The night ended with a horrible mistake and I ended up drinking more green tea than I could and watched my fav actor’s movies – My Fair Lady, Charade and Mr Smith Goes to Philadelphia just to stay awake. Here in India, it aired early in the morning. So I didn’t want to miss out on Miss Universe which started with great fanfare and got me hook to it. This year, it was so exciting to follow Miss Universe. Partly because Miss World was happening at the same time and Miss World didn’t do much to publicize their events. Miss Universe had us all excited. The Glamour Photo shoots, their activities, the girl’s interview for some channels etc., made us loved Miss Universe more than ever. It also was the battle of the Latinas and Asians. Who would have thought there would be an incident that ended with a mistake that will be one of the most awkward moments of Miss Universe history. I was a little happy because Donald Trump was no longer a part of Miss Universe. Though no one can deny he did a fabulous job as the owner of the contest. This year Miss Universe will be the kind of one of those “I want to forget, but I can’t” moments.
The live telecast of Miss Universe started with a pre-recorded event of the beautiful contestants in their larger than life national costumes with a background score of “Lean on” by major Lazer and DJ snake and “Beautiful now” by Zedd. The costumes were so colourful and vibrant. I always look forward to this opening show. It’s always nice to see world cultures in one platform. There’s so much to learn from others cultures. While contestants said their names and Country names, the background host told us a little about them. Personally, Thailand’s was my favourite to win Best in national costume award. Austria’s costume was also my other favourite. Their costumes speak volume of their countries. It shows the legacy of their day to day life. It’s unique and refreshingly different and very relevant too. Miss Thailand costume described the lifeline of her country which helps the livelihood of many people which in turn helps the economy of the country along with the tourism industry. Miss Austria costumes is a tribute the Austrian pop singer and drag Queen – Conchita Wurst who won Eurovision Song contest in 2014. For me, Miss Austria costume depicts the tolerance of her country towards people irrespective of their gender, race, religion etc. It also depicts how much they value “Equality” in their society. Thankfully, Miss Thailand won this award.
The 80 contestants took the stage in a beautifully choreographed dance number. I just love those white cocktail dresses. Some girls were shining like a star. The glitters on the dress made them looked even better and they shined more. The hosts of the Night – Steve Harvey and Roselyn Sanchez were such a mismatch. I couldn’t get the joke of Steve Harvey most of the time. I would be lying if I say I didn’t laugh at some of his humour. But I just couldn’t connect with him. Roselyn was better and it was nice to see her backstage speaking with some of the contestants. She, at times, resembles Sandra Bullock. The judges included Emmitt Smith – Former Dallas Cowboys player and Dancing with the Stars winner, Niecy Nash – comedian, model, producer, and actress in Scream Queens. Olivia Culpo – Miss Universe 2012 from USA and Perez Hilton – blogger, columnist and television personality. The number of judges was a departure from previous editions of the contests where there were usually more than 4 judges sometimes 10 judges. I wish there were more judges and that too, a diverse one.
The top 15 announcement had some serious upsets for major favourites. Brazil and Australia were the first two to be called. Indonesia, Dominican Republic, Philippines, France and USA completed the first 7 finalists. So far good finalists. Then it was break time. Don’t really like breaks when you’re waiting with bated breath for your favourites to be called in and then some break spoil the mood. After the break, the girl who really did well in the prelims Curacao was called for the top 15. Belgium followed. Japan, Venezuela, South Africa, Colombia, Mexico and finally Thailand joined the rest of the top 15 finalists. After the break when it was time for the rest of the top 15 to be called on stage, every time I was literally hoping it would be Vietnam, India, Colombia, Thailand, Tanzania, Kosovo, Venezuela. It was a major upset for India, Vietnam, Kosovo, Peru, Georgia, Paraguay and Chile. They had done really well in the prelims and were in everyone’s top list. India, Vietnam, Tanzania and Kosovo exclusion was hard to believe. This brought me back to Miss Universe 2008 where many favourites were excluded. South Africa was the only one from Africa who made it to the list. I believe that Africa is always under-represented in beauty pageants. I would really love to see them making it big in beauty pageants. Sometimes I feel like they are being given a spot just to have some representation from the continent. I know it’s a beauty contest and beauty is subjective. But will they be ever judged the way they see beauty in their eyes?
