Pageant fever is taking over the entire country as 86 of the most “confidently beautiful” women in the world descended on the Philippine capital to compete for the coveted diamond-encrusted Miss Universe crown.
On Jan. 30 (Jan. 29 in the US), the world will witness the most prestigious beauty pageant crown the successor of Pia Wurtzbach. But instead of the usual top 15, only 12 will be called to advance in the semifinal round where they will compete in their swimsuit. To make it more intense, only 11 semifinalists will be chosen by the pre-pageant judges, the last slot will be decided through popular votes. Voting will start tomorrow.
With the 65th Miss Universe preliminary competitions fast unfolding in Manila and in the countryside, comments and reviews of the candidates after the Governor’s Ball, the Philippine Terno fashion show in Vigan, the swimsuit parade in Cebu, and the auxiliary event in Davao have been appearing almost daily in the media.
As customary in every pageant, we are making a list of eleven so-called Hot Picks or favorite delegates that could make the cut during the coronation day.
1. Miss Venezuela – The towering Mariam Habach Santucci is a 20-year-old model and dental student. She’s a volunteer in a children care, was raised in a Syrian and Italian family, and speaks four languages including Spanish, English, Arabic and Italian. Santucci is the most favored candidate to win the crown. As early as now, she’s won two pre-pageant awards.
2. Miss Thailand – Chalita Suansane is a 21-year-old microbiology student. Back in her hometown, she’s a volunteer at Baan Home Hug orphanage that houses HIV-afflicted children, abused and orphaned children (talk about beauty with a purpose). The 5-foot-7 stunner is also a social media favorite due to her signature pose.
3. Miss Brazil – Raissa Santana is a 21-year-old Marketing graduate who loves to play basketball and cooking. She is an advocate of children welfare and an ardent supporter of organizations that focuses on child adoption and care for the elderly. The 5-foot-9 Brazilian model is the first woman of color to represent her country at Miss Universe in 30 years.
4. Miss Philippines – Maxine Medina is a print and runway model. She’s a professional interior designer and volunteers for social works for children with cancer, supports “Operation Smile” and Gawad Kalinga street children and participated in relief operations to typhoon victims in the Philippines. The 5-foot-8 beauty is gunning for the elusive back-to-back victory for the country
5. Miss Indonesia – Kezia Warouw is a towering 6-foot model. The 25-year-old Indonesian is an Informatics Engineering graduate and volunteers for Smile Train Indonesia. Another press favorite, Warouw has recently won a special award in an auxiliary event in Davao.
6. Miss Japan – Sari Nakazawa is a senior dental student with a passion for children and travel and has volunteered at orphanages and children’s hospitals in Vietnam and Cambodia. The 23-year-old model plays volleyball, arranges flowers, hosts tea parties and plays the piano. She has a very good knowledge about beauty and health.
7. Miss Australia – Caris Tiivel stands 5-foot-10. She is a model from Perth who loves to paint to express herself and works closely with children who are in need. She has used her role as Miss Australia to shine a light on mental health. The stunning 23-year-old revealed to the Herald Sun she once suffered from depression and anxiety, which something she overcame.
8. Miss Colombia – Andrea Tovar is 5-foot-11. She is currently studying Industrial Design and Photographic Image Production at the Jorge Tadeo Lozano University in Bogotá. The longest reigning Miss Colombia is also the second woman of color from Chocó to win a national crown after Vanessa Mendoza in 2001.
9. Miss Dominican Republic – Sal Garcia is an international model. Stunner in 5-foot-11 frame, Garcia has modeled for some of the most prestigious designers and fashion houses in the world, including Jean Paul Gaultier, Salvatore Ferragamo, Gucci, and Prada, to name a few.
10. Miss South Africa – Ntandoyenkosi Kunene, 24, is a 5-foot-9 Education graduate and currently an ambassador for the Cell C Take a Girl Child to Work Day which gives South African girls first-hand experience in an industry as future career opportunities.
11. Miss USA – Deshauna Barber is one of the oldest Miss Universe delegates. The 27-year-old black beauty is an active US Army Reserve and holder of Masters of Science in Computer Information Systems. She works as an IT Analyst at the U.S. Department of Commerce and has been spending her year as Miss USA working directly with soldiers suffering from PTSD and focusing on suicide prevention in the Armed Forces. with Eton Concepcion