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Review: Miss Grand International 2017

One of the most watched pageant ended recently, and it ended with a bang. From the day Miss Grand International 2017 started to the final day of coronation, Miss Grand International once again proved it is one of the grandest pageant. In its fifth edition, the magnitude of the pageant is massive and so visible. No one can deny the position Miss Grand International holds in the world of pageant today. This year Vietnam as a host once again proved Asia is indeed a powerhouse in hosting pageant. The love and respect the local fans gave to the contestants is one example of the many that shows the warmth and hospitality of Asian countries.

After a delay of broadcasting due to bad weather, the show started with a magnificent opening number. The 77 contestants in blue and black Ao Dai was joined by the outgoing queen Ariska Petri who wore a sexy high low red short cocktail dresses sheer long sleeves  The remix of Little Mix´s hit song “Power” used for this opening number gave the atmosphere a very energetic feeling.

The introduction of the contestants really couldn’t match up to the opening dance number. Most of the contestants sounded too low and most of them failed to get the audience roaring. And it’s also sad to see the crowd going cold when most of the contestants where crying out their names and countries. Some countries did get the loudest cheer. To name a few, they were Jamaica, India, Japan, Netherlands, Peru, Philippines, Russia and Thailand. These countries were the ones who shouted at the top of their voice and got the loudest cheer.

Soon after the introduction round, the first competition of the night was about to begin but before that, the top 20 quarter-finalists were announced. Venezuela, Philippines, Czech Republic, Peru, Puerto Rico, Indonesia, South Sudan, Thailand, Ukraine, Vietnam. Australia, Brazil, China, Costa Rica, India, Laos, Mexico, Netherlands, Paraguay and Russia were the top 20. Surprisingly, Jamaica, Fiji, Belgium and Sri Lanka who were considered a big favourite were left out of the top 20. The top 20 now competes in Swimsuit Round. They were called in order of alphabetical letter of their country name. They walked the runway to “Falling”, by Alesso.

Australia inclusion wasn’t surprising as she did well in the preliminary round but she really didn’t shine in this particular round. Not that she gave a bad performance. Brazil did better than Australia. I love her catwalk. China’s performance in preliminary round was quite fierce. It really matches up to her fierce looks. She is another case who didn’t quite live upto her preliminary performance. Costa Rica bounce a lot. She could have pose a little more. Czech Republic – a beautiful face but her catwalk could have been a lot better. India brought the charm on stage with her energetic performance. Indonesia who gave a decent performance at preliminary was a lot better than the previous performance. Was glad to see her back in the game. Laos who debuted this year, send a well-prepared representative for the contest. She didn’t disappoint. Mexico’s confidence on stage was visibly charming and her catwalk was great. Netherlands walked in slow pace, should have atleast tried to match up with the background song. This could have helped her. Paraguay was definitely enjoying the stage and it was fun to watch her. Peru, everytime outdid herself. She was so exceptional in the preliminary round and here in the final, she was beyond exceptional. Philippines really prepared well for this contest. It is so visible in every performance of hers. Puerto Rico is the dark horse. She is absolutely gorgeous and amazing in this round. Russia is attractively tall and walked like there was no competition. She really was enjoying the moment and it was so enjoyable to watch her. South Sudan walk was gracious and dignified. She was walking like a royal. Thailand’s preliminary was a bit disappointing but wasn’t bad either. It was decent performance worthy of top 20. In this round, she did better. Ukraine’s charming face is to die for. Venezuela has been consistent in all her performance. Absolutely love her presence on stage. Vietnam ended the swimsuit round with a performance worthy of being in the top 10.

The winner of this round in my opinion would be Peru. And the contestants from South America were the best followed by Philippines and Russia. Right after the swimsuit round, special awards were given. Costa Rica won Best in Swimsuit. The popular vote went to Indonesia which gave her a spot in the top 10. Rest of the top 9 were Czech Republic, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Ukraine, South Sudan, Thailand and Vietnam. The exclusion of India and Costa Rica who despite winning Best in Swimsuit award were shocking.

