After three years of hosting Miss Grand International pageant in Thailand, the much love pageant was held outside its home for the first time. Las Vegas in Nevada as the host city for the contest had many people excited. The city known for its glitz, night live, lights and flashes was supposed to bring in so many fun activities not just from the eyes of the contestants but also from the perspective of pageants followers. The girl seemed to enjoy their stay and their outings but as for fans, it was the least exciting edition. When you host a pageant confined to only one city, you get to see only the city. This was the same with this year edition of Miss Grand International. Thailand was truly missed as a host nation. Asian countries are always good in hosting pageants – so many activities, tours and events. This is what we need as pageant fans. This year also was mark by a controversy. It seems MGI is a controversy’s child. But which pageant is without a controversy? Well, let’s leave it there.
The winner this year comes from Indonesia making it the first Asian Country to win Miss Grand International crown. The winner, Ariska Putri Pertiwi, deserved the title. She is smart, intelligent and beautiful. This win gives Indonesia a first major beauty pageant crown. Indonesian can be proud of Ariska. Crowned as Miss North Sumatra in 2015, she went on to represent North Sumatra in Puteri Indonesia 2016 where she bagged the Miss Grand Indonesia title. A dreamer and fighter, she never gave up on her dreams of conquering an international title. She had competed before in her regional pageants where she either failed or win and she worked harder but winning Miss North Sumatra 2015 was the start of realizing her dream. From Miss North Sumatra to Puteri Indonesia to Miss Grand International, it has been a fruitful journey for her. A medical faculty from Islamic of North Sumatra University, she wants to start a foundation for abandoned children and mentally ill children to give them a good education. She will do well as an ambassador for Stop the War campaign.
Back to the pageant. Miss Grand International 2015, Claire Elizabeth Parker opened the show and then introduced us to the contestants on stage. Claire also joined them on staged for an opening dance number. Grooving to Chris Brown feat. Rihana’s “Turn up the music” and dressed in a silver-grey satin cocktail, the 76 contestants introduced before the audience. Once done, they were back to grooving to the same song. By the time it was over, the quarter finalists or the top 20 were ready to be announced. But before that the first award of the night, Best in National costume, was given to Miss Indonesia, Ariska Putri Pertiwi.
The contestants in the top 20 were: Jamaica, Bahamas, Thailand, Ukraine, Spain, Portugal, Venezuela, USA, Malaysia, Cuba, Peru, Australia, Vietnam, Puerto Rico, Indonesia, Tahiti, Philippines, Mexico, Wales and Macau.
Brian J White, the host of the night, introduced the judges who had to make a difficult decision of choosing the best among the best while audiences enjoying the gala in anticipation of who will make the cut in the next round. The seven judges were Geno Lefrate (President of Las Vegas Resort), Janelee Chaparro (Miss Grand International 2013), Teresa Chasisut (Vice President of Miss Grand International org.), John LIdell (New Dream Media Fashion Group, Las Vegas), Phil Froehlich (Vice President of Western Region, WestGate) and Ricardo Laguna (The BMX Star). If the stage wasn’t already small enough, here the judges’ seats looked so small and crowded without much space in between. On a brighter note, it would be much easier to discuss their choices among them without much moving.
