear competition is proof that this year has the stage presence. She has the natural beauty and charm that makes her hard to ignore.

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12 Colombia – Michelle Gómez
Probably the tallest among the delegates, Michelle was a sight to behold during the press presentation. Her svelte look look has earned her a bronze is the swimwuit competition and the Miss Boracay Body special award. But what makes her a darling is helping her fellow Latina candidates by translating their words. Definitely a mark of a queen!

11 Vietnam – Nguyen Thi Le Nam Em
One of the biggest surprises in the competition is Nam Em. She was completely ignored at first, but is now finally get the attention she deserves. Her silver medals in long gown and talent rounds are proof of her hard work, and her Miss Photogenic win speaks volumes about the strong support she is getting at home.

10 Russia – Aleksandra Cherepanová
Aleksandra is undoubtedly the face of the competition. Although she appears timid and shy at times, her angelic face and elegance shines through. She was very regal in her black gown that made her win the gold in long gown competition. She could also pull a big surprise come finals night.

9 Mexico – Itzel Paola Astudillo
Evening gown gold medal: check! Swimsuit gold medal: check!  National costume gold medal: check! Itzel is probably the most decorated Mexican delegate to ever grace the Miss Earth stage and she deserves all the accolades. She had the right mix of sexiness, sweetness and unassuming exquisiteness that make her truly a cut above the rest.

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8 Sweden – Cloie Syquia Skarne
Not a big fan of Cloie, but this girl has proven that she deserves to place. Her medals in evening gown and national costume are enough to say she has the stage presence. She also has a sweet yet attractive beauty. With proper styling, this Swedish-Filipino-American lass could surely go places.

7 Pakistan – Anzhelika Tahir
One of the best dressed in the competition, Anzhelika always manages to standout because of her good taste in fashion. But aside from that, her distinct facial beauty and amiable personality are worthy of mention. She also has good communication skills which could work to her advantage.

6 England – Luissa Burton
Probably one of, if not the most, hardworking delegates of Miss Earth this year. Luissa tried out for Miss Earth England thrice before finally winning the title and is now living her dream of competing internationally. Despite being overshadowed by other girls at the start, Luissa managed to climb the ranks and won a bronze in talent. But what makes her truly outstanding is she lives and breathes the cause of Miss Earth.

5 Ecuador – Katherine Espín
Katherine is a well-rounded beauty. Physically, she has an endearing face and a vavavoom body. Aside from these, she has the gift of gab, which is her best weapon. She has topped the medal tally after her podium finishes in long gown, resorts wear, swimwear and national costume rounds. History has it that the medal leaders end up clapping in the background. Will Katherine break the curse? I dare say yes!

And finally, the elemental queens:

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Miss Fire: Denmark – Klaudia Parsberg
One might mistake her for Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, because encounter with Klaudia are indeed encounters with inimitable beauty and charm. She wasn’t a heavy favorite from the start but this lady has worked so hard to earn the “contender” tag. From what she has done and achieved so far, there is no doubt that this girl has prepared for the pageant. With a great body, beautiful face, gift of gab, knowlege of the cause and a proper styling, it won’t be a surprise if Denmark win the crown again.

Miss Water: USA  – Corrin Stellakis
She may not have the most gorgeous face of the sexiest of bodies, but Corrin has the communication skills and full understanding of Miss Earth’s causes that make her a strong contender for the title. Just find the right styling (like her look during the Natural Looks event), please? A well-rounded beauty like Corrin for sure won’t be ignored.

Miss Air: Australia – Lyndl Kean
After Dayanna Grageda’s second place finish last year, it looks like the Land Down undr is headed for another Top 4 finish this year. Lyndl has everything it takes: a beautiful face, the pageant experience and the intelligence that could blow the judges away. She is also one of the classiest delegates. I have to admit; I underestimated this girl. But being a total performer throughout the competition makes her a perfect girl to consider for the crown.

Miss Earth: Venezuela – Stephanie de Zorzi
All eyes will be on Stephanie De Zorzi, who has been a clear standout since day one. The moment it was confirmed that  will be finally representing the powerhouse country of Venezuela in Miss Earth, she has already become the favorite for the title.

Her road to Miss Earth wasn’t ideal. She was set to compete in 2014, only to be replaced a week before arrivals because she allegedly gained weight. That devastated her,  but when the franchise was given to Alyz Henrich and she offered Stephanie to compete, she said yes without hesitation.

