|The 65th Miss Universe ('Miss Universe 2016') Beauty Pageant. Are you ready?|
|Outgoing Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach|
from the Philippines. (Image Courtesy from
Pia Wurtzbach Official Facebook Page)
With WME/IMG's new format of selecting their winner, the competition gets even much stiffer ever than before. The new set of competition rules (you can click here for more details of it) are primarily designed to come up with a victor who has the 'Pia factor' - one who is not only physically beautiful but also a woman of substance, wit, character and confidence. Indeed, with Pia Wurtzbach's excellent reign as Miss Universe, she has set the bar higher for the future Miss Universe titleholders.
The Miss Universe Organization has assured its fans and global audience that a fair and just competition will be feted for everyone. In fact, there will be no Filipino judge in the Preliminaries as well as in the Finals to eliminate the notion of possible biases towards its fellow compatriot. And unlike in Miss World, there will definitely be NO reigning national directors who will be in the panel of judges. The Miss Universe Organization upholds its core value of honesty, integrity and fairness. So now without further ado, let's proceed to my top bets for the crown. Let's begin with, Panama.
9. Panama (Keity Drennan) - It's not every year that Panama sends a Miss Universe calibre like Keity Drennan and this country has only been crowned once in Miss Universe since its inception, courtesy of Justine Pasek who ascended to the throne when the original winner Oxana Fedorova of Russia was dethroned in 2002. And this time, I believe that the moment is ripe again for Panama to reap its second Miss Universe crown which Keity deservedly so. It is easy to point out the strengths that enables Keity to shine among the pool of possible contenders this year with stronger sash factors. Keity has a universally-appealing persona on top of her bombshell frame which is too hard to ignore and I bet the judges would notice this.
8. Thailand - (Chalita Suansane) - She has exceeded everyone's expectation. I never expected that this girl could go this far. She's been making waves with her impressive performance since day one of the competition and her charm and elegance are just undeniable. Suffice it to say, she has the winning aura of a Miss Universe titleholder. If only she is as eloquent as her predecessor Miss Universe 1988 Porntip Nakhirunkanok, there is no doubt that she will win this year's edition. With the Miss Universe Organization under the new management that gives supreme importance and emphasis on the ability of its winner to speak and interview well, the quest of Chalita in nabbing the most prestigious crown in the universe could be an uphill battle.
7. Venezuela (Mariam Habach) - The strategic game-plan that Osmel Souza has concocted is working pretty well with Mariam. Her fondness and friendship with Philippines' Maxine Medina (sincere or not) is obviously a strategy to win the locals' hearts and win their affection. It seems real though since Mariam has the congenial, sanguine personality while Maxine has the melancholic-phlegmatic temperament type so it is highly possible that the 'close friendship' that blossomed between the two beauties from pageant powerhouse countries is authentic plus the fact that Philippines is Venezuela's pageant 'ally' in Asia. It is given that Venezuela knows the ins and outs of pageantry especially in Miss Universe where they have the most number of crowns and placements next to USA. Needless to say, Mariam has all the makings of another Miss Universe winner from Venezuela except for that seemingly unconventional facial beauty which Mariam has and which I don't find gorgeously appealing in motion (in some few angles).
6. Australia (Caris Tiivel) - She has an angelic facial beauty - serene, doll-faced and nearly-immaculate. She's like Miss Universe 2012 Olivia Culpo and Miss Universe 2004 Jennifer Hawkins rolled into one gorgeous persona. Aside from her physical beauty, her other greater attributes would definitely be her outstanding ability to articulate her thoughts and express it well with confidence even when asked with more controversial topics in the final question-and-answer round. The only waterloo that she must overcome is her presentation skills. She tends to be so laid-back and carefree. If she wouldn't step up her game in the preliminaries as well as in the finale, she might be edged out by the runway divas from Venezuela, Brazil and the Philippines. I am hoping her beauty will shine through despite a not-so impeccable catwalk skills.