The top 15 competed for the swimsuit round and Charlie Puth performed a song he sang with Meghan Trainor – Marvin Gaye, live on stage playing the Piano. This year is amazing in terms of music background scores being used in pageants. I love them all. The song in this round is such a happy feeling kind of song. It makes you smile everytime you listen to it or see the video. Brazil was the first one and she was spectacular just like she was at Miss Brazil. She had little time to prepare for the contest but she really did great. Australia followed. The beautiful leggy woman with her toned abs was great out there. Indonesia was sweet and had a stage presence but her body was not really up to the mark compared to Brazil and Australia who had performed really well. Next was Dominican Republic. What a performance. Tall, charming and well-toned body, she was awesome and sexy when she did that ‘turn around’ while walking on stage. So far she was the best. Next was the crowd favourite Philippines. She nailed this round with her bouncy walked and her happy face was pleasing. She was so fierce. I was quite impressed and she did so much better than her prelims. France followed with a decent performance. She had the body and the charm but she lack that spunk which the rest of the girls had. It was time for the hometown girl USA to take the stage. I love everything about this woman. She looked gorgeous. Her smile is enough to make me go weak on my knees. Such a warm smile she had, she made this competition so easy. Curacao followed. She was a surprised in the preliminary contest. She was outstanding. She is so charming. It’s sad she wasn’t like her preliminary contest. But she did well and her performance was worth watching. Belgium – tall and good body, she wasn’t shining like others. She lacked that punch while walking on stage especially in swimsuit round. Japan was next. Many thought she was in because of her story. I actually like her. Her exotic face is her appeal. She was walking as if she wanted to look fierce. It was a mixed performance for me. Not too good, not too bad. The powerhouse Venezuela followed with a remarkable performance. What a body! One of the best bodies of the night, she knows how to strut so beautifully. South Africa followed and she gave a decent performance but wasn’t quite exceptional. Her body was pretty good for a swimsuit competition. While everyone thought it was a battle between the Latinas and Asians, South Africa stood out for me. Being the only African in the top 15, she came and did her job so calmly without sounding too over-confident. I would have really loved to see her in top 10. Colombia – I just can’t stop looking at her. The best body of the night with such an enticing walked. The way she sways and looks at the camera, she owns the stage like a true diva. Her moves and walk were so sexy. Mexico has such a sexy eye and fierce looks but her body and walk were a drawback for her. She looked stiff and didn’t impress. And ending the swimsuit round was one of my personal favourite Thailand. Exceptionally beautiful, she was so calm and graceful. Everything about her is perfect. Her statuesque beauty and stunning face attract your attention whenever you see her. Those who really did well, in my opinion, were Colombia, Philippines, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Thailand and USA. They walked on stage and swayed matching up to the rhythm of the song “Marvin Gaye.” They were exceptional and gave a performance like those of Victoria Secret Angels. What an absolute treat to watch them!
Next up was the evening competition round where the lucky top 10 will get to show their grace, style and gown. The top 10 were Misses USA, Colombia, Japan, Thailand, Australia, Dominican Republic, France, Curacao, Philippines and Venezuela. Brazil’s exclusion surprising. I thought she deserved to be there in the top 10. I wanted to see South Africa too.
The evening gown round started with The Band Perry performing a very positive and uplifting energetic number – Live Forever. USA opened the competition. She looked effortlessly beautiful in a deep cut white gown. Again, her smile brought out the positive attitude of her. Just looking at her makes you so positive. She looks like a Barbie coming to life. Her warm and kind personality reminds me of former Miss USA Shandi Finnessey. The Off-shoulder cape gown looked so royal on her and she looked majestic. Colombia was next; she had the best gown. I just love the fitted silver beaded on a pink strapless gown of hers. It shows her perfect figure and complemented her beauty. And she knows how to make it even more, beautiful. She has got the poise and grace. She was breathtaking. Japan followed. She didn’t work out the gown well. The deep cut golden gown and slit in the gown would have been good if she was fierce and moved with a killer look. But she was slow and lacked the energy to do that. Former Miss Universe, Riyo Mori comes to mind when I talked about being fierce. She had one of the best walked and performance in the evening gown round. Thailand came in a white cape gown. She was wearing the same gown she wore in a preliminary contest. I wish she had changed the gown. Nevertheless, she looked regal and striking. She was so calm and composed too. I expected her to make the top 5. Australia was in a full sleeve sheer gown with golden beaded linings. She almost tripped. She looked so careful afterwards but it was her grace and poise that saved her. I like her performance here than the preliminary contest one. Dominican Republic shined like a star in a white long gown. It was simple yet very classy. She made the gown look so beautiful. Love the way she swirled the gown and looked at the camera, it added some drama to her performance. It was fantastic. France looked hot in a red number. The slit in the gown made it looked more appealing. The way she walked in that red gown, she was elegantly and stylishly fashionable with an attitude. Curacao also wore a red gown which was full sleeve. She walked so beautifully, especially when looked from behind, the train in the gown moved like a beautiful mermaid. But she gave too much of an expression. Philippines also changed her gown. I thought the red gown was better and she looked royal in that dress. In this blue strapless gown, she looked more like a classy modern woman. She also tripped but that blush in her face was so sweet. The back side of the gown was amazing. It was like it can be worn from both sides. Venezuela was last and she was terrific. That beautiful spin she did before moving further to the stage was so pleasing. In a white intricately beaded gown, she looked ravishing and dazzling. In this round, USA, France, Colombia, Venezuela, Philippines and Dominican Republic were the best for me.