Upon arriving in Manila, Stephanie has sashayed grace and beauty expected of a Miss Venezuela. She has a beautiful face and a to-die-for body. She has the catwalk flair and a megawatt smile that could light up anyone’s face.

Right now, Stephanie is undeniably the best bet for the crown. She is someone Miss Earth is looking for: marketable, beautiful, intelligent. The crown has long been hers. Let it sit on her head tonight!. Haraya

 

 

Miss Earth 2016 delegates for Natural Looks

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The Group 2 delegates of Miss Earth 2016 had the chance to test the products of Natural Looks, a fragrance and skin care brand made from UK.

The delegates visited the brand’s SM North Edsa Annex branch on Sunday, October 23, where they get to try a wide array of products that are 100% natural.

“This day started really cool! I smelled all these products and it’s amazing so definitely I want to buy someting right now,” said Miss Pakistan Azhelika Tahir.

“This is such a cool shop! [The manager] just told me that when you finish a [plastic] bottle, you will get a 20% discount if you bring the bottle to the store,” said Miss Denmark Klaudia Parsberg. “Everybody wants to save money and it is important that we’re not throwing the plastic out in the nature.”

A meet-and-greet session followed at the Cyberzone area of the mall where fans and members of the press got to mingle with the ladies.

IN PHOTOS: Miss Earth 2016 delegates

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The Miss Earth 2016 delegates were formally presented to the press on Tuesday, October 11. The candidates posed and smiled for the cameras in their red swimwear.

Check out their individual photos here:

Miss Earth 2016 delegates meet the media

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More than 80 candidates are vying for the coveted Miss Earth title this year.

They were formally presented to the media at the poolside of Diamond Hotel in Manila, Philippines on Tuesday, October 11, with four named as the Darlings of the Press.

Miss Ecuador Katherine Espin and Miss Philippines Imelda Bautista Schweighart tied for the gold medal. Miss Venezuela Stephanie De Zorzi and Miss USA Corrin Stellakis won silver and bronze, respectively.

The Philippines’ back-to-back Miss Earth queens Angelia Gabrena Ong (2015) and Jamie Herrell (2014) graced the event. Miss Earth Air 2012 Stephanie Stefanowitz hosted the presentation.

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Miss Earth 2015 Angelia Gabrena Ong (All photos by Drew Francisco for Missosology)

 

 

Miss Palestine Natali Rantisi did not participate in the swimsuit presentation but joined the candidates during the traditional poolside group photo. Miss India Rashi Yadav is yet to arrive.

The delegates will visit several tourist destinations in the country before the coronation night on October 29 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

 

Miss Earth 2014 post-pageant review

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The Philippines fortified its status as a beauty pageant powerhouse after Jamie Herrell captured the Miss Earth 2014 crown last Saturday at the UP Theater in Quezon City. But no matter how beautiful, smart and deserving a winner is, a home turf victory always raises a few eyebrows.

Miss Philippines Jamie Herrell during the Q&A round
Miss Philippines Jamie Herrell during the Q&A round

It is not irrational to think that home court advantage played a role in Herrell’s victory. However, it couldn’t be denied that the 20-year-old Cebuana was a polished candidate. She might have not won medals in swimsuit and evening gown pre-pageant competitions, but those were no indication that Herrell has lost her luster. She is the best the Philippines has sent since 2009 and that is why I had her as my top bet to win the crown

Top performer

We have to give it to Herrell, who was one of the best performers of the night alongside other heavy favorites Miss Brazil Leticia Silva, Miss Spain Zaira Bass, Miss Venezuela Maira Alexandra Rodriguez and Miss USA Andrea Neu. While some candidates gave performances ranging from lackluster to over-the-top, Herrell gave the right amount of sexiness and elegance in both the swimsuit and evening gown rounds. Her wide smile, good styling and fluid walk truly made her stand out.

It was clear after the Final 8 were announced that the crown was just between the heavy favorites. But Herrell rose to the top after nailing the question-and-answer round. Asked what she will do to help slow down global warming if ever she wins the title, Herrell responded: “Global warming has been known to be a very long overdue issue. That is why if I am crowned tonight, I will use the crown to inspire others to help our environment. And we start with the kids because the kids are the people of tomorrow. And if we teach them they will also help the community. That’s what I will do if I win Miss Earth tonight.”

Questionable?
However, some pageant observers believe the process of selecting the Top 16 is questionable because it seemed that the other top performers during the pre-pageant activities were deliberately ignored to make the victory easy for the organization’s favorites.

