Monday, December 19, 2016

The Miss Earth 2016 winners. Photo courtesy of Joy Arguil.
Miss Earth 2016 - The Glittering Finale
Mall of Asia Arena, Manila, Philippines

Outgoing Queen, Miss Earth 2015
Angelia Gabrena Ong.
It's already been a week since the grand coronation night of Miss Earth 2016 took place at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines where the beautiful Latinas all dominated the four elemental titles with Katherine Espin of Ecuador achieving the main crown, a second feat for her country when her fellow Ecuadorian beauty queen in the person of Olga Alava first clinched the title in 2011. Speaking of Espin's elemental court, the South American triumvirate comprised of Miss Earth-Air Michelle Gomez from Colombia, Miss Earth-Water Stephanie de Zorzi from Venezuela and Miss Earth-Fire Bruna Zanardo from Brazil were all equally gorgeous and charming. Suffice it to say, they're one of the best batches of Miss Earth winners since the pageant's inception in 2001.

Carousel Productions had really done a great job this year, from a well-organized pre-pageant trips around the country's beautiful eco-tourism destinations doing environmental-related activities to a remarkable grand coronation finale held in a world-class venue, that is the renowned Mall of Asia Arena. All the 83 delegates who have competed this year's edition were feted like a true-blooded royalty with their five-star hotel receptions and luxurious amenities secured with the presence of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to ensure their safety and comfort as they tour around the country. On top of that were the pageant-crazy Filipino fans who received the delegates as their own and showered them with love and hospitality.

Introduction of Candidates

The Miss Earth 2016 delegates during the Opening Number. 

True to its theme, "Empowered to Make a Change", we have seen some substantial changes that greatly benefited the overall production of the pageant. One of the significant changes was the pre-taped video presentation of the delegates in their national costumes accompanied with the highlights of their eco-videos playing in the background. The only minor disappointment was the nature of the choreography and their dull outfit during the Opening Number as the delegates danced to the tune of Fifth Harmony's That's My Girl. I was expecting for an eye-catching dress coupled with much fabulous, energetic steps. Nonetheless, it was still good and pretty organized overall.

The Miss Earth 2016 delegates during the Evening Gown Segment

The Top 16

As expected, Philippines' Imelda Schweighart didn't make the cut in the
Imelda Schweighart of the Philippines in Leo Almodal
quarter-finals. Imelda's undesirable representation of the Philippines broke the country's 5-year winning streak. Imelda's non-inclusion in the Top 16 (and her eventual resignation as Miss Earth Philippines) was pleasantly received by the Filipinos as well as with the pageant aficionados. The Top 16 in no particular order comprised of the delegates from South Korea (Chae Yeung Lee), Northern Ireland (Julieann McStravick), England (Luissa Burton), Vietnam (Nguyen Nam Em), Russia (Aleksandra Cherepanova), Mexico (Itzel Astudillo), Macau SAR China (Clover Zhu), South Africa (Nozipho Magagula), Sweden (Cloie Skarne), Australia (Lyndl Kean), Italy (Denise Frigo), USA (Corrin Stellakis), Venezuela (Stephanie de Zorzi), Brazil (Bruna Zanardo), Colombia (Michelle Gomez) and Ecuador (Katherine Espin). It was quite a hilarious moment when Indonesia forwarded to join the quarter finalists instead of Italy. I knew it was an honest mistake and Indonesia didn't mean it that way. Good thing, the two hosts Marc Saw Nelson and Rovilson Fernandez didn't bother much and just let it passed. It could've been much awkward and more embarrassing for Indonesia if the blunder wasn't handled well.

The Top 16 was quite expected,  since most of them were leading the medal tally. Although I wasn't really rooting for Sweden's inclusion. The organizers must have found something special about Cloie. I would be happier if Kenya, Thailand, Denmark or Panama earned a Semi-final spot as well.

The Swimsuit Competition

Photo Credit: FabManilaPh

The top performers in this round were Venezuela (Stephanie de Zorzi), Brazil (Bruna Zanardo), Ecuador (Katherine Espin) and Colombia (Michelle Gomez). Stephanie looked stunning in this round. Her styling was on point with her red hair gorgeously swept to the side coupled with her excellent pasarela skills. Bruna came in second in my opinion, although I must admit, I had underrated this girl in my prediction list. She looked so telegenic and with an almost perfect body symmetry to boot.

South Korea (Chae Yeung Lee) had an eerie semblance with Macau SAR China (Clover Zhu). They exuded similar aura and had an almost the same level of performance. I didn't expect these two girls to grab a Semi-final spot. They were silent during the entire pre-pageant competition and seemed satisfied with just having fun.

