Miss Earth 2016 was back to the Philippines after last year edition was hosted in Austria. This is the 14th time Philippines hosted Miss Earth competition since its creation, the other two being in Vietnam and Austria. Like its previous editions, there was lots of controversy before and after the finale. But I am not going to dwell on that. I am only concentrating on the finale event which I will be doing in every review of any pageant. This year theme was ‘empowered to make a change’. 83 delegates competed for the main crown to be an ambassador of Miss Earth Org. The earth warriors also competed in different pre-pageant activities where there were medal award ceremonies. Ecuador, Mexico, Vietnam, Russia, England and USA were the ones who won extremely did well in many events. Ecuador tops the list of Medal Table winning five medals. Though these events do not have count in selecting the top 16 finalists, it gives an idea who will do well in the competition. Some of them didn’t even make it to the top 16 some did. This time, Ecuador’s Katherine Gomez confirmed her favouritism by not just entering the top 16 but also winning the Miss Earth 2016 crown. She became the second from her country to win the Miss Earth crown. The first to win the crown was Olga Alava in 2011.
Miss Earth 2016 began with a video presentation of the reigning queen, Angelia Ong, speaking about the Philippines’s tourism and diversity. Then the 1st batch of contestants from Argentina to Hungary after their introduction through a pre-taped video, in their national costumes talking about the need to save environment, came on stage doing a choreography number of “That’s my girl’ by Fifth Harmony. The 2nd batch from India to Paraguay and 3rd batch from Peru to Zimbabwe followed in similar manner.
We were then introduced to the two hosts of the night – Marc Nelson and Rovilson Fernandez, standing among the audience. The Award for Best Eco Video was awarded to Miss Moldova. After 3 years of absence, Moldova was returning to Miss Earth 2016 edition. Another award Eco Warrior where a contestant actively participated in social
media and environmental programme in her country was awarded to Miss Wales. Then it was time for the first cut of the night From 83 contestants, 16 contestants were selected for the first competition of the night i.e. Swimsuit round. The quarter finalists were Misses Colombia, South Korea, Northern Ireland, Venezuela, England, Brazil, Vietnam, Russia, Mexico, Macau (SAR China), South Africa, Ecuador, Australia, Sweden, USA and Italy. When Miss Italy was called out, Indonesia came over to join the quarter finalists. I thought I might have misheard or missed due to bad streaming. But when Miss Italy was called again, I rechecked my list there were 17 contestants. Now it was sure that not just me, but it was also Miss Indonesia who have misheard it. I feel bad for her. Imagine the embarrassment she must be suffering. But it was also nice on part of the host and Miss Earth team to let it pass without mentioning any of it. If they did it would have been worse for Miss Indonesia.
The judges were introduced and they were Mathias Gelbar, Liza Pavlakotc, Arnold Vegafria, Jamie Herell, Jose Perdo, Sophie Sumner, Dean Dezis and Lorraine Schuck. Once again, the contestants’ time spent in Davao city was showed which include touring the city, attending breast cancer awareness programme and ecotourism.
