The Changing Ideals of a Miss Universe Winner

It is clear by now that the Miss Universe organization is clearly looking for a different kind of winner for Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA. With the focus on a more diverse set of semifinalist, more articulate finalists, and more accomplished winners, are we truly ready for what these changes might bring about?

1. Balance between surface beauty and substance – in the debate between facial beauty and intelligence, there will always be gray areas that is gonna be tricky to walk about. Finding a good balance may prove to be difficult as there are always be girls who are more articulate than others or is more regarded as beautiful by pageant fans. Looking for smart, good-looking spokesperson for the MUOrg is tough but doable, just look at former Miss Universe winners Pia Wurtzbach, Demi Leigh Nel-Peters and Gabriela Isler who were among the most hardworking winners in recent years that certainly fit the mold.
2. Changing body ideals – beauty pageants have to promote health and beauty no matter what shape you are. It is fine to be curvy, athletic or skinny if you are naturally that type, but it has to be on the confines of healthy parameters. There is a thin line between promoting positive body image and promoting unhealthy physiques. The pageant cannot be seen to allow obesity and unhealthy living under the guise of the politically correctness of positive body image. Nor be seen promoting winners with unhealthy eating habits or disorders to maintain a certain weight. While we cannot see ourselves supporting an overweight/obese/anorexic winner, we can nevertheless an embracing of women with different body types (top heavy, curvy, skinny, bottom heavy, athletic, etc). Again, there has to be a balance on that aspect. The body can be transformed thru proper diet and workout coupled with discipline and determination.
3. Performance over potential – this poses the question of whether a girl should be selected because of her performance or from her overall potential to be the right fit for the organization. Janine Tugonon and Olivia Culpo is a good illustration of this point. Janine was the runaway winner in terms of her performance during the finals but it was Olivia that had the potential to represent best the organization (as seen on how she handled a tough Russian interview-slash-interrogation). So its not just the finals night that is being judged. This is a grey area as it may not fit a certain criteria in judging and could be very subjective.
4. Diversity – the Miss Universe pageant has to encompass different types of beauty, something that is lost during the Trump era (specifically in the 2000’s). During those days, winners tend to fit only the Caucasian mold of what is considered beautiful: small aquiline noses, almond shaped eyes, prominent jawlines and cheekbones, modelesque proportions. In the 18 years of the Trump leadership, 13* of them were either Latina or Caucasian with only 6 women of color (3 with Asian ancestry and 3 dark skinned winners). Surely there are women who represent different kinds of beauty, it just so happens that the selection of winners was a “one note samba”.
5. Empowered & Socially Aware – this is a trend that has developed during the IMG era of the pageant. One that is still constantly being shaped by its winners. In 2019, all three winners of Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and Miss America were women of color whose backgrounds and achievements speak for themselves. Miss Universe 2017 and 2018 were beautiful smart women who have touched lives with their advocacy and charity work. If nobody has noticed, the winners of the MUOrg are redefining in various ways what it means to be a beauty queen who is both modern and relevant. This is a far cry from the rumored diva attitudes of the Trump era winners.
On a personal note, it is highly unlikely that this debate will get a resolution that will appeal to all. At best is that we can hope for a girl that has the perfect balance of facial beauty with a fit and healthy body, oozing with confidence and self-assurance on who she is and who she represents that would fit the bill of becoming the spokesperson of the organization. Quite a tall order of qualifications if you ask me, but this is where the old adage applies one that says: if you are looking hard for something, you are bound to find it.
* We included dethroned Miss Universe winner Oxana Fedorova of Russia.

Trump Era: the Best or Worst Years of the Miss Universe Pageant?

The years 1996 to 2014 are effectively known as the Trump Era of the Miss Universe pageant. In those years, there was a marked change in how the pageant is managed under the stewardship of Trump. In the span of 18 years, the MU pageant has undergone a massive overhaul in its image and branding.
The trump era in Miss Universe was an era of triumphs, changes, controversies and scandals. It has adopted a number of changes in terms of format, selection of winners, and entertainment. Pageant fans might have opposing thoughts whether Trump’s legacy in the MU pageant hurt or helped to better the image of the pageant but one this is for certain, he made sure that the pageant will always be talked about.
The hallmarks of the Trump Era has kept the MU under his tenure both famous and notorious. They are the lasting legacy that have made the Miss Universe pageant synonymous with fame/notoriety and fortune.