The first competition of the night was about to start. The top 20 were to compete in swimsuit round. The 76 contestants once again came on stage for a choreography number to the song Katy Perry’s International Smile. Almost all the contestants wore two piece white swimsuit and a few of them were in two piece swimsuit. The first to start the competition was Australia. Australia wore the red swimsuit which explained only the top 20 were the ones wearing this colour. The reigning queen was from Australia, so there is bound to be comparison. But she did well in this round. Up next was Bahamas. She stood there posing in the dark waiting for her turn. The way she flip her hair got the audience cheering for her. Her body was perfect! So toned! Cuba followed hoping to be the second from her country to win the crown. The energy in her was great, she had a gorgeous face and when in one of her poses, she stood showing her sexy back and turning her face slightly on the side, that was one of the best of the night but too much of placing her hands on the waist. Indonesia followed flipping her hair. Again she did it beautifully. Her charming face with her sweet smile was enough to score her high because she already had a good physique. When Jamaica entered in the scene, it seems like she had a massive fans in the crowd as you can hear them cheering loudly. Macau was introduced as being a professional model. Whether it was her bouncy catwalk or modelesque poise, she nailed it with strong stage presence. Malaysia followed and she hardly makes any impact unlike her preliminary performance though that wasn’t the most outstanding one. She was low in energy and her poses were weak. Sad that she has such a beautiful face but couldn’t do justice to her overall performance. The neighbouring Country of the host country was next. Mexico didn’t quite impress. It seems like she was very conscious of walking. It’s understandable because of the pressure and competitions. Peru came like she was absolutely enjoying the stage. She lifted both her hands straight up and took a pose before she was about to take her turn on stage. Then she turned to the camera and walked on stage like the stage was hers. Her smiles make her looked positively chirpy and her amazing stage presence was striking. Philippines – another crowd favourite, followed. Her catwalk was all about balance. Balance in the sense that she wasn’t trying to be too bouncy neither was she too slow. She was calm and poise in her manners while on stage. Talking about dark horse, Portugal who did extremely well in the preliminary thereby earning a spot in the final top 20 was somewhat disappointing. Was she thinking something while she was walking? Puerto Rico was another contestant who exudes positivity, liveliness and energy. She was one of the few girls who stood and posed somewhat differently while she waited for her turn on stage. She had her one hand on her hip and the other one on her head before she began her catwalk. Spain also did the same but hers was like what Miss Earth Mongolia 2015 Bayra Bela did during Miss Earth 2015 evening gown round. Overall Spain’s performance was good. Spain had a gorgeous face and great energy. Tahiti was another dark horse. Her performance didn’t change much from her preliminary which was enough to keep her in the top 20 but not beyond that. Thailand entered this round just like Puerto Rico did in the beginning. These kinds of poses make them look more poise, confident and a good start. There was no doubt that Thailand was going to go beyond top 10. Just look her awesome stage presence, lively personality and killer catwalk. Don’t have to think twice. Ukraine followed with a solid performance in this round. Time for the host country – USA. Being a host country and being a top favourite for the crown, she did full justice to both. Venezuela one of the big favourite for the title was too slow in this round. While some girls tried to match their catwalk in sync with the background music, she didn’t quite catch up with the music that was face paced. Vietnam was better than Venezuela in terms of catwalk but Venezuela was better in terms of facial beauty. It’s good to see Vietnam showing off her catwalk skills here whereas in Miss World 2015 being a quarter finalists there we couldn’t see much of her. Wales ended the round with a performance that wasn’t too great. Ending a round in with a spectacular performance would have been better.
The best in this round for me were Bahamas, Peru and Puerto Rico.
As expected, Miss Bahamas won the Best in Swimsuit award. The 20 finalists would then be cut to 10 finalists for further competitions. But only 9 contestants will be selected out of the top 20 and the other spot reserved for Miss Popular Vote winner irrespective of being in the top 20 or not. The Miss Popular Vote was won by Korea who a non-finalists was thereby given a direct spot to the top 10. All thanks to her fans and supporters. Honestly, the winner of this award should itself be called in the first round without taking away a spot in the next round. It seems a bit unfair for other contestants who competed in the swimsuit round and could have been in the top 10 but the voting system took away their chances. The others who made it to the top 10 were: Misses Indonesia, Peru, Ukraine, Philippines, USA, Macau, Bahamas, Puerto Rico and Thailand.
The top ten speeches.
The 66 contestants in their beautiful and fabulous gowns came on stage joined by the top 10 finalists. For this speech round, the top 10 contestants wore a red hot silk long sleeve jumpsuit with wide leg pants at the bottom and self-tie at waist. Again, contestants were called on their alphabetical order of their country name. With a background score of Michael Jackson’s Heal the World, Bahamas was the first one to give a speech.
Bahamas: As peace keeper, it’s our duty to promote love and unity. War exists in every area on every level. From in-home violence which I have been subjected to, drug war which I’ve been a part of, civil war and clashes between nations. It is sad to see human beings care not what we are losing our brothers and sisters, our mothers, fathers and children. We are losing our love, values and respect for one another. That’s causing us to not live in peace. We were created to reach out and touch the live of those around us in a positive way. That means searching within ourselves and becoming the change we want to see in this world. Peace, freedom and harmony should be within every nation, every religion, every race, every community and every home and although this grave infestation of war and violence seems unshakable, we must remember that no matter what the country, we all belong to one race – the human race and in understanding this, peace, love and freedom can be eminent. Let’s teach our children the act of freedom. For freedom, person doesn’t ferret for the sake of peace. The time is now to mute violence and showcase unity. For the only good thing about war is its ending.
