Many of you may not be aware that Phuong Khanh Nguyen of Vietnam is back in the country to pursue possible career opportunities that await her after serving one full year as Miss Earth 2018. She crowned her successor – Nellys Pimentel of Puerto Rico – earlier this month.
Earlier today, I had an intimate lunch with this beautiful 24 year-old at No.8 China House inside Grand Hyatt Manila. We spoke about several topics, including her future plans in the Philippines which she considers her second home and a current project to promote the upcoming Miss Bikini Philippines which focuses on both beauty & brains and the health and fitness factors of the pageant.
As a teenager, Phuong Khan had significant body weight issues and it took a lot of struggles both personally and socially to get herself out of what she considers the lowest points in her life so far. Credit goes to her older brother who did everything to raise her self-esteem and direct her attention towards having a healthier lifestyle en route to achieving the best physical version of herself. It took her more than five years (in which period she also took up business studies in Singapore where she was able to polish her facility in English) to achieve a plan that led to her joining the one and only national beauty pageant she ever took part in, got a 2nd Runner-Up placement and was eventually led to the Miss Earth Vietnam 2018 casting where she was selected to represent her country in the Philippines last year. The rest is history as she became the first Vietnamese to win a Grand Slam title in international pageantry.
Watch my exclusive one-on-one with Phuong Khanh:
Right now, Phuong Khanh is ready to face the challenge of new projects and engagements that will further attest to her health and fitness advocacy. Add to that an enviable 22-inch waistline and an expressive self that can easily convince anyone to make her a spokesperson for related endorsements, she is open to the idea of making Manila as her second home base.
With Promedia giving her the privilege of becoming an Ambassador for Miss Bikini Philippines (as well as a judge for the Finals Night on November 28), it won’t be long till she finds herself doing more projects in the country and perhaps, the ASEAN Region.
Best of luck to you, my dear Phuong Khanh!
Phuong Khanh Nguyen (Center) with Paul Reyes of Promedia (right) and yours truly
And another Vietnamese does it again in the Philippines!
Congratulations to Trinh Bao for winning the 13th Edition of Mister International at the just-concluded finals held at One Esplanade in Pasay. His court includes 1st Runner-Up Francesco Piscitelli of Venezuela and 2nd Runner-Up Waikin Kwan of Hong Kong.
You will remember that Phuong Khanh Nguyen won Miss Earth 2018, while Cao Xuan Tai was named Man of the World 2018 – both held here in the Philippines – last year.
The Top 3 (left to right): Venezuela, Hong Kong and Vietnam (Photo credit Joy Arguil)
We have a new Miss Earth and she is Nguyen Phuong Khanh of Vietnam. She outperformed everyone else in the Final 4 (even the Top 8) to become the first Vietnamese winner of the title and the first-ever victory of the country in a Grand Slam pageant among the Big 4 in the pageant world.
Her elemental court is composed of Miss Air Melanie Mader of Austria, Miss Water Valeria Ayos of Colombia and Miss Fire Melissa Flores of Mexico.
Miss Philippines Celeste Cortesi made it up to the Top 8, along with Telma Madeira of Portugal, Diana Silva of Venezuela and Sofia Favan of Italy.
This was such a tightly-paced finals that the event was concluded at just 10pm, way earlier than previous editions.
Below is the crowning moment of Miss Earth 2018 and her court.
She stood up against the odds without flinching.
Miss Earth 2017 Karen Ibasco is a braveheart – someone who was called (make that crowned) to action, who stepped out in courage, and who followed through to completion the task she has been called to do or become.
As Miss Earth 2017, she faced one of the most mud-slinged reigns in modern international pageant history. Blame it on the common perception of physical beauty by many fans, supporters and followers from other countries who could not accept her inclusion in their idea of a deserving winner. Heck, even some of her fellow Filipinos joined in the fray and threw their own bushels of tomatoes in dismay. It also didn’t help that the competition was held here in the Philippines where a hometown decision is sure to be met with more than quizzical looks.