The pre-pageant activities (where the girls earn medals after each event), do not have bearing. This is very different from Miss World where the girls get corresponding points for participating in the challenge events and the winners get automatic spot in the semis.

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The Final 8 candidates moments before the announcement of winners

The Top 16 was based on the “no make-up” round where they just walk inside a room in their swimsuits and the closed-door interview. Judges don’t get to see how these girls work their stuff on stage unlike in Miss Universe where the girls battle it out in a preliminary competition.

If only the pre-pageant activities were also put into consideration, the finals night battle would’ve been tighter and more exciting with Miss Dominican Republic Mayte Brito, Miss India Alankrita Sahai, Miss Puerto Rico Franceska Toro and Miss Paraguay Sendy Caceres instead of the forgettable performances of Miss Egypt Nancy Magdy, Miss Korea Sumin Shin, Miss Scotland Romy McCahill and Miss Slovak Republic Dária Fabrici.

Also, what happened to the Yahoo! Beauty for a Cause winner which was supposed to merit an automatic spot in the semifinals? The winner was supposed to be announced during the coronation night but it didn’t happen.

Improvements
In terms of the production, the pageant had a marked improved compared to the last two editions from the venue to the stage to camera angles among others. The decision to finally move the finals staging from the Versailles Palace’s swimming pool complex in Alabang to a theater is a very welcome move. This gave the pageant a more formal feel.

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Miss Switzerland translates the answer to Miss Brazil.

The opening number and introduction of candidates could be considered as the pageant’s best in recent years. The announcement of the semifinalists was not rushed. The Top 16 candidates had fair share of time to showcase what they got on stage during the swimsuit and evening gown rounds. The backdrop with the name of the country, though very reminiscent of Miss Universe, added a nice touch to the production.

Justin Bratton and Joey Mead-King did pretty well as hosts, although the former mistakenly said “Top 18” instead of 16. Ginger Conejero as side host, also delivered well.

One of the pageant’s letdown however was Miss Brazil’s Q&A portion. It was painful to watch her answer being translated by a fellow candidate. Miss Earth needs to hire better translating services to avoid messing up in this all-important round.

It is also high time for Miss Earth to bring the pageant outside of its home nation. This is the main reason why most pageant fans vilify the pageant and claim that it is just an excuse to crown Philippine delegates. Since its inception, the pageant was only held outside the Philippines once, in Nha Trang, Vietnam in 2010 (the Philippine delegate at that time failed to enter the semifinals).

Overall, this year’s Miss Earth pageant pulled off a good show and the results were acceptable. This is an indication that despite being criticised by a few sectors in the pageant industry, the youngest among the Big Four pageants is here to stay.

A shorter version of this article was first published on Rappler.
Photos by Mario Angelo Bergantinos of Missosology

Miss Philippines is Miss Earth 2014

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Jamie Herrell of the Philippines bested 84 other candididates from around the world to win the Miss Earth 2014 crown Saturday night during the finals held at the UP Theater in Quezon City, Philippines.

Asked during the question-and-answer portion what she will do to slow down global warming if ever she wins the title, Herrell responded: “Global warming has been (an) overdue issue. I will use my title to inspire others, help our environment and start with kids. They will be the people of tomorrow if we teach them. They will help the community.”

Herrell is the second Filipino to win the Miss Earth title, the first being Karla Henry in 2008. Both queens hail from the province of Cebu.

The new Miss Earth’s elemental court included Miss Air Andrea Neu of the USA, Miss Water Maira Alexandra Rodriguez of Venezuela and Miss Fire Anastasia Trusova of Russia. (PageantFocus correctly predicted Herrell’s victory. Check it out here.)

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Completing the Final 8 finalists were: Letícia Silva of Brazil, Tugsuu Idersaikhan of Mongolia, Daria Fabrici of Slovak Republic and Zaira Bas of Spain.

The rest of the Top 16 semifinalists was composed of: Alejandra Villafañe Osorio of Colombia, Nancy Magdy of Egypt, Lee Seo Bin of Korea, Yareli Carillo of Mexico, Romy McCahill of Scotland, Hereata Ellard of Tahiti, Sasi Sintawee of Thailand and Cartier Zagorski of Zambia.