* Musical Performances & Celebrities– under the Trump era, we saw emerging talents and world renowned musical guests perform in the finals of the pageant. Everyone remembers how Lady Gaga was a musical guest in 2008 before being catapulted to international stardom. We also saw Ricky Martin shake his booty at the pageant back when he was more famous for his singing than for his sexuality. There were countless other superstars as musical guest under that era: from Gloria Estefan, brothers Enrique Iglesias (1997) and Julio Iglesias Jr (1999), K-Ci & JoJo (1998), Montell Jordan, Flo Rida, the string quartet Bond, Marc Anthony, Chayanne, Robin Thicke, Kelly Rowland, John Legend, Train, Panic! at the Disco, the legendary Steven Tyler, Nick Jonas, Gavin DeGraw, among others… The entertainment value was amped up with these music superstars that really boosted the pageant’s image. Naomi Campbell, Elle MacPherson, Jerry Springer, Mel B, Bret Michaels, Carlos Ponce, Jack Wagner, just a few names who have hosted the pageant. Add to that list are numerous sports superstar, tv celebrities, former MU winners, Hollywood superstars that have comprised of the judging panel providing a more rounded panel.

* Pageant Choreography – lend it to Scott Grossman to create a complex swimsuit and evening gown choreography that incorporated twists, steps up and down stairs, walking over on-stage pool, between fire dancers and limbo dancers, twirls with the sarong, walking the maze of mutiple stairs and blocking… or Michael Schwandt’s “Commander” opening choreography, his theatrics in dance with the guest performers and candidates… you can say that the MU in this era was the best in terms of production numbers. Couple this with the flawless camera panning and you get a major spectacle. All girls got to dance and appear onstage, plus there was a synchronization of the camera panning with how the girls walk onstage so they get maximum camera time. There were Cirque de Soleil, carnival dancers, fire-eaters, drum ensembles, capoeiristas, etc… that provided awe and shock to the dazzling and dizzying pace of the pageant. The entertainment factor was at an all-time high.

* Knack for Controversy – whether its his feud with the Miss World organization, his media frenzied Alicia Machado gym stunt, allowing Jenna Talackova to compete in his pageant or his firing of a Miss Universe winner, Donald knows how to keep the media at its toes for the pageant. Knowing how he keeps the pageant under the media spotlight is something that added to the Miss Universe brand.
* Sly Business Decisions – under Trump we saw how business deals and sponsorships became the name of the game in pageants. He gave us Chinese Laundry, Chi, Yamamay, OPI, Sherri Hill, Mikimoto, MAC cosmetics, etc… This allowed for the internal funding of the pageant to float it over the years. Then came the landmark selling of the pageant to NBC in 2002 which the network owned 51% of the pageant with Trump. Such selling allowed the pageant to have a stable home at a time when airing pageants almost became a thing of the past.

* Crown Evolution: Mikimoto, Diamond Nexus and DIC – under Trump, we saw three changes of the MU crown from the iconic Sarah Coventry crown. Such change was another sponsorship package that earned more money for the pageant. While there were initial resistance to the crown changes, it nevertheless came together at the time that the pageant was trying to modernize itself.
* Trump Picks/ Trump Cards – this was a controversial issue among pageant fans as it is said that Trump would handpick some girls to make it into the semifinalists. It is rumored that he didn’t want ‘ugly’ girls in the semis even if those girls were part of the original list or no matter how accomplished she was. All that matters is beauty, sex appeal and physical attributes. There was no actual number of Trump picks that was actually proven but it is generally believed among pageant fans that 5-6 girls are usually picked to make semis based on Trump’s selection. Nobody can actually prove this but it was quite an accepted rumor by fans that several girls are hand-picked (for whatever reasons such as physical beauty, sponsorship tie-ups, hosting privileges, etc…)

* Lack of Diversity in Winners – during the Trump tenure, only a handful women of color were ever crowned as MU, most winners are either Caucasian or Latina. In the 18 years of the Trump leadership, 13* of them were either Latina or Caucasian with only 6 women of color (3 with Asian ancestry and 3 dark skinned winners). It was also during his tenure that the Latina domination at MU was clearly evident with at least 4 Latinas making it to the top 15  semifinalist every year.
* Glamshots, Visuals and Photography – during the Trump years we saw the evolution of how the simple program souvenir evolved to the glamshots we all are familiar today. Pageant photography back then was a simple straight up shot of the girls. Now it has become more fashion, more glamorous, more modern. The glamshot has become a major tool for publicity for the pageant as the girls got more social media following based on how they nailed their photoshoots. This has also become a tool for promotions for the pageant as these pictures get shared and become viral on all corners of social media, as well as being used by traditional print and broadcast media for news articles.

* Glamshots, Visuals and Photography – during the Trump years we saw the evolution of how the simple program souvenir evolved to the glamshots we all are familiar today. Pageant photography back then was a simple straight up shot of the girls. Now it has become more fashion, more glamorous, more modern. The glamshot has become a major tool for publicity for the pageant as the girls got more social media following based on how they nailed their photoshoots. This has also become a tool for promotions for the pageant as these pictures get shared and become viral on all corners of social media, as well as being used by traditional print and broadcast media for news articles.
Whether the pageant was better with or without Donald trump is up to you. Judging how subjective this topic is, one may vary in opinion if whether the Trump Era was the best/ worst years of the pageant.