It was time for Top 10 speech based on “Stop the War and Violence’’ campaign. Czech Republic started the speech. Violin cover of ‘Heal the World’ by Michael Jackson was played in the background.

Czech Republic – Violence is one thing in this world we really don’t need and the world would be a better place if there were peace than war, gangs, druggies and tyrant. I think I’m powerful, independent and hardworking person with strong mind and I would like to promote a message of ‘Stop the War and Violence’ around the world. Life is a not a competition, we should enjoy this life with people who we love. Miss Grand International must not only show she is beautiful but also show she has also a beautiful soul. And I know I can inspire other people and give them hope. As a children, I wanna see happy children because in this world full of negativity, violence and destruction, it’s very difficult to see all amazing things around us.

Indonesia – Tonight I want to tell you about white paper. In one of province in my country, a massive conflict happened in 1999 due to religion propaganda. Thousand people killed, thousand houses burnt and lots of children saw their parents killed in front of their eyes. But the current condition is so much better than before. I can feel peace within them. When I asked them, what makes Maluku condition much better than before. And the answer is only one, how the parents can educate their children about tolerance and my favourite psychological figure John Locke mention about Tabula rasa. Tabula rasa explained it all the children born in this world are like white paper. So the colour on that paper depend on the family, depend on society. So ladies and gentlemen, I believe, we can prevent war and highly encourage you to have peace in mind and start building tolerance from your family. To stop the war, let’s colour and educate our new generation about how to love, care, share and respect each other so that they will grow up and strong unite a generation that isn’t easy to break up. The white paper must be grow up and colour the world with unity and harmony in diversity.

Peru – Peace is indeed the most important topic in the world. Unfortunately, it is not the most talked about. I am here today to raise my voice on behalf of all those voice that cannot be heard. For every child crying wondering why their brother and sister are not around anymore, for every parent that has gone through the hardest thing is to bury their child. Why is it so difficult for humankind to live in peace? Tolerance, compassion and respect should be the key foundation of how we lead our lives. President John F Kennedy once said, ‘our time in this world is limited. We must choose wisely to transform what we wish to transform.’ If I had the honor to be Miss Grand International, I will use my voice to spread the message of peace and strive to reach all of the powerful minds in our world that instead of using this power to create what is used to destroy. If people can learn how to hate, we must teach them how to love.

Philippines – Peace a far more significant topic than any other and the one that holds dearly to my heart. We all know the horrors of the war and the many that fight it. I questioned than why they are so willing to fight for it. Today, I stand her knowing, it’s my responsibility to fight for peace and strive for peace in this world through love, compassion, understanding and education. Tonight, I stand here will all of this women behind me spreading the message of peace. I am here to remind you all, as Philippines peace ambassador, that tis your responsibility too. This is our responsibility. Today, tomorrow and for the generation to come.

Puerto Rico – War that has three letters that that has the impact the power of beauty of life. In this day, the war has seen their dominance of power, the importance of implementing respect and the harness of being the victor. Today, I speak not only for the war of guns but also the war that we are facing in our daily lives. With the voice of my people that have passed a huge adversity. Hurricane Maria came into my country with a fight like in a war, we have people who are scared, afraid, devastated without a home to live in. We may be scared, we may fall but nothing will break us if we are together. With this voice, I stand here with strength making my people that I promised that nothing will break us behind all that suffering. I stand here with the side of my sisters, sister queens to make a statement of difference, courage and love. To wake up everyday thanking God for giving me the strength that make the fear disappear and become the tube of live. Together we can fight for freedom, fight for love, fight for our children, fight for who we are. This is me calling you for us to rebuild our world in peace. Let’s make a better world with our hands together and stop the war and violence.

South Sudan – By the age of 12, I was a refugee of the longest civil war on the record lasted twenty years between Sudan and South Sudan. Because of the war in my country, I was not able to attend school. In fact before migrating to America, I didn’t know how to read or write any language. I only knew how to speak Arabic. I believe education to be provided for every human being. I advocate for children to learn and educate themselves because I myself did not have that opportunity till I was 12 years old. I believe the only way to stop ongoing war in this world, not just in my country but around the world, is by providing education for everyone regardless of our skin tone, complexion, age, gender and providing a perfect economic system for the world and break the pathway of poverty.

