The most entertaining pageant in the universe started with a bang and ended even better. Top favourite of all, Miss France Iris Mittenaere won the crown and became only the second woman from her country to win the crown after Christiane Martel won Miss Universe 1953, breaking France’s 63-year title drought. Haiti gave a tough fight to Iris for the crown but in the end, Iris edge over her. Venezuela another huge favourite was missing from the top 13. It was the biggest shock of the night than other unexpected contestants making the cut. What possibly could be the reason of her exclusion?
The Miss Universe contest started a video of Steve Harvey making an escape plan in case he made another mistake again. Then the contestants were introduced on stage. Accompanying them on stage was an American singer, songwriter and rapper, Flo Rida, singing his songs like “In the ayer’’, “My house” and “Zillionaire”. This year production and choreography were unlike its previous edition. The contestants usually introduced themselves standing on stage in cocktail dress from sponsors. The contestants this year got to wear a dress of their own choice and were introduced as they walked. This shows variety of the dress but the choreography seemed more like a short fashion show. Contestants crying out their name and countries name sound more exciting. The sound track could have been better too.
Once the introduction round was over, Steve Harvey joined the beautiful ladies on stage and the reigning queen Pia Wurtzbach joined him for a short moment. I just love the chemistry of both Pia and Steve. They both complement each other. Whenever they both shared the stage together, it was fun and entertaining.
The announcement of the top 13 followed with each contestant answering some personal questions from the host -Steve Harvey.
Kenya was the first finalist and the only from Africa to make the cut.
Steve, ”You know I cannot believe your story. You lost your parents at an early age and you had a near dead experience at 5. You become the first contestant in your country to ever become a Miss Universe contestants. How in the world the first one to reach the final 13 How in the world did you get here?”
Miss Kenya, “Well Steve I have a very strong and loving family. My sibling and I are lucky to have been left in the hands of our stepmother whose been a mentor and always encourage us to achieve our dreams without giving up that we should always pursue that which we love as long as you keep yourself,, hope alive. You will always make it and that is always gives meaning to life. To know that our days are numbered and time is short. So I live my life, I always live my life like it’s the last moment.”
Indonesia made it despite tripping during the preliminary round. She deserved her placement because she the best Indonesian representative so far and one of the strongest delegates in the contest.
Steve, “Being a woman in your country at 6 feet tall, that’s a foot taller than an average women in your country. What’s that been like for you?”
Miss Indonesia, “I feel I am so bless because I think it’s a gift from God. So I can help others.”
USA – the military girl was the fourth finalist.
Steve, “You are also in the military in the United State Army reserve. What it’s like for you to take off the fatig(military uniform) and put on this gown and outfits and start campaigning as Miss Universe?”
Miss USA, “Hopefully, as Miss Universe if I am privileged enough to be crown and as Miss USA, I have had the opportunities to just go around the world to show the diversity that we have, as a women, myself and the other 85 are so diverse. We represent so much from our country. I am incredibly excited, honoured and I feel humble to know that I represent the strong powerful women especially women that serve our country.”
Mexico’s attitude is the best. Love the way she ended her answer.
Steve, “I once heard that you actually tripped and failed during a pageant. What happened?”
Miss Mexico, “Yes, It was last three years ago in a catwalk and obviously I felt nervous and I think that I take advantage of that opportunity because there were judges, media and I say this is my opportunity to say I am here; I am Mexico and I take advantage of that and well, nothing happened!”
Steve, “That’s what I said after last year. “
Steve, “In October last year, you were involved in a car accident. It took over two hours to pry you out of the car. Tell us about that.”
Miss Peru, “I had a car accident last year. It was very painful. Many doctors told me that I couldn’t come to Miss Universe but you know Miss Universe was my biggest motivation. So I started to go twice a day to a therapy to recover fast. So now I am here and I am more grateful than ever. This is the best moment of my life so far.”
Steve, “I understand that you and your sister were raised by a single mother. How has that prepared you in this competition?
Miss Panama, “Well, my mother told me and my sister like working hard, you can have everything you want and definitely give me the confidence and also the strength to pursue my dreams.”
Colombia – This has to be one of the best of the night.
Miss Colombia, “Thank you so much. Don’t worry. Hug me.”
