The Preliminary Competition always makes a difference. Every year, the show concretizes our assessments as the delegates’ individual presentations give us the confidence in determining who should stay up, who should step down, and who deserves to move up.
Sixteen to Shine
In my Top 16 predictions, the first four spots are occupied by ladies I consider the ‘untouchables’ for 2013. While some of you may tag me as an over-patriotic blogger who is putting so much belief in Miss Philippines Ariella Arida, I have my own reasons for putting her in this prime spot (prime of which is my gut-feel that she will do well in the finals). In the company of Spain’s Patricia Rodriguez (who remains consistently solid and captivating from Day 1), Puerto Rico’s Monic Perez (always in Miss Universe mode everywhere she goes inspite of the not-so-pleasant impressions about her attitude) and Ukraine’s Olga Storozhenko (who – let’s admit it – has the most influential backers who are capable of pulling strings to put her within striking distance of the crown), she has what it takes to battle it out till the end.
Going to my second set of four-squares, we can see Erin Brady of the USA (whose Top 5 placement could be in a precarious situation or not depending on how Olivia Culpo being the reigning titleholder will be factored in), Maria Gabriela Isler of Venezuela (a far better English speaker than her predecessor and who has been going great guns up until the evening gown round of the Prelims where she had some difficulty navigating her outfit), Hinarani de Longeaux of France (neither here nor there in the earlier stages of the competition, but still commanding a strong presence) and host delegate Elmira Abdrazakova (who is giving the semifinal-worthy performance that she failed to deliver in Miss World 2013).
#9-#12 are occupied by Yityish Titi Aynaw of Israel, Carolina Brid of Panama and Jakelyne Oliveira of Brazil whose turns during the Prelims were outstanding enough – definitely not to be ignored. Amy Willerton of Great Britain, on the other hand, belongs to this foursome because she has been making good strides on the sidelines and creating a positive impact to the pageant’s production people.
Poland’s Paulina Krupinska slid down in my rankings simply because her presentations last Tuesday were not as tip-top as the early faves. Meanwhile, Turkey’s Berrin Keklikler could be a Trump pick, just as Azerbaijan’s Aysel Manafova (and according to the grapevine, she happens to be the love interest of the son of a VIP).
Finally, my hunch to win the Fan Vote is Myanmar’s Moe Set Wine. Her countrymen has been raging wild in raking in the online votes.
The SpoilersIf there are the favorites, the spoilers are not too far behind. The two cropped-hair delegates from Europe – Dominique Rinderknecht of Switzerland and Gabriela Kratochvilova of Czech Republic – remain a mystery to me as to who really took a shine among the locals and organizers. It could only be one of the two, but gut-feel tells me that the Swiss bet nosed out the Emma Watson-lookalike. Bolivia’s Alexia Viruez and Netherland’s Stephanie Tency, on the other hand, did very well in the Prelims and there is likelihood of one or both scoring a higher spot.
Five for the Crown
Many are saying that Monic Perez of Puerto Rico and Patricia Rodriguez of Spain are the biggest obstacles to the Philippines’ 3rd Miss Universe crown. I daresay that Ukraine’s Olga Storozhenko is that one delegate who is very likely to provide the biggest upset to the cause of Ariella Arida, Miss Philippines.At the onset of the competition, there were online comments that mentioned our bet could win for as long as pageant politics will not get in the way. You do the math. Ukraine has never won Miss Universe. Host Russia will be so pleased with an Ukrainian taking it all the way instead of Ms. Abdrazakova who is not 100% acceptable to its citizenry. And once business takes over, you can never tell which way its’ sniffing nose will smell the scent of a Diamond Nexus Lab crown. Mind you, I am and will no longer be shocked by this possibility. If it does happen, then there’s only so much we can do to air how we feel.
But in a less imperfect world, I can see our bet conquering the Universe. Should it come to fruition, then Ariella’s journey will have been the bumpiest, muddiest and thorniest on the road to victory. And in all sincerity, I want her to claim the sweetest of wins so that she can vindicate herself once and for all. The girl has been working her (pardon the term) butt off double time to do her country proud. And if the good graces that the Philippines has earned from MUO these past three years will carry over, then it will only have been a justly-deserved reward for consecutively sending them our best candidates in the biggest and most eagerly-awaited beauty spectacle.
Should Ariella end up good enough for just a Top 5 placement, then it would simply be in consonance with my birthday wish for her. I can live with that. I can definitely consider semi-retirement* from pageantry, though, if she exceeds our rank last year.
And I kid you not. ;-)
* – This is something I promised myself the moment a Filipina wins our country’s 3rd Miss Universe crown or before turning golden, whichever comes first.