Once Upon a Blind Item: the Girl with the Two Left Feet

Once upon a time, there lived a young lady who was named the prettiest and loveliest in their islands. The country lass was blessed by three good fairy godparent as an infant child; each one giving her the gift of beauty and the gift of charm. But before the third fairy could give her blessing to the child an evil fairy godmother arrived and cursed her with two left feet. The third good fairy godparent could not undo the curse, so she blessed her instead with a pair of long beautiful legs to mask her two left feet.
Once she arrived at the age of maturity, she was named the prettiest in their land and was celebrated for it. Neighboring kingdoms marveled at her beauty and towering height but unaware of the secret of her feet…a secret that could cost her place for she was meant to be sent off to another kingdom to be made a vestal virgin for a year. The best wizards and magicians have already tried their best but to no avail. So in a last ditch effort, they sent the lovely country lass to the two most powerful fairy queens who knew where the fountain of Aphrodite resides, a place where once ugly ducklings become swans. All she had to do was to drink the bitter tasting water from the fountain. But could she? Alas her rural roots was too strong and the evil curse much too powerful that the fountain broke and was swallowed by the earth never to be seen again.


2016 Alpha Pageant Review: Controversies & Quality of Winners

This is the third and final part of this series… In this part, we review the winners and the controversies that hounded the Alpha pageants this year.

Pageant Controversies
This year, no Alpha pageant was free of controversies, whether it be minor or major. There is the questionable national directors as judges in Miss World, the fake account posing as a finals night judge of Miss International, and the notorious Imelda Schweighart who shook the Miss Earth pageant scene. Angered, amused, entertained or all of the above…That is what Imelda Schweighart brought into the ME pageant. Her antics was quite the newsmaker in an already colorful and buzzed about pageant. But her saving grace was her resignation after the pageant, it was commendable that she stepped down to allow another lady to ascend to the title. The case of the fake Instagram account by one of the Miss International judges, this case the Macedonian Ambassador to Japan, was easily silenced by a quick action from the org and the office of the Ambassador herself. It is rumored that the org has gotten information of the fake account source and are keeping tabs on it.
While the controversies of MI & ME are acted upon by person/s outside the pageant org, the MW controversy is a bit in bad taste as it’s the organization’s decision to have a national director sit as judge. I could just imagine the negative publicity it would generate if Osmel Sousa, Lupita Jones or Madame Stella Marquez will be sitting as a Miss Universe judge. I think it would be best if NDs would abstain from this task as it leads to questionable results.

Quality of Winners
The best set of winners this year? After watching countless videos, scouring through hundreds of photos, feedback from numerous pageant friends and correspondents covering the pageants, I would definitely give this award to the Miss International winner and her court. I mean, all of them are good spokesperson of the organization! None of them could falter in the interviews having strong, intelligent and gorgeous ladies. Give them the microphone and they will definitely have something to say, and this was evidenced with the Women’s Forum where several girls stood out. At the front of the pack is Kylie Verzosa, a model and a pre-school teacher, whose speech during the finals showed a thorough understanding of the Japan-based pageant’s criteria of a winner. Another impressive talker in their batch is Brianny Chamorro of Nicaragua, who wowed everyone during the Women’s Forum with her fluency in English and train of thought. The other runners up are equally equipped as well with the gift of the gab.
The all-Latina elemental court of the Miss Earth pageant would come in at a tie with the Miss World top 5 winners in terms of quality. Katherine Espin, who is also a lawyer (yes a LAWYER) was an early favorite to win the title alongside eventual Miss Air, Michelle Gomez of Colombia. The two Latina beauties are actually fluent English speakers and are fan favorites. Miss World Stephanie del Valle is a breathe of fresh air in her batch of winners.

MUA2016 Aleksa Gavrilovic’s Interview with FashionMag42

Mister Universal Ambassador 2016, Aleksa Gavrilovic has been busy lately with his modeling career in Europe. He was recently featured in Male Model Scene with a series of photos by Igor Cvoro and interviewed by FashionMag42.