Miss Earth 2014: My fearless predictions

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The 14th installment of the annual Miss Earth beauty pageant saw 85 contestants vying to become the next ambassador for environmental awareness and conservation. This year’s batch of Miss Earth contestants will surely go down in history as one of the most competitive, as there really is no single front-runner.

Aside from the usual swimsuit, resorts wear and evening gown competitions, the ladies also promoted the pageant’s earthly causes. But before Alyz Henrich of Venezuela crowns her successor, here’s a rundown of my best bets for the crown:

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Gold, Best Teacher
Gold, Talent

16: US VIRGIN ISLANDS Esonica Veira has joined a number of local and international teen pageants, but her first taste of Big 4 pageant was in 2011 when she finished as a Top 15 semifinalist in Miss World. Two years after she placed 4th runner-up in Miss Supranational 2013. Now in Miss Earth, Esonica has humbly made her presence felt through her exotic charm and elegance.

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Silver, Swimsuit
Bronze, Cocktail Wear
Bronze, Evening Gown

15: ZAMBIA I have to admit I was never a fan of Cartier Zagorski, but I just couldn’t deny she performed pretty well in the competition. She managed to win medals despite those tacky outfits, but when she starts to talk, you couldn’t help but listen. This girl has charisma!

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Gold, Swimsuit

14: COLOMBIA Alejandra Villafañe for me is underappreciated in the competition. She was taking the backseat at the start but made a mark during the swimsuit competition. Not the best face, but definitely knowledgeable about Miss Earth’s causes. Another one to keep an eye out for possible surprises.

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Silver, National Costume

13: CHILE Many thinks she is overrated, but I find Catalina Caceres an underrated beauty. This girl can walk and definitely can talk. She might have only won one medal, but I have a strong feeling this girl will pull off a surprise in the finale.

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Silver, Resort Wear

12: DOMINICAN REPUBLIC Would you believe that Mayte Brito didn’t aspire to become a beauty queen when she was a kid? It was only when she was 18 that she decided to try her luck in pageants. Four years after, she joined Miss World Dominican Republic and won the Miss Earth DR title. She was expected to compete next year but her predecessor Cheryl Ortega decided to withdraw to focus on her studies. With Mayte’s good presentation skills and her winning smile, we might just see a victory from her.

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Silver, Resort Wear
Silver, Swimsuit
Top 10, Eco-Beauty Video

11: BOLIVIA My sentimental favorite! I was so glad Eloisa Gutierrez finally got noticed in two events where she got to show off her strength: her HOT body! She may not be perfectly pretty but she knows how to work her angles. Aside from that, she is a diva on stage. Would love to see her break past the Top 16.

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Gold, Evening Gown
Gold, Best Teacher

10: BRAZIL Leticia Silva has been modeling for 9 years now, so no wonder she carried that red dress with ease during the evening gown competition. But her beauty, for me, is bordering boring and lacking in spark. However, Brazil seems to have mastered the art of placing in Miss Earth so still expect her to be in.

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Bronze, Darling of the Press
Bronze, Cocktail Wear
Bronze, Resort Wear
Top 10, Eco-Beauty Video

9: PUERTO RICO She joined the Miss Mundo Puerto Rico pageant twice, in 2013 and 2014, but ended up as first runner-up in both editions. But this year, the runner-up gets sent to Miss Earth, giving Franceska Toro the chance to showcase what she’s got on the international level. Her commanding presence and charisma adds to her good chances at finally bringing Puerto Rico back to the Miss Earth semis.

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Gold, Swimsuit
Gold, Cocktail Wear
Silver, Resort Wear
Top 10, Eco-Beauty Video

8: THAILAND It seems Sasi Sintawee’s pageant training in the Philippines has paid off because this girl’s presentation skills really improved from her Miss Grand Thailand stint. I’m not a fan of her heavy make-up, so it was refreshing to see her photo during the no make-up judging. She is not facially perfect, but her bubbly personality makes up for that.

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Gold, Cocktail Wear
Gold, Resort Wear
Silver, Best Teacher

7: PARAGUAY “Beautiful without trying” is the best phrase to describe Sendy Cáceres. She might have a weak sash, but she shouldn’t be ignored given her good performance in the activities. With that fit body, pretty face and sweet personality, she could pull off upsets come finals night.

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Silver, Darling of the Press
Silver, Cocktail Wear
Silver, Evening Gown
Silver, National Costume
Bronze, Resort Wear

6: VENEZUELA Despite having only barely a week to prepare for the pageant, Maira Alexandra Rodriguez is a threat in the competition with five medals under her belt. Venezuela has placed in the Top 4 seven times in the last nine years and it looks like the streak will continue. However, I think Maira lacks the star appeal that her predecessors had.