Zozibini Tunzi: a Strong Miss South Africa Winner

25 year old Zozibini Tunzi is Miss South Africa 2019 and she will be represeting South Africa in the Miss Universe pageant tentatively to be held in the Philippines in January of 2020.*

When the short-haired 5’8″ Zozibini was crowned Miss South Africa, not a lot of pageant fans were celebrating her win. Some fans were vocal on the Miss SA Instagram page about how other ladies are ‘stronger’ in terms of their chances in Miss Universe.  This, I beg to disagree as I see Zozi as one of the stronger girls in the Miss Universe pageant with her very modern look that defies the traditional pageant patty ladies. Her short cropped hair harkens to the likes of H’hennie, MU 2018 top 5 finisher and Kaci Fennell who was 4th runner up in MU 2014. There is something about short haired girls making a splash at Miss Universe in recent years.

Zozi returned to the Miss SA competition after completing a Bachelor of Technology graduate degree in public relations management at Cape Peninsula University of Technology, and worked as a graduate intern in the public relations department of Ogilvy. Her first foray in the pageant was in 2017 where she ended as one of the top 26 before being eliminated, then came back to win the crown two years later… proving that perseverance is key to winning.
This year has to be one of the most diverse Miss SA candidates in recent years. And despite Zozi not in my list of personal faves to win the title, I see the wisdom in her victory. I believe that Zozi is a great follow up to Tamaryn Green. Being so different from the past SA queens will make her stand out on her own and this will allow her to avoid comparisons to Tamaryn or to even Demi. She does not have to fit into a boxed mold of what a beauty queen should look like because there is beauty in diversity, in being unique, in being real and authentic. And Zozi was just that. Authentic…

Aside from that I see her being quite grounded as an advantage. In an article by IOL South Africa it mentions that she is also inspired by her parents, whom she refers to like her role models. “As cliché as this may sound my role models are my parents. I have learned so much from them. My mother has taught me the importance of remaining kind and humble and always being helpful to those around me. My father has taught me the importance of education, of hard work and discipline. Most important they have equally moulded me to be who I am today.” She comes from an academic family which is why she also loves education. Her mother is a school principal at Bangweni JSS, a school in a village called Bolotwa. The father works in Pretoria at the department of Higher Education and Training. “I stand for the education of the South African youth, for equality and representation, as a Miss South Africa, I cannot wait to make a contribution to these important social causes.”
With her social advocacy program centering to what is close to her on a personal level makes it more authentic and ‘real’. This is also why Zozi is a great conversationalist, judging by her answers to the Miss SA finals questions.

Admittedly there is still much polishing and training needed for her to be in her topmost fighting form. A stronger pasarela with focus on more refined movements would suit her better. A good physical regimen is needed as well so that she keeps her energies up come pageant proper, the discipline she gets to instill during her physical training will be helpful come MU season. And finally, working on a stronger stage presence would do wonders for her.
I am on-board with Zozi as the South African rep in MU. I believe she is a diamond in the rough and I hope that she would be able to  shine in Miss Universe.


* still up for confirmation

OPINION: Has Latin America Lost their Spark in Miss Universe?

Has Latin America lost their spark in Miss Universe?
DISCLAIMER: these are thoughts and opinions of this blogger. It does not represent itself as a study of academic proportions but rather an observation as a pageant enthusiast since 1993. This is neither a critique or expose but rather an introspection on the topic…