Below is a rough translation of that interview…
FashionMag42: Alex, how are you managing in the world of modeling?
Aleksa Gavrilovic: I think I am doing fairly well in the world of modeling. In every job I’ve dealt with have always given everything and so it is the same with modeling. Of course you can always do better, but it takes time and patience. I must admit that it still has some difficult jobs, but it is something that makes me happy and that’s the most important thing.
FM42: You had the opportunity to work abroad. What you brought that experience?
AG: For me, above all, working abroad has brought a lot of experience dealing with people. I learned to judge how to ask and to show what I want, but it had never succeeded because I was in such a situation as I am now. In addition, I saw and met many cultures, cities and people who I could never have I didn’t tried this experience.
FM42: You’ve done a lot of campaigns, which one left a special impression on you?
AG: I can not single out one, because each is special in its own way and makes me the model I am today. Every business deal and travel adds to more experience and thus builds your character. Therefore, all of them should be seen as a whole.
FM42: When you’re not modeling, what keeps you occupied?
AG: In my spare time I read more and more books that I previously couldn’t, because I thought it was better to go out to cafes and be with friends. I realized that in this way, I make a better version of myself and get to know yourself more. In addition, I like to draw as many people I know. I respect artists and I’m sorry I could not attend a gallery opening when I was in Turkey.
FM42: How important is how you look?
AG: For me as a person, it is not so important… but it is important to take it into account especially when I’m going to castings or when trying to leave a good impression. I think that most agree with that.
FM42: Describe your personal style.
AG: My style of dress I would describe as different from others, because I do not want to be considered the same as everyone else. So I choose something that some consider too conspicuous but with taste.


Five Most Controversial Beauties of 2016!

As part of my 2016 year-ender, these are the 5 ladies that rocked the pageant world in 2016…

• Andrea Tovar & her incident with the press – in a much talked about controversy that went viral, Señorita Colombia behaved unqueenly after media questioned her if she had anything surgically done. The beauty answered in a pissed off manner that it was not their business and even ended the interview by putting her hand to block the camera. Some pageant fans have decried that this was a behaviour unsightly of a queen and that she should know how to handle interviews like a public persona.
• Kristhielee Caride & her dethronement – the Puerto Rican beauty queen was in much of the news this year with her legal battle with the MPRU organization for unlawful termination. She was dethroned due to her not fulfilling several public appearances, refusal to go on interviews even saying that she hates being interviewed. Her lawsuit was later on dismissed by the courts.
• Anea Garcia & her resignation as MGI – the statuesque beauty from the Dominican Republic has resigned from her title after several of her complaints were went unheard and un-actioned by the parent org. Some of these include lack of chaperone/ security upon traveling, request for basic living necessities in her stay in Bangkok, harrassment experienced in her travel, and lack of professionalism in released photos by the org. In a counter measure, the MGI org has released a statement that Anea was dethroned due to her unusually high demands and unprofessionalism.

• Beatrice Fontoura & her MW allegations – when she posted a reply on Facebook mentioning some serious ‘irregularities’ in the pageant like some of the org sleeping in some of the candidates’ rooms, national director/s judging both on finals and fasttracks, lack of drinking water and food, etc… These allegations were used as proof by a number of pageant fans as reasons to believe that the MW pageant was rigged in favor of several ladies. Her reply was shared via screenshot in a lot of pageant pages and on social media.
• Imelda Schweighart & her series of controversies – the hands down most controversial figure in the later half of the year for her antics during the Miss Earth competition: form the rambutan seed caper to the war of words with former ME winner, her allegations that the winner was ‘fake’, the evening gown issue, etc… Imelda held on to the limelight long enough until she had to resign her title.

2016 Alpha Pageant Review: Stage Design & Production

The technical and artistic aspect of the finals night live broadcast is one of the essential ingredients in a successful pageant. This 2016, the three Alpha pageant seems to have been outdone by minor pageants like Miss Supranational and Miss Grand International in terms of the stage design and production. Thankfully the three Alpha pageants have maintained other aspects in high standards (quality of candidates, pre-pageant activities, etc…) to keep their statuses as Alphas.

