It’s official: Philippines to host 65th Miss Universe pageant

Miss Universe 2015 Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach addresses the crowd at the Bb Pilipinas 2016 coronation night held last April 17. (Photo by Drew Francisco/Misssology.Org)

Miss Universe Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach will be crowning her successor in her homeland!

The 65th edition of the Miss Universe pageant will be held in the Philippines on January 30, 2016 at the Mall of Asia Arena, Philippine tourism secretary Wanda Corazon Teo confirmed in a press conference on July 28 .

“The government is not going to spend any single centavo. It will be the private sector who would shoulder the expenses,” Teo added, following Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte’s earlier statement that he would not spend government funds on the pageant. The hosting expenses will amount to $11 million.

Wurtzbach and officials of the Miss Universe organization went to the country on July 18 to discuss the proposals for hosting the pageant with President Duterte .

Manila hosted the Miss Universe for the first time in 1974, which saw Miss Universe 1973 Margarita Moran from the Philippines crown Amparo Muñoz of Spain. The pageant came back to the country in 1994 with India’s Sushmita Sen winning the title.

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The Top 10 finalists of Miss Universe 1994, held in Manila, Philippines.

Miss Universe 2015 | Fearless Predictions

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MISS UNIVERSE is a title wanted and dreamed of by many girls across the globe, but won by so few. This year, 80 ladies from all walks of life gathered in Las Vegas, Nevada in USA for the chance to be among those very few who will experience that life-changing moment of becoming Miss Universe.

There have been clear front-runners from the start and have cemented their crown-contender status during the preliminary competition. Some ladies have also come out of their cocoons and are ready to fight for their spot. So at this point in time, it is still anybody’s ball game.

But before Paulina Vega passes on the DIC crown to her successor, here are 15 girls who, in my humble opinion, are the likely contenders for the 2015 title.

ALMOST THERE (16-20): INDIA, PERU, GEORGIA, SPAIN and KOSOVO

India’s Urvashi Rautela was a heavy favorite going into the competition. Her inconsistent styling throughout the competition and her over-the-top prelims performance made her star shine less bright.

Peru’s Laura Spoya was another top pick among pageant followers early on in the competition. However, it seemed she is in dire need of rest as she lacked the winning spark during the prelims. However, that Sports Illustrated ready body could pull her scores up.

A pleasant surprise, Georgia’s Janet Kerdikoshvili is one of the best faces in the competition. With her decent swimwear performance and very high-fashion long gown presentation, it won’t be suprising of this Miss World 2011 candidate makes the cut.

Spain’s Carla Garcia was another Miss World crossover. She was expected to deliver a top-notch performance during the prelims given that she was a Top 15 semifinalist in MW 2011. However, she lacked the freshness and looked mature especially in the evening gown round.

Kosovo’s Mirjeta Shala has one of the most stunning faces in the competition. She’s ready to hit the runway and the fashion magazines. Her haute couture gown is a love-it-or-hate-it type but she worked it well she deserved to be mentioned.

TOP 15

15 | GREAT BRITAIN

Nena France, Miss Great Britain 2015, competes on stage in her evening gown during The 2015 MISS UNIVERSE® Preliminary Show at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino Wednesday, December 16, 2015. The 2015 Miss Universe contestants are touring, filming, rehearsing and preparing to compete for the DIC Crown in Las Vegas. Tune in to the FOX telecast at 7:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed on Sunday, Dec. 20, from Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas to see who will become Miss Universe 2015. HO/The Miss Universe Organization

Nena France’s prelims performance was just right. She was sexy in swimsuit but that lame evening gown could almost ruin her chances. Despite that, her natural charisma and beauty just shone through. She might have a weak sash, but could pull off a surprise. Just change that gown, ASAP!

14 | NETHERLANDS

Jessie Jazz Vuijk, Miss Netherlands 2015, competes on stage in her evening gown during The 2015 MISS UNIVERSE® Preliminary Show at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino Wednesday, December 16, 2015. The 2015 Miss Universe contestants are touring, filming, rehearsing and preparing to compete for the DIC Crown in Las Vegas. Tune in to the FOX telecast at 7:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed on Sunday, Dec. 20, from Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas to see who will become Miss Universe 2015. HO/The Miss Universe Organization

Not mentioned by most pageant observers due to her forgettable prelims performance. But Jessie Jazz Vuijk made a mark because of her lovely personality. The shy-type beauty might not fit the bill of a Miss Universe, but if given the proper styling she could pull off a surprise like her predecessor.

13 | THAILAND

Aniporn Chalermburanawong, Miss Thailand 2015, competes on stage in her evening gown during The 2015 MISS UNIVERSE® Preliminary Show at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino Wednesday, December 16, 2015. The 2015 Miss Universe contestants are touring, filming, rehearsing and preparing to compete for the DIC Crown in Las Vegas. Tune in to the FOX telecast at 7:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed on Sunday, Dec. 20, from Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas to see who will become Miss Universe 2015. HO/The Miss Universe Organization

One thing to like about Aniporn Chalermburanawong is that she is always wel-dressed. She brought her faboulous wardrobe in Vegas! She was always perfectly styled and this carried through the prelims. To be honest, she had all the ingredients of a winning look in the evening gown segment. She is the best Thailand has ever sent since 2007.