Thailand – We think too much and feel too little. Our cleverness has made us hard and uncaring. But this not the nature of mankind. Humankind was born and raised on the foundation of love and hope. We don’t want to hate or despise one another. We want to show kindness and gentleness to each other but we have lost our way. We focus on ending war and violence yet we’ve forgot how it means to feel. Social media has brought us closer together and the very nature of this invention cries out for universal brotherhood – a united humanity. More than power, we need gentleness; more than wealth, we need humanity. Without this quality, there will be no change. So let us all unite for a common purpose of ending war and violence once for all.

Ukraine – On our planet there are 7 billion people and there is nothing terrible than war. War threaten the most important thing what people have. It’s life. We are people. Let’s not forget about it. War goes crazy. People stop hearing each other. All the time conflict and war. What are we fighting for? When will this end? Why do people want black? We must unite to stand and to stop an evil govern our hearts. You ask me what we can do for peace? Prosperity and friendship is what we need for happiness. In my country before years, it’s a war. For Ukraine, it’s terrible time. There is not passing day when I do not think how to stop the violence and now I want to say not like a contestant of international beauty pageant but as a future mother, ‘Stop the war, stop the violence.’ I want our children born under a peaceful sky and never hear a war like war. You will ask me what we can do for love in th whole world and I will answer, we have to love this world more and we have to respect each other more.

Vietnam – Was has massively consequence destruction. Growing up in a country that has been in many wars. I deeply understand aftermath they left behind, mothers losing their kids, wife becoming widow, people still dying, million of bodies have not been found. In every war, all parties want to be a winner but at the end of the day, it is just a losing fame for everyone. Is it worthy? War is created by us though they can be stopped also by us. All we need to do is open our heart. Peace, Kindness to one another. Our great leader Ho Chi Minh once said, ‘nothing is more important than independent and freedom.’

Those who really stood out in the top 10 speech were Indonesia, Peru, Puerto Rico and South Sudan. Puerto Rico spoke about hurricane that affected her countries and how they were still standing strong. South Sudan talked about the war in her country and not being able to go to school. She did spoil her chances to enter the top 5 by messing up her speech. Russia spoke in her native language. When you hear her speaking, it seemed like she gave a strong speech because she spoke convincingly and was so confident. The unfortunate part is there was no translator. And we couldn’t understand what she meant. Also, it seems like all the girls were forced to speak in English. I wish they speak in their native language and there be a translator. It’s really commendable of them to speak in English which is not their first language. And speaking in your own mother tongue won’t make you any less. Hope Miss Grand International provides translator the next time in this round too and let the contestant speak in their choice of language instead of using English just for the sake of making an impact.

Once the speeches were finished, the reigning Miss Grand International, Ariska Petri Pertiwi, gave her final walk as Miss Grand International. It was an emotional moment for her and we could really feel her emotion. She mentioned about her journey as the reigning queen through a pre-recorded audio while ‘Memories’ by Shawn Mendes played in the background.

Time for the top 10 to compete for the evening gown round. The top 10 semi-finalists walked the stage to the sound of ‘Lights down low’ by Mask (ft. Gnash). Czech Republic was the first one to start. She changed her gown for the finale. She wore sexy plunging deep V neck sheer silver gown. She looked absolute divine in her silver gown. Indonesia wore the same gown from her preliminary round. The stunning embroidered tulle gown looked really good on her.  What can I say about Peru. The off-shoulder applique fitted nude gown complimented her perfect body. She is a diva queen. Philippines gown in the preliminary was much better than the one she wore in the final. The neck piece was a distraction and didn’t really do justice to her stage presence. Puerto Rico in a beaded mermaid gown looked gorgeous. She is growing on me especially after hearing her speech. Such a confident intelligent woman. South Sudan is so gorgeous and gracious in a floor length gown which features sheer panels and lace appliques with a flowing poncho. Love how she played with the poncho. Thailand in her long sleeve black gown with slit in front couldn’t really match her gown in the preliminary. It’s a shame she chooses to wear a different gown. Ukraine came in a full sleeve overskirt tulle gown and I absolute love the gown and her gorgeous face. She looks so regal. Venezuela followed in a white gown with red applique on the upper part and long flowing poncho. She worked the gown really well. Though she did really well I love her preliminary gown better. Vietnam was the last one to follow and just when I thought I already have my top five, Vietnam completely blew me away with her sexy red mermaid gown. She impresses me the most here in this round.