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Gold, Evening Gown
Silver, Miss Photogenic
Silver, National Costume
Bronze, Swimsuit
Top 10, Eco-Beauty Video

5: INDIA After winning the crown in 2010, India has not made the cut despite sending stunning and well-prepared candidates. This year, Alankrita Sahai is ready to end the drought. She is the complete package and is very eloquent. It would be a crime to waste this Indian beauty!

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Gold, Evening Gown
Silver, National Costume
Bronze, Cocktail Wear
Top 10, Eco-Beauty Video

Miss Fire: RUSSIA Anastasia Trusova is peaking at the right time and who knows, we might just see that crown on her head on Saturday night! I have to admit that I underestimated this girl but she has proven her worth throughout the competition. Her styling and wardrobe are good, no wonder she bagged the gold in evening gown. She seems well-versed in ME causes, too. Definitely she’s a top four material.

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Gold, Resort Wear
Silver, Best Teacher
Silver, Swimsuit
Bronze, Evening Gown

Miss Water: USA Prior to joining Miss Earth, Andrea Neu represented the country in Miss International 2013 where she placed in the Top 15. I was never a fan of her beauty but she keeps on proving me wrong each segment of the Miss Earth competition. Winning a number of medals are proof that Andrea is definitely one of the best girls in the batch. This lady definitely deserves to give the USA its best placement in ME yet.

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Gold, Swimsuit
Gold, Resort Wear
Silver, Evening Gown
Bronze, National Costume

Miss Air: SPAIN Zaira Bas is one of the best bets to win the Miss Earth title, and this is no surprise as she is a “total performer”. She has the best balance for a pageant contestant. She has a naturally beautiful face and a to-die-for body. But the understated elegance that she exudes is what makes her standout from the rest of the girls.

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Gold, Darling of the Press
Gold, Cocktail Wear
Silver, National Costume

MISS EARTH 2014: PHILIPPINES As the host delegate, you always have to prove you deserve to make it as one of the semifinalists without the news being met with raised eyebrows. But Jamie Herrell for sure will make it on her own merits. She might have not won medals in swimsuit and evening gown (she was sick at that time) competitions, but those are no indication that Jamie has lost her luster. She is already working hard as the reigning Miss Philippines Earth, especially in promoting the “Think Twice” campaign that encourages people to find alternatives to protect and help Mother Nature. I seldom put Miss Philippines as my winner (except for Megan Young who was the obvious choice in Miss World last year), but this time, I’m following my gut feeling. Jamie is the prettiest Miss Earth delegate the Philippines had since 2009. In my opinion the time is ripe for another ME title for the country.

Miss Earth 2013: Girls to watch out for

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This article first appeared on Rappler.

IT’S THAT time of the year again when the most beautiful women in the planet strap on their heels for the worthy cause of preserving and saving Mother Earth.

The 13th edition of Miss Earth is proving to be an exciting season. Aside from the traditional evening wear, national costume and swimsuit competitions, the candidates also engaged in environmental awareness and conservation activities to showcase their knowledge of the organization’s causes.

But before the 89 beauties battle it out on December 7, here is a list of candidates to keep an eye out.

POWERHOUSES. These countries seem to have mastered the art of placing in Miss Earth after dominating the top four in the last two years.

1

Brazil,  Priscilla Martins. This year’s delegate of the winningest country in Miss Earth is proving why Brazil is a force to reckon with in the competition. Early on, she was adjudged second-best in National Costume among delegates from the Americas. But just last night, she won a silver medal in the Swimsuit competition. This didn’t come as a surprise because she’s got a toned and pageant-ready body. She’s well-prepared for this and her Eco-Beauty video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5sxNTysbYI) is a testament to that. 

Philippines, Angelee delos Reyes. Her placement in challenge events (Third, Evening Gown; Top 15, Swimsuit; Top 15, Resorts Wear; Second, I Love My Planet Challenge; Third, Most Child Friendly candidates; Second, National Costume; and Third, Miss Photogenic) may be partly attributed for being the host country’s delegate. But it can be safely said that Angelee made it on her own merits. She is good on the ramp. She is always styled well. Simply put, she knows exactly what she is doing. 

