Miss Philippines Earth 2017 Karen Ibasco: Peaking at the Right Moment

Miss Philippines Earth 2017 Karen Ibasco is on a roll!

After nailing the gold medal with her swimsuit presentation early in the competition, the medical physicist and self-confessed fashion lover has had a string of medals lately. Karen walked out with a silver medal in the long gown, a gold in the national costume competition, a silver in the resort wear and another gold as the darling of the press.

However, this string of placements hasn’t gone unnoticed by some Filipino pageant fans who have bashed her online. Miss Earth’s biggest supporters can also be its biggest critics and their eyes are on Karen lately. While they may say that she doesn’t deserve some of the medals she earned out of ‘delicadeza’ as host delegate, I think that she shouldn’t be punished for doing well in the competition. Karen prepared just as equally hard as the rest of the pageant, if not more. And we can see her performing in every leg of the competition. Just look at a portion of her intelligence/ interview video below by @pageantbuzz. You can see she does deliver.

And she delivers at the most opportune moments of the competition and is pacing herself in the process. I could say that she is peaking at the right moment. I can also say that during the last time I met her in the Philippines, she was worried back then that she might not have enough time to prepare and train for the ME pageant as the MPEOrg has still several public appearances lined up leading into the start of the pageant. If she has managed to fulfill those commitments and balance her time to still squeeze in training, then you can see the determination in her. 
And that is why she has been winning medals upon medals in the competition. 

Miss Earth 2017: The Strongest from EUROPE

European girls this year is a mixed bag of beans… there are strong and not-so-strong girls in their group. But the strong girls could easily snatch one of the elemental crowns at hand.

* Netherlands, Faith Gennevieve Landman – 5’9 3/4″, 20 years old, Model & Sales Personnel. Arguably, she is the best in her group but she couldn’t be complacent because girls form other continents are just as much of a threat. I think she has one of the loveliest faces in the competition and should be able to do well behind closed-door interviews and the no-make-up rounds. 
* Northern Ireland,  Marie Lynch – 5’5″, 19 years old, Blogger & a Student of Early Childhood Studies. She is not the tallest among the girls this year but she is one of the prettiest. Northern Ireland has been sending good candidates in ME and has still to win the title. I believe that Marie can make semis this year. 
* Austria, Bianca Kronsteiner – 5’5″, 19 years old, Graduate of Higher Education Studies. She is probably among the best Europeans in this year’s competition. The mere fact that she can speak and express herself well in English is an advantage. After missing Austria in the semis in the recent years Bianca, hopefully this year, will manage to earn a spot among the top 8 semi-finalists…
* Russia, Lada Akimova –  5’7 1/4″, 18 years old, student of International Management. Despite being so young, it cannot be denied that this lady is one of the underrated candidates of Miss Earth. Russia never fails to send gorgeous ladies but always seem falling short of clinching the ME crown. Hopefully Lada can change all that, and that depends on how she progresses in the month-long pageant.

Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters is Ready for Miss Universe

Miss South Africa 2017 Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters have been doing some rounds on media stations talking about her preparations for the Miss Universe pageant.

While she may have spoken on the designers that helped her wardrobes, she also brought the discussion back to her mental preparations. But that is not all, in a very wise strategic move, during her television appearances, she also has been talking more about her advocacy which is breast cancer awareness. She speaks on a personal basis on how the illness has affected her and her family. This move on her part allows her to be more relate-able to fans and the general public who has a brush-in with the disease. 
She also mentioned that the “Miss Universe is a big platform that gives women the ability to raise awareness on specific causes that they might be affiliated with.
Nel-Peters says that she is thrilled to be representing South Africa on the Miss Universe pageant and that she can’t wait to bring back the title to South Africa after 39 years. Her interview below is just nailing how a pageant interview is done. To say that she is a huge threat for the Miss Universe crown is an understatement. Watch out for this girl because she really can bring the house down come MU finals…

Miss Earth 2017: The Strongest from ASIA & OCEANIA

Asia and Oceania is sending a number of strong girls in this year’s Miss Earth pageant. I am absolutely floored with the quality of girls from Asia this year and I wouldn’t mind to see an Asian domination in the pageant. At least 4 of the girls in this list should be able to make semis this year, to the extent that I hope that there would be a top 20 instead of cutting the girls immediately to a top 16.

