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.