Europe and Africa may have conquered the pageant in its early years, but it’s this region that’s proved ever-dominant. Throughout the pageant’s history, 11 women from eight countries have conquered the title. That even includes HONDURAS, supposedly represented this year by Jissel Rivera, but she only appeared in the Sports Wear challenge.
Now, back to the statistics. What’s even more revealing is that the last two women standing from both 2019 and 2020 have come from this region: one Latina and one from USA. Chances are, that trend will continue this year.
Here are the earthly warriors from the AMERICAS.
ARGENTINA – Flora Veloso. Had this been a live, physical pageant, the Manila press would have gone crazy over her borderline Asian features. Although missing in the Fitness round, her Beach Wear challenge entry was more than enough to showcase her glorious form. Keep an eye on her. She might just be the splashiest Argentine we’ve seen here since 2001.
BELIZE – Destiny Wagner. Throughout its pageant run, Central America’s lone anglophone has only recorded one placement: Miss Universe 1979’s Sarita Acosta. This mystifying stunner deserves not just to finally add to their tally, but, hopefully, also secure the best ever finish for her tropical country.
BOLIVIA – Sarah Teran. This law firm employee rocked the Fitness and Form round with her well-toned body, though she might have been overshadowed in other categories. Formidable as she is, topping her region might be a challenge.
BRAZIL – Cassia Adriane de Araujo. Considering that this country was the first to win this pageant twice, it’s sad how they haven’t maintained that clout as of late. They only managed to place once over the last four years. Plus, their last elemental title holder was dethroned for joining another pageant during her reign. Well, this graphic designer does have the top-notch qualities that can put her country back in contention. But it’s hard to hastily set that in stone these days.
CANADA – Alice Li. This Beijing-born CPA represented China in Miss Supranational last August, which makes the first crossover to represent another country within the same year. The qualities she displayed in her previous stint are still pretty much there. Couple that with her unique advocacy of creating a special font that helps conserve paper, and we got ourselves a contender. Her main hurdle is that her adopted homeland has been generally ignored after its 2007 win.
CHILE – Romina Denecken. She might as well be nicknamed the Chilean Captain Marvel as she vaguely resembles Oscar-winning actress Brie Larsson. While an American back-to-back win is generally the expected turnout so far, this breathtaking blonde seems to be the likeliest to usurp that feat. It will be a neck-and-neck race for sure. And should she manage, her homeland will be the fourth South American country to conquer this tilt twice (Brazil, Venezuela, and Ecuador being the first three).
COLOMBIA – Pola Ruiz. For reasons already etched in our collective memory, Filipinos will always include Colombians in their lists in the spirit of friendly competition. This professional singer’s not a total shoo-in, though. But her unique diva-like flair is more than welcome.
CUBA – Cynthia Linnet Lau. Every time a Cuban competes, it inevitably raises the question: “Do they or do they not embrace pageants over there?” One thing we can’t question, though, is this girl’s competitive spirit as she exuded vivaciousness and delivered in all her judging rounds. A surprise placement might happen.
DOMINICAN REPIBLIC – Nicole Franco. The home of merengue has been enjoying flashes of glory in other pageants, but it has generally been under the radar here since 2008. That status quo is expected to remain for now.
GUADELOUPE – Stessy Roche. She may lack an Eco Video, but she’s arguably the prettiest contestant fielded by her islands here so far. The catch, though, is that this pageant hasn’t really paid attention to this French overseas department the same way it has towards the likes of Martinique and Tahiti in the mid-2000s. She also missed the Fitness challenge.
GUATEMALA – Mariela Aldana. This marketing professional registered impressively in her challenges, though her gown choice in the Poise round may have raised eyebrows. It remains to be seen if she can overcome the more traditional Latina powerhouses.
MEXICO – Natalia Duran. Other Latinas may overshadow this fashion design student in the looks department, but she delivered standout performances in all other judging rounds. She’s definitely still one to watch.
PANAMA – Jillyan Chue. Her name might sound vaguely Asian, but she’s a Latina through and through. She may not be a shoo-in like her predecessor Ayanasi de Gracia, but her judging round performances were top-notch.
PARAGUAY – Evelyn Andrade. This young CEO has a pretty face, but her absence in crucial judging rounds might put her out of contention.
PERU – Briggitte Corrales. While she performed well in the looks-based judging categories, she’s far from being the Latina-of-choice. Her absence in the Intelligence round doesn’t help her cause either.
PUERTO RICO – Cristina Mariel Rios. It’s amusing how you can almost interchange the names of the two U.S. territory girls competing this year. (Northern Marianas’ name is Crystal Fiona Rio). That tidbit aside, it’s also comforting to see this island finally achieving consistency – from its 2019 victory to last year’s Top 8 placement. But while this girl has the worthy qualities to at least continue the streak, the presence of other competitive Latinas won’t make things easy.
USA – Marisa Paige Butler. Just when we thought that Lindsey Coffey was a tough act to follow, here comes this esteemed veteran looking more dazzling than ever. She’s certainly come a long way from being a Miss USA 2016 also-ran and a Miss World 2018 quarter-finalist. Now, she’s a frontrunner and rightfully so. She’s not just ready to fight until the end and claim the televised crowning moment that has always evaded her; she’s ready for the job. And quite frankly, this might just be her time.
VENEZUELA – Maria Daniela Velasco. To be blunt, she might have been overshadowed in the Beauty of Face challenge. But then, she unsurprisingly blazed through all other judging rounds, like Fitness and Form, and more particularly, the pivotal Intelligence and Environmental Awareness category. And besides, we’re talking about a pageant superpower that’s amassed two wins and seven elemental titles over the last 16 years. Count her in, still.
STANDOUTS: ARGENTINA, BELIZE, BOLIVIA, BRAZIL, CANADA, CHILE, COLOMBIA, CUBA, MEXICO, PANAMA, PUERTO RICO, USA, VENEZUELA
COMING NEXT: THE FINAL WISH LIST