12 | FINLAND

Rosa-Maria Ryyti, Miss Finland 2015, competes on stage in her evening gown during The 2015 MISS UNIVERSE® Preliminary Show at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino Wednesday, December 16, 2015. The 2015 Miss Universe contestants are touring, filming, rehearsing and preparing to compete for the DIC Crown in Las Vegas. Tune in to the FOX telecast at 7:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed on Sunday, Dec. 20, from Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas to see who will become Miss Universe 2015. HO/The Miss Universe Organization

The last time a Finnish delegate made an impact in MU was in 2011, however that girl still missed the cut. This year, Rosa-Maria Ryyti was one of the surprises of the prelims. Rosa nailed every segment of the preliminaries. She got a banging body that complements her tanned skin. While that gown might be a little dated, she still worked it well. That beautiful face shouldn’t be ignored!

11 | PARAGUAY

Myriam Arevalos, Miss Paraguay 2015, competes on stage in her evening gown during The 2015 MISS UNIVERSE® Preliminary Show at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino Wednesday, December 16, 2015. The 2015 Miss Universe contestants are touring, filming, rehearsing and preparing to compete for the DIC Crown in Las Vegas. Tune in to the FOX telecast at 7:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed on Sunday, Dec. 20, from Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas to see who will become Miss Universe 2015. HO/The Miss Universe Organization

One of the less favored Latinas, Myriam Arevalos rose to “hot favorite” status after her solid performance during the preliminaries. She was the bomb in swimsuit, and was elegance personified in evening gown round. This shouldn’t come as a surprise because she is already a pageant veteran. She competed in Miss World 2014 and was first runner-up in Miss United Continents early this year.

TOP 10

10 | VIETNAM

Huong Pham, Miss Vietnam 2015, competes on stage in her evening gown during The 2015 MISS UNIVERSE® Preliminary Show at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino Wednesday, December 16, 2015. The 2015 Miss Universe contestants are touring, filming, rehearsing and preparing to compete for the DIC Crown in Las Vegas. Tune in to the FOX telecast at 7:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed on Sunday, Dec. 20, from Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas to see who will become Miss Universe 2015. HO/The Miss Universe Organization

Finally, a Vietnamese girl we’re all gonna like if she enters the semis. It isn’t that had to take notice of Hương Phạm because she is very visible. She’s one of the most photographed candidates and despite not being the most photogenic, this girl knows how to work her angles. She might not be the girl with the polished pageant walk, but she sure knows how to work on stage. With a strong fan base, it won’t be a surprise if she makes it all the way through to the final round.

09 | VENEZUELA

Mariana Jimenez, Miss Venezuela 2015, competes on stage in her evening gown during The 2015 MISS UNIVERSE® Preliminary Show at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino Wednesday, December 16, 2015. The 2015 Miss Universe contestants are touring, filming, rehearsing and preparing to compete for the DIC Crown in Las Vegas. Tune in to the FOX telecast at 7:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed on Sunday, Dec. 20, from Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas to see who will become Miss Universe 2015. HO/The Miss Universe Organization

Mariana Jimenez is probably the most unpopular Miss Venezuela since Vanessa Goncalves. However, you have to give it to Mariana because she is a performer on stage. She’s got one of the best bodies in the competition. However, styling is her waterloo. That evening gown look looks so out of date! But as the saying goes, never count Venezuela out.

08 | FRANCE

Flora Coquerel, Miss France 2015, competes on stage in her evening gown during The 2015 MISS UNIVERSE® Preliminary Show at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino Wednesday, December 16, 2015. The 2015 Miss Universe contestants are touring, filming, rehearsing and preparing to compete for the DIC Crown in Las Vegas. Tune in to the FOX telecast at 7:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed on Sunday, Dec. 20, from Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas to see who will become Miss Universe 2015. HO/The Miss Universe Organization

Flora Coquerel is bordering boring. Sure, she got a well-proportioned body and the height that could make her more noticeable. But the walk, the hair and the prelims performance was just so underwhelming. Despite this, she remains one of the most elegant candidates in the competition. Just find the perfect hairstyle!

07 | BRAZIL

Marthina Brandt, Miss Brazil 2015, competes on stage in her evening gown during The 2015 MISS UNIVERSE® Preliminary Show at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino Wednesday, December 16, 2015. The 2015 Miss Universe contestants are touring, filming, rehearsing and preparing to compete for the DIC Crown in Las Vegas. Tune in to the FOX telecast at 7:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed on Sunday, Dec. 20, from Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas to see who will become Miss Universe 2015. HO/The Miss Universe Organization

The streak will continue for Brazil with Marthina Brandt. With that sexy body and long legs make her a sight to behold in swimsuit. But the highlight was her evening gown performance. Aside from the fact that she got one of the best and most intricate gowns, she was oozing with sophistication. She just needs to freshen up her hairstyle, but overall she’s a strong candidate.

