by Stephen I. Diaz
This is perhaps the most exhausting Miss International coverage that we have ever done!
Well, the 2016 pageant year started with a bang on October 27th as the 56th Miss International Beauty Pageant was finally held on a real stage. Pageant activities started as early as October 10th, with some girls arriving a bit earlier in order to battle jet lag and be ready for the coming pageant activities. Furthermore, lots of expectations from pageant followers were shared in the Missosology Forum after it was announced that a new production outfit was hired to run the show. But overall, how did the pageant production fare?
Before we grill the recently concluded Miss International pageant, it is very important to remind ourselves about the MI system. Based in Japan, and under the auspices of the International Cultural Association, this Big 5 Pageant is perhaps the most traditional and conservative international pageant of all. While most pageants, including the unbeatable Miss Universe and Miss World, have already adapted with the changes of time, the Miss International Beauty Pageant has remained unaffected, and has been stuck to its 1990s style. It’s brief sojourn to mainland China may have brought some much needed change from the usual forgettable pageant nights, but now that it is back in Japan, it has remained as it is, well, “too Japanese”. Surprisingly, despite a low turnout of only 69 delegates this year, it is being supported by big companies such as Panasonic, and has the endorsement of the Japanese government. So whether we like it or not, Miss International is here to stay, and it remains as a major pageant event of the year!
VENUE and STAGE
For the very first time since 2012, the venue of the pageant was held in a hall, and a real stage was used. Just a few minutes walk from Suidobashi Station, the Tokyo Dome City Hall has been used as a concert hall by famous Japanese artists, but it has never been used for international pageants. Location-wise, this would be rated as one of the best in terms of proximity and access. No wonder the ticket got sold out easily.
As for the stage design, we felt that the stairs on the left and right side of the already small stage made it look even smaller and dull. The main purpose of those stairs was just to make the girls stand while waiting for their queue. It was like a human version of hina ningyo or the Japanese dolls being displayed in houses and buildings during late March. Because of the limited space and the very short runway, some girls were not able to show their amazing catwalk skills, and it was a pity.
Someone with deep knowledge about pageantry should be hired by Miss International Organization to coordinate with them before they sign the contract with the production outfit responsible for the final gala. No matter how great the activities are, if the production of the coronation night remains less to be desired, it will be simply forgotten.
Miss International may not be known to have the most exciting opening salvo, but this year, the decision to open it up with a ballet performance was a welcome change. The exquisite ballet dancers from the Matsuyama Ballet Company, dancing to the tune of Charlie Chaplin’s Smile, were partly covered with various traditional costumes from around the world as they slowly sashayed their way to the center in one line, while the curtain slowly showed a silhouette of the national costumes of the delegates. After the ballet dancers had finished their performance, the curtain was dropped, showcasing all the finalists on stage with their colorful and glittery costumes, and the hosts Amy Ota and Tetsuya Bessho were introduced on center stage.
Considered as the most important round prior to the speech competition, the national costume competition is where the contestants have the chance to show the judges their stage presence and give an exemplary first impression. It also does not matter how big or small the costumes are, because the judges are looking at the relevance of the costume and how the contestants present themselves to the audience while wearing their respective national costume. Check our national costume gallery HERE.
Among the 69 national costumes that were presented on stage, only a few really stood out and became memorable:
AUSTRALIA (Alexandra Britton) – Her costume, which was inspired from the late crocodile hunter Steve Irwin, was truly a representative of what Australia is commonly known in Japan. The decision to place her hat on her right hip was highly commendable because if she had worn it on her head during the finals, her beauty would have been covered. Thumbs up for that!
EL SALVADOR (Elizabeth Cader) – The costume may look huge from a hindsight, but it was not as heavy as many may have thought because they were mostly made of feathers. The costume represented the beautiful nature of Los Chorros, which is famous for its clean water, beautiful waterfalls, while the blue and white colors was said to represent the sky and the clouds.
HONG KONG (Kelly Chan) – Kelly’s lion dance was really cool, and it was perhaps one of the rare excitements of the already dragging national costume segment.