If I were to pick solely based on evening gown round, my pick would be Peru, Indonesia, Venezuela, Ukraine and Vietnam. They were the stand out in this competition. Since the speech round had to be considered too, there were bound to be some changes.

The top 5 were announced. Czech Republic, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico and Venezuela were the last five standing. They now go for the last round i.e. question and answer round.

The final question was common to all the contestants, which was

“If you had to issue a law to punish criminals of war and violence how would you punish these people and why?”

Peru“If I have to issue a law that punishes people that make the war and violence, I will take them to live in refugee camps so they can feel the pain, the suffering, and the devastation these families go through because of the war and violence. I will take them, for a certain amount of time to live in refugee camps. That would be my law for the people that create war and violence.”

Puerto Rico“The law that I will create is, by obligation they have to do chivalrous work, work for the society because I am an ambassador of ‘Stop the War and Violence’ and I am not going to punish these people with more violence. One person can bring a change in society, so these people are going to work for the society to make a new one and a better one.”

Czech Republic“I guess I can’t punish these people but together we can do it, together we can stop the war and violence, together!”

Philippines“They say a nation is judged not by criminals and the crimes they commit, but how the nation punishes them. If I were to create a law, it would be to implement mental rehabilitation because character is such a complex phenomenon. We cannot judge someone’s character based on the crimes that they commit. If we punish somebody just as equally as the crimes they have committed, then what does that say about us? I would implement mental rehabilitation.”

Venezuela – “I am a person that believes in god, I believe that the law of god is the most important one, so the way I would stop the war would be by implementing love, respect and values.”

All the top 5 answers were very rhetoric and very philosophical which something people love to hear. I would have love hear them talk about the reality they would be facing as a criminal of war and violence. You can’t just show them love and respect by making them work for society which they already destroyed. They could have answered about punishing them according the rule of law that already existed and tried according the crimes they committed. If they were to be changed, they would change after being punish for their crimes. Let their time in jail change them. Coming back to the last 5 finalists, by now it was clearly evident who would be the winner. Peru, Philippines and Venezuela were going to be in the top 3 not just based on the last round but overall performance. Peru was the clear winner.

The top 5 had their last final walk in their evening gown while ‘Love is alive’ by Lea Michele played in the background. Then the moment of truth finally came. Nikola Uhlirova, Miss Czech Republic was the 4th runner-up, 3rd runner-up title went to Brenda Jimenez, Miss Puerto Rico, Miss Philippines, Elizabeth Durado Clenci took the 2nd runner-up, Miss Venezuela, Tulia Aleman, the 2nd runner-up and without any surprises  Maria Jose Lora, Miss Grand Peru won the 5th edition of Miss Grand International.

 

Concluding thoughts: Miss Grand International 2017 was indeed a spectacular event. Year after year, it proved us once again, it is one of the grandest pageants. Despite some unpleasant news initially, the pageant was a success. But was this the best edition ever? Despite the success, 2015 edition is the best so far. One annoying thing this year was the top 10 delegates for each round through Facebook likes and shares. Engaging fans and best in social media/ popular vote are different things, but to asked fans for likes for each and every competition and select the top 10 based on that sounds like an attempt to stay relevant in the social media. The drawback is that many other contestants who really deserved to be in those top 10 were left out.  Just hoping this won’t be done again next year. Apart from these, I have enjoyed Miss Grand International pageant since its inception. And from their first year itself, it has only surprise us year after year with its magnificent production and great activities.

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Miss Grand International 2016 review

Image Credits: Miss Grand International
Image Credits: Miss Grand International

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.

Image Credits: Miss Grand International
Image Credits: Miss Grand International

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.