06 | AUSTRALIA
Monika Radulovic made a good first impression with the short interview clip posted on the Miss Universe page during the arrivals. She was bubbly, well-spoken and naturally beautiful. But during the prelims, she has shown that she’s a well-rounded beauty. She could do real damage in the swimsuit round with her good body. Her dress is bordering tacky but her sexy yet classy demeanor offsets that.

TOP 5

05 | IRELAND

Joanna Cooper, Miss Ireland 2015, competes on stage in her evening gown during The 2015 MISS UNIVERSE® Preliminary Show at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino Wednesday, December 16, 2015. The 2015 Miss Universe contestants are touring, filming, rehearsing and preparing to compete for the DIC Crown in Las Vegas. Tune in to the FOX telecast at 7:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed on Sunday, Dec. 20, from Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas to see who will become Miss Universe 2015. HO/The Miss Universe Organization

The biggest surprise of the prelims is the alluring Joanna Cooper. This Cara Delevigne deadringer was too strong in both prelimimary rounds she is just too hard to ignore. Yes, she’s not that tall and she looks skinny, but with IMG taking over MUO now, she might just set a trend. Sultry yet classy, this girl is in my “gamble” spot in the Top 5.

04 | COLOMBIA

Ariadna Gutierrez, Miss Colombia 2015, competes on stage in her evening gown during The 2015 MISS UNIVERSE® Preliminary Show at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino Wednesday, December 16, 2015. The 2015 Miss Universe contestants are touring, filming, rehearsing and preparing to compete for the DIC Crown in Las Vegas. Tune in to the FOX telecast at 7:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed on Sunday, Dec. 20, from Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas to see who will become Miss Universe 2015. HO/The Miss Universe Organization

Ariadna Gutierrez got a commanding walk that makes her standout from the rest. While the gown might be a little underwhelming and a bit similar to that of Paulina Vega last year, Ariadna exudes real queenly vibes that are just too hard to ignore. You can infer that she prepared a lot and a back-to-back victory isn’t far-fetched.

FINAL THREE
Before I even get started with my Top 3, let me just say that these girls have been my three top favorites since pre-arrivals and it gave me head and heart aches choosing who among them should be my winner. But I had to make a decision and here it is.

2nd runner-up | DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Clarissa Molina, Miss Dominican Republic 2015, competes on stage in her evening gown during The 2015 MISS UNIVERSE® Preliminary Show at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino Wednesday, December 16, 2015. The 2015 Miss Universe contestants are touring, filming, rehearsing and preparing to compete for the DIC Crown in Las Vegas. Tune in to the FOX telecast at 7:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed on Sunday, Dec. 20, from Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas to see who will become Miss Universe 2015. HO/The Miss Universe Organization

Clarissa Molina has the aura of a queen the moment she set her foot in Vegas. She has her guns fully loaded, with stunning official photos and on point styling. But she fortified her front-runner status during the prelims where she showed off her youthful beauty and very sexy body. Her evening gown reminds us of Zuleyka Rivera but one couldn’t deny how phenomenal Clarissa worked it. There’s not stopping this former Nuestra Belleza Latina girl from the competition.

1st runner-up | USA

Olivia Jordan, Miss USA 2015, competes on stage in her evening gown during The 2015 MISS UNIVERSE® Preliminary Show at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino Wednesday, December 16, 2015. The 2015 Miss Universe contestants are touring, filming, rehearsing and preparing to compete for the DIC Crown in Las Vegas. Tune in to the FOX telecast at 7:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed on Sunday, Dec. 20, from Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas to see who will become Miss Universe 2015. HO/The Miss Universe Organization

Already polished the moment she was crowned Miss USA, Olivia Jordan has all the qualities to look for in a Miss Universe – beautiful, sexy, smart and confident. Despite her experience in competing in Miss World, Olivia said when she won Miss Oklahoma that it has always been her dream to be Miss Universe. And now that the moment has finally come after a few attempts, Olivia isn’t taking everything lightly. She was one of the top performers in the prelims and her vibarant personality always shines through. Setting aside homecourt advantage, expect Olivia to be up there til the end.

MISS UNIVERSE 2015 | PHILIPPINES
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Despite five consecutive placements since 2010, the Miss Univere crown has remained elusive to the Philippines. Year after year, the road ends in a heartbreak, but the hope never waned that one day there will be that girl who will have all the qualities to win the coveted crown. After more than four decades, it seems the dream of a third MU crown if finally within reach.

It took Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach three years before her dream of wearing the Philippines sash in Miss Universe finally came true. It wasn’t an easy road with all the bashing and doubting of her intentions and chances, but Pia didn’t back down. She proved naysayers wrong with her determination. Her body has improved a lot, but it didn’t suck the freshness in Pia. She did not disappoint during the prelims. Unlike most girls, her swimsuit presentation wasn’t rushed. She was very sophisticated in that tomato red Oliver Tolentino gown and definitely miled every moment of it to her advantage. All she needs if she advances further is a stunning tailor-made winning gown.

The Philippines has finally sent a girl with a stunning face, a queenly personality, and the gift of gab. A girl finally worthy of accolades and the hype. It’s high time for a Miss Universe from the Philippines!

Pia Wurtzbach wows in Miss Universe 2015 prelims

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Miss Universe Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach emerged as one of the favorites at the preliminary competition of the 64th Miss Universe pageant.