INDONESIA (Felicia Hwang) – How can we ignore the amazing headdress and Felicia’s sexy stare while briefly performing some dance moves on stage? Arguably, Felicia may have been neck-to-neck with Brianny Chamorro of Nicaragua for the best national costume award.
IRELAND (Catherine Gannon) – It was great to see Ireland back in Miss International, and Catherine showed us one of the most memorable Irish costumes to ever grace a Big 5 Pageant. She portrayed a medieval warrior princess, and her performance on stage was impeccably fierce!
JAPAN (Junna Yamagata) – The mermaid-cut of the traditional Japanese wedding dress worn by Junna was the reason why we thought this was a great choice. The cut and the strategically placed red lines made her legs look longer and she was truly enchanting, if not mesmerizing. The audience also loved the way she removed the head covering while on stage.
NICARAGUA (Brianny Chamorro) – The moment the emcee mentioned that some of the materials used in Brianny’s costume was corn, the people inside the venue, including during the rehearsals early that day, were awed. Corn is a main crop in this Central American country, and the colorful hues of the carnival costume was a total standout. It was not a surprise that it was chosen as the best national costume.
PHILIPPINES (Kylie Verzosa) Kylie’s Filipiniana costume has the most intricate details that can only be done by talented hands. On stage, it looked like a golden garment from a European royalty, with patterns that resembled the interior of Spanish churches. It was marvelous!
SIERRA LEONE (Maseray Zelda Swarray)- It was indeed refreshing to see a traditional African costume which used natural materials, and the symbolic national color of Sierra Leone. This western African country competed in Miss International for the very first time.
USA (Kaitryana Leinbach) – Lady Liberty! How can an American delegate go wrong with that? The silver dress and everything else that glittered on Kaitryana looked heavenly on stage!
However, we would like to note that this was probably the part where Venezuela’s Jessica Duarte totally blew her chances of winning, and may have also cost her the semifinals placement. The baseball costume was controversial, but for the conservative judges – majority of whom were Japanese – it may not have registered well. National costumes are meant to be culturally relevant to the country’s history and tradition, and are also expected to display femininity and grace. Baseball, although it is popular in Japan and Venezuela, did not have the feminine touch to be considered as an acceptable national costume, at least for Miss International.
What is supposed to be the most energetic part of the competition turned out to be a snoozefest, partly because the Latinas could not really strut their amazing catwalk and voluptuous body on stage. No thanks to the small stage and short runway. Most of the girls, especially the South American, looked uninspired due to the lack of time to truly perform during this round, which many considered as their strongest point.
The music was a repetition of the 2012 edition, and it did not have a choreography that may have prevented some from leaving the venue. Yes, quite a handful of people who bought tickets slowly left the venue during the swimsuit competition.
Check our gallery HERE…
There were many outstanding performances during the swimsuit round, despite the lack of viable music and choreography. Argentina showed her amazing curves, while Australia‘s lean figure was to die for. Belarus, in her white one-piece, was divinity personified and until now we wonder how she did not place among the Top 15 semifinalists. Canada was very energetic, while Colombia showed what an amazing body she had! Dominican Republic‘s endless legs were enviable, while El Salvador had a great body proportion. The angelic Finland had an amazing waistline, and how we love her beautiful skin tone! Guam also had a great body and she was oozing with sexiness! Macau knew very well when and how to pose and snap, while Mexico displayed an aura of confidence and lovely personality. As soon as Moldova appeared on stage, she just pulled everyone’s rug with her sex appeal and well-toned body. She was like a Victoria’s Secret model! No wonder she was later given the award of Miss Perfect Body!
