And we are now at the final day before we meet the 65th Miss Universe! It has been a whirlwind coverage for me and I can not believe that it is ending (insert sad face here!) However, I also can’t wait for the finale to commence and see some serious competition on stage. I have seen the candidates both onstage showing their skills during the preliminaries and have seen them offstage as well, seeing them a bit unguarded. I must say that there are a lot of candidates who are capable of penetrating the semifinalist row and it was almost a Herculean task for me to complete a strong Top 13 (Yes, they are choosing 13 semifinalists instead of the original Top 12).
After hours of thinking it through, I was able to come up with my Top 13 plus 5 names who I call as “The Reserves”. As if the task of sizing down my original list of 28 was not enough, I had to sleep through the process of putting them in order. Geeeee! So, here are the 18 of my favorite ladies. Note that their placements are based on what I would LIKE see tomorrow (READ: Too bias for my personal favorites!)
Photo Credits: Miss Universe Organization
These are the delegates who can easily snatch a semifinalist and replace ANY of the names below!
I was in for a surprise after seeing the preliminary performances of Noelia Freire (Spain) and Zoey Ivory (Netherlands). Zoey was a fresh of breath air. She was current, classy and confident. Noelia, on the other hand, has one of the most beautiful faces in the competition and had a better-than-expected performance during the preliminaries. Andrea Tovar (Colombia) and Deshauna Barber (USA) are considered as fan favorites. I felt that they performed below MY expectations as fan favorites BUT i’ll be happy seeing them advance into the Top 13. I’d love to see Marina Jacoby (Nicaragua) place as a semifinalist (especially that she has a sweet National Director) but something was missing when I saw her earlier during the Red Carpet Event.
Argentina-Mexico-Sierra Leone-US Virgin Islands
I must admit that the inclusion of Carolyn Carter (US Virgin Islands) is a risky decision on my part. But Carolyn’s work outside of her Miss Universe stint is impressive and I am crossing my fingers that it was noticed during the closed-door interview. Her performance was just “okay” which is scaring me. Hawa Kamara (Sierra Leone) was a pleasure to watch on stage. She was confident without being too cocky or showy and her catwalk/presentation skills was above average. I feel that she had one of the strong performances among African delegates. Estefania Bernal (Argentina) and Kristal Silva (Mexico) aced their preliminaries. Estefania is blessed to have one of the best faces in the competition but her performance is not something to be taken lightly as well. Kristal, on the other hand, set the stage on fire! She was unstoppable and was giving some presentation skills lessons to the other candidates
This is a tricky group to handle. You have Caris Tiivel (Australia) who has a strong sash and a gorgeous face. Aussies are also expected to ace the closed door interview so I am giving that to her as well. In another corner is the underdog – Sal Garcia (Dominican Republic) – who was nowhere near my list before Thursday but surprised me with a calculated yet stand-out preliminary performance AND Chalita Suansane (Thailand) who is excellent with her showmanship. Each has strength that will deliver them the semifinalist spot (higher score for that matter) BUT keeps me second guessing with some of my issues. Caris lacked the energy for a candidate who is hungry for the crown. Sal pushed her luck but has to consistently stand-out for her not to be towered by a strong Latina delegation. Chalita is giving me variety of vibes every time I see her. I hope to see consistency in bringing the “real” Chalita – the down-to-earth and ever pleasant yet always the fighter Chalita.
This batch was both easy and difficult – Easy because I am almost certain that they will place but Difficult because I can’t accommodate them all in my Top 3. Mariam Habach (Venezuela) owned the preliminaries. She was the main actress and everyone was just a supporting act. Raissa Santana (Brazil) is a class of her own. She is fresh and is very much current. I love her energy! Kezia Warouw (Indonesia) is a fan favorite. Her preliminary performance was on point but she won me over tonight during the Red Carpet Event – she knows her way to your heart!
2nd Runner-up: Aruba (Charlene Leslie)
Charlene reminds me of the queens in the 90s – Classic and Expensive. For me, she gave a very strong performance during the preliminaries. Her Evening Gown performance should be one of the benchmarks of future Miss Universe aspirants. I might be placing her too high BUT I feel that she deserves this. Whatever happens, Charlene will forever be my personal fave this year.
1st Runner-up: Philippines (Maxine Medina)
Let me be clear, Maxine was never my favorite for the Binibining Pilipinas Universe title. However, she is making me proud as a Filipino. Just the restrain not to answer those bashers – talking as if they have competed in Miss Universe ever [or recently]. Maxine fought hard and fair to be where she is right now. Her humility and hard work are the ONLY reasons why she is favored to place, place big and win the Miss Universe crown.
Miss Universe 2016: France (Iris Mittenaere)
❤ Humble. Smart. Confident. Beautiful ❤
Whatever the results are, I’d be proud of this batch! I’ve seen the hard work that they have invested in the competition and as a fan, I am forever indebted!
Best of luck ladies!!!