5. Brazil (Raissa Santana) - Among this year's contenders, it is easy to point out that Raissa Santana stands out to be the most visually-appealing woman of color. She has also been performing pretty well in the competition's series of activities since day one and has never failed to leave an excellent mark before the watchful eyes of the pageant fans. I bet just like last year, there will be that one black gorgeous beauty standing in the final circle of six and only if she's able to pull off an impressive answer on the nerve-racking question-and-answer portion of the finale, the stakes are high that Brazil will end up soaring high and mighty in the winning triangle. Raissa is a serious threat to the crown.
4. Argentina (Estefania Bernal) - Aside from having one of the most beautiful faces in the competition, Estefania Bernal gave a solid performance all throughout the preliminary activities which I believe would be her ticket in cementing a higher spot in the finals. She was actually out in my radar until that moment when I saw her in motion during the swimsuit presentation in Cebu where she strutted with elegance and exuded an aura of an elite Victoria Secret model. Personally, her kind of beauty shouldn't be left out in the background clapping, she rightfully deserved to belong in the final cut and get a decent placement, if not the crown.
3. Philippines (Maxine Medina) - This girl knows exactly when and how to peak in the competition. She gives her aces when they're needed and blooms well at the right time (what a great gameplan!). However, the quest for Maxine Medina's back-to-back victory for the Philippines may seem to be far-fetched no matter how deserving she is. First, the pageant is held in the Philippines and although she has the hometown advantage, winning in its own turf with Pia (who is also from the Philippines) as the reigning Queen may not be feasible due to a number of factors which may not be good especially for the organization. But who knows? The new management loves 'controversy'. Apart from that winning in its hometown had been done before a couple of times with Puerto Rico and USA as our examples. And a back-to-back victory had been made possible by Venezuela! Second, although it is given that Maxine is confidently beautiful with a heart, and also is a performer on stage with her elegant catwalk and projection skills, her ability to communicate well with substantial conviction is quite not at par with the 'universal' standards of being a Miss Universe with Pia Wurtzbach setting the bar higher. So I firmly suggest that if Maxine direly wants to increase her chances of placing high in the finals, then she should consider using an interpreter so she would be able to express herself well in the language that she is most comfortable with.
2. Nicaragua (Marina Jacoby) - Marina Jacoby is a beauty to behold - fresh, flawless and mesmerizing! She also speaks very well, so the prospect of her placing high and even snatching the crown from the top contenders is very likely to happen. As we all know, Nicaragua doesn't have the 'sash factor' but I rested my thoughts on the idea that Miss Universe is now under the new management who has a strong preference to women who have great public speaking capabilities and who can be excellent torchbearers of the Miss Universe Organization brand.
1. Turkey (Tansu Sila Cakir) - Although she is 'in' in most of the pageant experts' Top Picks, but no one has braved enough to put her on the number one spot for the crown. Honestly, this is quite a risky move for me to put her above the perennial contenders since as we all know, she doesn't have the 'sash factor' to help her breeze to the top of the leaderboard. But I just can't help but give her the coveted spot despite the odds of failure for a number of reasons. First of all, Tansu has that innate quintessential Miss Universe aura and a universally gorgeous physical beauty which can compliment well with her impressive resume. The new management of MUO has emphasized the utmost significance of public speaking skills as the winner will be the year-round ambassador of the organization. Tansu is intelligent and not only she can articulate her thoughts well in English, she also has a beautiful back story to tell. The only obstacle that she really needs to hurdle on the finals is her ramp and projection skills. Tansu isn't well-trained on this area and there is a high possibility that she might not be able to sail through the winning circle. However winner or not, for me she is my number one Miss Universe pick.
Rounding up the Top 12 Finalists are 10. USA - Deshauna Barber, 11. Sierra Leone - Hawa Kamara and 12. Netherlands (Zoey Ivory)
Bubbling Up are as follows: 13. Colombia (Andrea Tovar), 14. Mexico (Kristal Silva) 15. Barbados (Shannon Harris), 16. Malaysia (Kiran Jassal), 17.Great Britain - (Jaime-Lee Faulkner), 18. Curacao (Chanelle de Lau), 19. Ukraine (Alena Spodynyuk), 20. Puerto Rico (Brenda Jimenez) and 21. Belgium (Stephanie Geldhof).