Philippines made a slight mistake with her turn, and almost lost her balance, but she was able to make up for it with her killer stare. That’s something she has mastered all these years. Poland was cute although we felt that she could have added some more spice with her catwalk and poses. Puerto Rico was also great, and she was followed by the very tall Russia who finally showed us some smile, which was rare to see. South Africa also had one of the most beautiful bodies, and we thought she was going to place. Thailand, displaying her long and lean legs, was a sight to behold, and she was followed by Tunisia with a very revealing swimsuit that was probably too sexy for MI taste. We eventually learned that Philippines had a similar design on the upper part of her green one-piece swimsuit, but she was smart enough to cover it with her long hair and sash. USA was very bubbly on stage, and Venezuela looked great with straight black hair, contrasting her silky white skin.
After the swimsuit competition, and while the delegates were preparing for the evening gown segment, we were treated again by another outstanding performance by the Matsuyama Ballet Company.
Live chorale, slow music, and the entrance of the delegates back on stage by groups made this segment an elegant one to watch. It would have been better if there was more dramatic lighting effect, but it may be too much to ask.
With 69 delegates, it may take forever to discuss one by one the evening gowns. There were those who really stood out during this round, but up to this point, we believe that most of the judges have already made up their mind.
Check our gallery HERE…
With a short time to be able to strut their gowns, the girls were simply made to stand on stage and then walk in the middle while the male host was telling the world what their “charm points” were. It was actually weird when the emcee had to mention “honesty” a dozen of times, making it as the most dominant inner quality of a Miss International delegate, while at some point he mentioned that a delegate’s “charm point” was her lips and big butt. Like, seriously?
Anyway, moving on to the most appealing gowns, we would narrow it down to just 10 choices, in order of preference:
- VENEZUELA (Jessica Duarte) – Whether we admit it or not, Jessica wore the most memorable final gown at Miss International 2016. She may have failed to place in the Top 15, but the gown and the way she carried it would go down in history as one of the most memorable to date. Setting aside poor choice for national costume, if Jessica had only entered the Top 15, it would have been a very interesting battle for the crown as she registered powerfully on stage with the bloody red gown, which she carried with elegance and poise.
- INDONESIA (Felicia Hwang) – Winning the Best Dresser award does not mean that Felicia had won the Best Evening Gown. She won that award because she was indeed the best dressed delegate since the beginning of the pageant, until the very end. This gown, on the other hand, was truly a great creation by Anaz Khairunnas and for many, it was pegged as a winning masterpiece. The symmetrical design that looked like a priceless ancient Chinese vase is something that has never been seen on Miss International stage.
- PUERTO RICO (Gabriela Berrios) – A wonderful delegate with an excellent evening gown, and impeccable presentation, but did not place in the Top 15 was Gabriela. The cream-colored floral gown, with a see through train attached to it looked heavenly on stage. Her presentation was also flawless, but then again, we felt that no matter what Gabriela did that night, the odds were simply against her. Nevertheless, she was breathtaking.
- BELARUS (Palina Tsehalka) – Beautiful, friendly, and was always ready with an amiable smile. Yes, that’s Palina. When she showed up on stage with her simple and perfectly fit white gown, she was an epitome of a modern-day goddess. Edymar Martinez and even the staff of Miss International Organization were surprised of Palina’s exclusion in the semifinals, and that would remain a mystery for the years to come.
- PHILIPPINES (Kylie Verzosa) – Sky blue, black or red? Kylie had to choose between three gowns and she chose the first one because she believed that it was the most suitable gown for Miss International. Kylie has a fierce look, but the gentle hue of the sky blue Francis Libiran gown had soften her overall look, which was just perfect for her. The well-put glitters did not distract the viewers who were rather glued to her beautiful face.
- THAILAND (Pattiya Pongthai) – With only less than a month to prepare for the international pageant, Pattiya was already prepared while doing the Miss International Thailand reality show. Sadly, when the revered King of Thailand died during the pageant period, her team decided to let her wear a dark gown with black glittering cape, and the result was this divine creation.
- CANADA (Amber Bernachi) – Although one of the shortest delegates this year at 165 cm, 26-year-old Amber did not look short at all with this red mermaid-cut gown that looked perfect on her. The low V-cut was not too revealing, either. Her elegance and confidence on stage were a result of years of being a pageant veteran.