Watch her full performance here:

 

The 26-year-old actress and model competed against 79 other candidates in the prelims, which will determine who will make it as semifinalists during the finals night at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, on December 20 (December 21, Philippine time).

Pia wore a tomato red gown by Oliver Tolentino during the evening gown competition.

 

Miss Universe 2015 | Preliminary Swim wear Competition

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The 2015 Miss Universe comtestants compete on stage in Yamamay swimwear featuring footwear by Chinese Laundry during The 2015 MISS UNIVERSE® Preliminary Show at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino Wednesday, December 16, 2015. (HO/The Miss Universe Organization)

Watch List: Miss Universe 2015

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THE MOST beautiful ladies in the world are ready to battle it out for that D.I.C crown and the life-changing title of Miss Universe.

A few days from now, reigning queen Paulina Vega of Colombia will pass on the crown in glittering ceremonies at The AXIS in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. But before that, let me present to you THE WATCH LIST, which is obviously a list of the girls I am keeping an eye out before tonight’s preliminary competition. Let’s get this started!

SECURED | These girls are leading at the moment and are almost secured of a placement if nothing else fails
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COLOMBIA | Ariadna Gutierrez probably has the heaviest burden among the candidates: the pressure of a back-to-back victory. But it looks like this 21-year-old cat lover is taking everything lightly. She has a radiant personality, but remains in competitive form. Her styling is always on point and she doesn’t rely on Colombia being the “defending champion” to get noticed. She is a true standout!

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC | If there is one girl who is slowly but surely climbing to the top spot, it’s Clarissa Molina. This 24-year-old aspiring actress has the aura of a queen the moment she set her foot in Vegas. She exudes so much sophistication, which is very evident in her official evening gown portrait. She has a youthful beauty yet a sexy body. We might be looking at the next titleholder.

PHILIPPINES | She waited for this for three years, and now that the moment has finally come, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach is leaving no stone unturned. Her body has improved a lot. She never fails to give something new in terms of styling. It couldn’t be denied that this 26-year-old actress and model is well-prepared. Hopes are high that the Philippines will finally win its third MU crown. With a phenomenal long gown (hopefully) and a strong support system back home, it might just become a reality.

VIETNAM | An early favorite prior to arrivals, Huong Pham‘s edge over the other candidates is her vivacious personality. She might not have the flawless face, but she has a banging body and stage presence that will give the traditional powerhouses a run for their money. It is very seldom that this country sends a top-notch delegate, so this girl shouldn’t be wasted!

USA | Olivia Jordan is one lady who has all the goods of a perfect titleholder – beautiful, sexy, smart and confident. She’s already polished from the moment she won Miss USA. Her vibrant personality is also one of the plus factors why this lady remains a top favorite. Home-court advantage aside, the pageant won’t be complete without Olivia

SAFE | Neither outstanding nor disappointing, these girls are in the safe zone at the moment
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AUSTRALIA | Monika Radulovic exudes so much positive energy in all of the photos and videos posted online that makes her so easy to love. Her official photos are impressive. She might not be the “blonde beauty” prototype the Land Down Under used to send in MU, but that adorable personality and refreshing beauty could bring her to the finals.

BRAZIL | This country has been sending outstanding delegates to MU and this year is no exception! Marthina Brandt stands out with her towering height and mesmerizing beauty. She has one of the best evening gown portraits and if that’s a preview of what she will wear in the prelims, expect another placement for Brazil in the semis.

FRANCE | From her non-placement in Miss World 2014 (despite leading the scoreboard after the judges’ interviews) Flora Coquerel is back in the pageant scene. And it seems she is more suited for this pageant. Her exotic looks, modelesque stance and sophistication perfectly fits the MU mold.

PARAGUAY | The most pleasant surprise. This is the perfect phrase to describe Myriam Arevalos in MU. She’s nailing every photo shoot. She initially looked too heavy and matured, but she now shows a marked improvement. Her styling is always on point. This girl shouldn’t be taken lightly.

VENEZUELA | Mariana Jimenez is here to prove that the Osmel magic lives on. From last year’s Miss Veneuela pageant, it’s very obvious that Mariana has greatly improved. Her features are softer now and she has the bosy of an Amazona. She looks try and haggard at times, but this girl is undeniably well-trained.

VULNERABLE | They were expected to do good during pre-arrivals but are yet to live up to the hype. They have the potential to place, but needs to work on their weaknesses
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INDIA | Urvashi Rautela was supposed to compete in 2012 but was replaced by her runner-up due to age requirements. Three years later, she’s now enjoying her time in Vegas wearing the “India” sash and has been very visible since Day 1. (Reminds me so much of Monic Perez in 2013). While she is considered a contender, it seems that the 21-year-old Bollywood star is yet to find the perfect styling for her. Most of the time, she looks too made up making her look older. But with India ready to reclaim its lost pageant glory, she shouldn’t be counted out just yet.

