Less than 12 hours to go before the finale! Here’s our assessment on the third and final group:
Argentina – Fiona Hengemuhler
This blonde went relatively unnoticed in all areas of the competition, though she did exude cutesy, girl-next-door charm in her eco video. See, that’s why it’s important not to take these videos for granted.
Bahamas – Brittania Alexa Mitchell
Not that there was anything wrong with her overall performance per se. It’s just that she was simply outshone by a slew of stronger contenders. It doesn’t help that her eco video was one of the weakest in the bunch.
Bolivia – Giancarla Fernandez
When this girl was crowned, pundits were quick to point out her resemblance to Miss Universe Thailand 2016 Chalita Suansane. She’s a formidable contender and she also deservingly garnered a Gold medal for her revealing national costume, replete with sexy native dance. Bolivia has sent strong contenders in the past, but its sole placement was in 2001. It’s high time for Bolivia to bounce back.
Bosnia and Herzegovina – Lela Karagic
There’s something in her personality that seems detached, though she likely scored high in the crucial “Figure and Form” and “Beauty of Face” categories. And lest we forget, her country’s best performances tend to happen in this pageant – Dzejla Glavovic‘s 2002 dethronement notwithstanding.
Brazil – Yasmin Engelke
She has neither garnered medals nor generated significant buzz. It’s unusual for a candidate from this country to be ignored in this pageant,; even its past non-placers were considered favorites at some point.
Cambodia – Em Kun Tong
Of all the returning participants this year, this country endured the longest hiatus: 11 years. Now, their comeback delegate is actually a very solid performer. But as it is, it’s already a neck-and-neck battle among her neighbors from Thailand, Vietnam, and Myanmar. It’s unlikely that she’ll be the Indochinese-of-choice.
China – Mei Zhan
Nobody told us Sandra Oh was competing. Kidding aside, this girl possesses an excellent command of English with fierce projection skills to spare. Alas, the judges won’t likely gravitate to her severe Asian features.
Cook Islands – Mona Taio
Here’s more proof that being sexy comes in different shapes and sizes. Her fiery Polynesian dance earned her a Silver medal in her group’s talent round. After that, she faded into the background.
Croatia – Bonita Kristic
She’s knowledgable and committed to the pageant’s cause, although the judges will likely favor softer-faced candidates. Her vocal skills are quite impressive, though.
Cyprus – Aremis Charalambous
With the Greek goddess of the environment as her mythological namesake, it’s rather appropriate that she’s competing in this pageant. Looks-wise, she’s the best candidate fielded by her Mediterranean island since its 2003 placement. Her biggest highlights are her Silver medal for National Costume (Eastern Europe) and her Gold Talent medal for her electrifying belly dance number. She’s a sleeper possibility.
Guadeloupe – Morganne Nestar
To her credit, the busy feathery frock she sported in her group’s evening gown competition actually looked good on her. Other than that, this curly-haired Caribbean belle hasn’t made an indelible impression.
India – Shaan Sumas Kumar
Her country has yet to place in this pageant since Nicole Faria‘s 2010 win. She most probably aced the preliminary interview. Outside of that, it’ll probably be an uphill battle for her to end the drought.
Italy – Fabiana Enrica Barra
She appears to have a fun, spontaneous personality, judging from how she conducted herself in her talent presentation. She also won a silver medal for National Costume (Eastern Europe). But she’ll unlikely sustain her country’s placement last year.
Malaysia – Cherish Ng
She and Vietnam were almost interchangeable when they checked in at Century Park Manila early last month. But as the competition progressed, she was clearly left behind by her “sister”.
Malta – Christie Refalo
It’s nice to see this country no longer being predisposed to occupying the cellar, as they’ve been sending more formidable contenders as of late. This girl adheres to that current trend, but she’s also being largely ignored.
Mexico – Karen Bustos
Just like Paraguay, this girl’s features look more European than Latina. She even bears a passing resemblance to former Miss Albania, now Kosovo’s national director, Agnese Vuthaj. She won a Silver Medal for her scintillating evening gown performance, but as in the case of other strong Latinas this year, a placement is far from guaranteed. She will likely be overtaken by her two namesakes.
Northern Ireland – Marie Lynch
This blogger comes across as even younger than her 19 years (dare we say it, she talks like a tween). Still, she’s the best-looking UK girl this year and she also dolled up impressively in the challenge events that count. Winning Miss Pontefino Estates could also help.
Portugal – Gloria Silva
She’s one of the Plain Janes this year, unfortunately, but at least she earned the consolation of being a Silver medalist for National Costume (Central/Western Europe).
Puerto Rico – Karla Victoria Aponte
This beautiful blonde won Gold medals in both her group’s Swimsuit and Evening Gown competitions, in addition to being awarded for Best Eco Video overall. She’s now poised to secure her island’s best ever placement in this pageant, if not its first ever Miss Earth crown. It’s a timely turn of events, considering the ongoing plight of her hurricane-ravaged island.
Reunion Island – Emma Lauret
She should refrain from relaxing her curls; it neutralizes her key asset, which is her exotic island charm.
Rwanda – Uwase Hirma Honorine
Here’s another African sleeper possibility. Her standout features include her radiant personality and funky haircut. She also gained extra attention for refusing to wear a swimsuit. Not that it does her disservice, her svelte frame is still emphasized even when covered up.
Serbia – Marija Nikic
The distinction of Former Yugoslav-most-likely is a lock between Bosnia and Herzegovina and this angelic-faced ingenue. Her slight advantage is her friendlier aura.
Sri Lanka – Shyama Dahanayaka
This latecomer has a passing resemblance to pageant contestant-turned-TV host Patricia Tumulak. She whipped up a creditable and polished performance overall, but a placement is unlikely.
Switzerland – Sarah Laura Peyrel
Sporting short hair proved to be a brilliant strategy for this Swiss Miss as it accentuates her beauty even more. She also won Silver medals for her group’s Swimsuit event and Miss Friendship. She’s a strong semi-final possibility.
Tonga – Diamond Langi
She’s as radiant as her gemological namesake and she’s actually a former global titleholder herself, having won Face of Beauty International in 2013. Her prospects of placing in this wider playing field are less-than-certain, but she could still pull a surprise.
Ukraine – Diana Mironenko
This country has been unjustly ignored thrice before and its overdue first placement in 2010 was a head scratcher. This girl earned a Bronze for Resorts Wear, so she might be in contention. Pontefino Hotel seems more certain. She won a special award from that venue.
USA – Andreia Gibau
With Corrin Stellakis‘ appointment as incumbent Miss Earth-Fire, following Bruna Zanardo‘s abdication, the U.S. has now officially earned all elemental titles except the plum prize. Many are now rooting for this Cabo Verdean-born chatterbox to secure that missing puzzle piece. It’s an uphill battle, to be quite honest, but she’s still a top contender. Her best prospects would be a repeat element.
Vietnam – Le Thi Ha Thu
This former Miss Intercontinental semi-finalist currently ties with Philippines as the most Gold-medalled contender. One of her Gold medals was for Miss Earth Warrior, which suggests that she’s the most devoted to her cause. Her other first place finishes were for the Online Photogenic poll and the Resorts Wear competition. She will likely equal – or even surpass – her country’s Top 8 finish last year.
Zambia – Abigail Chama
Fans were prepared to dismiss her as another African also-ran, until she shockingly garnered a Bronze medal for Darling of the Press. This is indeed her continent’s best year yet.
COMING UP: PAGEANT GEEKS’ FULL PREDICTION!