Venezuela, Alyz Henrich. Alyz has been an early favorite since her crowning as Miss Venezuela Tierra. Winning five awards from pageant sponsors and three medals from challenge events just solidifies her status as a front-runner. Her gold and silver medals in the Evening Gown and Swimsuit competitions are no shocker. She looked very regal in her heavily pailletted silver strapless gown. Also, it can’t be denied she has one of the best bodies in the competition. If the coronation night will be held today, Alyz could win it hands down.

SURPRISES. Underrated, but are proving to be real contenders for the crown.

5

Ukraine, Anastasia Sukh. Anastasia is the most pleasant surprise in the competition. This serene beauty is cementing a spot in the semis after winning the gold medal during the Swimsuit competition. She also placed second in Resorts Wear competition and was third Most Child Friendly candidate in her group. With a face that could launch a thousand ships and a to-die-for body, there’s no doubt Anastasia is a strong contender for the crown.

Nepal, Rojisha Shahi Thakuri. She’s nowhere to be found in pageant sites’ pre-arrival lists, so Rohisha surprised everyone by snatching a silver medal in the Evening Gown final competition. Her blue mermaid cut gown was bordering pageant patty, but her presentation skills was superb. She was also chosen as one of the Most Child Friendly candidates. More than that, she has good understanding of environmental issues, as proven by her profile in the ME website.

FAVORITES. They are darlings of the pageant aficionados.

2

Bosnia & Herzegovina, Vera Krneta. Vera is an effortless beauty that exudes so much sweet aura, so it really is disappointing she isn’t excelling in pre-pageant activities. Just when she was about to go unnoticed, Vera was awarded Miss Casino Femme. It’s not over ’til it’s over for this underrated girl.

Costa Rica, Mariela Aparicio. It comes as a surprise that this girl with a sweet face and queenly aura isn’t given much attention. She has a good body, no wonder she made it top the Top 15 of the Swimsuit competition. Mariela may not be heavily favored, but she could also pull off an upset. After all, she was a semifinalist in Miss International 2010.

Serbia, Andjelka Tomasevic. Andjelka is the face of the competition, in my opinion. Her beauty is unassuming. Her shapely body merited her spots in the Top 15 of both the Swimsuit and Resorts Wear competitions. The sophistication that she exudes makes her standout from the rest of the girls. She would definitely be a perfect ambassadress for Miss Earth.

EBONIES.  The black beauties are here to prove they are the true warriors of Mother Earth.

4

Martinique, Rani Charles. She may have not won a single medal so far, but this doesn’t mean Rani’s chances of placing are slim. In fact, she made it to the Top 15 of the Talent and Resorts Wear competitions. Her natural charisma blends well with her winsome smile and positive aura. Her styling needs improvement, but thanks to her presentation skills she was able to give justice to her mediocre evening gown. She may have a weak sash, but that didn’t stop her from becoming the most talked about black delegate this year.

South Africa, Ashanti Mbanga. Two gold medals for Ashanti for the I Love My Planet School Tour Challenge and National Costume competition are enough to prove she shouldn’t be taken lightly. She has rigidly prepared in almost all aspects of the competition. No wonder she was adjudged Best Teacher early on in the competition because she is well-versed in environmental issues. With her impressive communication skills, this girl for sure will ace the interviews. So-called front-runners need to watch out for this girl might give them a run for their monies come coronation night.

AVENGERS. Some of the candidates from these countries were heavy favorites during their time but failed to place.

3

India, Sobhita Dhulipala. India has failed to make the cut after winning its first Miss Earth crown in 2010. This year, Sobhita is determined to end the drought and it seems she is on the right track. She made it in the the Top 15 of both the Talent and Resorts Wear competitions. She also won Miss Photogenic, after receiving the most number of likes on Facebook. She has one of the best Eco-Beauty videos (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=soIYlozXKeQ) and her environmental advocacy of providing water purifiers in Indian communities with no access to safe drinking water is really commendable. Aside from that she’s a natural charmer and a good speaker.

Thailand, Punika Kulsoontornru. With barely two weeks to prepare for the pageant, Punika is surprisingly very well-rounded. She was awarded Most Child Friendly candidate and was third in National Costume among Asian candidates. She also made it in the Top 15 of the Talent competition, but her biggest moment was when she was named Best in Resorts Wear. Aside from that, she has also bagged three special awards from sponsors. It seems Thailand is ready to win its first Miss Earth crown after surprisingly missing the cut last year after five consecutive placements.