All posts by chuckiechavez

Vapid musings from a self-deprecating child-at-heart.

Spanish Surprise: Tidbits from Miss World 2015, Part 3

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The Top 5. Note the order. 

Again, I don’t know if you noticed, but just like the announcement of the Top 20, the order in which the five finalists were called seemed to already suggest the final placement. Could it mean that the telecast judges were already decided on their winner at that point, regardless of how each finalist answered? For now, that’s just my theory.

Anyway, here’s my take on the 5 finalists (in reverse order)…

Continue reading Spanish Surprise: Tidbits from Miss World 2015, Part 3

Spanish Surprise, and other Tidbits from Miss World 2015, Part 2

Ever since the average Miss World delegation started hitting the hundred mark, the elimination process has become more noticeably streamlined, making the finals feel more akin to an American Idol results show. It seems that, nowadays, the purpose of the initial cut is to simply acknowledge the highest pre-pageant scorers. After which, the roster is immediately reduced into a more manageable number. Long story short: only the delegates who make the Top 10/11 are scored by the telecast judges. The remainder are, in effect, honorable mentions. At least, that’s my interpretation.

I fully understand the need for quicker proceedings. My only wish is that they still reserved an element of suspense. Case in point: The order in which the Top 20 was announced turns out to be the same as the Pre-Final Leader Board Tally. What’s the use, then, of revealing the Top 10 in this manner?

Behold, my take on this year’s quarter-finalists and semi-finalists:

Continue reading Spanish Surprise, and other Tidbits from Miss World 2015, Part 2

Spanish Surprise, and Other Tidbits from Miss World 2015, Part 1

Thanks to the emotional roller-coaster that was Miss Universe 2015, coupled with my family’s usual Christmas festivities, it almost slipped my mind that another major pageant also happened last week.

In fact, it’s the first time both premier international pageants took place within the same weekend. But for reasons that are now glaringly obvious, the attention is now more heavily centered on Miss Universe, which I will tackle in another set of entries. For now, here’s my take on Miss World 2015. 

This year’s batch was considered a tight race, with no absolute favorites and no clear-cut standouts. From the get-go, we were conditioned to expect the unexpected. And lo and behold: a surprise, milestone victory. More on that later.

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Continue reading Spanish Surprise, and Other Tidbits from Miss World 2015, Part 1

Miss Universe 2015: My Fearless Forecast

Given the recent uncertainties plaguing this pageant (prolonged host city bids, Donald Trump‘s controversial statements), it’s not surprising that the delegate count suffered a major attrition this year. With 80 contestants, it’s the smallest roster this pageant whipped up in this decade so far. Even Miss Earth and Miss Supranational attracted more representatives this year, and those contests are far younger. One can’t help but wonder if we will ever see the Miss Universe delegation exceeding the 90s mark. Only time will tell.

One thing you can’t fault in this pageant, though, is the overall quality of its delegates. And I guess it’s one factor why it’s still considered as one of the world’s popular international beauty contests. In recent years, we’ve seen rosters where more than half of the contestants were competitive. This year is no exception.

The pageant is taking place in Las Vegas, Nevada for the third time within the last five years, which is, again, indicative of the pageant’s organizational woes. Then again, this may or may not bode well for certain North American countries. I will elaborate later.

Without further ado, here’s my rundown of this year’s Miss Universe delegates.

Continue reading Miss Universe 2015: My Fearless Forecast

Miss World 2015: 25 Favorites

 

If my memory serves me correctly, this is the first time in pageant history that Miss Universe and Miss World are held in the same weekend. This is the shortest ever waiting span between two of the world’s premier international pageants. Thus, there are no crossover delegates – we only get to see each candidate compete once this year.

The unfortunate trade-off is that both pageants suffered major attritions in their roster of participating countries. 14 countries withdrew from last year’s Miss World lineup. Sadly, that number was further diminished.  Greece‘s Theodora Moschouri  was mysteriously dismissed due to “inappropriate behavior” and don’t get me started on the sad plight of Canada’s Anastasia Lin

Now that I’ve gotten those factoids out of the way, I will now present my 25 picks for this year’s pageant. This is not a prediction in the strictest sense of the word, although I’m pretty sure about who I want to see in the Top 5. The remainder is a loose shortlist of favorites.

Here we go. Let’s start with my frontrunners:

PICK FOR MISS WORLD 2015 – LEBANON – Valerie Abou Chacra. Just look at that face. Valerie has been on top of almost everyone’s lists – including mine- from the get-go, and she could easily run away with the crown, if this pageant was judged solely on looks. But it’s not. Her frontrunner status came under threat as up until yesterday, her only ace was being shortlisted in Top Model. At least she surely will vindicate the dismal performance of last year’s Lebanese delegate – the lovely but exceptionally timid Saly Greige. Either way, I’m keeping the faith.