Image Credits: Miss Grand International
Image Credits: Miss Grand International

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:

L - R: Bahamas (Best in Swimsuit), Korea (Popular Vote), England (Best in Evening Gown), Jamaica (Best in Social Media) and Indonesia (Best in National Costume)
L – R: Bahamas (Best in Swimsuit), Korea (Popular Vote), England (Best in Evening Gown), Jamaica (Best in Social Media) and Indonesia (Best in National Costume)

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.

miss-grand-2016

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.

Click here for Miss Grand International 2015 review

Miss Grand International 2015 (Complete Review)

Grand Top 5 winner

What do I say about Miss Grand International! It is Grand. Everything about it is grand, magnificence and outstanding. Thailand as host is simply amazing. It’s so amazing to see those places. So beautiful, vibrant and paradise. The hospitality given to the delegates can be felt through watching the activities and I feel just packing my bags and leave right away for Thailand. Miss Grand is a reminiscent of the Miss Universe and Miss World in the 90’s when it wasn’t just about the competition but also about showing the host country in such a magical way that you really wanna go there and Thailand is definitely in my bucket list ever since watching Miss Grand.

The show started with the girls touring the country-side. The portion I like about this was where some delegates were on the boat and the rest on the bridge above welcoming us. Then we were welcome by Lees Garcia, Miss Grand 2015. Loved the haste in the makeup done on her and the other contestants running towards the stage for the show to start in a frenzy and nerve wrecking feeling. That hurried moment definitely matched up to our excitement and nervousness.

The Opening Number
The Opening Number

The show started on stage with Lees Garcia in a silver dress shining like a broadway star and she joined the delegates of 2015 for an opening number and danced to Fergie’s A Little Never Killed Nobody. The Choreography and the song used were excellent. All the delegates in a red hot dress looked so sexy and eye catching. It was time for introduction round with Angola opening it. Some of the notable delegates and huge crowd favourites in this one were Costa Rica, Dominican Republic who got the loudest cheer, Honduras – the way she shouted Honduras was very animating, India had the crowd cheered for her, Iran was amazingly beautiful, Japan also the crowd favourite was so sweet like honey and I love her short hair(it was a nice change to see among the other girls), Kenya was another black beauty, Macedonia by this time had the entire crowd cheering for her and she didn’t disappoint with her signature style, Netherland looked so much like a Hollywood actress, Philippines – she had such a stage presence, Thailand was the other one besides Dominican Republic who got the loudest cheer, USA looked so looked exceptionally beautiful. Once the introduction of delegates was over, Lees Gracia joined the delegates again and danced to the background tune.

The Top 20 announcement:

Before the announcement of top 20, the video of the national costume competition round was shown and the winner was announced on screen. Philippines who was my favourite to win this round won this contest. She came forward to receive her trophy. She looked red hot and exotic. Later, Lees Garcia joined the host of the night, the handsome – Matthey Deane Chanthavanij, as a co-host to announce the top 20.

India, Poland, USA, Australia, Angola, France, Thailand, Ukraine, Peurto Rico, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, Netherland, Philippines, Spain, Mexico and Japan made it to the top 20.

Then, the judges were introduced. They were Janelee Chaparro, first Miss Grand International, 2013, Siripen Pansritum – Managing Director of Kamol Hospital, Kim Steppe -Blue Elephant Director, Teresa Chaivisut – Vice President of MGI and lastly, Nawat Itsaragirsil – MGI President.

Swimsuit Round.

