Miss Earth 2014 post-pageant review

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

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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 Philippines Earth 2014: A post-pageant review

MPE-stageThe 14th edition of Miss Philippines-Earth (MPE) beauty pageant came to an end on Sunday night, May 11, with heavy favorite Jamie Herrell of Cebu City winning the crown and the right to wear the country’s sash in the international Miss Earth contest later this year.

Herrell’s victory didn’t come as a surprise. She was the top bet of most pageant observers since day one and was tagged as “the girl to beat” and “the front-runner of all front-runners” in the competition. Herrell truly lived up to expectations.

The 19-year-old Cebuana was the most applauded that night and she totally deserved it. She was fresh and radiant in swimsuit. She also had the perfect mix of elegance and queenly stance in her salmon pink gown that complemented her complexion. Her performance wasn’t over-the-top; it was perfect.

 

Herrell with her mother and siblings (left) and with her mentor Rodgil Flores of Kagandahang Flores (right)
Herrell with her mother and siblings (left) and with her mentor Rodgil Flores of Kagandahang Flores (right)

The winning moment
Knowing that MPE gives importance to the Q&A round, this surely sealed the deal for Herrell.

When asked by former Akbayan congresswoman Risa Hontiveros if “we, human beings, have been good children to Mother Earth,” she replied: “In my opinion, we haven’t been good children. In fact, I believe that we are the number one cause of her problems, we are the reason why we’re having climate change, and we are the reason why we’re having floods. But, in return, if we can only help her and salvage her, she will help us back and take care of us too.” She got the crown right at that moment.

Herrell follows a 3-year successful streak of the Philippines in the Miss Earth pageant. Athena Imperial and Stephany Stefanowitz made it to the Top 4 of the international pageant in 2011 and 2012, respectively, while Angelee delos Reyes finished in the Top 8 in 2013.

To be honest, Herrell is already a polished candidate and ready to compete should Miss Earth be held today. With her gorgeous face and good communication skills plus a good team to back her up (she’s under Kagandahang Flores, the team behind the most MPE winners and Bea Rose Santiago), she could duplicate the success of another Cebuana, Karla Henry, and become the country’s second Miss Earth titleholder.

MPE elemental queens flocked by fans
MPE elemental queens flocked by fans

Redemption, surprises, upsets
Completing Herrell’s elemental court are Diane Carmela Querrer of Tanauan City (Miss Philippines Air), Kimverly Covert of Dumaguete City (Miss Philippines Water), Ma. Paula Bianca Paz (Miss Philippines Fire), and Monique Teruelle Manuel (Miss Philippines Eco-Tourism.

It was a night of redemption for Querrer and Manuel, both MPE repeaters.

Querrer, who was disqualified from Bb Pilipinas 2014 a few days after the announcement of official candidates, was breezing through the competition. She had improved a lot since her MPE 2010 days. But her shining moment came during the Q&A round, when she said “we should check the alternatives [for] what we can do so we can lessen our carbon footprints and, in the long run, we can be a part of the solution [to] this long overdue issue of climate change.”

Meanwhile, Manuel improved from her Top 10 finish in MPE 2009. While her answer wasn’t the best in my opinion, she gave solid performances in both the swimsuit and evening gown rounds.

The most pleasant surprise was Covert’s inclusion in the Top 5. Her towering beauty truly stood out, plus she had one of the best answers that night. She was asked: “If you were to change one thing about the Philippines, what would it be and why?” The 25-year-old Negrense answered: “Honestly, I would like to change the mindset of the people. It’s true that we have a beautiful country and that’s one thing I am proud of. But sometimes, the people…do not know the value of what we have in the Philippines. If I would change something, I would like to teach them how great we can be.”

 

The MPE 2014 Top 15 in swimsuit
The MPE 2014 Top 15 in swimsuit

Finishing in the Top 10 are: Maria Jenny Gonzalez (Cainta, Rizal), Maria Bencelle Bianzon (Duenas, Iloilo), Crystal Star Aberasturi (Liloan, Cebu), Angelie Crizelle Ocampo (Santa Rita, Pampanga), and Melanie Balagtas (Fil-Sydney, Australia).