Indonesia: War, suffering, death, these are the work that had more than 30 million children victims of war. They suffer as a result of intolerance and wars around the world. I come from a military family. My father is an Indonesian military officer. I have been taught since I was a child that war destroy everything. The victims of war are suffering. Families are separated or killed. They don’t have safe place to live. They have to escape from death. I want to ask you one question “what are we fighting for and why?”. Please, look at them; look at the victims of war and the children. They lost their dreams. We should live in peace. So let’s come together as one in unity. Let’s come together to make this world a better place because I believe, with the heart, sincerity and hand in hand, we can give them hope and with hope and walking together, we can stop the war. So please, stop the war and choose peace.
Korea: Due to the conflict of cold war since 1953, Korea was divided into South and North. When Korea was divided into two parts, a great number of people including my grandmother had to be separated from their family members. When they are separated from their family members, they cannot see their parents and children for more than 60 years only praying to see their relatives again. War does not happen only between soldiers. The outcome of the world is the agony of the civilians and tears of our families and neighbor. So I ask you, let’s set an example of unity and love from our school, families and neighbor. We should not be afraid to use our voice to stand up for justice.
Macau: In recent years, the world seems to have many challenges especially terrorist attack. In my heart, I always believe that there are two virtues that we need to continue to remind ourselves to improve, to develop; that’s respect and empathy. If we put ourselves together and work on their two virtues, no war is necessary anymore. We could be pro-active rather than reactive and we give them that’s true and unconditional love.
Peru: All my live, I have dream to give the opportunity to give a message in front of millions of people; a message that is to start a change; a change that it starts with me tonight showing language, religion and ideas cannot limit us in finding peace. There are no excuses. Nothing will be worth more than a human life. Nothing will ever be justified the lost we have. The responsibilities; we have the liberty to stop because this is dangerous or fear but I can promise you, Change will matter. It is not only about us anymore. It’s about creating a world where people feel secure and respect. No matter where they stand. Peace starts with each of us. It’s our decision. No excuses. Choose peace and start change.
Philippines: Tonight, I will tell you a story about our world. One day, I was conducting a story telling session in Tondon which is an area in the Philippines where the poorest of the poor lived. So I asked the kids to fold their papers in to half and then inside of it, I asked them to draw who they want be when they grow up and where they want to go like a dream destinations but out of the ten kids sitting on the floor but only three knew what they wanted to be when they grow up and only two of the knew where they wanted to go. These kids, they do not need us to win wars for them. They need us to build a war for them that will allow them to grow, to dream, to live. Let’s build a world where children do not have to wake up to the sound of bullets and bombs, where women and children do not have to face a battle the moment they take one step out of the door. I stand here tonight refusing to tell the same story to our next generation. Children don’t need to risk their lives in war for us. They need to fight for their dreams not their lives. So I asked all of you tonight, let’s all write a new book about our world and our common humanity; one that would finally give the next generation the happy ending they deserve.
Puerto Rico: Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Darkness cannot put out darkness”. This is a very beautiful phrase which compels a very powerful message. The biggest change in life are not accomplished by act of violence but having the willingness to do the things that inspire us and others; things that makes us better. I truly believe the only way we can end war is living a life of peace and having tolerance. The Miss Grand International Org. is a vivid example of this philosophy bringing together 76 girls around the world to inspire the nation of the world. We need to believe that one kind of act can become viral and change someone’s life. That person can change a community. That community can change a country. That country can change this world. We need to believe that we can actually do it beginning with ourselves.
Thailand: When we talk about war and violence, of course, everybody doesn’t want to hear that and nobody need to let it happen. Some people lose their family, some people die and some people have scarce in their hearts forever but no one can see because of the war and violence have never made anyone happy, just only can make lose and tears. I strongly believe everyone can stop such fearfulness with love and forgiveness to each other. I am standing here tonight, so please, standing with me and tell of all the voice into the world that we don’ need world and violence but we need love and forgiveness, kindness to each other. I hopefully believe or humans in the entire world can live peacefully and we all can decrease the war and violence.
Ukraine: My country is suffering from war right now and people die everyday. We didn’t start this war.We always have been a peaceful country, peaceful peope. We people, with people who are… what is hopeless and helpless and we still dream about peaceful sky in our country and the entire world. Today, I ask everybody what you can do for people who are suffering, hunger, war and you must… little help can do a big difference from the war.