Grand swimsuit

The top 20 were called out in alphabetical order this time and they walked on stage to the song Flashlight by Jessie J. Angola started the round, she was all about being sassy in her swimsuit. Next was Australia. I love how she put her right hands behind her head like she was posing for a camera and she came down to walked like she owned the stage. Brazil followed with a move that was so rhythmic to the background music. Costa Rica had a nice walk just like a beauty queen. Czech-Republic walked like a supermodel. Did you see her leg movement? It was more like a model walking a runway. The crowd favourite, Dominican Republic made an entrance, she was definitely enjoying the attention walking so energetically. France looked so serious and more than enjoying the stage it seemed like she was walking for a bikini collection. Another crowd favourite, India was full of confident and loved the way she kept looking at the camera at the same time trying to connect with the audience. She looked stunning. Japan who never was my favourite was the star of the night. She was sweet, beautiful and had such a personality that made her shine like a fairy. Mexico had such a rhythmic walk, the way she moves her hips and slight turning her head after posing was just awesome. Netherland reminds me of a Hollywood star. She has such beautiful face and charming personality but something was lacking in her. Was it her energy? Philippines was so good in everything. From her walked to her smiling face, she has such a persona that you don’t wanna miss. Poland was not really upto the competition. She was a bit slow and it was like she was just there to walk and go backstage. Puerto Rico was all calm and composed. Spain was affectionate to watch and it was good. The dark horse – Sri Lanka created a very lovely moment. While walking in her swimsuit, it was nice to see her holding her hands up to connect with the audience and the love sign she made with her fingers and pointing her hands towards was simply thrilling. I felt like watching a Victoria’s secret models on stage. The host country, Thailand walked with such an energy that she was all animated and a joy to watch. The model, actress and host – Ukraine pose was worth mentioning. The slight up and down movement while posing was cute. USA reminded me of Shandy Finnessey. Venezuela was much better than her prelims and she seems to copy Dayana Mendoza style.

A video of Best in Swimsuit was shown and the winner was surprisingly Costa Rica.

Grand Costa Rica swimsuit

The Top 10:

Miss Sri Lanka was awarded Miss Popular award – an online voting who directly penetrated into the top 10 and the first one to be called for top 10. Philippines was next, Brazil followed, Thailand was next, Japan, Spain, Costa Rica, India, Dominican Republic and Australia filled the top 10. I love the way Australia lifted her hands. That was very interesting and good way to connect with the audience.

There was a special performance given by Janelle Chaparro – the first Miss Grand International, dancing to the tune of Beyonce’s I’m a grown woman. I thought the dance was unnecessary and she lack the punch. I prefer Lees’s opening number.

It was time for the top 10 speak about their campaign and give a message to the world. All were dress in white gown to spread the message of peace.

Australia was all emotional while delivering her speech. I could feel her emotions. She talked a girl child, questioned the world what we were fighting for. Was it for money or power? She highlighted the importance of war and stopping the war.
Brazil talked about human being the same, and there wasn’t a need to fight for war. She even sang a song John Lenon’s Imagine to spread the message of love and unity.
Costa Rica spoke in her native language and I didn’t understand a single word and there wasn’t even an interpreter. The whole audience clapped for her. I thought they understood her native language.
Dominican Republic urged for people to recognise the problems and address issues, worked with leaders and listen with one another without going on our own. She also said we need to put our pride behind us and worked together. I thought she spoke like a true leader and was very charismatic.
India spoke about stopping the war and the importance of peace in the world. And the importance of building the World with peace. Very confident while speaking and she definitely gave a powerful message.
Japan’s speech was short. She talked about stopping the war. She also said that the war must not happen again with such a conviction and a powerful punch just like a strong leader.
Philippines reminded every one of their ancestors who had given up their life for them and to give peace a chance.
Spain spoke about people she met who didn’t have a good life and she didn’t like people suffering. She requested everyone to respect one another and give children education
Sri Lanka spoke about her country being a war torn country and being affected by it and living in poverty and fear. She gave a powerful emotion about her life. It was touching indeed.
Thailand said that while we wouldn’t be able to stop war completely, what we could do was to try our best and made it better

After all the girl gave their speech, the outgoing queen, Lees’s journey to a war-torn country was shown to the audience. Once the video was over, Lees came out from frame put on stage and gave a farewell speech. She spoke about giving all her heart out for being crowned as Miss Grand last year for and she needed it back so that she could give it to the new winner. By this time, we could see some people shedding tears to her emotional  speech. I do felt for emotions. Nawat came on stage to remove the crown and gave Lees a new crown. Songs used for these part were John Lenon – Imagine and Heal the World.