MEXICO | Thanks to IMG taking over MUO, Wendy Esparza got the chance to finally compete in Miss Universe. She was a top favorite to win NB Mexico and has been a favorite among pageant followers since winning the title. However, the 24-year-old journalist is yet to make an impact in the competition. Her official photos are a hit, but most of the time she is bordering boring. She needs to bring out that energy that she had during her national pageant.

PERU | Laura Spoya‘s first candid photos in Vegas were disappointing. She looked really tired and in need of beauty rest. But she made up for it in her official photos that were very outstanding. It couldn’t be denied that this 24-year-old sports journalist got that Sports Illustrated cover-worthy body! She might be a hit-and-miss for now, but wait it she hits the stage.

POLAND | Weronika Szmajdzińska is no stranger to pageants. She first joined Miss World 2012 and won Miss Global Teen 2012 the same year. Despite this, it comes as a surprise that with her sweet face and captivating radiant smile, she isn’t given much attention. She needs to add a more fire to her performance to keep up with the rest.

SPAIN | Another Miss World crossover queen is Carla Garcia. Back then her sheer elegance and queenly aura brought her to the semifinals. Much are expected from her given how strong her two predecessors were. However, this 25-year-old beauty is yet to leave a lasting impression in the Miss Universe competition. She needs a fresh makeover ASAP!

MINORITY | The underrated girls who have potential to go far in the competition4.png

DENMARK | Cecilie Wellemberg describes herself as competitive. No wonder, this 21-year-old student at Copenhagen Business School started out strong since arrivals. She gave out impressive photos, both candid and professional. She’s also serious with keeping her body fit, trying to squeeze in some exercises despite busy Vegas schedule. This country seems to be taking their pageants seriously this year so don’t be surprised if Cecilie will rock the prelims stage.

FINLAND | Rosa-Maria Ryyti is a tomboy growing up, playing mostly with cars and PlayStation, so who would’ve thought she’ll end up in Miss Universe a few years later? This 21-year-old extreme-sports enthusiast has one of the most interesting faces among the contestants. At 5’11”, she also has a nice frame.

GREAT BRITAIN | Friends describe her as awkward and reserved, no wonder Nena France has been taking the backseat so far in the competition. Despite this, it couldn’t be denied that the 25-year-old beauty from London has a sweet smile and refreshing face that could light up a room! She is yet to make a mark in the competition, but I’m pretty confident she will do well in the prelims. After all, she does modelling for a living.

INDONESIA | Anindya Putri has big shoes to fill following Indonesia’s two consecutive semifinals placement in Miss Universe. But given how this 23-year-old lady strives to excel in everything she does, it won’t be a surprise if she makes it a three-peat. What’s surprising is the seeming lack of spotlight toward this 5’9″ Semarang City native. Compared to her two predecessors, Anin is more polished. She might be under the radar for many at the moment , but expect her exotic beauty to shine in the preliminaries.

SWEDEN | Paulina Brodd hopes to follow the footsteps of her mom who was Miss Sweden in 1992 and placed in the Top 10 of Miss Universe that same year. This 21-year-old fitness blogger and animal rights advocate has what it takes to make it: a beautiful face, a regal stance and the pedigree. Paulina needs to make good use of these goods in order to make herself memorable in the competition. At the moment, she is just apretty but forgettable face. PageantFocus

Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach is Miss Universe Philippines 2015; Janicel Lubina bags Bb Pilipinas-International

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Third time’s the charm indeed for Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach as she finally won the elusive Miss Universe Philippines crown during the Bb Pilipinas 2015 coronation night held Sunday night, March 15.

The 25-year-old professional model and culinary arts graduate from Cagayan De Oro bested 33 other candidates for the chance to represent the Philippines in the Miss Universe beauty pageant. She finished first runner-up in 2013 and made it to the Top 15 last year.

During the Q&A round, Wurtzbach was asked by Representative Leni Robredo about her thoughts on internet censorship.

“I think that we should be careful with what we post online especially our thoughts and our opinions that we don’t hurt anybody. Especially selfies, we have to be careful with what we post, especially with our bodies and our faces. So always think before you click,” she said.

The other winners
Janicel Lubina, who bagged the Best in Long Gown and Best in Swimsuit awards, took home the Bb Pilipinas International 2015. Christi Lynn McGarry won the Bb Pilipinas Intercontinental 2015 title, Rogelie Catacutan was named Bb Pilipinas Supranational 2015, while Ann Lorraine Colis was crowned Bb Pilipinas Tourism 2015.

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Hannah Ruth Sison finished first runner-up while Kimverlyn Suiza was second runner-up. Sison was last year’s second runner-up while Suiza failed to make the cut last year.

The rest of the Top 15 were Princess Joy Camu, Brenna Cassandra Gamboa, Teresita Ssen Marquez, Maolin Yalung, Alaiza Flor Malinao, Justine Beatrice Felizarta, Anja Vanessa Peter and Kylie Versorza.

Photos: Missosology

Bb Pilipinas 2015: Top 10 girls at the press presentation

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One of the highly anticipated events in Bb Pilipinas is the press presentation. This gives pageant observers a glimpse of the candidates’ catwalk skills, stage presence and overall impact. Here is where you get to classify who the frontrunners are from the rest of the batch.

This year, the girls slayed the runway in their red bikinis last February 19 at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila. From 34 candidates, here are the 10 candidates that stood out.