USA: Speaking of UN, I have met several people who are there but yet do not share twice as much passion as we all share for their important cause. They are there yet afraid to stand up for things such as gender equality, a better education a better way of living for all our people but I am not afraid to stand up for this. They are there but they are afraid and that is why I believe that we must start at home, parents must give their children a loving home and understanding environment so that when they do out, they are not afraid to stand up for what they truly believe in. They are the future but they can start now. Famine, racism, hates; when will it all ends? Ban Ki-moon once said, “There is no plan B because we do not have a planet B”, and I say stop the war and violence. Finding peace through compassion.
The irony of this round is that the Stop the War speeches seemed likes the US Presidential debate. The other candidate blaming the other one for War in the Middle East and the debate continues. Since the contest was in the US, it sounded more like a political and a perfect way to spread the message. The top 5 question further looked like all about the Presidential election. Coming to the speeches, Bahamas and Philippines gave a longest speech. Miss Bahamas was impactful while Miss Philippines has an emotional touch to her speech narrating one of her incidents. Miss Macau’s speech was the shortest. Miss Korea’s speech was on point. She choose to talk about her country and it was a perfect way to tell the world about the what war can bring to children, families and countries divided due to different ideologies. Miss Ukraine spoke of her country the same way Miss Korea spoke but it was short and didn’t quite create an impact. She almost became emotional and choked. Miss Indonesia was rather straight and clear on her speech. She kept it simple without too much of exaggeration. Miss Thailand in Miss grand always look intelligence when they speak. Why is it that they are unable to make a mark in other pageants? Miss Puerto Rico started with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther king and further elaborated on how the countries can be united like the 76 contestants coming together in one platform like Miss Grand International. Miss USA ended the speech perfectly. It was a nice way to end the round. She was the only one who greeted and ended her speech in Thai language. That was great. Towards the end of her speech, she mentioned former UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon’s quotes which was the best of the night and resonate well the world we live in.
It was time for Miss Grand International 2015 Claire Elizabeth Parker to give her farewell walk and speech as she passed on the crown and responsibilities the new winner later. Claire talked about her reign as Miss Grand and showed us one of her visit to Nepal and how she was moved by the positivity of the earthquake victims there. She also explained the meaning of her name. Claire stands for light. Indeed she was light for Miss Grand International Org. after she took over the crown. She is outspoken, strong and charming queen who stands up for what she believes in and for the org. she works for. The ending of the speech was indeed very emotional and she will be missed a lot. She is a Queen who is unlike others. She speaks up and stands up for “Stop the War” campaign. Never have we seen such a reigning queen who is so active in social media bringing fans and followers more closely to her.
The top 10 then compete for evening gown round with the background music of Andra’s Love can save it all. Bahamas was first again in this round. She wore a coral-colored satin and sequined applique gown. If her performance in swimsuit round wasn’t already enough to draw us her attention, this coral red sequined gown definitely was eye-catching and complimented her aura and skin so well. Indonesia followed wearing one of the best gowns of the night. The crystal featured mermaid gown was a masterpiece. The cuts in the gowns and those green crystals on the cuts, edges of the gown and towards the bottom were simply exquisite. Korea followed. The gown she wore was pretty common but what makes it extraordinary intricate detailing of silver sequins on the embroidered sheer, the bow tie behind and the flowing train of the gown. The hair bun makes her so regal and charming. This can be used as a wedding gown too. Macau wore a simple gown where the upper part had a grey sequin applique and the bottom from the waist line was a plain simple satin. It didn’t impress much but what saved the performance was her gorgeous face and her poise. Peru chose to wear a different gown for this finale. She wore a greyish metallic gown with heavy beads like a floral pattern. The gown kind of reminded me of Irene Essar’s gown during Miss Venezuela contest. Philippines also wore a different gown for the finale. The golden embellished gown with plunging necklines balanced her overall persona. The golden gown balanced her hair colour to her skin tone so well that none could have look better than her. Not to forget, I loved when she flipped her hair and her earrings were dangling. Puerto Rico also chooses to wear a gown similar to what Olivia Jordan wore at Miss Universe 2015 final night. Peru had worn the same gown during preliminary round. The difference was in Puerto Rico’s gown as she wore a purple colour one. Thailand also changed her gown. For this round she had a blue satin gown with crystals detailing all over the gown. The gown gives a nude effect with the deep cut from upper part and the slits. Ukraine wore a strapless dark blue gown which she carried off so well. Though the gown didn’t scream any attention and look so pageant patty, Ukraine made the gown look so lovely. Only a few can carry such type of gown with panache. Another Olivia Jordan inspired gown came from the host country USA but this came with a difference. She wore a blue lace and sequined gown. The cape was cut into two parts. Both (the chiffon) falling freely from the side of just below her shoulders. That was perfect.