Steve, “Listen, I am gonna ask this for myself. How do people in Colombia feel about Steve Harvey?”
Miss Colombia, “You want to know the truth?”
Steve, “Do just lie to me.”
Miss Colombia, “Honestly, a lot of people hate you. But you know I love you but the most important is…. (she spoke in Spanish highlighting the importance of forgiveness and moving on.)
Steve, “Was that a death threat?”
Steve, “Your aunt was actually a Miss Universe Philippines 1990. Did she gives you any advice about competing?”
Miss Philippines, “Of course, she just told me to be myself and to be more confidence since it’s gonna be here in the Philippines.”
Steve, “You recently ran your first marathon. I don’t believe in running that far. Do you think being an athlet gives you some edge over some of the contestants?”
Miss Canada, “Well, running a marathon along 42.2 km or 26 miles takes determination, perseverance, patience and a lot of stamina. And all those seem like actually what a Miss Universe need to have so….”
Steve, “You are the first black woman from Brazil to represent the country in over 30 years. What does that mean to you?
Miss Brazil, “I am very proud to be an example to other girls like me.”
France – another conversation that made us laugh and how fun is to watch both of them.
Steve, “We understand that you love to cook French food. What’s your specialty?”
Miss France, “Yes, I love to cook. My specialty is Beef bourguignon. This is beef slowly cooked with red wine. You should try. This is very good and amazing, really.
Steve, “I want to. Yes.”
Miss France, “I will invite you in Paris.”
Steve, “No I have a wife. I can’t come.”
Miss France, “But my Beef bourguignon is the best.
Steve, “My wife still won’t let me go and come. Thank you, France “
Steve, “I understand that you’re part of a research team that’s working for a cure for blindness. Tell us a little bit more about that.”
Miss Haiti, “Yes, I am a part of a research project that consists of finding new alternative to cure blindness such as surgery. And our project has taught me not to take my eyes for granted and it’s because of your eyes that you’re watching this incredible show tonight and it’s because of your eyes you’ll be able to read who is the next Miss Universe.”
Steve, “I understand that you brought 17 suitcases with you to the Philippines. What’s all in that suitcases?”
Miss Thailand, “That’s a good question. they are, of course, accessories from my lovely sponsors in Thailand.”
After the top 13 announcement, the first competition of the night was the swimsuit round. Finalists came in trio or two before each one of them walked on stage alone for the competition. The finalists got less duration to walk and the audience got less chance to see more of their catwalk. The previous editions where finalists came on stage individually instead of trio or couple were much better as it gave contestants more time to walk and fans got to see more of the actual competition. The song used for this section was “I took a pill in Ibiza” by Mike Posner n The Chainsmokers – “Don’t Let Me Down” ft. Daya
Kenya despite having a good body and facially beautiful, she lacked the punch that we usually see in Miss Universe swimsuit contest. Nevertheless, I was quite happy to see her in the top 13 and wanted her to go further. Indonesia is the strongest candidate from her country in recent years. She had everything going on for her to be the next Miss Universe. Her inclusion is much better than last year representative. When you’re in the military you are bound to be in good shape and have strong personality, that’s exactly Miss USA. Mexico is just like Miss World Mexico 2016. So vibrant and lively. While the three contestants were more calm and composed in the manners, she was energetic, cheerful and lively on stage. Peru followed bringing the same energy and excitement on stage. Panama’s catwalk was fierce and to look more fun, she tried playing with her sarong on stage. It was a balanced performance. Colombia was impactful. Love the support of the crowd despite what happened last year. Philippines though under pressure, she performed like there was nothing to worry about. It didn’t show on her face or manners. She was absolutely enjoying the attention. And she made it look so easy. Canada might not have the body of what one expect in a contest but her personality is one thing that makes her stood out. The confidence in which she owns her body is worth admiring. Brazil’s smile showed she was absolutely living in the moment. Her body was one of the best. The star of the night, France was next. Everything about her is perfection. From stage presence to energy to personality to star quality, it was France all the way. Haiti’s tall stature and well-toned body coupled with her strong personality and intelligence made her a shoo-in for the crown. Thailand just like last year representative Aniporn was one of my favourite for the title(the top 3). Though facially I prefer Aniporn but in terms of stage presence and catwalk, Chalita scored over her and the current top 13 finalists.