* Vietnam,  Le Thi Ha Thu – 5’7 1/2″, 25 years old, Model & Singer. Is it just me who sees a resemblance with Sarah Geronimo in her? With her milky complexion and flawles skin the looks like she has no pores, Ha Thu can put her country again in ME semis. Hopefully this time around, she will be given a professional interpreter that wouldn’t botch her Q&A.
* Thailand, Paweensuda Drouin – 5’11”, 23 years old, Radio DJ. If it were my choice, Fahsai would easily be in the top 2. And that is where she would be slugging it out with either Andreia or Faith for the ME title. I like her personality and it should be an added point for her to be able to win the crown.
* Philippines, Karen Ibasco – 5’7″, 26 years old, University Instructor and Medical Physicist. If it were only based on resume, Karen would win hands down. While it may be too early to see another Filipina win the title, I am completely confident that Karen could at least score a top 4 finish. An elemental crown should be easily within reach.

* Australia, Nina Robertson – 5’7″, 20 years old, Bachelor of Science Student. Sweet, soft-spoken, good speaker and pretty, this half-Filipina beauty from Australia is one of the possible girls to crack the finals. 
* Indonesia, Michelle Alriani – 5’6″, 20 years old, Student of International Law. Indonesia has finally sent a strong candidate who can at least make it into the semi-finalists this year. Smart, articulate and with a meaty resume, Michelle is leagues away from other Miss Indonesia girls who are simply just pretty marshmallows. I am hopeful that Michelle would be the first of many Indonesian girls to make it in ME.

Is Miss Universe IMG|WME Era More Concerned in Stories to Tell?

One of the most common observations pageant connoisseurs and insiders have been asking lately regarding Miss Universe is it more concerned in the importance of a meaty resume and background stories rather than just selecting the most beautiful girl in the universe?

Arna Yr Jonsdottir– this athlete from Iceland is surely gonna be a MU favorite as she is a victim of the current “it word” in Hollywood: body shaming. Being called to trim down in the middle of a beauty pageant by its owner would definitely give her media mileage in Las Vegas. And if Ashley Graham is gonna co-host, then expect Arna to have extra airtime on TV.
Davina Bennett – a true survivor of sorts, after multiple rejections as a model, a mugging days before her birthday and loosing a dear grandparent while being away from her country yet made her way to win Miss Jamaica. Add to that, she also founded the Davina Bennett Foundation for the Deaf. Now that is a resume every pageant girls would be envious of. 
Carmen Munoz – in terms of meaty resume, Dominican Republic’s lawyer-slash-beauty queen Carmen Munoz isn’t about to get left behind. This pageant girl has been part of a team who wrote legislation for her country. Who could beat that achievement? And it her being a lawyer would definitely help in the crucial interview rounds.
Kara McCullough – it was shoved in everybody’s throats that this gorgeous lady from DC is a nuclear physicist. And surely that card will be played over and over again come Miss Universe season. 

Keysi Sayago – nothing beats a Cinderella story of being able to go to the ball, just ask Mariangel Ruiz. Keysi was earlier said that she wouldn’t be able to compete due to financial difficulties of the org to come up with the national franchise fee. Now she is all set to compete in Las Vegas who will be eager to know more of her views on the political and economic unrest in her home country.
Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters – this petite 5’7″ stunner survived a mugging in London earlier this year. Not only that, since winning the Miss South Africa title she has been plagued by numerous issues: from pageant rigging to the glove use in a charity mission. Surely this lady will be getting tons of attention in Miss Universe.

Rachel Peters – grew up in different parts of the world, living independently as a self-made entrepreneur and yes she is also a double degree holder (according to an ABS-CBN report). She spent portions of her life in Thailand, Australia, UK and the Philippines, where she opened up a cafe in Siargao, Camarines Sur. Not surprising as she is a self-confessed beach lover.