The Top 10 walked on stage in their evening gown.  Australia looked so regal and royal in her silver flowing gown. Brazil walked waving her gown. It was nice. Costa Rica was all calm and cool. Dominican Republic’s gown reminded me of Amelia Vega’s gown in Miss Universe. Here, her gown was altered – colour was changed, the feathers and pearl were missing. Nevertheless, she looked absolutely magnificent. India had such a strong presence in her free straight flow gown. The golden gown matched her skin tone and she was remarkable on stage. Japan in her dark green velvet gown looked so pretty. Philippines was on fire with her red gown. She was like a red hot chilly and was so exotic. Spain did pretty well. Sri Lanka’s gown flowing like a train towards the bottom was fabulous and she was sensational. Thailand’s nude gown with the embroidery on it looked exquisite. She definitely was bouncy in that gown and was breathtaking.

Top 5 announcement followed. India, Australia, Thailand, Dominican Republic and Philippines made it to the top 5. It was sad to see Brazil and Sri Lanka out of the top 5. I thought Sri Lanka deserved to be there. But the top 5 were amazing. It is definitely one the best top 5 in any pageant history. The Top 5 were asked who influenced them the most. The  song used constantly used as a background score and when the five finalists walked for the final time in their stunning gowns was Feel The Light by Jenifer Lopez from the movie – Home

India said it was Mahatma Gandhi who single-handedly fought for India’s freedom through Non-Violence. She added that she would spread the message of non-violence to spread peace and stop the war.
Australia said that if she was asked three weeks back she would have a different answer but after her experience there in Thailand, it would be the reigning Miss Grand, Lees Garcia. She mentioned about Lees positive role and experiences as something that helped her.
Thailand spoke about a woman she admired and added about strong qualities of the woman she admired.
Dominican Republic said that it was her father who influenced her the most. And being a daughter of  a man who was convicted of rape charges, it taught her many things in life. She also mentioned if her dead father was still alive she would forgive him.
Philippines said her biggest influence was her parents. She talked about her mother being a Catholic Filippino and father a Hindu Indian. The way she was taught by her mother and living in a Muslim populated country broaden her mind.

The Best in Evening gown was presented to Miss Japan while Best Social Media Award was given  to Miss India

Grand Award

India again was full of confidence, delivers her answer very well and her message was clearly understood. Australia’s answer was very different from what we have been hearing to those type of question. But technically, the question was the most in her life. So three weeks of spending really couldn’t be counted. That’s just an opinion of mine. I wished Thailand had answered in her mother tongue. She froze for a short time and couldn’t add up more to her answer. Dominican Republic choked during her answer. Seriously, I would love someone who got emotional control her emotions on such platform. You can be emotional, shed few tears but control your emotions. I can understand her answer and wanting to forgive her father but I fully don’t agree with her answer. The last was Philippines. I love her answer. Her way of describing her mixed blood and her parents coming from a different religion and living in a country where the majority was Muslims. It was awe-inspiring.   After this round I thought, the winner would be coming from one of this three country – India, Australia and Philippines.

Miss Grand International, Anea Garcias with her runners up. Loved the support and cheers for each other.
Miss Grand International, Anea Garcias with her runners-up. Loved the support     and cheers for each other. Such a beautiful moment

Then the winner were announced and Dominican Republic won the 3rd edition of Miss Grand International. 1st runner up was Australia, India was 2nd runner up, Philippines was 3rd runner up and Thailand was 4th runner. It was really nice to see the 4 runners up cheering and congratulating the winner. That was indeed a memorable moment of the night.

Comparison of my top choices for the crown and actual winners and placements:

IWP prediction MGi

In the end, I am happy with the winner. All the top 5 were exceptional and anyone of them could be a great winner. The two host of the evening – Lees Garcia and Matthey Deane Chanthavanij were very professional and exceptionally did well. The stage, the production, coverage, activities, etc were all top class and can definitely be compared with Miss Universe and Miss World. The opening number with Lees was so fresh and delightful. The dresses reminded me of the broadway show or movie Chicago. It was so amazing. I look forward to the journey of Anea Garcia and the next edition of Miss Grand International 2016.

Pictures Credit: Miss Grand International Facebook page

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