The coronation night’s biggest letdown was the exclusion of another favorite, Mary Anne Ross Misa, from the Top 10. She was among the best performers in swimsuit, but her gown must’ve cost her the placement. Joining her in the Top 15 are Ashlejane Alcancia (Fil-Brussels, Belgium), Janelle Tee (Davao City), Sarah Theresa Stewart (Muntinlupa City), and Leslie Ann Pine (San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija).

Ocampo, Aberasturi, and Stewart might have not made it to the top, but they shouldn’t lose hope. They should try out with Bb Pilipinas and Miss World Philippines, where their beauties will be much appreciated.

The MPE 2014 Top 15 in evening gown
The MPE 2014 Top 15 in evening gown

Long-awaited format change
It was an enjoyable experience watching the pageant live from the Mall of Asia Arena. The show wasn’t a bore. The girls were all over the place during the opening dance number, but it was exciting to hear them shout their hometowns one by one.

The format change was a welcome move. In previous years, all 40-plus candidates walked on stage in swimsuit and evening gowns. This year the production finally decided to have only the Top 15 battling it out on both rounds. That saved a lot of airing time and spared the show from some dragging moments.

What needs to be improved though is the lighting. The stage was too dark during the swimsuit competition, which should have been more festive. The evening gown portion was a bit dull and dry. The show in general was smooth except for that instance when host Karla Henry had to repeat a spiel. Her hosting partner, TV host-actor Robi Domingo, had good enunciation but lacked the charisma.

Pre-pageant activities
During the show, a VTR of MPE’s pre-pageant activities was shown. Since it had a concrete objective that was environmental awareness, MPE was able to come up with exciting activities for the girls.

It was a sight to behold when the girls got their hands dirty planting trees, teaching people about the need for environmental awareness, encouraging shoppers to use green bags, among other activities. Aside from that, the effort to bring the girls to some of the tourist spots in the country was truly commendable.

The MPE 2014 Elemental queens
The MPE 2014 Elemental queens

The elemental queens will be involved in the campaign for the preservation of the environment and the protection of Mother Earth. The pressure is also on Herrell to keep the momentum going for the country in the Miss Earth pageant. It won’t be a cakewalk, but for sure it would be a memorable journey.

This article also appeared on Rappler.

Jamie Herrell of Cebu City wins Miss Philippines Earth 2014!

Miss Philippines Earth 2014 Jamie Herrell, center, with her elemental court. ALL PHOTOS BY MISSOSOLOGY
Miss Philippines Earth 2014 Jamie Herrell, center, with her elemental court. ALL PHOTOS BY MISSOSOLOGY

Heavy favorite Jamie Herrell of Cebu City was crowned Miss Philippines Earth 2014 at the pageant night on Sunday, winning the right to represent the country in the international Miss Earth contest.

During the question-and-answer portion, Herrell was asked by former Akbayan representative Risa Hontiveros if “we, human beings, have been good children to Mother Earth”.

Host RObi Domingo and Jamie Herrell during the Q&A round.
Host RObi Domingo and Jamie Herrell during the Q&A round.

The 19-year-old Cebuana replied: “In my opinion, we haven’t been good children. In fact, I believe that we are the number one cause of her problems, we are the reason why we’re having climate change, and we are the reason why we’re having floods. But in return, if we can only help her and salvage her, she will help us back and take care of us too.”

Herrell follows a three-year successful streak of the Philippines in the Miss Earth pageant. Athena Imperial and Stephany Stefanowitz both made it to the Top 4 of the international pageant in 2011 and 2012 respectively, while Angelee Delos Reyes finished in the Top 8 last year.

Completing Herrell’s elemental court are Diane Carmela Querrer of Tanauan City (Miss Philippines Air), Kimverly Covert of Dumaguete City (Miss Philippines Water), Ma Paula Bianca Paz (Miss Philippines Fire) and Monique Teruelle Manuel (Miss Philippines Eco-Tourism.

Querrer and Manuel were MPE repeaters, while Paz was named 3rd Princess in Miss World Philippines in 2011 and 2013.

The Top 15 in evening gown
The Top 15 in evening gown

Finishing in the Top 10 are: Maria Jenny Gonzalez (Cainta, Rizal), Maria Bencelle Bianzon (Duenas, Iloilo), Crystal Star Aberasturi (Liloan, Cebu), Angelie Crizelle Ocampo (Santa Rita, Pampanga) and Melanie Balagtas (Fil-Sydney, Australia).