Ever since the time that the Miss Universe organization was taken over the IMG|WME organization, the pageant has taken steps in the effort to grow/ to modernize and make pageantry current and relevant again. Since then, the Miss Universe has been crowning winners that are not only facially beautiful but also are involved in their communities, have meatier resumes and are extremely well spoken. MU winners in the IMG|WME era seem to be more well-rounded than their Trump era counterparts.
My observation is that most pageant fans who grew up watching the ‘Trump Era’ of the Miss Universe pageant are accustomed to seeing supermodel-type of winners. Winners who aren’t necessarily very great public speakers as long as they photograph well. Winners who typically look the part but not necessarily speak the part.
This was the era where Latinas dominated the pageant arena. In the 18 years of the MU pageant under then owner Donald Trump, 10 winners have been from Latin America & the Caribbean. It was also during his time that the Latina domination at MU was clearly evident with at around 4 Latinas making it to the top 15 semifinalist on average… with some years having 7-8 Latinas in the semis. But what has happened since then?
Ever since 2015 the Miss Universe seems to have placed an emphasis on winners who can be great spokesperson of the pageant. Pia Wurtzbach, has since then upped the standards of how a MU winner be able to speak and engage with people. Iris Mittenaera is always engaging and pleasant when she speaks. Demi Leigh Nel-Peters manages to speak eloquently while being true to her saccharine personality. Then we have Catriona Gray who is not only able to navigate a tough conversation but also manages to be a bankable product endorser and money-maker for the org.
Since 2017, the continental grouping has allowed a wider net of beauties to make it to semis. This has allowed representation from each part of the world possibly eating into the slice of pie that Latin America used to solely own. What does this move mean?
It only shows the commitment of the organization to diversity. In my personal observation, this is one of the things that Latinos have trouble accepting because they have perhaps developed a very boxed-in concept of beauty. Even the women of color that they seem to see as beautiful is essentially a woman of color adhering to the western standards of beauty: narrow aquiline nose, almond shaped eyes, full lips, tall and modelesque bodies… Basically a Caucasian looking woman with brown skin. That is why you see a lot of surgeries involved in Latin American pageants to adhere to the very western ideology of beauty.
What I believe to be their misgiving is that they haven’t evolved yet with the times when physical beauty has to be at par with other aspects of intelligence, personality, community involvement, speaking abilities and authenticity. There is also a renewed interest in the community involvement of the candidates in MU. These aspects seem to be alien to Latinos thinking that being a physically perfect specimen is what makes a beauty queen. That may have been true in the years of the Trump Era, but not anymore. There is a reason why there was only one question and answer portion in the 2000’s editions of the MU. That is to make sure that the pretty faces make headway in the pageant. In 2018, the ladies that make top 20 has to speak 4 times in the pageant finals before becoming Miss Universe. Their questions are ones with high levels of difficulty. That is something that has to be taken into account.
There is less focus on physical attributes these days… less focus on height, on weight, on a singular body type, on measurements. IMHO the issue with Latinos having difficulty adjusting to this new concept of beauty queens stems from the era where their manufactured beauties worked in the past are no longer the ideal.
Beauty is only skin deep… and times have changed.

Sashes&Scripts 5 WishList Changes for Miss Earth

With the Miss Earth Pageant on its 20th year, here are 5 wishlist changes that I hope to happen this year.

1. Glamshot Pictorials– this is something that the Miss Earth pageant might want to pick up. Having glamshots without the traditional white background that the ME is known for would add up on the glam factor of the pageant. The photos of the glamshot would also mean having fans to share and re-post them on all social media platforms, thus giving added publicity and media mileage for the pageant.
2. Addition of voice-overs of the girls speaking about their advocacy during the swimsuit/ evening gown segments – this  is time for ME to introduce some sort of innovation in either of these 2 segments. Having them talk about what they stand for would further reinforce the ME-brand, as well as the audience getting to know the delegates even better…
3. Selling of a Miss Earth Souvenir Program – who among pageant fans wouldn’t want a ME memorabilia to take home after the pageant? A magazine type of memorabilia with photos of all the girls competing in the pageant arranged by continent would be something of interest.
4. A long runway for a stage – ask any pageant girl and in most cases, they would choose a long runway over a wide stage. Hoping that this is the year when the Miss Earth org would shake things up and give the audience something to talk about in terms of stage design.
5. A Press Junket for traditional media and pageant bloggers – this would allow the press to get to know the ladies better. And at the same time have the press something to talk about regarding the pageant. This is publicity for the pageant if they have the pre-selected candidates and the reigning queens speak to the press to promote the pageant and invite fans to watch the pageant live.
Right now, the Miss Earth pageant needs a little bit more infusion of glamor and marketing blitz. These simple tips-slash-wishlist is for the better of the Miss Earth pageant. Hopefully these would reach some of the MEOrg heads to ponder on…

Rumor Mill: A Disorganized Pageant?

There is male pageant being held that is a massive headache due to being very disorganized. Said pageant has been postponed numerous times already and despite those postponements, the male pageant is still fraught with disorganized people who as someone described to us “running around like headless chicken”.

Schedules are mixed up, last minute changes are frequent and regular miscommunication within the organizing team is commonplace. One pageant candidate has even been heard to complain with his fellow candidates (of similar dialect/language) about the changes in schedule. A candidate was said to have been heard talking on the phone how all of the candidates’ events are indoors and that they haven’t been to any of the famed beaches in the Philippines. Yep, no sand, sun and sea for some guys who seemed to have expected to be seeing our white sand beaches. But when the org’s reps or pageant media are around, they go back to their usual positive vibes, sunny personality.
According to numerous pageant sites/ admins covering the said male pageant, they would usually get confused on what the ‘managing director’ would say versus that of the assistants. However, they cannot make ‘complaints’ because of the “white envelope” giveaways for the media people covering their event. The new org handling the said male pageant seems to be unaware on how to run and organize events despite their so called “expertise and longstanding experience” in the pageant community.
Add to this rumor is the supposed cancellation of interviews by the owner of said pageant after going through a tough interview recently. Owner was subjected to really awkward interview where the owner was asked of past issues still haunting the pageant. Said owner was given really uncomfortable questions in that interview that it may have scarred her from doing interviews with the media.