These are just some of the “girls with a story to tell”. Surely there are more to be unveiled later…
Nowadays winning Miss Universe is more than just good looks. It takes guts and grit, not to mention personal advocacies and community work. Nowadays, you cannot be Miss Universe if you stand on beauty alone…

Miss Universe Iris Mittenaere in Egypt

It is almost Miss Universe 2017 season but reigning Miss Universe Iris Mittenaere is still busy as ever.

After her trip to India for the Femina Miss India pageant and her visit to Mexico, Iris is now in Cairo, Egypt for a week long promotional tour. She is expected to go on trips to Alexandria and Luxor as part of a tourism promotion and charity work. 
According to NileInternational.net, “the embassy has already confirmed that she will take part in a charity event in Luxor, organized by Egypte Terre d’Espoir.
The charity offers educational services to underprivileged children in Luxor, including apprenticeships in pottery. They also provide food and medical services to poor families.
A gala dinner will be held at the French embassy on Friday in honour of the charity, with the beauty queen attending.”

Iris has been to Haiti, Ecuador, Mexico, India, Indonesia, Cayman Islands, Peru as well as several trips around France and the US. Her 6-day visit to Egypt would be her last international trip before the Miss Universe 2017 competition starts…

Miss Universe VERSUS Miss World: The Rivalry

The rivalry between Miss Universe versus the Miss World is a debate that most pageant fans are passionate about. So in this post, we list the differences that the two pageants have against each other…to show you that they may have been the two oldest international beauty pageants but their differences is as night and day.

Date of Establishment – both pageants were established a year apart. MW was first held on the 29th of July 1951, a year later Miss Universe was established. Since then these two pageants has become the biggest pageants attracting the most competitive pageant girls the world over.
Number of Participants – while the MW may have more participants compared to MU in recent years, overall there isn’t much difference in the average number of countries that participated in these two pageants since the 1950’s. Both pageants are at the 80-something mark in terms of pageant candidate participation since their inception.

Franchise Fees – this part of the comparison of the two oldest pageants in the world relies mainly on insider information, there isn’t a lot of published information of the franchise fees paid by national directors and may vary from country to country. It is said the the MW franchise is as low as US$ 2,000-3,000 to around US$5,00 while MU is said to be worth around US$ 10,000 for small countries and would go as high as US$100,000-120,000 for pageant-crazy countries. So on this side, MW wins hands down. But this has a catch, MW prefers to have NDs create a separate pageant to select its national winner.
Telecast & Finals Format – there are those that prefer the fast-paced competition of MU while other loved the leisurely presentation and coronation of MW. But in terms of showmanship, production values (which includes music, choreography, camera-work & panning, etc…) and entertainment factor, they are neck in neck. Significant advantage though with the finals format of MU as it really gives off a ‘competition’ feel to it.

Strong Areas & Territories – MU has the North and Latin-America markets’ loyalty just as Europe and Africa seems to be loyal to MW. In Asia, both pageants are competing to get a bigger slice of the pie. Though MW has been getting more leeway via hosting the pageant in Asian countries more often than the MU has.
Media Coverage – both pageants are widely talked about and widely published in news bits and blogposts. Winners of each pageants are just as talked about on social media. The difference though is that there are more visible activities of MU that is covered by the media than in MW.
Charity – arguably, this has been the strongest suit of MW. With billions (yes that’s with a ‘B’) of British pounds donated to charities all over the world, the MW Beauty with a Purpose has reinvented itself from what was once called a cattlecall to a relevant competition. However, MU isn’t lagging behind in terms of charity work as it has supported HIV-AIDS awareness and research since the 80’s and has accepted more philanthropic endeavors with Smile Train and other Women’s causes such as breast cancer awareness.
To call these two as the biggest and most sought-after titles among international competitions is perhaps an understatement. And only time will tell which brand of pageant is superior. However for Filipino pageant fans, one is regarded with high esteem. The rest of the world is still divided though between the two… Your thoughts? Which one is the better pageant?

Sashes&Scripts’ Favorites for Miss Grand International 2017

Today’s post is going to feature five girls that I have been looking at as possible successor to Ariska Pertiwi of Indonesia. Just like last year, I think that an Asian domination in the top 5 is highly possible. We also have the remaining 7 girls that could comprise of the semi-finalists of the competition.