Stage Design
Hands down it’s the Miss Earth pageant that has the best stage this year among the three, followed by the Miss World at second place. If you might ask why did ME take this accolade, it’s simply because the Miss World looked too similar with the Miss Universe 2015 stage design… I deducted points on originality from that.
The Miss Earth stage utilized a large LED screen that flashed scenic images and HD graphics, large circular stage that is reminiscent of Greco-Roman stage, tree-like column and pillars, and klieg lights that illuminated the stage. According to one pageant observer, it seems like the ME became a dry-run of what to expect for the MU in Manila come January. The pageant is continually improving every time it is staged in Manila and that is an observation that looks to be true as the pageant looked great than its Vietnamese edition and in 2014 when it was held at UP Diliman theatre. The Miss World stage design looked quite austere this year and the Miss International stage never veered away from its very traditional design.

Each of the Alpha pageant has its own unique personality in terms of its production. The Miss International has always been a very quiet and formal affair while the Miss Earth tries to have a faster paced production than MI.
The ME production was much better compared to its Viennese edition last year but I still prefer a less dizzying camera panning of MU. I’m impressed that a number of the girls in the competition this year could dance but I would have preferred that they didn’t wear black for the opening dance. I’d really hate black (unless it is bling-ed to death) for pageants as it blends everyone to the backdrop. The ill-fitting black dresses of the Miss World girls on a predominantly dim/ back-lit stage looked terrible too… I am at the fence on the Miss World opening. While I like the fact that they had the best choreography for the opening (as well as the renewed energy) I’m not so sure with the cheerleading outfits used… it was too pep squad rally. I was almost half expecting that someone would attempt a ‘helicopter toss’ midway in the performance. Add to it that the opening dress was too casual for a glamorous event. The red and white dresses couldn’t compare to the ones ME2015 did that were Dolce & Gabbana inspired. The Miss International national costume opening lacked the energy for an opening but it’s the way that the Japan-based pageant has operated for ages… at least they are sticking to their image.

In terms of performances, I’d commend the Miss World for their choice of performers… it was unexpected from the usual fare they serve to pageant fans. But I’d throw a shout-out to the 4th Impact performance who power belted away with SAX in ME. It’s impressive that they can sing and dance while still maintaining great vocal harmony. The ballet performance in Miss International was true to form with the pageant’s formal event.

*Video courtesy of Wazzup Pilipinas

Reasons Why the Philippines Should Host the next Miss International Pageant

I don’t want to speculate yet on the cryptic post of Tourism Undersecretary Kat de Castro about another major event in November of 2017. People are speculating either the Miss Earth, Miss World or Miss International pageants being held in the country. Honestly, it’s too early to tell as of yet. But here are my top reasons why the Philippines should host the Miss International pageant in its shores.

1. Stella Marquez, the first ever Miss International winner heads the Bb Pilipinas Charities Inc. which selects the annual rep to the Tokyo-based pageant. It would be a great kick to have her as a special guest of the pageant and to commemorate the 57th edition of the pageant with her win in 1960.
2. The Philippines has close ties with Japan. The two countries share commerce and history together. One of the country’s closest trade partners is Japan, a number of Japanese prefer to have manufacturing factories in the Philippines due to stringent quality standards. During the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda, Japan was one of the first countries who came to our aid and in return during the Japanese earthquake and tsunami disasters, the Philippines sent medical volunteers to help efforts in affected areas. Not to mention that Japan was also one of the colonizers of the country alongside Spain and the United States.
3. Philippine culture is steeped with rich cultural traditions, which jives in with the Miss International pageant. The Miss International pageant promotes cultural understanding and having the pageant held in the Philippines would not only promote tourism but also its rich cultural heritage. Having the mantra of the pageant as ‘cultural understanding and acceptance’ the pageant can put the limelight to customs and traditions for protection and appreciation.

4. The Philippines is home to 7 MI titleholders: 6 Filipina plus 1 Colombian. That is to say that the Philippines has the most number of wins in the pageant among Asia. The reigning Miss International, Kylie Verzosa can grace the pageant with the rest of the Miss International titleholders aside from turning over her title. That would be the most number of past Miss International winners gracing the finals of the pageant. The organizing committee could even invite other Asian titleholders to grace the event.
5. Japanese owned Okada could hold the pageant in its premises like it has for the 65th Miss Universe pageant. With the Okada footing a billion dollar development along Pasay City, there won’t be a dull moment in the pageant. Manila Bay is a scenic seascape where Okada Manila is situated. It is close to the MOA Arena and the SMX convention Center where usual events, concerts, travel fairs, etc… are held. This time the Department of Tourism could definitely work with the private sector and brand the Philippines as the pageant destination of the world.