- NETHERLANDS (Melissa Scherpen) – Dutch delegates at Miss International are always well-dressed. Melissa’s gown, once seen up close, was a fine piece of creation. Melissa, who is one of the youngest contestants this year, must be very proud to wear this gown by the world famous Indian designer, Mac Duggal.
- NICARAGUA (Brianny Chamorro) – Brianny definitely came to Japan to win! This gold figure hugging gown is something that we normally see getting high scores at Miss Universe, but here in Miss International, it somehow worked well for Brianny, too.
- DENMARK (Sara Skals Danielsen) – Sporting a bun hair all throughout the competition, Sara was like a Greek goddess with this Victor López white gown. Check out the slit!
MISS INTERNATIONAL CONTINENTAL QUEENS
After the evening gown competition, the continental queens were announced. Personally, I am not so sure about this special award. This is some sort of a “Miss Friendship” award, but divided among continental groups. So, the delegates were only allowed to vote for a contestant coming from their own continental group, and it does not really make sense. Africa only had six contestants, so all six of them had to choose for one delegate whom they think was worthy to become the continental queen. Oceania had only five. Asia and Europe had the biggest contindents respectively, so the odds were higher. And as we had observed during the group activities, Vietnam was grouped with non-Asian English speakers, so she had the remote chance of being voted by fellow Asians because she was not close to them. Portugal was rarely seen with the European group because she was normally with the Latin Americans. Also during the voting, Russia was actually placed with the Asian group because their delegate was from Vladivostok. So, whether or not the continental queens selection was fair, it did not really matter afterwards because the winners were all wonderful and very deserving.
Miss International Oceania 2016: HAWAII (Guinevere Davenport)
Miss International America: ECUADOR (Ivanna Abad)
Miss International Asia: HONG KONG (Kelly Chan)
Miss International Europe: NETHERLANDS (Melissa Scherpen)
Miss International Africa: SIERRA LEONE (Maseray Zelda Swarray)
Basically, there is no question about the winners of continental queens. After all, the delegates themselves chose them. Hawaii was friendly to everyone, and is very talented. Ecuador was one of those delegates whom we loved at Missosology because she tried to communicate with us in English, and her personality was likable. Hong Kong, whom we had high hopes of breaking the semifinal drought of the territory, was a great delegate with good leadership skills. Netherlands is very young and has a voice of an angel. She is a professional singer. Sierra Leone, who actually studies in North Carolina, is cute, smart and very adorable.
TOP 15 SEMIFINALISTS
A lot of surprises came during the announcement of the Top 15 semifinalists. But before we go into that, don’t you guys love the roulette when they announced the finalists? For the viewers, it was very suspenseful, but we could actually see some of the delegates getting distracted by it when they tried to look back to the screen while still on stage.
Nicaragua was announced first, and that did not come out as a total surprise. Brianny has been a great contender, and her English is flawless. Indonesia was announced next, and that was totally expected because she has been a fan favorite even before the pageant started. Finland was visibly happy when was the third to be announced, while Mexico showed genuine elation when she was called next. It’s quite refreshing to see candid reactions on stage, which is a bit rare nowadays in pageantry.
The next four girls who were announced next were actually interesting. They were the delegates who were less than 170 cm tall: USA, Japan, El Salvador and Canada. Japan is the shortest delegate this year at 164 cm, so the odds were against her to go far in the competition, but when she was called in the Top 15, the audience roared! Japanese fans are now starting to cheer like real pageant fans! Among the four, it was El Salvador’s Elizabeth Cader who came as a total surprise as she made history as the first El Salvadorian to enter the semifinals in the 56-year history of Miss International.
Ironically, after the short girls were called, the next one to be announced was the 180-cm tall Miss Dominican Republic. Cinthya looked surprised, but overall she did a decent performance with her grace and poise. Argentina was called next, who happened to be the lone South American in the Top 15. Yoana gave a very strong performance, especially that she was always the first one to be judged in all areas of the competition. At the after party, she came to us and said “I deserved a higher placement.”
