From the Americas: Canada, Puerto Rico, Ecuador, Venezuela and Mexico
From Asia/Oceania & Africa: Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, Vietnam and Nigeria
From Europe: Great Britain, Spain, Albania, Russia and Belgium
Wild Cards: Curacao, Australia, USA, Peru and Nepal
From the twenty above, I managed to cut them in half to pave the way for a Top 10 and Top 5, as follows:
Lower half of my Top 10: Thailand, Great Britain, Venezuela, Curacao and Vietnam
My Top 5: Philippines, Canada, South Africa, Puerto Rico and Ecuador
During the Top 5 Q&A, gut-feel tells me that Canada might be overtaken in her 2nd-ranking position that will lead into a Final 3 Casting as follows:
Catriona, Tamaryn and Kiara for Final 3
There are many factors that prompt me to put Miss Philippines Catriona Gray as my #1 pick to win Miss Universe 2018. I have already mentioned in previous interviews on ABS-CBN, CNN Philippines and Bombo Radyo – and relayed to TV5 as well – that she is simply in a league all her own. She has the beauty, eloquence and maturity to tower above the rest. She has the powerful social media following that will equate to an effective platform by which she can further her personal causes as well as sustain the brand of the Miss Universe Organization and IMG. To top it all, she has the authenticity to go beyond being confidently beautiful – a coined phrase that has already overstayed its welcome in our favorite beauty pageant. The judges would be blind not to see all these factors which – I strongly believe – are already inputted in their decision-making even before the Preliminary Interviews and formalized soon after she stood up at the end of her 7-on-1. She is Miss Universe 2018 personified. And it will take a gargantuan effort from either Tamaryn Green or Kiara Liz Ortega to snatch the title away from her.
I will end this blog entry by stating that the Philippines’ 4th Miss Universe victory is well within reach. Not by a mile or in an arm’s length. But close enough to touch, smell and hug the crown.