Looking at the swimsuit, it’s a nice to Miss Universe evolving just like Miss World. IMG since believe in “confidently beautiful” we can see many confident women making the cut irrespective of their shape and sizes. This will help Miss Universe in a long run. Some hardliners might not still be sold on this changes, but this changes only prove how Miss Universe org. is trying to breakaway away from stereotyping of pageants or women’s body.
From top 13 now it was top 9. USA, Thailand, Canada, Haiti, Mexico, Philippines, Colombia, France and Kenya were the ones who made it further. The 9 finalists were to compete for evening gown round. Kiiara’s “Gold” soundtrack was used for this round.
USA was the first one to start this round. She came in a sexy red sequin gown. While this gown was much better than her preliminary gown I still think that the gown she wore at Miss USA final was perfect and that gown image still comes to my mind when I see her in a different gown. Thailand was up next. While every contestant want to look the best in their ultra-glamorous Haute Couture gown, Thailand came in a simple black sequined gown with a layer of fabric over her sleeve that bared her midriff. This show how modern gown can get inspiration from traditional dress. The way she carried the gown and walk showing the right attitude on stage, this was a projection of perfection. The simplicity of the gown yet so classy and royal made it so outstanding. This gown was the best for me. I wish last year representative Aniporn had worn something similar. France followed in a shimmering gown that featured silver and gold sequins on a nude tulle base with long sleeves. The work of sequins on the gown that looks like a cross section and floral arts was a masterpiece. And she looks absolutely stunning! Mexico wore a silver beaded gown with a high slit up her right thigh. The silver gown heavily applique at the hem might be kind of common these days in pageant, but Mexico wore it like she owned the gown and it was hers only. Kenya choose to wear a different gown in the final night. She came in a well fitted red mermaid gown. The cuts on both sides of the gown made her look so tall and show off her fit body. Colombia’s gown was very much suited for her skin stone. And it complimented her overall personality. The gold sequined gown giving us a nude illusion highlighted her skin tone even better. Not sure whether this is inspired from marine life because those multi layered flares look like a coral reef. If it is so, I love how inspiration and creativity can go hand in hand. Canada wore a fitted mermaid gown. Though I love the wide dramatic godet panels at the bottom, the upper part of the gown didn’t highlighted anything about her personality. Haiti’s upper part gown was a reminder of last year Ariadna’s gown while the lower portion of the gown was different. The cross section beads on the bottom gave a different meaning to the gown. Haiti has such a strong feature and personality that she looks just amazing in the gown. The last to finish this section was the host country Philippines. Her gown was heavily beaded in silver crystal-covered bodice and a red skirt. The contrasting colours of shiny elements and bright red just complimented each other. Her aura fills the stage. It came from enjoying the moment.
The top 6 announcement followed. Haiti, Philippines, Colombia, France, Thailand and Kenya were the lucky one to make the cut. They had to face Question and answer round before moving to the final 3 finalists.
Miss Philippines, Maxine Medina:
What is the most significant change you’ve seen in the world in the last 10 years?
Mexine: The last 10 years of being here in the world is that I saw all the people being in one event like this in Miss Universe, and it’s something big to us that we are one, as one nation, we are all together.
Miss Kenya, Mary Esther:
Arguably, no US president has had an active first 10 days in office. What are you most excited about, and what most concerns you when it comes to the presidency of Donald Trump?
Esther: Politics…let me just start again. Donald Trump, having been elected as president of the United States may not have been the choice of many people living in the United States because of the divided support system for the outgoing president Barack Obama, who was supporting an upcoming woman president, who was supposed to be a woman president, Hillary Clinton. So so many people oppose his position, but I feel that once he took up his position, he was able to unify the entire nation.
Miss Thailand, Chalita Namtan Suansane:
Name a curent or past world leader whom you admire and why?
Chalita: Mabuhay, Philippines! For me that would be the king of Thailand. His Majesty has been working tirelessly on behalf of the Thai people ever since I was born. For all the Thai people, His Majesty has been like a father to us. Thank you very much.
Miss France, Iris Mittenaere:
Given today’s worldwide refugee crisis, do countries have an obligation to accept refugees, or do they have a right to close their borders?