PICK FOR 1ST RUNNER-UP – AUSTRALIA – Tess Alexander. The Land Down Under has become a semi-final staple in this pageant recently, and this charming redhead will likely continue that trend. I’ve yet to warm up to her pale features, honestly. But judging from her impressive placements in Top Model, Talent, and Sports, she will likely go far. Couple that with her radiant personality, and she might even pull an upset victory.

PICK FOR 2ND RUNNER-UP – FRANCE – Hinarare Taputu. The last time a Tahitian woman saw action in this pageant was in 2010, when Mihilani Texeira placed in the Top 25 as Miss French Polynesia. Five years later, gorgeous Hinarare seems poised to surpass that feat, albeit competing under the French flag. If she wins, she’ll be bringing honor to two sovereign entities.

Completing my Top 5 are…

BRAZIL – Catharina Choi Nuñes. She’s half-Korean. In fact, she was crowned Miss Earth-Fire back in 2013, representing Korea. She was a heavy favorite back then and she’s still a heavy favorite now, except that she’s now representing the other half of her lineage. Catharina now makes history as the first woman of Asian descent to represent Brazil in this pageant. Keep an eye on her catwalk.

POLAND – Marta Pałucka.  One thing I noticed about her country’s performance in this pageant recently is that they place when they’re not expected to place (e.g. 2009’s Anna Jamroz), while their stunners tend to be clappers (e.g. 2012’s Weronikza Smjadzidska). I’m counting on Marta to reverse that bothersome trend. After all, her Top Model and Beauty with a Purpose placements should amount to something.

Here are my other 20 favorites in alphabetical order:

BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA – Marijana Marković. I actually consider Marijana as the most beautiful pageant contestant fielded by her country in this decade so far. Unfortunately, she only managed to earn a nod in the Designer Dress category, which won’t even earn her points. Granted she scores high in interview, she will likely be out-performed by delegates who placed high in challenge events. Shame.

CHINA PR – Yuan Lu. Well, she’s from China. And the pageant is taking place in China. She’s also a Top Model and Talent short lister. Nope, I’m not counting her out.

COLOMBIA – Maria Alejandra Lopez. She spent most of her formative years in the United States, which explains her American twang. She was a pre-arrival favorite, but her prospects dimmed when she failed to figure in any of the challenge events. Her only weapons left in her arsenal now are her stunning beauty and her eloquence, but it’s still going to be an uphill battle.

GUADELOUPE – Arlène Tacite. I consider her the most elegant contestant from the Caribbean this year, which was further justified by her Designer Dress nod. Sadly, she is handicapped by her lack of challenge event placements. Her island did place in the quarter-finals back in 2012, but the distinction of most successful Guadeloupean in this pageant to date belongs to Veronique de la Cruz, who placed in 1993 as Miss France. So near, yet so far.

INDIA – Aditi Arya. Aditi was shortlisted in three challenge events and is currently up for two awards. A placement is more than likely. Whether or not she’ll make the Top 5, though, is a another question. Recent editions of this pageant haven’t been kind to her country: they missed the cut in 2010 and 2011, and their frontrunners from 2012 and 2014 were brutally shut out of the Top 5. Can Aditi finally revive India’s 90s heyday? We will soon find out.

INDONESIA – Maria Harfanti. We get it, Indonesia, you’re a late bloomer. Maria made a favorable impression during the fashion show with her nominated designer dress. She has a strong chance of sustaining her country’s semi-final streak, especially with her placements in Talent and Beauty with a Purpose. 

KAZAKHSTAN – Regina Vandysheva. Regina is currently shortlisted in Top Model and Beauty with a Purpose, but her shining moment was her 4th place finish in the Sports and Fitness category. Only a weak interview will put her out of contention.

NAMIBIA – Steffi van Wyk. Much as I’m still reeling from the non-placement of last year’s gorgeous Namibian candidate, I can rest easy knowing that vindication is in the horizon. While Steffi is not your textbook pageant contestant, she won the Sports and Fitness category, reportedly with historic high marks. Bolstering her chances further are her nods for Talent and Beauty with a Purpose.

PHILIPPINES – Hillarie Parungao. She may not have the same wattage as Megan Young (who she purportedly bears a slight resemblance to), her prospects are still kept bright by her challenge event placements – namely in Top Model, Talent, and Beauty with a Purpose. The streak will likely continue.