Wouldn’t it be perfect if the Miss International is held in the Philippines for the first time?

People of the Year: Miss International 2016, Kylie Verzosa

What does Olympic medalist Hidilyn Diaz, award-winning actor Christopher de Leon and  Miss International 2016 Kylie Verzosa have in common? Well they all are named as People of the Year by Stargate People Asia magazine!

Here are the year’s movers and shakers according to the magazine: John Lloyd Cruz, Dr. Preciosa Soliven, Alice Eduardo, Antonio Tuviera, Celia Diaz Laurel, Christopher “Boyet” De Leon, Edgar “Injap” Sia, Ces Drilon, Dr. Andrew Tan, Joy Belmonte, Dr. Z Teo, Regine Velasquez, Hidilyn Diaz, Kylie Verzosa and Henry Lim Bon Liong.

“I took what life offered me and then I started taking control… And (God) guided me along the way. It just didn’t prayers. It took a lot of hard work and dedication to get to where I am.” — Kylie Verzosa

Photoshoot Battle Between Kezia Warouw and Chalita Suansane

It seems that the two girls who are bent to out-do each other in social media are Puteri Indonesia Kezia Warouw and Miss Universe Thailand Chalita Suansane. Its almost every week a new photoshoot is released by these two ladies. Kezia is said to have done some pre-pageant training in the Philippines while Chalita is continuing her strategic presence of teasing fans of her progress via social media.
Let’s try to have a friendly competition here, who among these two ladies have the better photos?

2016 Alpha Pageant Review: Pre-Pageant Activities & Media Coverage

Another year has gone and its time to review the Alpha pageant held this year. This is an early review of the three Alpha pageants: Miss Earth, Miss International and Miss World. Due to the 65th Miss Universe being held in January of next year, we are not including it in this review.

Since this is going to be a long review, I have split the post into 3 parts that is dispersed a day apart each.

The Pre-Pageant Activities
This has now become a crucial aspect of any pageant. The pre-pageant activity shows an aspect of the organization’s capability to stage an event and how well planned are the activities leading to the finals. This is also a way for pageant fans to gauge the girls in the competition and pageant aficionados determine the over-all feel of the competition.
The pre-pageant activities are where the Miss International and the Miss Earth are almost neck to neck. These two pageants have the most number of activities this year with Japanese cultural immersion for MI and a full Luzon-Visayas-Mindanao eco-tourism tour for ME (the candidates practically went all over the archipelago). But I’d have to hand it over to the Miss International pageant for its consistency in promoting Japanese culture and traditions. Any pageant girl would be so lucky to tour Japan and experience both the modern and traditional: from the ikebana classes, to the temple visits, to university tours, to the women’s forum, the pageant stayed true to its core identity.

Media Coverage
This year, Miss Earth did the best overall in terms of media coverage simply due to its live streaming, network coverage, and social media mileage. Its presence is felt across social media with its core pageant fans spreading the word on every activity that the girls have. Not to mention the hordes of pageant press that seems to cover every activity of the girls. Then we have a successful duo of a telecast and a live streaming. But what made the pageant successful in terms of media coverage is how approachable the ladies were in social media. They were allowed to do interviews with online pageant pages which enabled them to go viral online. This is a good strategy by the Miss Earth org as it brings the girls closer to the fans and pageant fans would promote them via word-of-mouth, creating more media buzz for the pageant.
The two other pageants seem to have relied solely on streaming for the finals night coverage, which seems to be unbecoming of their Alpha stature. While Miss International had a good livestream of the pageant, it nevertheless made it up with their updated social media accounts with every activity of the girls in the competition. Their Instagram account is inundated with daily updates of the ladies’ activity for the day. The Miss World was a total disappointment in terms of its finals airing as well as media coverage. It only had a handful of live airing over the world, Indonesia being one of them (lucky me). If not for a couple of 2 Facebook pages that did FB Live video of the pageant, nobody would have known the proceedings. In fact it was so quiet that not even Americans seem to be aware that it is happening in their turf. There also seems to be a decline in the quality of updates on their Facebook page, though kudos for the FB Live videos with several handpicked candidates.