The first competition of the night was about to begin. On stage were group performers displaying a modernised folk dance from the southern Philippines. Music used in the background was ‘Girls like’ by Tinnie Tempah ft. Zara Larsson. First up was Colombia. Michelle Gomez performed extremely well in this swimsuit round. Amazing catwalk with an amazing presence, she is definitely one of the best Miss Earth Colombia. South Korea was next. Chae-Yeung Lee is more suited for magazine editorial or front cover girl of a fashion magazine. Her sharp facial features lean body and stature kind of make her look like a runway queen but that wasn’t the case. She seemed too cold in her walk and there wasn’t any poise. Northern Ireland followed. Julieann McStravick was another girl who underperformed. After Northern Ireland, it was Italy. It was Italy’s placement after 3 years of being unplaced. Denise Frigo’s performance was somewhere in the middle but much better than the two contestants before her. Time for Venezuela. Staphanie Ysabel de Zorzi was supposed to compete in 2013 but was replaced. She was elected to compete in this pageant by the new ND of Miss Earth Venezuela, Alyz Henrich. As for her performance, it was absolutely spectacular. From her aura to stage presence to catwalk, it was overwhelmingly impressive. England’s Luissa Burton couldn’t follow up to Venezuela’s performance but she did well. Brazil’s Bruna Zanardo came in with a performance that almost equal Venezuela. Among the top 16 finalists, Bruna has the best body. Her perfect toned abs is impressive. Vietnam’s Nguyễn Thị Lệ Nam Em followed with a good poise and catwalk that was fun and joyful and that matched the tempo of the music “Girls Like”. Russia followed after Vietnam. Aleksandra Cherepanová didn’t quite live-upto the music tempo. She was slow and didn’t sway much while the music was fast and upbeat. Mexico’s Itzel Paola Astudillo was all playful and fun to watch. But not an outstanding performance. Another girl I like for her distinct feature is Macau. Clover Zhu looks different in motion than in picture. When Zhu spread her arms wide open while walking down the stairs, that looked spontaneous and took away those nerve wrecking thoughts moment like “hope she doesn’t trip” or “she’s walking carefully so not to fall” That act also showed us her fun side of her. The only black woman in the top 16, South Africa, was next. Nozipho Magagula has a good eco video and her environmental campaigns are worth admiring. A medical student, she is interested in rural healthcare and importance of environment in healthcare. She was very bouncy in a good way and like the way she posed. It was like flirting with a camera. Ecuador’s Katherine Gomez followed with an amazing presence and positive vibe all around her. Body wise, she might not be like Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia or USA, it was her stunning face and aura with a good catwalk that outshined the flaws in her. Australia’s Lyndl Kean moved her hands too much. It was kind of distracting. Sweden’s Cloie Syquia Skarne was few of the dark horses. Her placement was unexpected. Though her performance might not be upto the mark, but we could see that she had a fun personality and good vibes. The last one to close this round was Corrin Stellakis from USA. The former Miss Teen New York has such a gorgeous face and smoky eyes, she looks so desirable. She ended the round in a good note. A good performance for a closing a round!
The three best performers for me would be Colombia, Brazil and Venezuela.
After the swimsuit round, the top 16 finalists had to compete again for the Evening gown round. With G-Force group on the background performing some of southern Philippines folk dances and The Chainsmokers – Closer ft. Halsey, Colombia was the first one and she wore a silver sequined fitting gown. The gown looked smooth and when the lights project towards her, the sequin gown glitters which sparkles Michelle’s aura on stage. The length of the gown was perfect and loved the way she let her hair fall in front from one side only. South Korea chose a rather pageant patty gown which was a red hued strapless gown. The gown had fitting panty gown underneath and overlay red lace with cut on the side of the leg. She tried to work the gown by swirling to make it look dramatic but there’s nothing good about this performance. Northern Ireland followed came out in a silver beaded gown which has a nude illusion to the gown. .The gown might not be extraordinary but Julieann looked so fresh and regal in it. Italy followed in sequin hunter green gown with deep cut in the bust area and thin straps. The gown also a wide open cut in the bottom showing of the legs. Would love to see this type of gown on women who plays a seductress and wear it with a killer attitude. I think Julieann was too sweet to be wearing this gown. The length of the gown should have been a little bit longer. Venezuela was next. Staphanie chose to wear a red gown featuring silver beaded with crystals on top and a high slit. She looked so elegant. She was working the gown with panache. Though the gown wasn’t a masterpiece, Staphanie carried it like a pro and she illuminated her energy and personality. England wore off the soldier sheer blue gown which featured a heavily embroidered along with silver beads on top. Brazil followed in a mustard strapless gown with a back cape. Love the side swept wavy hairstyle of Bruna. She would look so good at a red carpet event in this looks. Vietnam then came out in a sequin strapless mermaid gown which has an overlay with green lace and sequins. The bottom part was pleated. That’s not all. It had a back cape also. She should have worked on those cape more to make it looked more dramatic. Russia’s Aleksandra came in plain and simple black gown. Though there was nothing extraordinary about this