3210: Danita Joan Ruazol (Binibini 32)
Danita was channeling Ariella Arida with her straight silky black hair and shoulder movements during the swimsuit presentation. This girl from Cavinti, Laguna is underrated, but her surprisingly good pasarela skillls could work to her advantage.

2909: Nancy Lee Leonard (Binibini 29)
Nancy’s stage presence is commendable and she definitely commands attention. However, there are times that she tends to overdo her turns and poses. Her hairstyle was a mess, but that winsome smile saved her styling. Her overall look has improved compared to her Miss Philippines Earth stint.

3008: Patricia Lae Ejercitado (Binibini 30)
Patricia is now on her third and final attempt at clinching the crown and she’s not leaving any stone unturned. And her press presentation performance just proved she is a pro. Fierce, snappy and remarkable!

1207: Kylie Verzosa (Binibini 12)
No wonder Kylie was among Cosmopolitan Philippines’ 8 sexiest models for 2013. She had the right amount of sweetness and sexiness in her presentation. Also, she doesn’t need to put too much make-up on. Her natural beauty just shines through.

2406: Ann Lorraine Colis (Binibini 24)
Mix Nina Ricci Alagao and Bianca Manalo and you get Ann Lorraine. She might be a newbie in Bb Pilipinas, but this girl is getting much attention for her serene beauty. Her performance also didn’t rely on exagerrated moves. She was elegance personified.

2805: Hannah Ruth Sison (Binibini 28)
Hannah’s performance during the press presentation is probably the best I’ve seen from her since her Bb Pilipinas 2013 stint. She was snappy but graceful, and her overall styling was very queenly.

1004: Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach (Binibini 10)
Compared to her first two attempts, Pia looks more relaxed now. In a sea of fierce performances, Pia’s soft but elegant presentation worked to her advantage. While she needs to shed a few more pounds to bring back her 2013 figure, you just couldn’t ignore that strong, beautiful face.

1903: Christi Lynn McGarry (Binibini 19)
Definitely someone to watch out for as the pageant progresses is the tall and beautiful Christi. Her svelte look and polished walk, plus the ponytail make her a standout. In case you need a refresher, Christi joined Mutya ng Pilipinas in 2010 and was sent to the Miss Intercontinental where she placed in the Top 15. That speaks a lot about this girl’s global appeal.

3402: Teresita Ssen Marquez (Binibini 34)
Wynwyn proved she is more than just a celebrity daughter. Her performance was one of the most memorable, despite the fact that she is among the shortest in the group (she’s 5’5″). Those snappy turns and the way she threw that sarong made a strong impact. The styling was perfect, too, highlighting her exotic look.

1101: Janicel Lubina (Binibini 11)
There is no surprise why Janicel is one of the most anticipated candidates in this year’s edition. While she is the youngest in the batch, this girl definitely delivers on stage. Her well-proportioned body was a sight to behold, and those hip movements definitely screams Miss Universe! Her humble background makes her relatable, too.

This was first published in Missosology.Org.

Bb Pilipinas 2014: Post-pageant review

Mary Jean Lastimosa gets emotional as she was proclaimed Miss Universe Philippines 2014. ALL PHOTOS FROM RAPPLER
Mary Jean Lastimosa gets emotional as she was proclaimed Miss Universe Philippines 2014. ALL PHOTOS FROM RAPPLER
Mary Jean Lastimosa, center, gets emotional as she was proclaimed Miss Universe Philippines 2014. ALL PHOTOS FROM RAPPLER

THERE was only one crown left to be awarded and Mary Jean Lastimosa was there, standing beside last year’s runner-up, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach.

It felt just like the coronation night of 2012 – only the Bb Pilipinas – Universe crown had not been awarded, and Lastimosa was standing beside her fellow runner-up of the previous year when the host announced, “Binibini 18 Janine Mari Tugonon!” It was a heart-breaking moment for Lastimosa.

Lastimosa must have recalled that moment, on the coronation night on March 30, just after Bea Rose Santiago crowned Mary Anne Guidotti her successor as Bb Pilipinas – International.

This was Lastimosa’s third and last attempt at going for a Bb Pilipinas crown. It was all or nothing for her.

When she was finally crowned Bb Pilipinas – Universe, her dreams came true.

Unexpected, but well-deserved

Lastimosa during the long gown competition

Many pageant observers didn’t see it coming that Lastimosa would be crowned Miss Universe Philippines 2014 on Sunday night. While she was among the most cheered on candidates, many thought the battle would be between last year’s first runner-up Pia Wurtzbach, Cebuana beauty Kris Tiffany Janson, and Bicolana Yvethe Marie Santiago. But the Binibini third-timer proved there’s no limit to what one can achieve.

Compared to her two previous attempts, Lastimosa looked more relaxed this year. It was obvious she was enjoying every moment, but her competitive spirit never waned. She showed off a healthy, toned body during the swimsuit competition. She was sassy and sexy, and look how she played with the fan – it was the best performance that night. Then, she sashayed with elegance in her fuchsia sweetheart evening gown. Her wide smile, good styling and fluid walk truly made her stand out.