Edit (10/24/2017, 7:21pm): While I may have written this post during the last weekend, recent events led me to scrap the original artwork banner and just retain the photo-collage. I also have removed the rest of the girls on my list of possible semi-finalists to accommodate a lengthier write up on the ladies in my top 5.   

#5. Malaysia, Sanjeda John – she was always on the periphery of my very short attention span but after the preliminaries, I thought she has just an equal chance of bagging the MGI title. 
#4. Thailand, Premika Pamela Pasinetti​ – I have to say that this lady really delivered during the preliminaries. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her replicating a top 5 finish of her Miss Grand Thailand predecessor. She was perhaps the girl that peaked at the most opportune moment of the competition and I should say that she could definitely steal the spotlight come finals.
#3. Philippines, Elizabeth Clenci – at first I was very confident that Liz has the title in the bag. She has been performing so well in the competition by nailing every segment or event day in and day out. That is until Pinoy fans intensified their bashing of the MGI pageant. How would a pageant org crown a winner from a country that is its main basher, when there are several equally deserving girls in the competition? This I why I have been building Elizabeth on a series of my posts for the title because we finally had a strong chance with her, only to be ruined by overzealous Filipino haters of the pageant. Nevertheless, I pray that this won’t affect her chances of winning the MGI title. Despite all these negativity stacked against her, I pray she wins. It is a ‘Hail Mary Pass‘ as of now but I still believe in Liz, she is equally deserving to be Miss Grand International. 
#2. India, Anukriti Gusain – my darkhorse bet in the competition. India has sent their best girl (in my opinion) to Miss Grand International this year. I might be too ambitious in saying that I see some similarities with Amal Clooney on this girl and I have been watching over her since day 1. If she is able to hold her own until the q&a portion, we might see an Asian back to back win with her. I am almost sure now that she has the highest chance among the Asians to win this year.
#1. Peru, Maria Jose Lora –  I would have to say that she owned the prelims, she totally eclipsed everyone specially after the evening gown presentation. And she moves like a seasoned pro onstage which made her standout even more. 

At this point all I can say is good luck to the ladies and may the best girl win!

The Classy Miss Elizabeth Clenci

Binibining Pilipinas Grand International Elizabeth Clenci is a masterclass of chic and elegance. To call her classy Clenci is an understatement!

Elizabeth’s wardrobe in Miss Grand International is worth blogging about. Working in the fashion industry for a little over a decade now, I can honestly say that this is how a pageant wardrobe should be like. Liz is masterfully nailing every event with her choice of wardrobe. She has been very hands-on in the selection of her dresses and gowns to which she says, “I know what works for my body”. This is translated with very subdued but ultra-chic  styles. She chose silhouettes that complimented her body without overpowering her.

The wardrobe that she brought to Vietnam is truly enviable. Hopefully,  all our Binibini girls has taken a page from her strategy and that is to never an outfit that you cannot master…. and Liz does quite master her outfits with lots of class.

Ms. Earth versus Ms. Grand International: The Rivalry

With the recent Miss Earth and Miss Grand International pageants having overlapping schedules, pageant fans of each competition are at each others’ throats once again. Why is this bitter rivalry still wouldn’t put to rest? Here are comparisons that brings the two at odds…

The Question of Each Others’ Advocacy – In terms of relevant advocacies, both pageant are now at an equal standing. Miss Earth with global warming becoming an international issue that more and more countries are realizing, becomes stronger each year. But nowadays with war, terrorism and domestic violence being on the forefront of every news channel, the MGI peace advocacy has begun to become more socially relevant. So neither of these pageant can claim that theirs is more relevant than the other. The only part that would differentiate is how they implement their advocacy plans. Something that ME enjoys being the older among the two.
The Better Production – in terms of finals night production, both are at par with each other. ME did struggle a bit in past editions in terms of production consistency though they have delivered well in recent years. The only weak point of the ME finals are the dizzying camera panning that is more appropriate for noontime variety programs. MGI couldn’t be denied that this seemed to be their forte: Showmanship with consistency year after year. Though there are times when choreography and contestant intros go overboard, that these become memes on soc-med.