Mary Anne Ross Misa (Makati City), Ashlejane Alcancia (Fil-Brussels, Belgium), Janelle Tee (Davao City), Sarah Theresa Stewart (Muntinlupa City) and Leslie Ann Pine (San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija).

 

 

 

Miss Philippines Earth 2014: My Fearless Prediction

From candidates passing out to alleged pageant bullying, this year’s Miss Philippines Earth pageant is definitely one of the most talked about editions. Aside from that, this could also be considered as the most competitive batch of candidates with both newbies and veterans battling it out to become the ultimate eco-warrior.

Who are leading the race to the Miss Philippines Earth crown? Who will emerge victorious come coronation night on May 11? Here’s the my final list:

A15th: Cabuyao City – Roanne Refrea
One of the most underrated candidates is Roanne, who has already worn the Philippines sash in the2007 World Miss University pageant in Seoul, South Korea. Though unplaced, the experience has opened opportunities for her in modeling. She won a gold medal during the talent competition.

14th: Zamboanga City – Margie Alatan
In terms of pre-pageant performance, Margie is a downgrade from last year’s delegate. She only bagged a silver medal in the Resorts Wear competition. Despite this Margie owns a distinct charm that makes her lovable especially when she smiles.

13th: Laoag City – Ma. Theresa Ocampo
She failed to make it as an official candidate in Bb Pilipinas 2014 but that didn’t stop Theresa from pursuing pageants. Although not among the heavily favored candidates, she could also pull off a surprise. Her best asset is her eloquence, which she showcased in her eco-video. This girl sure knows by heart what Miss Philippines Earth is all about.

12th: Trece Martires, Cavite – Joselle Mariano
She was about to go unnoiticed in the competition until she won the gold medal for the Evening Gown competition. She wasn’t even on fans’ lists, but throughout the course of the competition she has proven her worth. She might pull of a surprise come finals.

11th: Agoncillo, Batangas – Kaycie Lyn Fajardo
No stranger to pageants, Kaycie was Mutya ng Agoncillo 2012 and Mutya ng Batangas 2012 3rd runner-up. She won gold in the Miss Photogenic and Best Eco-video online voting and a bronze from the Make-up challenge. This girl just needs that perfect styling during the finals to make an impact.

pasig10th: Pasig City – Jashmin-Lyn Dimaculangan
One of the freshest faces in the batch, Jashmin easily stands out because of her commanding presence. No wonder this girl bagged the gold medal in the Catwalk competition. However, competition is stiff and she gets overshadowed by the heavy favorites. Also she’s still raw for pageants at 18. Should she comeback in a year or two with a toned body and better styling, I definitely see her making waves in an international pageant.

dinalupihan9th: Dinalupihan, Bataan – Monique Teruelle Manuel
Another MPE repeater who is determined to win it all this time is Monique. She may have not won a single medal, but this doesn’t mean her chances of placing are slim. Neither does she have the perfect face nor the voluptuous body, but her intellect and communication skills will surely work to her advantage.

duenas8th: Dueñas, Iloilo – Ma. Bencelle Bianzon
The best lesson Bencelle has learned growing up is to “never give up on your dreams”. After her luckless stint in Bb Pilipinas last year, this model and IT professional is determined to pursue her dream of becoming a beauty queen. She has definitely improved a lot since with a refined walk and better styling. She finished third in both the Swimsuit Competition and the Online Miss Photogenic voting.

makati7th: Makati City – Mary Ann Ross Misa
As a pageant veteran, many fans expected Ross to be in her top form. She is an overall package: okay face, body, catwalk diva all rolled into one. However, it seems she is already past her pageant prime. Although she has won a gold for the Hairstyling challenge and a bronze for the Talent competition, these are no assurance that she will go all the way to the top. She needs to freshen up her look and give a memorable performance come pageant night.

tanauan6th: Tanauan City – Diane Carmela Querrer
She was disqualified in Bb Pilipinas 2014 a few days after the announcement of official candidates, but this didn’t stop Diane from pursuing her dream. She’s among the performers in this year’s MPE batch, having won golds for the Trash to Clash and Talent competitions. She may not be the best in terms of facial beauty, but her unwavering fighting spirit deserves recognition.