Philippines was 11th semifinalist, and the crowd went wild, although Kylie was able to hold her emotions intact. We commend such grace and poise while under deep pressure. The bubbly Miss Australia was next, who said during a post-pageant interview that she was totally happy being in the Top 15, and that she did not expect to place higher, at all. Russia was the 13th girl on the semifinals, and two more spots remained. When Thailand was called next, the huge Thai contingent on the upper box shouted in unison, and Pattiya was extremely happy and relieved. One more spot was left, but still no Belarus, no New Zealand, no Poland, no Puerto Rico, neither was Venezuela. If Poland was not called, it would be a huge embarrassment and humiliation for Missosology, who picked her as the woman to beat in the final hot picks. Not only that, she was also the overwhelming bet of many of the delegates to win the crown. Thankfully, she was the last one to be called and that gave us a sigh of relief. However, we were deeply saddened for Jessica Duarte who was there to defend the crown for Venezuela, yet she did not place at all. Since 2012, the country of the reigning queen has failed to enter the semifinals of Miss International, but we thought that Jessica would break that spell. Unfortunately, she didn’t.
The biggest regret we had regarding the Top 15 was the absence of any women of color. In fact, this is the year that Miss International had the most number of contingents from the African continent, three of whom were from western Africa. Inspired by Eunice Onyango’s placement at last year’s pageant, two countries – Ghana and Sierra Leone – participated for the first time, while Nigeria is back after a long absence. Black delegates from the Caribbean, Haiti’s Cassandre Joseph and Guadeloupe’s Presile Adolphe, also failed to place.
TOP 15 SPEECH
Having the 15 finalists speak for one minute was a bit too much, and it rather became boring when some girls had to repeat thanking the Miss International Organization for the wonderful experience they have had. Yes, the organization did a wonderful job but that is not what they wanted to hear at that point. The topic was very simple, and it was about their plan if they are crowned as Miss International 2016.
Nicaragua‘s Brianny Chamorro was the “top batter” so to speak, and she raised the bar too high. Brianny, as we mentioned earlier, is very fluent in English. In her speech, she went straight to the point and shared her plan which was primarily to contribute to the world by promoting the values of respect and tolerance through cultural understanding. While this was such a heartfelt speech, we felt that she was placed in a disadvantageous situation for being the first one to speak, and that, her message was weakened down by the next 14 girls who spoke after her.
Another great speaker in the person of Indonesia‘s Felicia Hwang followed it up with a great oratorical speech, which she opened by thanking the Miss International Organization. To her, Miss International symbolizes the core values of a woman, and that is love, dignity and respect for diversity. As Miss International she wants to bridge the spirit of goodwill and peace to the nations. She went on by encouraging everyone to stop the culture of war and to respect diversity and differences because the world has been plagued by lots of conflicts, terrorism and cultural tensions.
The third speaker was Emilia Seppänen of Finland, who was almost flawless from the start, but came out with a very weak speech. We love Emilia, and she was in the Top 5 of our Final Hot Pick, but her speech, which was anchored on friendship, just lacked the substance of the two that preceded her, and she even rattled at the end. She was not able to conclude it with a strong ending, although more than half of her speech was spent on thanking the organization, and the great friendship she has achieved.
Mexico‘s Geraldine Ponce was the fourth speaker, and we loved how she smiled all throughout her speech. Although English is not her native tongue, she was able to memorize her speech and gave a strong message about gender equality, that women are neither superior nor inferior to men, and if she becomes Miss International she will fight for women to have a rightful place in this world.
Kaitryana Leinbach of USA, maybe very young at 18, but her communication skill is impeccable, which radiates maturity and greater understanding of the world at large. As the fifth speaker, she started with an analogy of how a single degree could change water into vapor, and that she wants to be that “one degree” that can create big differences to the lives of many. She eventually wrapped it up by saying that she wants to spread hope and goodwill, and that she is willing to spend a year working for the organization and to pack up her bags and do her job.
Japan‘s Junna Yamagata followed next with a memorized speech, and it was visible that she was nervous. However, she was able to finish her speech flawlessly. If chosen as Miss International, she said that she would like to inspire others to chase their dreams because being there on stage was a dream for her, and it came true.