Iris: The country should have the right to open or close their borders. Throughout the world, people can choose to have the borders open or closed. In Europe we have open borders. In France we want to have the most globalization that we can, we want to have the biggest exchange of people that we can. Maybe someday that will change, but now we have open borders. Having open borders allows us to travel more through the world, and to find out more about what’s out there in the world.
Miss Haiti, Raquel Pelissier:
On January 21, an estimated 4.8 million people marched worldwide for human rights, women’s rights, and other issues. If you were able to participate, what would you have been marching for?
Raquel: One of the women I admire in the world is Eleanor Roosevelt because she fought so much for human rights and I feel like that’s what we need in the world. We are just one. A hundred thousand years ago, 6 species of human lived in the world. Now we are just one. And we all need each other, and we need to respect each other.
Miss Colombia, Andrea Tovar:
Why do we believe violence is so prevalent in today’s society and what can we do about it?
Andrea: I come from a country that does have violence and this is my reference point. And although there are presidents who don’t get along with others, we work together to be able to unite. Campaigns, respect, and inclusivity to be able to have a social transformation that will educate our children.
France like her predecessor last year, gave a smart answer and that was so realistic. It wasn’t fare for Kenya to get a question that doesn’t apply to her country even though Trump might still be a debatable subject. Thailand answer was honest and can resonate with her emotional answer. I really thought it was a great answer because it reflects her country sentiments and patriotism. It was much better than taking some random world leader just to make a point. Haiti as expected won our hearts through her wits and knowledge. Philippines wanted her answer to be relevant to Miss Universe but that wasn’t enough. It might have been a straight from the heart answer but hosting a Miss Universe bringing diverse women together is the most significant thing to happen in the last ten years, atleast in terms of the world or the universe rather. J
Soon the top 3 finalists were announced who all will face the last question and answer round. The 3 had to answer the same question: “Name something over the course of your life that you failed at, and tell us what you learned from that experience.” All 3 used an interpreter.
Miss Colombia: I think that many times, one makes mistakes for many things. During moments when you may not accept someone due to their differences, to not accept them due to their sexual preferences, and to not be capable of accepting their error. I think any of those experiences gives you the opportunity to have strength and value and principles.
Miss France: I’ve failed several times in my life, so I thought that I failed the first time that I went out on a casting, because my name wasn’t on the list. The very next day, I found that I was in a new book. So I think that when you fail, you have to be elevated, you have to try again, and keep going. If tonight, I’m not one of the winners, I will still have the great honor of being one of the 3 finalists, so I think that I have failed before, but I think this is a great first opportunity.
Miss Haiti: About 7 years ago, I survived the earthquake. I feel I was failing myself because I was not living my dreams, I was living day by day in that earthquake, it was a bad event, but I choose to be a very positive person and learn a great lesson from it. Because if I am here today, it’s because I am living my dreams.
Colombia, France and Haiti gave their final walk before one of them being crowned Miss Universe. To give them company, Boyz II Men performed a special number for each one of them. They serenaded Colombia singing “On bended Knees” from their album. For France they sang “Tonight is your night”. Just love the way France reciprocated the feelings. And this song was definitely for her as she was the one who clearly stood out throughout the competition. Lastly, Haiti had “End of the Road” from the group as her final walk.
At this point of time, Colombia was clearly losing the momentum. She looked nervous and frightened while Haiti and France were clearly the standouts. Haiti who never had been on my favourite list was the one actually to come in the way of France to win the crown. Like in 1994, history might be repeated again. The 2nd runner-up was Colombia. And then France was declared as the new Miss Universe. And Steve got it right this time.
About the Contest:
While I believe the introduction round, swimsuit and gown competition were done in a hurried manner giving less time to actual competition, the show as whole was excellent. This edition is one of the best editions of Miss Universe. The pre-pageant activities were the best in recent years. As can be seen from videos, the contestants are definitely enjoying the warmth and love of the Filipinos. How lovely it would be to enjoy the attention of fans and at the same be the fans that were cheering and supporting the delegates wherever they go. This is something I truly love about Philippines. Their love for pageants and their immense support and love for the delegates. Even after the host delegate couldn’t advance to the top 3, the crowd move on and the way they were rooting for each top 3 finalist, this shows how a pageant is conducted and how this year Miss Universe is the best!