RUSSIA – Sofia Nikitchuk. Russia may have been flying frustratingly under the radar this year, but they still have a shot at pageant placement with elegant Sofia. She is currently short-listed in both Top Model and Beauty with a Purpose.

SAMOA – Latafale Avua’a. The Samoan breakthrough beckons, thanks to this lovely lady, who placed runner-up in both Sports and Talent. Her nomination in the Beauty with the Purpose category seals the deal.

SOUTH AFRICA – Liesl Laurie. Yes, the outgoing titleholder – the immaculate Rolene Stauss – is from her country, but that shouldn’t be a point against her. After all, Valerie Weigmann already broke that curse last year. With Liesl’s elegance, eloquence, and challenge event placements, the South African streak will likely continue.

SOUTH SUDAN – Ajah Monchol. Despite being a newcomer in the pageant circuit, her young nation has quickly become synonymous to  impeccable stage presence and strong projection skills. Ajah is no exception.

SPAIN – Mireia Lalaguna. Like Russia, Spain‘s performance in international pageants this year so far has been disastrously uneven. Their best bet now is this dark horse, who short-listed for SportsTop Model and, Beauty with a Purpose.

THAILAND – Thanyanchanok Moonninta. Thanyanchanok is currently in the running for the People’s Choice Award, the same award which propelled last year’s Thai delegate into the semi-finals. In case that doesn’t work out for her, she at least figured in two challenge events –  Beauty with a Purpose and Talent (even though she was nowhere to be found in the latter’s initial shortlist). That’s more than enough safety nets for you, Miss Moonninta.

UKRAINE – Khrystyna Stolocka. Another underrated beauty, Kyrystyna’s sole shining moment up until yesterday was qualifying as a reserve participant in the Sports challenge. She also reportedly short-listed for Beauty with a Purpose. Will that be enough?

URUGUAY – Sherika de Arias. I have a gnawing feeling that Sherika won’t make the cut, since she failed to figure in any of the challenge events. Still, she deserves to be commended. Not only is she gorgeous, she also represents a step towards the right direction as her country had been sending mediocre contestants in recent years. Send this woman to another pageant, stat.

UNITED STATES – Victoria Mendoza. One interesting tidbit about this Latina is that she actually beat former Miss America Teresa Scanlan in qualifying for this pageant. So far, she was short-listed in both  Sports and Talent.  

VENEZUELA – Anyela Galante. It’s hard to believe that a supposed powerhouse like Venezuela hasn’t placed in this pageant after Ivian Sarcos‘ 2011 victory. It seems Anyela’s paving her way for a comeback, especially with her Top Model placement.

VIETNAM – Tràn Ngoc Lan Khuê. It’s refreshing to see this country fielding frontrunners in both Miss Universe and Miss World this year, though the former may have the upper hand. Lan Khuê‘s only shining moments thus far are her Top Model placement and her Designer Dress nod for her fiery ensemble. Other than that, she will have to ace her interview if she wants to advance. Then again, she’s also nominated for People’s Choice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Bangkok Binge-Walk, Day One: A Glimpse of The Grand Palace

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Welcome lunch at Baan Glom Gig courtesy of Note (left) and her sister Nham (center)

Much as the midnight downpour is making me feel like I didn’t leave home, I’m glad to report that this trip did kick off on a positive Note. And yes, I intentionally capitalized the last word of the previous sentence because it happens to be the name of my gracious host. I first met Note three years ago, when she visited the Philippines and we took her to see Tagaytay. Fast forward to 2015 (specifically, earlier this morning), she wasted no time getting in touch with me just hours after my arrival. “I’m picking you up within an hour. Wear long pants and shoes”, she instructed via wonky Facebook call. Being a first-timer in the city, I promptly obliged.

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Note arrived about half an hour later. As I stepped out of the elevator, she greeted me with a warm-hearted chuckle. “OK, so maybe you took it a bit too seriously”, she said, alluding that I was a tad overdressed. “I just wanted to be sure”, I replied, returning the chuckle. I boarded her car and met her sister Nham, whom she spoke lavishly about back in 2012.  Soon, we were off to brunch. “The place we’re taking you is very, very far from your hotel”, Note quipped as she turned at Soi Ruam Ruedi. It was a joke, as it turns out: Baan Glom Gig is only a quick stroll away from Chateau de Bangkok. Upon settling down, I further got acquainted with Nham over duck curry, omelette and rice cakes. Suffice to say, it was a hearty gastronomic welcome.

I accompanied the sisters over a quick errand. After which, Note whisked me off to Phra Nakhon (sans Nham) to see one of Bangkok’s most iconic landmarks: The Grand Palace.

Continue reading The Great Bangkok Binge-Walk, Day One: A Glimpse of The Grand Palace