Gazini Ganados for Elderly Care

Miss Universe Philippines Gazini Ganados’ social responsibility program (or advocacy in simpler terms) center mainly in providing better care for the elderly. Stemming from her experience growing up with her grandparents, this advocacy has a special place in her heart and has been doing a number of charity visits and public appearances focusing on it.

In an interview with Philippine Star, she mentioned: the country lacks in policies, attention and facilities for the elderly. She thinks that there should be a senior citizen center for every baranggay nationwide for the elderly to enjoy medical services with co-senior citizens.
“There should always be a senior citizen center in which and where senior citizens can be medically taken cared of but most especially where they can also be productive through stimulating their minds, through an active aging, a healthy lifestyle to which they can have a community where they can engage to one another because social engagement is very important because when you are getting older and you do not have anything else to do, you don’t process your mind and that makes it easier for aging to go into you.”

Earlier in August, in a report by ABSCBN, Gazini promised to 300 residents of the Luwahati ng Maynila in Marikina City that she would continue pushing for their welfare.
She visited Luwalhati ng Maynila in Marikina after reading a thesis by University of the Philippines-Manila BA Behavioral Sciences graduate Melissa Delgado on the quality of life of seniors in the facility. Based on Delgado’s study, aside from material needs such as medicine and adequate facilities, seniors in Luwalhati ng Maynila also need to maintain social relationships and stay active.
Gazini met with Delgado’s thesis adviser, UP Manila MA in Health Policy Studies senior lecturer Calvin de los Reyes, prior to Monday morning’s visit. She was also accompanied by her pageant mentor, Rodgil Flores, whose Kagandahang Flores beauty camp produced Miss Universe Philippines winners Rachel Peters in 2017 and MJ Lastimosa in 2014.

BE #Ganado4LoloLola
4 ways you can be an ADVOCATE for the elderly:
1. START at home. Show lolo and lola that you love and respect them
2. VOLUNTEER in homes for the elderly. Your time and effort will go a long way.
3. SUPPORT policies for the elderly. Be aware of new laws and initiatives like the National Commission for Senior Citizens
4. ENGAGE in activities that promote elderly welfare. Be a partner in research, outreach programs.

Is it Too Soon to Host Miss Universe in Manila Again? Pt 2

Last January 23, 2018 we have posted this question before. And a year and a half later we are asking the question once again. Are we ready to host the Miss Universe pageant again?

1. Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray – This would be a grand celebration once more for reigning winner to pass her title like previous Filipina predecessors like Margarita Moran and Pia Wurtzbach. There would be nothing more glorious than start and end your pageant journey in the country you call home.

2. Social Media Buzz – we’ve said several times before that Filipinos are a huge marketing machine. What better way to promote the best tourist spots around the country than to have the most beautiful women visit the best that our country have to offer (Boracay, Bohol, El Nido, Coron, Siargao, Cebu, et al…). Showcasing not only the ladies but also the tourist spots they visit would be a great way to promote the pageant in the most organic way on social media.
3. Cementing the Philippine Status as THE Pageant Powerhouse of Asia – this would greatly cement the status of the country as a country that not only wins pageants but also prosperous enough to host them. This would be something that other countries around the world cannot boast about.

1. The Back-to-Back gets even slimmer – yes, the chance of winning MU in two consecutive years is a tough challenge and having it in the Philippines makes it even a tougher nut to crack. We are not saying that it wouldn’t be possible but it would be extremely difficult. We can now only trust and hope that our rep, Gazini Ganados will be in a great mental state to face the challenge.

2. The Money Drain – hosting the MU pageant would take a huge amount of money to undertake. Approximately $15 – 20 million is needed to fund this huge undertaking. This is why a number of countries cannot afford to host, only those that have money to burn can afford to have it hosted.
3. Pageant Envy – you cannot remove the fact that other countries will be envious of the Philippines for being able to host the pageant and at the same time keep winning in it. Some would even say that the pageant is being rigged (though there was already rigging during the Trump era with the Trump cards) or in favor of the Philippines and its reps.
With these pros and cons, do you still think that it is still too soon to host the Miss Universe pageant in the Philippines?