The Evening Gown Competition

Photo Credit: OPMBWorldwide

Ecuador looked so mesmerizing while strutting in her Swarovski-encrusted yellow Almodal gown. She was filled with positivity and her confidence was palpable. Russia's Aleksandra was divine in her simple black gown. Her youthful glow vividly shined through. Another stunner was England's Luissa Burton who was wearing a shimmering Leo Almodal dress. She looked vibrant as she sashayed the gown on stage. I wasn't quite impressed with Venezuela's red gown. Aesthetic-wise, I was expecting a more beautiful gown from this pageant powerhouse country. Although, I have to say, Stephanie carried her gown with aplomb. Her runway and projection skills were superb, to say the least.

Colombia was statuesque and she performed pretty well especially in the Evening Gown competition, although I'm not a fan with her lofty yet narrow shoulders. Brazil was spectacular with her gown.The color of choice suited her skintone and Bruna really knew how to work her assets well to her advantage. Honestly, I didn't pay much attention to her during the pre-pageant activities, I thought she was boring, but she proved me wrong.

The Production Number

Fourth Impact 
The spectators were treated with the powerful performance of Bang-Bang by the Fourth Impact. I thought that just like in the previous editions we will be feted again with a mellow dramatic singing rendition while the girls in their evening gowns will parade on stage. But change has indeed come and we welcomed it with opened arms. Fourth Impact graced the show with a mind-blowing vocal prowess and high energy. Nobody could have given such impressive impact except this talented Filipino girl group.

The Top 8

From Top 16, the girls were trimmed down to 8. Vietnam, Venezuela, Russia, Sweden, USA, Brazil, Colombia, and Ecuador earned their respective spots. The Top 8 Finalists could've been a perfect line-up if England or Australia was included in lieu of Sweden. I have nothing against Sweden, however I firmly believe that Australia and England were superior in terms of presentation and the so called X-factor, although I must admit, Sweden gave a much stronger and clearer response during the make-or-break question and answer portion. Her sweet and calm demeanor must have also enticed the judges to choose her instead of the two gorgeous blondes.

It's noteworthy mentioning that Brazil, Ecuador, USA and Colombia were the ones who shined the brightest in this segment. They have hit the bull's eye with their answers. They have composed themselves well-enough with grace, intelligence and confidence while delivering their messages in the most nerve-racking part of the competition.

The Top 4

Miss Earth 2016 Top 4 Finalists (L-R): Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil 

Stephanie de Zorzi of Venezuela during
the Evening Gown Competition of Miss
Earth 2016
Truth be told, I was quite disappointed when USA and Russia were not called in the Top 4. I could understand if the most youthful and beautiful Russia was left out since her response in the Top 8 interview wasn't that convincing. However, with USA, she gave an excellent performance in the interview round. I think the only minor flaw that might have cost USA from breezing into the winning circle, was her overall aura during the finals. Her hair was quite tacky and her gown didn't compliment well with her beauty. She was a bit stiff as well and too serious. In short, she lacked the winning vibes that might have catapulted her into the Top 4. USA is still young, and she could use her Miss Earth experience to dream for a much bigger Alpha pageant. Miss World or Miss Universe suits her well.

Venezuela, Ecuador, Brazil and Colombia advanced to the Top 4. All from Latin countries. From this result, it is safe to say (unlike from the previous editions) that those who performed the strongest will surely crack through the Miss Earth's elemental court, regardless of your country and continent. Brazil outshine the other top contenders with her beauty and winsome stance, hence getting a spot in the Final 4. The same is true with Venezuela who beamed with confidence and perfection in every stride leading to the finals.

The Final Result

Miss Earth-Fire 2016 : Bruna Zanardo from Brazil
Miss Earth-Water 2016 : Stephanie de Zorzi of Venezuela
Miss Earth-Air 2016: Michelle Gomez of Colombia
Miss Earth 2016 : Katherine Espin of Ecuador

Photo Credit: Joy Arguil 

I thought that the last two women who will be standing will be Venezuela and Ecuador. In my final prediction list, I have pinned down these two Latinas who will be in a neck to neck battle for the crown. Venezuela was perfection personified during the finals, only edged out by a hairline with Ecuador's congenial charm as well as the spontaneity of her thoughts and communication skills. But beauty-wise, Venezuela has the upperhand. True enough, beauty alone won't get you the Miss Earth crown. It has to go along with the ability to speak with passion and conviction in the different environmental issues. And Ecuador has it all, aside from being a Lawyer by profession. Nevertheless, Venezuela's achievement as Miss Earth-Water 2016 isn't bad after all. She is still considered very lucky to have landed in the elite four finalists among the 80 plus women who competed for the title. I know that with her beauty and skills, she will go far in life. In fact, Venezuela will be staying longer in the Philippines to pursue her modelling career in the print and commercial ads or fashion runways. And I bet, she will be successful.

Overall, Miss Earth 2016 pageant was an upgrade from last years' editions. The grand coronation night was so much better in recent years from the venue, stage designs and the production numbers. As a matter of fact, among the Big 4 Alpha international pageants, Miss Earth's pre-pageant activities stood to be the best of them all.

Photo Credit: Joy Arguil 

Watch the Miss Earth 2016 crowning moment:


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