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.
For the 6th time within the last 12 years, the pageant was held at the Crown of Beauty Theatre in Sanya, China. I guess at this point we should stop wondering why the organization is so fixated with this host city. After all, it was instrumental in bringing forth of the largest delegations in the pageant’s history (The one in Bali has yet to be beaten, though: 127). And even with the mysterious dismissal of Miss Greece and the politically-motivated barring of Miss Canada, this year witnessed the participation of 114 candidates – still a hefty roster, if you ask me.
I missed the entire first quarter of the show because the streaming from Miss World‘s Youtube page never materialized. I immediately scrambled for updates in the Twitterverse, and at that point, the Challenge Event winners were already being announced (Philippines won Multimedia! Yey!). After more frantic Googling, I finally stumbled upon a stable live stream. It was decent, even if I had to put up with Vietnamese VO translations. If there’s a will, there’s a way, so they say. I clicked just in time to see the second Leader Board.
I did eventually see the parts I missed via playback. We were treated to the usual grandiose, opening number replete with traditional Chinese dancers, followed immediately by the candidates alphabetically sashaying down the stage (by twos, hand-in-hand this time), towards a stationary camera. And stationary camera means = no more exposure-deprived candidates! The spectacle was then punctuated with an opera performance by Miss World 2012, Wen Xia Yu, who looked more radiant than ever. Despite those few additional elements, it’s still the same old formula all in all. I don’t think they’ll be deviating from that anytime soon.
As for this year’s hosts, I must say that they found an incredible mix in Angela Chow, Tim Vincent, and Miss World 2013 Megan Young. Each host brought something unique to the proceedings and ensured that no one from the audience was alienated. We have Angela who catered to viewers from the host country, Tim who appealed to viewers from the UK (the pageant’s country of origin), and then we have Megan, who spoke to the global audience. Despite some glaring gaffes on Tim’s part (missed cues, mispronounced names, what not), they were still an effective combination, and it felt like an all-star cast of Miss World emcees.
Entertainment this year was provided by The Wholls (DA WHO?) and Bahamian singer Julian Believe, whose performance was shoe-horned into this year’s Dances of the World segment. Now, on paper, it seemed like an innocuous idea to relocate that pre-taped production number halfway into the show, specifically, right before the announcement of the Top 5. But really, it presented some jarring continuity issues: One of the performing candidates was also a Top 10 finalist. Surely, she couldn’t switch back into her gown that fast. But hey, the song is catchy:
Now, on to the candidates:
SACRIFICED STUNNERS. Paring down 114 candidates to a hallowed group of 20 is a dramatic, daunting process. This inevitably means that a lot of early standouts would be left behind. Here’s a quick rundown of the stunners who didn’t make the first cut: Uruguay, Colombia, Portugal, and Guadeloupe never caught a break in the Challenge Events. Ukraine did figure in Sports, but only as a reserve. Chile, Wales, United States, Austria, and Mexico fizzled out midway; ditto for majority of the Scandinavian contingent: Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland. Thailand failed to replicate her predecessor’s People’s Choice win. And it’s another year out for Venezuela, despite being short-listed for the Top Model challenge. The pageant powerhouse hasn’t placed since Ivian Sarcos’ 2011 victory.
The biggest shocker, however, was the exclusion of India, Namibia, and Samoa. Despite their impressive achievements in various Challenge Events, none of them even appeared in the Leader Board. Not even once. I am left to surmise that they scored low in Interview – which is a shame, since they seem to be eloquent speakers.
FLORA COCQUEREL AWARDEES. This year’s initial Leader Board revealed Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Georgia, and Nigeria to be among the Top 20 Interview scorers, with the latter even placing as high as 10th. But with not enough Challenge Event credits to sustain their placements, they eventually fell out of contention. Georgia did manage to hold on longer thanks to her Top Model scores, but she eventually got the boot after the announcement of the Beauty with a Purpose results. It’s safe to assume that she missed the Top 20 by a hair.
COMING UP: My take on the Top 20 and Top 10, no wait, Top 11!