gown. It was good to see a gown that was simple and different when others were all about sequins and beads. Mexico wore a silver-nude gown. The dress was heavily beaded with crystals. The deep cut on top and the nude illusion was kind of sexy. Macau was next. She wore a mustard colour ball gown. The way she was carrying the gown made it looked heavy on her and seems like she wasn’t quite comfortable with the dress. She tried a dramatic pose with her hands. She could have done better with a different gown. South Africa came on stage in a purple sequin mermaid gown. Again she also tried a dramatic pose using her hands but was short. The gown is more like a prom dress. Ecuador followed in with an exceptional performance. Her gown was very pageant patty but its how she worked the gown that made it more memorable. The bright yellow sequin gown with beads and crystals on top and drape on sides of the made her shined coupling it with her charming smile and strong presence. Before she took on the stage, I love the way she swirled the drapes up in the air and the drapes fall dramatically. She got to play more with as she walked. This was the best performance so far. Australia followed in a royal blue mermaid gown. The moment Lyndl walked in, I was reminded of Miss Universe 2015 Pia’s gown in the evening gown round. There were differences like Australia’s gown has a visible blue strap on shoulder, a midsection silver sequin belt, a deep cut in the bust and lastly the zig-zag design on the back. I think in a way this was a poor version of Pia’s Miss Universe Evening gown. Sweden then came out in another Audrey Hepburn inspired gown. The royal blue sequins applique gown with an overskirt or drape on the back didn’t manage to create an impact but honestly, if I had to compare her performances, I prefer this one than the swimsuit one. Cloie did better here. The last to perform was USA. Corrin came in a train gown which features a plunging neckline and embroidered lace on both sides of the gown from the top to the bottom. I love the silver collar of the gown. Corrin looks so angelic. Love her overall performance. Again, a superb way to end the round.
The best in evening gown round in terms of their stage-presence, walk and gown would be Ecuador, Venezuela and Brazil. And the best being Ecuador.
From 16, it was time to narrow down to 8 contestants for the semi-final round also know as the question and answer round. The semi-finalists were Vietnam, Venezuela, Russia, Sweden, USA, Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador. The top 8 will give a speech on a topic they pick from the bowl. First to start this round was Vietnam.
Vietnam got a topic of # empowered to make a change.
It’s m belief to live to the fullest, to live up to the dreams that I always carry with myself and the belief that I can do everything with my capabilities and a desire to achieve and that’s what makes me that will allow me to achieve my dreams.
Venezuela chose # Eco Tourism
With the youth, the can learn how to prevail the earth. We have to learn from the youth to the grown-ups and from them, we can help the earth.
Russia picked # My life in one word.
I am so happy to live now, to live this time and I’m really thankful to my parents. I live now and this moment I try to look positively each all sides of life. So I’m really thankful to my parents, relatives, my friends and the people who are around me.
Sweden had to speak on # Beauty Queen
To me being a beauty queen had been a dream ever since I was young and ever since I was young growing up in Sweden, I know it’s very important to take care of our environment and I belive that no matter who you are or where you come from, it’s our duty to as people of the earth to take care of our mother earth for future generation and that’s for me to be a beauty queen.
USA topic was # Zero waste.
“I think it is very important as a beauty queen and someone who uses their voice in a daily basis to advocate for that. We need to protect our environment and put our best foot forward to create a sustainable earth.”
Brazil took a card which had # Miss Earth 2016 on it.
“The Miss Earth 2016 is a very important role in a society. Besides from bringing beauty and …., she should be very smart, very intelligent and always be pro tofight for the environment so that we can build an education pro-environment for the preservation of the environment.”
Colombia will speak on # Girls generation
“I want to tell everybody that here tonight, we are 84 women that belongs to a generation that wants to create a change that wants the world be better, that wants the world has conserve the things that we have now so we can, kids can see the beautiful things that we can see now. So, I think we should be proud of our generation.”
Ecuador picked # Climate Change
“I believe that the climate change is the most important hashtag right now as it’s because that’s the main issue and problem that the planet earth is facing nowadays. We as humans need to really think the climate change is causing many events around the world and so many people are actually losing all their belongings of a lifetime. So, we must really think about them and future generation and be the change.”
The top 8 were cut down to top 4 and again they had to face another question and answer round but the final round which will ultimately decide their fate. The top 4 were Venezuela, Ecuador, Brazil and Colombia. This is the first that all the top 4 were from Latin countries. I thought looking at the top 8 question and round, Sweden would make it to the top 4 leaving behind Venezuela (my favourite). And looking at the top 4, I felt like watching Reina Hispanoamericana pageant. Jokes apart, though of them missed some important points in their answers, the all were confident and very smart unlike previous years when some Latinas choked in this particular round.