Our Favorite National Pageants

What national pageants from all over the world is the most anticipated, followed and respected?
Here’s our list.
10. Miss Russia – This pageant is known to have the most lucrative and extravagant prizes and awards. The Miss Russia pageant has produced 1 Miss Universe winner (2002, later dethroned) and 2 Miss World winners (1992 and 2008).
9. Miss South Africa – Since its inception in the year 1943, the pageant has produced 2 Miss Universe winners (1978 and 2017) and 3 Miss World winners (1958, 1974 and 2014).
8. Miss Universe Thailand – another one of Asia’s pageant-crazed countries. The MUT pageant is considered to produce some of the best pageant wardrobes internationally, not to mention that the pageant creates one of the loudest buzz on social media. It has also produced some of the most talked about winners as of late.
7. Mexicana Universal – formerly known as Nuestra Belleza Mexico, this pageant is headed by former Miss Universe winner, Lupita Jones. Since the pageant’s inception in 1995, it has produced 1 Miss Universe winner (2010) and 2 Miss International winners (2007 and 2009).
6. Miss France – perhaps the oldest national pageant still in existence. Since the pageants inception in the year 1920, the Miss France beauty pageant has produced 2 Miss Universe winners (1953 and 2016) and 1 Miss World winner (1953). The Miss France contest has one of the best production among national pageants in the world.
5. Femina Miss India – back when the pageant held the Miss Universe, Miss World and Miss Asia Pacific franchise, this pageant was one of the hottest competitions around. Nowadays with candidates split between Femina Miss India and Miss Diva, the former seems to enjoy better quality of candidates and winners.
4. Señorita Colombia – The Senorita Colombia beauty pageant has 2 Miss Universe winners (1958 and 2014) and 3 Miss International winners (1960, 1999 and 2004) for Colombia.
If there ever were national pageants that we are excited to follow, those would be these three. For this blogger, they are perhaps the only national pageants that wold generate interest because of the girls competing in it, and not due to the fanfare and spectacle of the show or the prizes involved.
3.  Miss USA – undeniably one of the most difficult pageants to win due to its unpredictability and its fast paced progress. The Miss USA pageant holds high esteem for its women empowering choices of winners.
2. Miss Venezuela – no pageant list is ever without Venezuela in it. While it may have slowed down a bit after prostitution allegations, its 3-women team of directors is not rebuilding the pageant back up.
1. Binibining Pilipinas – for Filipinos this is the national pageant that truly matters most. With the pageant activities spanning 2 months long, this is a test of will and patience. Unlike other national pageants whose activities only last for 2 weeks, the BBP tests its ladies in a longer time period to truly separate the creme de la creme. It is why the country is enjoying its second Golden Era in pageants.
Sashes&Scripts’ isn’t shy to list down our favorites on anything pageant related. It is usually only time-constraints that prevents us from doing so. But these are the pageants that we think are worthwhile to watch out for.

Miss Universe 2019 or 2020 in Israel?

Whether the Miss Universe pageant is going to be hosted in Israel this year or in 2020, this would be a great news for the Philippines!

According to a report from website Israel Hayom says that “talks in progress to bring Miss Universe pageant to Israel.” This was seconded later by the Times of Israel saying that “Danny Ben Naim and Assaf Belcher, who were both involved in bringing Madonna to perform at this past year’s Eurovision in Tel Aviv, have met several times with Miss Universe Organization staff both in New York as well as in Israel.
So as not to misquote the Israel Hayom article, below are several important snippets of the report: According to sources familiar with the discussions, representatives of the Miss Universe Organization, which holds the rights over the competition, met with Israeli producers in New York and even secretly visited Israel.
… over 100 countries take part in the Miss Universe contest, including some Arab countries who are in conflict with Israel. Their delegations’ entry into Israel, if they would even wish to come, would require the approval of special visas and the involvement of security agencies. 
“The goal … is to host the event as early as this year, but at the same time we are looking into the option of holding the 2020 event here,” said one familiar source. “And then, maybe, even though it’s a cliché, world peace can come of it,” he added.
… The event will take place in December, and with a great deal of effort, it could be held here in Israel.

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With rumors circulating that Israel is wanting to host the Miss Universe pageant, some are asking whether is that good for the Philippines and the Philippine rep Gazini Ganados? Our take? Yes it is an advantage! Here's why: 1. The Philippines enjoys a FULL DIPLOMATIC RELATIONSHIP with Israel. The Philippines voted in favor of UN Resolution 181 recommending the partition of Palestine and the establishment of a Jewish State in 1947. Also in 2009, the Open Doors Monument was erected in the Holocaust Memorial Park in Rishon Lezion, Israel. It honored the role of the Philippine Commonwealth Government under President Manuel L. Quezon in officially offering safe haven and issuing 10,000 visas to Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazi regime in World War 2. 2. Gazini being half-Palestinian will not be detrimental to her chances of winning. Simply because she is raised Catholic and will be representing a predominantly Catholic country. Add to that is that she never had contact with her Palestinian father. Hosting the pageant in Israel is great news, IMHO. The ones affected would be the countries who have no official diplomatic ties like Malaysia, Indonesia, and Lebanon. . . . . . #SashesandScripts #PageantBlogger #UltimatePageantBlog #PageantBlog #PageantBlogger #pageant #pageantry #MissUniverse #ConfidentlyBeautiful #MissUniverso #missUniverseMalaysia #MissUniverseLebanon #PuteriIndonesia