Winning the Best in Swimsuit award was a good sign that Lastimosa would go home with a crown. But it was the Q&A portion that must have sealed the deal for her.

The crowd cheered when Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler asked her what the greatest advantage of being a woman is. She replied: “The greatest advantage of being a woman is being able to compose herself. Just like here, we’re standing in front of thousands of people, not knowing if they’re going to cheer for us or boo us. But we try to compose ourselves. We keep the emotions and show the beauty that is in us and tonight, thousands of people are standing here, celebrating the beauty of women.”

It was a heartfelt response. Lastimosa didn’t let pressure take over. She was every inch a queen.

Chances at Miss Universe
Lastimosa has big shoes to fill following the Philippines’ four consecutive runner-up finishes at Miss Universe. But one thing’s for sure: if she was able to beat the odds in Bb Pilipinas, it’s not impossible for her to take home the coveted Miss Universe crown. Lastimosa is already polished, but she still needs to undergo rigid training to maintain that pageant-ready figure, improve her communication skills and personality, among many other things, in order to package her as a Miss Universe candidate.

But her greatest advantage is that she already got training from two of the best pageant camps in the country. She was formerly under Jonas Gaffud’s Aces & Queens who was behind former Miss Universe Philippines titleholders Venus Raj, Shamcey Supsup, Janine Tugonon and Ariella Arida. She is now with Kagandahang Flores, the team behind Miss International winners Precious Lara Quigaman and Bea Rose Santiago.

Other queens
Joining Lastimosa as the new torch-bearers of the Philippines in international pageants are Mary Anne Bianca Guidotti (Bb Pilipinas-International), Kris Tiffany Janson (Bb Pilipinas-Intercontinental), Yvethe Marie Santiago (Bb Pilipinas-Supranational) and Parul Shah (Bb Pilipinas-Tourism). Finishing as first and second runners-up are Laura Lehmann and Hannah Ruth Sison, respectively.

Guidotti and Santiago will be facing a big challenge this year: to score back-to-back wins for the country in the Miss International and Miss Supranational pageants.

Bb Pilipinas International 2014: Mary Anne Bianca Guidotti
Meanwhile, Guidotti’s win came as a surprise to me. While she was able to bag the Best in Long Gown award for her stellar performance and elegance, I thought her answer could’ve been meatier. She was asked about using the crown to push for her advocacy should she win, and she said she would “use [the] crown to influence people to adopt their own advocacies.”

Despite this, there’s no denying Guidotti is classy. Also she speaks well which is one of the qualities of Miss International winners. The Philippines seems to have mastered the art of placing in this Japan-based pageant. Winning the title is a long shot for now, but I’m confident Guidotti can give us our 7th consecutive placement.

Bb Pilipinas Supranational 2014: Yvethe Marie Santiago
The Big Dome went wild each time Santiago hit the stage. She had lots of supporters at the venue, and she was also deserving of the accolades. At one point, I really thought she was going to win the top title, especially after giving a good answer when she was asked about the inherent quality that makes Filipinas stand out in beauty pageants: ” I believe that the quality that every Filipina has that makes her stand out in a beauty pageant is confidence. We feel confident in our own skin and that makes us feel very beautiful.”

Santiago was at top of her game and was really among the best performers of the night. With her presentation skills, I’m confident she could keep the streak going for the Philippines in Miss Supranational.

Bb Pilipinas Intercontinental 2014: Kris Tiffany Janson

Janson was touted as the girl to beat prior to the coronation night, but her star lost its luster during the pageant. While she has one of the most beautiful faces, her performance in the first two rounds was underwhelming. However, she made up for it in the Q&A. She makes history as the first recipient of this title, but the biggest challenge for Janson is to bring home the country’s first Miss Intercontinental crown.

Bb Pilipinas Tourism 2014: Parul Shah

Shah’s overall look was perfect – the curly hair parted to one side, plus the shimmering gown. She was glowing and her presence was really commanding. She almost untied her bikini during the swimsuit round, but she still gave a solid performance. Her placement was solidified by her heartfelt response to the question given to her. Shah will surely give her co-candidates a good fight in Miss Tourism Queen International.

Surprises, upsets
The two runners-up, Lehmann and Sison, were the biggest surprises of the night. Laura was breezing through the competition, until the Q&A. She raised many eyebrows when she answered Amsterdam as the city that best describes her personality.

Hannah, meanwhile, made a big comeback after failing to make the cut the previous year. She gave one of the best and most diplomatic answers. “If I were to fall in love outside of my religion, I would. Because for me it’s not about what you are, you should not condemn any person because of their religion. Love is what you need to get into a relationship and that’s why I would marry someone or I would fall in love with someone who is not even part of my religion.”

The Top 15

Rounding up the Top 15 were Julian Aurine Flores, Joanna Angelica Romero, Pia Wurtzbach, Emma Mary Tiglao, Zahara Mae Soriano, Mae Liezel Ramos, Kenneth Santiago, Nichole Marie Manalo.

The inclusion of underdogs Joanna Angelica Romero and Zahara Mae Soriano came as a surprise. The performances of the two were totally forgettable. Add to that that Soriano had to ask the question again during the Q&A. Many pageant fans, myself included, though Kimverlyn Suiza, Angelique Celine De Leon and Diana Arevalo were far more deserving to be in the Top 15.