The top 5 announcement: I had USA, Philippines, Thailand, Venezuela and Colombia as my finalists with a possible entry of France and Dominican Republic as one of the finalists. The top 5 were USA, Philippines, Australia, France and Colombia. How I wish Thailand was in the list. France was the only one who wasn’t in my favourite list. Personally, I wanted Colombia or Thailand to win with Philippines or USA as the other runners up. The top 5 had to face a question and answer round. Here are their questions and answers.
Earlier this year there was a controversy in the Philippines about the United States operating military parade in your country. Do you think the United State should have a military presence in your country?
I think that the United States and Philippines always share and have a good relationship with each other. We were colonised by the Americans and we have their culture in our traditions even up to this days and I think that we are very welcoming with Americans and I don’t see any problem with that at all.
Having experienced terrorism first hand yourself what is the best way for the government to combat this rising threat?
In my opinion to fight terrorism, first we have to know where the problems are coming from, we have to listen to these people who are committing these attacks so we have to find the problem at its heart and for us French, we have to learn to be happy, to live and to be among ourselves.
Australia is taking its first step toward legalising marijuana. Do you think it’s a good idea and why?
This topic has its positive and negative and quite debated. I believe that in certain circumstances legalising marijuana does have its benefits and it has found to be really amazing in treating cancer and really really help those who are very very sick. In that circumstance, I definitely do think we should but the government should definitely weigh both options.
Drug abuse continues to be one of the world’s most serious social problems. What do you think is the best way to handle this problem?
The ideas that I have to eradicate this problem that unfortunately affecting our world is in our home is to intensify education for these problems because they continue to be large problem for the world.
Few issues in the United States are more polarised than gun issues. The argument really heats up after major tragedic events such as San Bernardino and Sand Hook. What’s your position on gun control?
This is incredibly a difficult issue that the United State has constantly battling and weighing our options. I think that incredibly important that all individuals have the right to protect themselves and feel safe, but I also think that sometime we need to look at the safety of a whole more than our personal safety. So I think we need a stronger regulation specifically I think that we need to pay attention.
This year questions and answers bring out the intelligence and knowledge of the contestants. And they did so well especially, Philippines, USA and Australia. The questions were so political and controversial. All the contestants chose to answer diplomatically and gave politically correct answer. I think to take one side and to answer in just 30 seconds wouldn’t be enough to validate your point. So we got to see how smart they were. Philippines might be colonized by the Americans before but today if both are in a good relation, so irrespective of the situation it brings, I guess, if two countries are willing to do it then it should which Pia Alonzo summed it up perfectly since relation between two countries is more of people’s to people’s relation. USA was so fun to watch. Olivia is so cheerful all the time. Such a beautiful woman she is. She was spontaneous and intelligent. Just love the way she ended by saying “Pay Attention” when the time was up for her. It was so delightful. Miss Colombia spoke in Spanish. More than her answer being translated, it was the language she spoke which fascinated me though I don’t understand a single word. Thanks to the translator who did it so brilliantly, unlike other pageants. My only wish was that she shouldn’t have interrupted and instead let her finished and translates it once Ariadna gave her nod. France who had competed before in Miss World was first in the interview. Flora wasn’t the way I thought out to be when she gave her answer. I mean she spoke the truth and there was nothing diplomatic about her answer. Honestly, I like her answer but I am not sure the judges didn’t want to hear the truth. Australia had a marijuana topic. I seriously won’t be able to answer that. Like she said it has been quite debated. It wasn’t fair on part of the audience who booed her when she said it should be legalised in certain circumstances. She was strong and she finished her answer without showing any nerve under pressure. She was great.
The top 3: Even after hearing Colombia answer I wanted her to win. Favourites remain your favourites specifically your personal favourite. With Thailand out of the competition, I was rooting for her. But somewhere in my mind I had these feeling that she won’t win since question and answer were given more weightage now than the previous years and the fan votes would decide the winner too. So the top 3 were Misses USA, Philippines and Colombia. Perfect top 3. All my favourites were in top 3. They had to face another question; this time was a common question.
Why should you be the next miss universe?