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The Philippines enjoys a FULL DIPLOMATIC RELATIONSHIP with Israel. And the Philippines voted in favor of UN Resolution 181 recommending the partition of Palestine and the establishment of a Jewish State in 1947. The Philippines have since then been of assist to German Jews during the 2nd World War by providing safe haven in the country while their American visas are being processed en route to the US. In 2009, the Open Doors Monument was erected in the Holocaust Memorial Park in Rishon Lezion, Israel. It honored the role of the Philippine Commonwealth Government under President Manuel L. Quezon in  issuing 10,000 visas to Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazi regime. That being said, there is a great sense of goodwill that the two countries enjoy.
2019 OR 2020?
This is the question that is yet to be answered. If Israel hosts this year, it would be safe to assume that the pageant will be held in December and would not skip a year like it did in the 2014 and 2016 editions. However that could depend on the outcome of the elections in Israel this September. Hosting the pageant would need support from the government. But if the pageant is held there this 2019 how would it affect participation from countries that don’t have diplomatic ties with Israel?
The most likely countries that will get affected are Indonesia, Lebanon, Bangladesh, Iraq, and Malaysia (not sure about other African countries but South Africa and Kenya have diplomatic relationship with Israel). Countries with no diplomatic ties with Israel would have to apply for special visas to be able to enter the country for the MU competition and special security would be needed to ensure that the event will go smoothly without hitch. Worse case scenario is that the reps from these countries would have to withdraw their participation in this year’s Miss Universe pageant.

How about Miss Universe Philippines Gazini Ganados being a Filipina-Palestinian? Will it affect her chances of winning the title? IMHO, it won’t affect her chances at all, simply because she is a Philippine passport holder. Her being a Catholic raised in a predominantly Catholic country  would factor in and won’t be an issue as well. In fact when asked by the Philippine Star if will she be taking photos with Miss Israel, she said “Yes, sure!” And that it won’t be a problem  for her being a friendly person. Hence, it might even be an added media mileage for Gazini specially if she is in good terms with everyone in the competition.

Reasons Why Male Pageants Don’t Get Pageantry’s Full Respect

Ever wonder why male pageants never get the same level of respect as female pageants? Sashes&Scripts digs deeper into the reasons why there is such a stigma to the male pageant industry.

1. Allegations of Pageant Fixing and Irregularities
This is one of the things that continuously plague the male pageant industry. Allegations of unfair judging process and under-the-table dealings are rampant. It is common to hear that some questionable placements are attributed to possible hosting duties of a candidates’ home country.
Several pageants has been accused of fixing the top 5 winners simply due to past/present/ possible future hosting duties. Some have observed that a country is awarded a win so that they would get hosting duties for the next year. Such ‘hosting duties advantage’ would extend even a year after as some would placed into the top 5 of a pageant as an extended bonus.

2. Inconsistency in Pageant Staging
This is the most common problem that the male pageant industry is facing. Here this year, gone for a year or two, then comes back again. This is a problem that even the oldest male pageants are guilty of. When a pageant isn’t consistent in its pageant staging, it looses its perceived prestige and brand value.
It also looses confidence from its sponsors, hence creating a circular self-propagating problem in difficulty in finding and retaining sponsors. This is a reflection of the age-old headache of finding sponsors that would support the pageant. It is already difficult to calculate for the return on investment (ROI) on their part so it is difficult to negotiate a deal with sponsors.
The above problem leads to inconsistency of the competition’s staging. Even when it does push through, it is not unheard of that competitions get postponed months or even a year after.

3. Issues: Legal & Copyright, Money & Financial, and Professionalism
Prizes not awarded, pageant franchises not paid, issues with name copyrights, etc… we all hear of those in male pageantry incessantly. We also see issues on SEC listing issues on ownership, where a pageant organization is funded by an entity or organization but the legal ownership is usurped by a different set of people. Or we hear national directors pirating other national directors from other international contest for their own contests. There is also that issue on two pageants of the same name fighting over ownership. It seems that the male pageant industry in general is clearly unaware of the term ‘professionalism’.
Even candidates aren’t spared. We have seen candidates posting on social media about not being given their prize money from the pageant organizers and owners. There are even issues that some organizers would go as far as ‘dethroning’ their winners just so that they aren’t liable to pay them their prize money. Another variation of this is having winners sign a ‘slave contract’ where the org would get 40-60% of the talent fees on each of the winner’s paid appearances.
Rome Phanunphong’s risque magazine spread…
4. Sexual Harassment and Sexual Favours
This is definitely not a shocker. The mere fact that most male pageant organizations are banking on the sexual appeal of its candidates is a contributory factor. So when a candidate would go on to accuse a pageant with sexual harassment has become an embarrassment that isn’t addressed in public scrutiny. It also doesn’t help that some pageant media are involved in lascivious acts during the pageant proper.
It is also commonly speculated that some pageants, local and international, engage with candidates offering sexual favours in exchange for a placement in the pageant.