The Top 4 were then asked the final question: “The Paris agreement on climate change is a historic international deal that seeks to limit global warming to below 1.5 degrees centigrade. If you were selected as Miss Earth 2016, what would be your program to protect Mother Earth from climate change?” Ecuador was first and the rest three contestants were on a soundproof headphone.
Ecuador – “I truly believe in the 5 R’s which is Recycle, Reuse, Reduce and Respect because I believe that as human being if we apply that to our everyday lives, we can make a change and we will reduce the problem that we have just mentioned. If we apply that to in our everyday lives, I believe that we as human beings can save the place we live in which is our mother Earth.”
Brazil – “My project to protect my mother Earth, it’ll be a project about concentration, ecological conscientization. Just that way we can change everything that’s happening in the world today. If I’m elected Miss Earth today, I promise to create a social environment culture. That’s the only way we can solve all the problems.”
Venezuela – “hello, I am not the wonder woman but I will promote education with the child and respect to prevail the mother Earth. We are the change. This is our home.”
Colombia – “My programme to protect mother Earth of climate change would be with small changes. That’s what I always say; that’s what I’ve always gonna say say. If we can make changes in ourselves and if we can change our hearts, we can create a big change. We can change the world so if we gonna change, like turn off the light, we’re gonna protect all the environment so that’s the way I’m gonna do it.”
Ecuador’s answer was the best of all. She spoke without any hesitation and put her words quite clearly. I like Brazil’s answer in a way that it has some deeper meaning when she spoke of ecological conscientization but could be uncomprehendable for others. It was short. Was it the interpreter fault? I doubt. When Venezuela said, “I am not the wonder woman”, I couldn’t agree more. She is a beauty queen and has big responsibilities. That’s true but she is also a human being, she can’t change alone and she is not a World leader. The first line of her answer was satirically funny. Love the way she gestured her interpreter to explain her answer. And the way she ended her answer (the last two sentences) in English in the end was strong and impactful. Colombia talked about starting with small changes. And she further explained how she would go about it. If, not the crown she is bound to create history for Colombia in Miss Earth contest. It’s quite interesting to watch all these contestants who were so confident and speak with ease. This is something we don’t get to see often from the Latin countries especially when they speak in English.
It was time for the winners to be announced and the outgoing queen took her final walk. Brazil – Bruna Zanardo was announced as Miss Earth Fire 2016, then Venezuela – Stephanie de Zorzi was announced as Miss Earth Water 2016. The last two contestants, Colombia was on the verged of creating history by winning Miss Earth crown but she already had made history as she was sure of an elemental title if she didn’t win the crown as no Colombian had reached the top 4. As for Ecuador, if she wins, she will take the second Miss Earth crown for her country. Then the moment of truth arrived, Ecuador won Miss Earth 2016 and Colombia’s Michelle Gomez took the Miss Earth Air 2016 title for her country.
A lot of have been talked about Katherine not deserving the title. May be true or may be false. But if I have to look and judged on the finale performance, she deserved every bit of the crown. So does the finalist. Like I was wondering why Sweden was there, I still doubt her placement during the swimsuit round, then slowly changed my mind after seeing her evening gown performance. But was still not sure if she would make it to top 8, then she did. When she spoke on the topic she picked, I thought maybe it’s because she did extremely well in the interview round which made the judges difficult to ignore her. But one contestant I really missed was Miss Kenya. I thought she should have been there in the top 16. I also wished since Miss Earth Org. gives importance to it’s campaign and theme, the winners of Best Eco Video and Earth Warrior get a spot in the top 16 or atleast points will be awarded to this two winners projects and add it to the scores of Interview round. That won’t hurt even if these two contestants enter the top 16. In pageants, there will always be disappointment but life moves on so we do. As for the two host, Marc and Rovilson, they did extremely well. They were funny and they share a good chemistry which is always a plus point in pageants. They managed to entertain the crowd and viewers. And lastly, Philippines as a host will never disappoint because there is so much support and love for beauty queens.
***All pictures are taken from Miss Earth official Facebook page.