The biggest disappointments of the night were the exclusion of Arevalo in the Top 15 and Wurtzbach failing to get a crown. This was Arevalo’s third try in the pageant. After placing in 2009 and 2011, she was expected to still make as finalist this year. Her face was stunning and her swimsuit performance was solid, but the black evening gown must have cost her the placement. She lost her spark and her performance was dry.

Wurtzbach was breezing through the competition, but choosing to answer in the native tongue was a risk when judge Sen Sonny Angara asked her in Filipino. To be fair, she gave a good answer and the production should have given her time to translate it in English given that there were foreigners in the panel of judges. She has been very vocal about wanting to win the Miss Universe Philippines crown, but should not lose hope. She should take inspiration from Lastimosa.

Russian pop star Emin

The technical side
From the stage to the camera angles and the performances, the production made a huge improvement this year. The size of the stage was just right and was completely utilized. The swimsuit competition was very engaging and those fans, hats and masks gave it all a festive feel.

The decision not to have singers during the long gown competition was also a welcome move. While they could’ve chosen a better background music, the segment was regal and didn’t seem rushed.

The production numbers were good. The opening number was engaging and did a good job at setting the mood for the evening. Emin’s performance of “Amor” also made it seem like we were watching the Miss Universe final look segment.

Anne Curtis sings “Alone”

Anne Curtis was a joy to watch, but the highlight of the night was when she sang Heart’s “Alone” during the break, when the judges were deliberating the results. Xian Lim improved compared to his first Bb Pilipinas hosting stint in 2012. The three former titleholders Raj, Supsup and Tugonon also did well as side hosts. And let me just say they wore stunning gowns that night!

This year’s winners will try to keep the winning streak going for the Philippines in their respective international pageants. The pressure is always there, but with proper training and the drive to win, nothing is impossible.


This article also appeared on Rappler.

Pia Wurtzbach: Gracious in defeat

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A photo of Pia Wurtzbach which became viral online after the pageant night.
A photo of Pia Wurtzbach which became viral online after the pageant night.

The road to the Bb Pilipinas 2014 crowns finally ended with Mary Jean Lastimosa, a third-timer, winning the coveted Miss Universe Philippines crown. But as I celebrate with MJ for the well-deserved win, my heart bleeds for another former Binibini runner-up, Pia Wurtzbach.

Pia was touted as the girl to beat the day she decided to join again. She did everything, and the hunger to win a crown was evident. But in Sunday night, her dreams didn’t come into reality after she went home crownless. At the back of my mind I was thinking how painful it is for Pia. After being the only crownless girl last year in the Top 5, she did not even manage to make it to the Top 7 this year.

What went wrong? What it her styling? Was she over-baked? Was it a bad decision to answer in the native tongue knowing that the panel of judges include foreigners? I don’t want to pin the blame on anyone, because we all know Pia did her best that night. It’s just that in every contest, there will always be winners and losers. Maybe, it just wasn’t the right time for her.

It was comforting to see Pia’s instagram post after the pageant: “GRATEFUL that I was able to experience what it’s like to be a part of the pageant world. When I placed 1st RU last year, I gave all my time, effort & love to my job. I had so much fun! I just tried again because I wanted to know of this was really meant for me. But how do you know if you don’t take chances, right? I’m glad I made it this far. No doubt that I learned so much from it. I’m a better person now than I was a year ago. Thank you to my mentors from Aces & Queens for teaching me everything I know & transforming me! & to my supporters for pushing me & encouraging me. THANK YOU!! Time to turn the page & move on to a new chapter! ”

Pia earned my respect for being gracious in defeat. RIght after MJ was called, she was smiling and clapping for her. And this post just shows how good and grateful person she is.

Whatever she decides to do now, and whatever plans she have, I will definitely support her.

 

Experts weigh in: Pia, Diana, Kris top picks for Bb Pilipinas 2014

Pia Wurtzbach, Diana Arevalo, Kris Tiffany Janson
THE EXPERTS' PICKS. Pia Wurtzbach, Diana Arevalo, Kris Tiffany Janson
THE EXPERTS’ PICKS. Pia Wurtzbach, Diana Arevalo, Kris Tiffany Janson

The pageant experts have spoken!

After weeks of following every candidate’s move, the three pageant message boards released their top bets for Binibining Pilipinas 2014.

Missosology is betting on last year’s first runner-up, Pia Alonzo WurtzbachSash Factor is putting its money on Kris Tiffany Janson, who was awarded Best in National Costume a week ago. Yours truly’s prediction, published on Rappler, has Janson, too, for Miss Universe Philippines.

Meanwhile, OPMB Worldwide predicts a darkhorse will clinch the top plum, and she’s Diana Arevalo, who finished as finalist in 2009 and 2011 editions for bb Pilipinas.

Whose predictions will prevail? We’ll find out at the conclusion of the Coronation Night today. But I will be very happy and satisfied if anyone among the three gets the top crown.

Please follow Missosology Philippines on Facebook for real-time updates on tonight’s finals.