The 65th Miss Universe fever is finally on full swing and the delegates from around the globe are trying to out-stage each other while trying to play nice! Hah! Just this week, we’ve witnessed the Terno Fashion Show from some of the ladies who graced the beautiful historic Vigan to showcase the beautiful ternos created by Filipino designers. Then there’s was the Governor’s Ball, Their photoshoots from different historic sites in the metro as well as visits in the beautiful Boracay Island, Cebu and Batangas. With more press releases, videos and photos available for fans and pundits, let me present to you my first hot picks for this Manila edition of the Miss Universe beauty pageant!
- Mariam Habach of Venezuela
At this stage of the competition, Miss Venezuela for me is the most ready to become the new queen – charisma and performance-wise. Her simplicity and unconventional beauty is refreshing from the usual brunette-filled Venezuelan delegates sent by their great national director Osmel Sousa to this pageant. Her posture and contagious smile is a thing of beauty that you can’t help but fall for her. Mariam came prepared to battle it out to the finish here in Manila!
- Maxine Medina of the Philippines
Admit it or not, Miss Philippines’ beauty is a beauty that is very hard to ignore. She exudes confidence and a hint of mystery whenever she struck a pose – until she opens her mouth that is, as per pageant pundits’ usual criticism. To be fair tho, I think we’re too critical of Maxine because we’re comparing her to Pia and whether or not she’ll be able to carry on the latter’s legacy. I still believe that there is a big fat chance for the host-nation to snag a back-to-back win equating Venezuela’s record back in 2008-2009. After all, Maxine has the hometown advantage and with a smooth performance, albeit, a most probably less than confident answers in the Q&A round – she could probably pull it off.
- Raissa Santana of Brazil
This Amazonian goddess is everywhere! Like literally every event! She’s such a stand out that you can’t help but be mesmerize by her modelesque bone structure and captivating smile! I’m only placing her as my third pick for the crown at this point because I’m still not sold with her overall presentation. It’s too finesse for me and I want her to be more vibrant and more natural!
- Kiran Jassal of Malaysia
Miss Malaysia may not be getting much hype compared to her ASEAN counterparts such as Thailand, Indonesia, and her roomie Miss Philippines but she’s definitely someone to watch out for. She’s a real stunner in pictures and in motion and it may look like she’s playing it under the radar for now but come preliminaries, I’ve a feeling that she’ll be in everyone’s list afterwards. I actually think that she’s way better than Deborah Henry – the most prominent Malaysian delegate in memories who got snubbed during the 2011 edition of the pageant. Like Deborah, she’s got an amazing personality, stunning looks (way better than Miss Henry, IMHO) and good communication skills to boot. Will her sash prevent her from entering the top 16? I hope not.
- Chalita Suansane of Thailand
Chalita is definitely a force to reckon with in the Manila edition of the pageant. She came prepared and ready to fight it out like Miss Venezuela and the other three in my top 5! She’s by far my ‘ultimate spoiler’ for the crown! She’s very polished, though not the prettiest candidate, she’s one scene-stealer that has a very likable personality to boot!
- Andrea Tovar of Colombia
Andrea Tovar is no Adriana Gutierrez. The latter is personable whilst Andrea has this superior air about her. I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing to project but at times, it’s almost as if she’s already won the crown when in fact she hasn’t even step up her game performance-wise. I was expecting more from her and so far she’s giving me such lackluster performance that I’m relegating her to 6th place. Why is she still in the top 10 despite non-personable aura I’ve mentioned? Well, she’s Miss Colombia and Miss Universe loves their controversy. She’s a definite shoo-in for the semis plus her beauty is truly undeniable that truly separates her from others. Thing is, she really needs to work the crowd. After all, nobody wants a villain queen.
- Deshauna Barber of the USA
Facially, Deshauna Barber isn’t the most conventionally beautiful delegate in the bunch but her background as US military and her subpar communication skills matching her vibrant personality makes her the most interesting girl to talk and listen to which I think is a big plus for whoever will win the Miss Universe crown!
- Kezia Warouw of Indonesia
Indonesia is up for the country of the year in 2016 and a win here will cement their newfound status last year. It’s not an impossible feat because the reigning Indonesian queen is a breathtaking beauty that is both relatable and personable! I am still waiting for her spark to go full on but I’ve a feeling that she will deliver when it matters most.
- Hawa Kamara of Sierra Leone
This debuting lass from the West African nation of Sierra Leone is already endearing a lot of pageant fans around the world as she struts with her natural hair on flick, she’s definitely stealing the spotlight from the more hyped candidates. She’s also very dear to Filipino pageant fans as the OFW’s and local fans helped her preparation for the pageant which include her flight to Manila as well as her wardrobe for the duration of Miss Universe. And she didn’t disappoint so far as she is both luminous in pictures and in motion. I’m not sure if Miss Universe is ready to crown another African queen after Leila Lopes’ victory in Brazil but if Sierra Leone delivers the goods come finals night, I’m pretty sure that everyone will be celebrating with her win!
- Caris Tiivel of Australia
It’s very simple how Miss Australia landed as my 10th pick. She’s the prototype of the Miss Universe Australia in recent years and I can totally see her eclipsing some of the powerhouse Latinas to make it all the way into the top 5. She’s beautiful, a good communicator and very polished. Although I haven’t envisioned her winning just yet, I’ve a feeling that if she step it up in the prelims – there’s a big possibility of that happening.
- Stephanie Geldhof of Belgium
- Kristal Silva of Mexico
- Sal Garcia of Dominican Republic
- Camila Barraza of Kosovo
- Jaime-Lee Faulkner of Great Britain
- Le Hang of Vietnam