The Glamour Factor – hands down MGI wins this round, simply because ME has always been unapologetic in its mission. ME is far more focused in tree planting activities, environmental seminars and the like to be bothered with regular photoshoots of the girls. Not that ME has zero glamour but rather MGI has bigger proportion on it. This is something that MGI has mastery of. Let’s face it and be true to ourselves, glitz and glamour is perhaps a huge portion of the reason we all love pageants. All ME has to do to address that is to get more exposure for their winners in glammed up events. 
The Bitter Fan Rivalries – Let’s face it, the rivalry between the pageant is mainly fueled by each of their fans. The only difference is that Filipino fans of ME is seen to be more vocal and loud on all social media outlets, plus the advantage of being bi-lingual able to communicate in English. Thai fans of MGI are just as capable of generating noise on social media though not as strong in other forms of soc-med (mainly via Twitter). nevertheless, these two countries are the biggest consumer of pageants in Asia.

Which is the better pageant? Truthfully, both pageants have areas of improvement that needs to be addressed before we can collectively validate which pageant is superior. While Miss Earth may have slight advantage in terms of social media noise and history, Miss Grand International is hot on its heels by improving leaps and bounds. ME cannot be complacent in its status as an Alpha Pageant, because MGI alongside MS are just around the corner continuously improving. It is likely that these pageants could be the next in line to the Alpha status that ME, MI, MU and MW currently enjoys (at least just for now).
The question of who is the better pageant between Miss Earth and Miss Grand International will not likely be answered now but in years to come…

PhotoCollage of the Day: Bb. Pilipinas 2017 Winners for HIV-AIDS Awareness

The fight against HIV is a multi-disciplinary effort rooted in compassion, love, and a genuine desire to help others. The ever changing face of the epidemic demands a dynamism that can only be achieved with different sectors of society working together and the merging of various disciplines. Together, we can stand and make a difference. – The Red Whistle, @theredwhistle

In the spirit of love and acceptance, let us give our unwavering support to all those who are fighting the battle of HIV and those in the frontline of dealing with the crisis brought about by the epidemic. – Maria Angelica de Leon
In our commitment to forming a society free from barrier and stigma, let us encourage each other to take the bold step to make the right choices towards getting tested and finding out one’s HIV status. – Katarina Rodriguez
We shall empower each other to make the right choices – choices made in the spirit of love and acceptance for oneself, radiating towards love and acceptance for others. Empower others to know their HIV status so that more lives will be saved. – Chanel Olive Thomas

We shall tear down barriers and fight discrimination in all its forms and build a culture of acceptance of the diversity of the community. Acceptance will break the stigma of HIV and bring us closer to resolving the ever worsening crisis brought about by the epidemic. – Nelda Ibe
Let us commit our resolve in winning the battle against the HIV epidemic the Philippines is facing. Let us commit our efforts towards mitigating the spread of the epidemic and towards reconstructing the lives of those affected by it. – Elizabeth Clenci

Let us have open minds. Let us listen to each other’s hearts. Let us grow together, as a community, in love. With love, barriers collapse and authenticity is borne, and from here people can work together in synergy and achieve greatness. With love, we can solve the crisis of the HIV epidemic together. – Rachel Peters

Miss Earth 2017: The Strongest from NORTH AMERICA & the CARIBBEAN

I only have three girls in this list and yet all of them are strong contenders in the Miss Earth 2017 pageant. In all honesty, I see one of this girls potentially could win the title.
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* USA, Andreia Gibau – 5’10 1/2″, 22 years old, Public Relations Graduate & a Self-Development Coach. I would say, she is the girl to beat among the candidates this year. Watching her Eco-video amazes me on how well spoken she is, understandably as she is a PR graduate and not just a model. Could she be the first ebony-skinned woman to win the title? I can honestly say, that she could be.
* Puerto Rico, Karla Victoria Aponte – 5’9″, 19 years old, Finance student. Hers is a story that needs to be told, after her country managed to survive two huge super-typhoons. The blonde beauty is one of the early talked about girls for a good reason. She is absolutely gorgeous when she smiles and looks actually much better with minimal make up. I can easily see her in the top8 this year. 
* US Virgin Islands, Kaylee Carlberg – 5’8″, 25 years old, Community Support Professional. In my opinion, she lost some steam she had after competing in Miss Earth USA. But I am glad to see her compete in ME this year as I see someone who is a fierce competitor in the pageant. I am hoping that she gains more momentum leading into the finals.