sydneyMiss Eco-Tourism: Fil-Sydney, Australia – Melanie Cristine Balagtas
Melanie wasn’t on anybody’s list before arrivals, but she surprised everyone by doing well in the preliminary activities. She placed third overall after winning medals in the Evening Gown and Talent competitions. Winning the Miss Philippines Australia 2013 title seems to have played much to her advantage. In terms of facial beauty, she is the best among the international delegates. Her styling and wardrobe are good. Melanie also seems well-versed in environmental causes, too. It wouldn’t be a surprise if she places higher come coronation night.

liloanMiss Fire: Liloan, Cebu – Crystal Star Aberasturi
Another darling of the press is the the bubbly Crystal who won bronze medals for the Talent and Swimsuit competitions. Her beauty fits the mold of former MPE winners Karla Henry and Stephany Stefanowitz. She is a natural charmer but at times her styling is bordering tacky. All she needs to do is improve her look to make herself more classy.

gapanMiss Water: Gapan City – Ma. Paula Bianca Paz
Bianca started out strong in the competition, having won silver medals from the Trash to Class and Hairstyling Challenges. She was also among the Darlings of the Press. It seems she has lost momentum though when other girls started to bloom. But being a pageant veteran (she tried out for Bb Pilipinas twice and was 3rd princess in Miss World Philippines n 2011 and 2013), she shouldn’t be counted out just yet. Bianca is a performer on stage and when coupled with the perfect look she could do real damage in the competition.

staritaMiss Air: Sta. Rita, Pampanga – Angelie Crizelle Ocampo
If there is one girl who is giving Miss Cebu a good fight, that would be Angelie. This Pampangueña nailed every pageant activity with her charm and class. No wonder she placed second in the Reality in ME overall challenge. Her rigid preparations also paid of when she bagged silver and bronze medals in the Beachwear Styling, Swimsuit and Resorts Wear competitions. She also won medals for Make-up and Hairstyling challenges. It wouldn’t be surprising if this girl will take home the crown.

cebuMiss Philippines Earth 2014: Cebu City – Jamie Herrell
The girl to beat is the best way to describe Jamie. She was named as the overall winner of the Reality in ME (pre-pageant) challenge after winning five gold (Fun For A Cause, Darling of the Press, Resort Wear, Swimsuit, and Cultural Wear competitions), three silver (Catwalk, Talent – dance category, and Hair and Make-Up competitions) and two bronze medals (Trash to Class and Evening Gown competitions). This is her first national pageant but it can’t be denied that the Cebuana beauty has prepared for this moment.

She is among the most talked about delegates, but Jamie lives up to the hype. Naysayers claim she is too short to be a beauty queen, but Jamie has proven them otherwise. Her fresh and charming face, good physique and gift of gab make her a major force to reckon with in the competition.

Miss Philippines Earth 2014: Visayan beauties

Did you know that the first Miss Earth from the Philippines, Karla Henry, hails from Visayas? Will the next title-holder come from this region again?

miss-earth-rundown-20140506-cebu-liloan-dalagueteHeavy favorite Jamie Herrell (Cebu City) is a dance choreographer and acting student at the International Academy for Film and Television. No stranger to pageants, she won 3 titles last year: Sinulog Festival Queen 2013, Reyna ng Aliwan 2013 and Miss Tourism Ambassador of the Philippines 2013. She also joined Miss Resorts World Manila 2013 but failed to make it to the Top 5.

Another darling of the crowd is Crystal Star Aberasturi (Liloan, Cebu). A medical technologist by profession, she was Miss Cebu 2014 fourth runner-up. Pircelyn Pialago (Dalaguete, Cebu) is the anchor of PTV4’s Balitaan and a former news reporter for RPN-9.

miss-earth-rundown-20140506-rosario-iloilo-dumagueteShaimaa Al-Najjar (Rosario, Northern Samar), a 24-year-old model, joined the Miss Northern Samar pageant in 2012. She took up medical technology in Centro Escolar University. A licensed educator, Janica Ella Hondrade (Iloilo City) wants to use her background to teach students on how to appreciate the environment.

One of the tallest candidates at 5’11” is Filipino-American model Kimberly Covert (Dumaguete City) who is taking up music in Silliman University. She tried searching for her biological mother by posting her picture on the Internet. “I did find her through her family but I felt like I was too late. She passed away just two years from the time I found her.”

Who will be representing the country in the prestigious Miss Earth beauty pageant later this year? We will all find out at Miss Philippines Earth 2014 pageant night on May 11 at the Mall of Asia Arena.

This article also appeared on Rappler.