El Salvador‘s Elizabeth Cader emphasized that she is the Vice President of a charitable organization “Making Smiles” and she wants to serve the people, especially children. While we believe that Elizabeth would really want to convey her message more meaningfully, it’s the lack of English skills that prevented her from doing so. If only she was able to share her message in Spanish, she would have spoken more spontaneously and sincerely. We just thought that she should have not mentioned and thanked “Japan” too much.
Amber Bernachi of Canada followed next, and being a native English speaker this would have been an easy task for her. She started candidly by thanking the organization for the experience, and then she spoke about her two plans if she wins Miss International 2016. First is to promote education and to emphasize how important it is, especially to the younger generation. Second was to promote equality among races, gender and religion. It was in the second point that Amber somehow lost her composure because she just suddenly ended her speech with no strong conclusion.
Dominican Republic started her speech by thanking “Japan” for the opportunity given to her. Cinthya Maria Nunez, said, that if she wins Miss International 2016, she would like to give back by serving those people who need help. She said that it is her satisfaction to be able to give help others. And then she ended her speech, again, by thanking “Japan”.
Miss Argentina, who was competing strongly all throughout the final gala, was the one who really struggled in this round. Yoana Don is a very smart woman. She is well spoken, but English is not her native tongue so she was fishing for the right words while trying to relay her message to the world about her plan if she wins Miss International 2016. As a listener we were able to understand only a few points, and the translator probably had a hard time as well, but overall she was the only finalist who was able to say that she would promote Japan’s great culture all over the world.
The eventual winner, Kylie Verzosa of the Philippines, followed next and what a surprise to see the Filipino fans patiently controlled their loud cheers and did not even howl the moment she was called to start her speech! Kylie went direct to the point. Her hand gestures were perfect, as soon as she said the three things that came to her mind about Miss International: education, culture and international understanding. At that point, she had hit it bull’s eye! International understanding is the “by word” of Japanese mandatory education system, and it has been implemented in the curriculum for several years now. It was interesting to note that none of the first ten speakers touched deeply on the topic about cultural understanding, which was what Kylie would like to devote herself into, if she wins the title. And she did!
Australia‘s Alexandra Britton, who was another pleasant surprise at the Top 15, came next. Her calmness on stage was what made her such a standout, despite not being a fan favorite. Prior to this, Australia has not placed in the semifinals for two decades, and it was Alexandra who brought back the Land Down Under into the MI pageant map. As an educator, Alexandra emphasized her love of learning, and the passion to spread the message of love and acceptance. She had also made it clear since the start of her speech to embrace diversity, love and acceptance, and she would want this message to be shared especially to the younger generation. It was indeed a strong follow up, after Kylie’s winning speech.
Russia‘s Alisa Manenok, the famous volleyball player from Vladivostok, was humble enough to admit that she did not expect to be in the semifinals. Although unprepared for the final speech, she spoke from the heart, and we deeply appreciate that. She shared her experience on being able to speak at the United Nations, and how to create global connections. A proof of how unprepared Alisa was with her final speech was when she suddenly added another point, at the end, which was to help hungry children and people who are in need, even without a crown. We thought that it was a strong message that says “I don’t need the Miss International crown in order to help others,” but nevertheless, we still love Alisa, and we believe that she represented Russia well.
Pattiya Pongthai of Thailand was next. She was passionate with her speech, starting with words of thanks to the Emperor of Japan for his message of sympathy to the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The death of the Thai king has deeply affected Thai people from all over the world, so she says, and they considered him as a father. Pattiya did not specifically say of what she wanted to achieve if she wins the title, but she abruptly ended her speech by saying “domo arigatou gozaimashita.”