And so, she was faced with ferocious resistance the night the crown was placed on top of her head. The most unpleasant shots spread like wildfire on social media, just like the hurtful memes that bruised her feelings like nonstop jabs from an unseen class of opponents.
But Karen is not one to be cowered by such below-the-belt attacks. She remained undaunted, and took the queenly path instead – keeping her cool/composure every step of the way.
And more than midway through her year of reign, the hits gradually grew silent and acceptance crept in a painfully slow manner. It didn’t matter. She continued to hold her head up high.
And now that she is about to crown her successor tonight, Karen can look back to all the painful moments she had surpassed. And give out a generous smile. Because true to her title, she is one of the most down-to-Earth Queens I have ever met. She fulfilled (and continues to fulfill) her responsibilities with clockwork precision, while preserving the pageant brand she was tasked to sustain and strengthen.
Karen “Braveheart” Ibasco. Move on with an even braver heart. Continue to be an inspiration to many. And keep up with the efforts in making our Earth a most environmentally safe place to live in.
I will do my Miss Earth 2018 Predictions in a top-to-bottom order for a change. Starting off with my big winner and elemental court, I can see two Latinas – Melissa Flores of Mexico and Diana Silva of Venezuela – fighting close to become the successor of Karen Ibasco. I am giving the edge to the Mexican beauty because she is the more consistent all-around. It also helps that the Miss Earth Mexico Organization that sent her has been making great efforts in sustaining and making the brand more popular in the Americas. Now if the final decision would come down to a Q&A answer, then it wouldn’t surprise me as well if the judges would lean on Melissa. But if she falters – even marginally along the way – then Diana is likely to benefit from the lapse and could give Venezuela its 3rd Miss Earth crown. I would be happier with the former finishing on top, though.
As for Water and Fire, it could be interchangeable between Priya Sigdel of Nepal and Telma Madeira of Portugal. Anyone among the two would be good choices for the elemental court. The Nepalese, however, has the upper hand should she ace the interview round. She could even spoil the two Latinas. But for now, I am sticking to the final lineup I made.
The Portuguese Telma would have made a refreshing Miss Earth winner. Her relative youth might be a concern when the going gets tough, though.
Hence, above is a photo grid of my Top 8, with the 5th to 8th places occupied by Danijela Burjan of Slovenia, Margaretha de Jong of Netherlands, Celeste Cortesi of the Philippines and Melanie Mader of Austria (the one who might benefit from an upper push if the organizers find it beneficial to have an elemental Queen whose attitude and work ethics they are already accustomed to after reigning as Miss Philippines Earth-Water back in 2016).
Just to complete a Top 16, my 9th to 16th Goddesses in ranking are: Phuong Khanh Nguyen of Vietnam, Yashvi Aware of the USA, Maristella Okpala of Nigeria, Antonia Figueroa of Chile, Nerada Chitsadapriyakun of Thailand, Lisa Hayet of Guatemala, Jessica Russo of Peru and Margo Faith Fargo of South Africa.
Let’s see how the actual results will compare tomorrow night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
In anticipation of the Miss Earth 2018 Finals this coming Saturday, here are images from the photoshoot of the Philippines’ four (4) Miss Earth titleholders:
From 2008, Karla Henry
From 2014, Jamie Herrell
From 2015, Angelia Gabrena Ong
and from 2017, Karen Ibasco
HMUA Team headed by Angelo Tacadena
Photographer: Torrontegui Robert
Stylist: Rick Sotelo
High time to have a new Miss Earth winner from another country!
If you want to watch all the Eco-Videos of the Miss Earth 2018 Candidates, head to the pageant’s YouTube Channel and watch all of them while waiting for the results of Miss Grand International 2018. For now, here are my five favorites:
Miss Nepal Priya Sigdel
Miss Malaysia Jasmine Yeo
Miss Moldova Dumitrița Izbișciuc
Miss New Zealand Jzayla Hughey
Miss Czech Republic Tereza Křivánková