The three best gown for me were: Bahamas, Indonesia and Philippines
From 10, it was time to cut the competition to 5 and the five finalists will face the final question and answer round. And they were Puerto Rico, USA, Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia. Just like last year, this year, Asian dominated the top 5. The top 5 had their final walk in their evening gown to the song of Shawn Mendes’s Memories. Puerto was first to answer to the question: “If you had to choose one of these two people to help you stop the war and violence, who will you choose between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and why?”
Puerto Rico: “If I had to choose one person, I would choose Hillary Clinton. She has dedicated her whole life for this cause. I believe in girl power. I’m here today representing women all around the world. I am diversity. And I believe she embodies those qualities. I think she would be an amazing woman president, for the first time in the United States of America. So I choose Hillary Clinton.”
USA: “Believe it or not, I would choose Donald Trump,” she said. “Why? Because the same way that we are all here to change the minds of people, to share our passion of stop the war and violence is the same way I will share my passion with him. And the same power that he has to stand up for what he believes in is how I will have him stand up to stop the war and violence and change the lives of people together.”
Philippines: “Okay, you have to promise me that you would react after my first sentence. I would choose Donald Trump to stop the war and violence with me because if we choose him to switch to our side there won’t be war and violence anymore. So, I will also make sure that he will read my speeches to stop the war and violence because imagine someone who would bring so much madness and so much emotion from these people. what if we use his voice to actually do good for the world? What if we use that to our advantage? That’s why let’s keep the peace and let Donald Trump switch to our side to stop the war and violence.”
Thailand: “Of course, if I can choose one, for sure I would choose Madame Clinton. Because she’s a lady same as me. And also I can work with her and she’s so kind and friendly, and most important, she is my inspiration. And also, I love her,”
Indonesia: “So it’s a very hard question for me. But I will choose. If I had the chance to choose I will choose HIllary clinton,” she said. “Why? Because I know she is a very smart woman, independent woman, and brave woman. That’s why I will choose her to walk together with me, and I believe that if I and Madame Clinton walk together, I believe I can stop the war and ask the people to join with us to stop the war and violence. So I choose her to walk together with me to stop the war and violence.”
Hearing the question and answers from these smart women, it was like watching a debate on news channel all over again after the conclusion of the US Presidential Election Debate. Though the question was very political, I can assumed that Trump would be happy with Miss USA and Miss Philippines and he might again blamed the media and the organisation biased after seeing the boos and people cheering for Hillary’s name. It was very brave on part of USA and Philippines to pick Trump in their answers. USA was the first one to be booed but she went on with her answers and did exceptionally well. You have to give credits to her for managing that moment so gracefully. Philippines, knowing the situation, was intelligent enough to warn the audience before answering her choice. She was neither spared the booed but, she also took it on her stride and answered bravely. Indonesia, Thailand and Puerto Rico were the ones who pick Hillary Clinton. Of these three women, Indonesia’s answer was the best.
Special Awards winners:
It was time for the announcement of the result. But before that England was awarded the Best in Evening gown. USA was declared 4th runner-up while Puerto Rico was adjudged 3rd runner-up. Three Asian delegates – one of these women was about to create history for their country and for Asia. Indonesia had more chances but Philippines could be the one too. Thailand was awarded the 2nd runner-up title. When the last two standing were holding each other hands looking down nervously, the host, Brian came closer to them and announced Indonesia as the winner which means Philippines was the 1st runner-up. Maybe it was her answer that cost her the crown. Indonesia thus becomes the first Asian to win Miss Grand International crown and the first Indonesian to win a major crown. It was nice to see Miss Grand International 2016 being given additional time to say a few words post her win. That’s something new in pageant. Loved the way the show ended with that.
Before the announcement of the winner, the host country for next year edition was announced and Vietnam will be hosting Miss Grand International 2017. This was one of the best moment of the night since as always Asian countries are the best host for pageants. Vietnam has already hosted international pageants before and it is bound to impress again.