Miss Earth 2017 Sashes&Scripts 2nd Leaderboard

We are already mid-way into the Miss Earth competition and we are clearly seeing several girls starting to pull away from the rest of the competition. While nothing is yet set in stone, we list down the girls who are steadily gaining momentum and steam in the pageant…

16. Eucharia Akani,  Nigeria

15. Kaylee Carlberg, US Virgin Islands
14. Michelle Alriani,  Indonesia
13. Angele Kossinda, Cameroon *new
12. Nina Robertson, Australia *new
11.  Karen Bustos, Mexico
10. Erika Parker, Panama *new
9. Le Thi Ha Thu,  Vietnam
8. Emerlinda de Matos,  Angola
7. Ninoska Vasquez,  Venezuela
6. Andreia Gibau,  USA
5. Juliana Franco,  Colombia
4. Karen Ibasco, Philippines
3. Faith Landman,  Netherlands
2. Lessie Giler, Ecuador
1. Paweensuda ‘Fahsai’ Drouin, Thailand 

Chanelle, Bruna, Diana & Patricija: Crossover Beauties in Miss International 2017

Looks like the Miss International 2017  will be bringing in a number of pageant crossovers from other Alpha pageants. As of writing Patricija Belousova, Chanelle de Lau, Bruna Zanardo and Diana Croce are the expected crossover beauties in this years edition.

Bruna Zanardo – Brazil, was Miss Earth Fire before being dethroned of her title. Having not completed her year before competing again in a pageant, she is actually following the footsteps of Punika Kulsoonrut  who was stripped of her ME-Water title in 2013. Despite failing to get a state title to be able to compete in Miss Brazil this year, Bruna is a welcome addition to the MI pageant. I do have some reservations for her winning MI this year, hopefully the Japanese judges & organizers would find her beauty suitable for their pageant.
Chanelle de Lau – Curacao, competed in Miss Universe 2016 in Manila. She was a personal favorite who wowed the crowd during the final dress rehearsals. With her wit and public speaking skills, I see her advancing into the semis and could possibly nail a spot in the top 5 this year. Chanelle would be a great rep for the MI organization should she win and could usher more spotlight to the Caribbean girls in the Tokyo-based contest.

Patricija Belousova – Lithuania, participated in Miss Universe 2014. The blue-eyed ash blonde beauty was one of the facially strong candidates in MU that year. She stunned in her white national costume but wore a forgettable gray evening gown. Hopefully she won’t make the same fashion mistakes in Miss International as she is a shoo-in for the semis and even the Miss Photogenic award. 
Diana Croce – Venezuela, was her country’s rep to Miss World in 2016. She was styled to look like past MW winners from her country: Astrid Carolina Herrera, Ninibeth Leal & Jacqueline Aguilera. That is probably why she failed to make the cut despite being of the facially strongest girls in that batch. Her participating in MI this year could be her redemption as I could see her romp away with the title. Hopefully she is styled more naturally this time.

Happy Birthday Queen Rachel!

Today we are extending birthday greetings to Miss Universe Philippines Rachel Peters! Wishing you all you desire in the Universe!

Fresh from the recent announcement that the Miss Universe tickets are now available online is the special day of Miss Universe Philippines Rachel Peters. Rachel, who is currently finalizing her trip to Las Vegas, turns another year older today. She has also been taking social media at a frenzy lately with the release of several pictures from her photoshoots… and proving naysayers that she is on tip-top shape for the upcoming pageant in November.

Good news to readers of the blog as well as I am part of the Sash Factor coverage team going to Las Vegas for the MU pageant! So we will be bringing you closer to the MU competition and watch out for our coverage!