And finally, Poland‘s Magdalena Bieńkowska, came to the center of the stage, and it was evident that the long wait may have already affected her hair as it looked a bit unkempt. On screen, her face looked a bit bloated and it was at that point when we felt that she had lost her spark. However, Magdalena delivered one of the most sincere speeches. She was the only one to thank her chaperon. Her advocacy was to be involved in charity works that could give smile to people whom she believes are all beautiful. Quite a very realistic plan, but then, she was able to support it by saying that everyone is beautiful, and people just need to notice the beauty around us, like the nature and the smiles of children.
After all the speeches, there was a brief break and people within the Tokyo Dome City Hall had chit chats of whom they think was going to win. There was no clear favorite and no one knew exactly what the judges were thinking, but after the announcement of winners, it really boiled down to English speaking skills.
ANNOUNCEMENT OF WINNERS
The winners of the special awards were announced first, and Nicaragua got the Best National Costume, which was a very deserved win. For years past, Nicaraguan delegates have worn wonderful national costumes and they finally got this one! It also helped that Brianny is a great contender, so this award may have also been a factor why she eventually became the highest placed Latina at this year’s edition. Miss Perfect Body was awarded to Moldova, and her reaction was epic! The high fives and hugs received by Alina from fellow delegates up on stage were truly reflective of what this pageant was all about: celebrating beauty through friendship and camaraderie. Best Dresser award was given to Indonesia, and Felicia was so happy about it. We believe that this was a well-deserved award, and at that time, some of the people in the audience were already flirting with the idea that she might be called as the winner.
And then the moment of truth came: the announcement of the runners-up. Sadly, there was not much suspense with the music and lighting as the result was revealed.
Fourth runner-up was given to USA, and Kaitryana was so happy about it. Britt Harrison, the national director of Hawaii and USA was so delighted when her two girls got exactly the same special award and placement as last year’s. Hawaii’s Brianna Acosta was also Miss International Oceania 2015 while Lindsay Becker was also 4th Runner-up last year. Third runner-up went to Nicaragua, and she was beaming with smile, happiness and contentment. It was Nicaragua’s best placement in a major pageant since 2001 when Ligia Cristina Argüello Roa placed 3rd Runner-up in Miss World. 2nd Runner-up was Indonesia, wherein Felicia duplicated Indri Hapsari Soeharto’s placement in 1977. However, it was only last year when Indonesia also placed 2nd Runner-up in Miss World 2015, so we can simply say that Indonesia is slowly gaining the momentum of becoming a pageant powerhouse in the future. They just need to win a major crown. First runner-up went to Australia, and as we mentioned earlier Alexandra was not expecting this at all. She later on said that she did not really feel that she was a favorite, but everything worked well for her, thanks to the mentorship of the legendary Peter Sereno. With Peter, it won’t be long until we see another Australian winning the Miss International crown!
The best part during the crowning of the runners-up was to see last year’s Top 5 winners, Lindsay Becker, Phạm Hồng Thúy Vân and Eunice Onyango awarding their respective successor, which is something that we have never seen in the history of Miss International. Unfortunately, Jennifer Valle could not attend due to her studies.
And finally, the moment that everyone was waiting for. The announcement of the winner. At that point, it was still unclear who was going to be the winner, but some people had already sensed that the final speech was the sole basis of the Top 5. But this is Miss International. Sometimes, we really just don’t know what the judges are thinking. But in the end, it was young daughter of two entrepreneurs from Baguio City, who was also a former primary school teacher who conquered it all. Mentored and prepared by the same person who prepared Bea Rose Santiago in 2013, Kylie Verzosa became the sixth winner from the Philippines, and the seventh since 2013 to have won a Big 5 title for her pageant loving country.
In the end, it was indeed a momentous year for Miss International. Outgoing queen Edymar Martinez will forever be remembered as a great Miss International, and we at Missosology are very proud to have her as Timeless Beauty for 2015. Appearing in a lit up pink ball gown, her heartfelt speech before the announcement of the Top 15 was one of the highlights of the pageant, and it was something that made us feel even more emotional. We will surely miss this amazing young Venezuelan.
But now, it is time for Queen Kylie to begin an exciting year as a goodwill ambassador, promoting peace, love and cultural understanding. / Stephen I. Diaz