I think that I should be the next Miss Universe because I think that I am so passionate and so driven. It is my goal to inspire people from around the world to believe in themselves and to be themselves and to follow their wildest dreams no matter what those dreams are. I want to work to bring equality for men and women and it is time to step up women empowerment and I want to empower woman from all over the world.
I am confident that I should be the third Miss Universe for my country Colombia because I have all the good and the attribute that a Latin women have. I am a woman who is full of feelings and have attributes that a woman should have in Colombia and the Miss Universe should have all of that for herself.
To be a Miss Universe is full of honour and responsibility. If I were to be the next Miss Universe, I will use my voice to influence the youth and I will bring awareness to certain causes like HIV awareness that is timely and relevant for my country which is the Philippines. I want to show the world the universe rather that I am confident and beautiful with a heart.
The top 3 finalists took a final walk with Seal performance on the centre of the stage. What a fabulous performance. How I wish that was the actual evening gown round.
When I heard the question, “Why should you be the next Miss Universe?” I thought it was so Miss World and wondered if Miss World had just landed in Las Vegas. USA was so fun to watch. She always makes you smile with her amiable personality. So full of life and her answer speaks for herself. Her spontaneous quality is something I love about her. She has achieved so much in life so when she said she wanted to work for equality of women and men, I knew she meant what she said looking at where she come from. Colombia was all about being the Latina woman she was. She conveyed a strong message about how confident and strong she was. I could see that in her personality. Philiippines was a bit nervous and it seems like she had prepared her answer well in case she was asked this question. It might sound rehearsed but she delivered and it was a lot better than Colombia. I wonder why she didn’t speak in German. I read some months back if she made it to the top 5 she should speak in German so that she can answer better. I am more than happy she used English to answer. Who knows a translator might end up spoiling her answer. We all know some answers when translated, never give you the real one. I love her soft voice.
I was sure that Philippines would be winning, I would have accepted it anyway, she being one of my favourites and looking at her performances, she was worth becoming Miss Universe but somewhere in my mind I still wanted Colombia to win. I thought USA and Philippines would be the last two standing. Then Miss USA was announced as 2nd runner-up. It was a nerve-wracking moment for everyone. Steve Harvey announced Miss Universe is Miss Colombia. Excited and happy for Colombia, I was about to switch off, then the moment you would never want to see happened. Steve came up to announce his mistake and the actual winner was Miss Philippines. Thought it was a joke since Steve himself was a comedian. But as it turned out to be true, both the candidates froze for a while. The look Philippines had was so surreal. Miss USA had to explain it to her. Then she came forward but still looked surprised. While Miss Colombia stood there not knowing what to do, Miss Philippines looked on to her. The look and the expression on Pia’s face were incredibly unbelievable. She knew she was the winner, she was happy and we could see it from her face; she was sensible enough to not show it off loud knowing what just happened and she wouldn’t want to go up to her 1st runner-up and take the crown. It would look bad on her part and add more humiliation for Colombia who already had the final walk as a winner. That’s when Paulina Vega came to the rescue, held them both in their hands and took the crown from Ariadna and placed it on to the actual winner Pia. Pualina was so gracious and showed the right attitude to ease the tension. It was comforting to see her when she gave Ariadna a rub on her back to console her and took her away from the stage. Ariadna controlled her emotions and gave a smile while Pia was being crowned as the rightful Miss Universe. It was gracious of her to stand up there and acknowledge the crowning moment. Just because of one mistake, Ariadna had to return the crown after enjoying her final walk and while Pia lost the real moment of being crowned and the joy and pride that comes with it when waving in front of the audience and thousands of people watching the live telecast. Steve Harvey did a mistake but it takes a lot of courage to come up and accept his blunders and told the world about it.Ariadna will be my Miss Universe in my heart and as she was called as Miss Universe, it was rightfully called so. She will be Miss Universe for many. There is grace in accepting defeat but it is more gracious when you have to give back the crown that wasn’t yours and accept it with humility.
As for Pia, though she might not be called as Miss Universe first, she has already proven why she should be the next Miss Universe in the competition through her mannerism, personality, intelligence and poise. She might not have been my ultimate favourite for the title, but she won the title fair and square. The soft-spoken and calm woman she is, she has won many hearts than ever. The way she handled herself after the incident deserves an applaud. The Video in which she tried to approach to make amends with Ariadna was touching indeed. Despite all these unwanted incidents, she stayed calm and composed, remain true to herself i.e. humble, gracious, polite and courteous. I have great admiration for Filipino beauty queens and my admiration and respect for Pia has gone up tremendously after this incident. This is what makes her a true beauty queen! A beauty queen not just of the heart but of the soul as well. Congratulation Pia! Looking forward to your journey as Miss Universe doing great things for people and the society we live in.
Pictures Credit: Miss Universe Facebook page