5. Male Pageant candidates’ post competition scandals and Adult Film careers
No surprise there as there has been a number of male pageant candidates who have entered the adult film industry, posed in racy/softcore skin mags, opened “OnlyFans” accounts, or had sex tapes/ nude photos ‘leaked’ into the internet. And these types of publicity get more social media mileage than any other male pageant related content.

Osmar Sanjurjo went on later to become an adult film performer…

It seems that having a ‘clean’ male pageant is a rare exception and not the rule. It also seems that most male pageants has been guilty of one or two of the above. Will a clean scandal-free pageant be possible in the future? Perhaps, hope springs eternal…

Miss Universe: The Live Experience Versus Televised Broadcast

There are Miss Universe tickets up for grabs. Let’s say you have an extra budget to spare to watch live at the venue but you are still undecided if is the pageant worth that much to watch live.
In my personal experience, the experience is worth every single penny I spent. But that’s just me, I don’t know if you will enjoy it as much as I had. While you are still musing about whether you should be buying that hundred dollar ticket for the Miss Universe finals or would you rather just watch on TV, here are the differences on what you’ll experience between watching live and watching on TV.

1. National Costume/ Opening Number/ Introduction of the candidateswatching this on TV is more exciting as you immediately see the girls on your screen. The opening video will build the anticipation better. The live telecast will showcase only the video on the monitor and you might not appreciate that, even more if you have watched the rehearsals as even the videos are tested during that time… and that might be anti-climactic for the audience at the venue unless there is an opening dance. It might not be the exciting opening you’d picture for yourself but the excitement picks up leading to the announcement of the semifinalists.

2. Commentaries during the Swimsuit and Gown competitions if you like to watch the pageant fee from commentaries from the co-host, then the live experience is for you. It will not mar your opinion of the candidate as you are only seeing the performance and not get muddled by the color commentary. You are free to make your own opinions without being swayed. If you want some tidbits of info on the ladies, then you’d better watch on TV. You will not be hearing the trivia on the candidates during the live finals at the venue.
3. Live Performances – this is a matter of preference as watching at the venue might not be the best if you are far back from the stage and all you hear is the bass and not much of the vocals anymore. But would be okay if you are closer to the stage as you can see and hear them very clearly. Watching on TV has its perks too as the audio and visual will be superb, the only downfall is that there will be more shots of the girls than the performers. Nevertheless, it’s a tie for both sides of the coin here…

4. The shared energythere is a shared energy throughout the venue when you watch the pageant live! The feeling is electric and the cheers is deafening… best if it is that you are free to cheer as loud as you can with the rest of the pageant watchers. Sometimes due to the loud cheers at the venue you won’t be able to hear clearly what the hosts are saying. And did I mention that there will be some “crowd fluffers” on stage later on? They will help induce the energy levels at a constant high to get everyone’s adrenaline pumping all throughout the pageant. So there will be no quiet moment at the venue! But if you like a quieter way of watching to catch all the details then you better watch the broadcast on TV. I’m telling you cannot think of anything else when you are watching at the venue.
5. Voting Results – if there will still be a voting instituted in the competition like the “You be the Judge” of 2015, then you would be lucky to get updates on your TV screens on the global results as those were flashed and revealed on TV. For us that watched on the venue, we didn’t even know how the voting standing are. That is the ugly side of the no-commentary at the venue, you will not hear what the backstage host is revealing at the live telecast. If by any miracle, the MUOrg choose to reveal judging scores like in the 90’s, the audience at the venue will not have any clue on that as well.

6. Hassle-Free Watching if you are the type of person who’d rather not be bothered by waking at 2am in the morning to go to the venue, dress up, fight and survive through the traffic going to the MOA Arena just so you can be seated by 7am for a show that would probably start at 8am then you are on ‘Team Bahay’. Yes, it will be a bit of a hassle to go through all that if you are not a morning person. Another advantage would be the convenience of a toilet break when you need it, as it would be difficult to go to the bathroom at the venue. Another plus point in watching the pageant on TV is having enough signal to update your social media accounts. From what I heard of, there might be signal blockers at the venue so that people watching won’t be able to do live broadcast of the pageant on their smart phones.

There are definitely pros and cons in watching the pageant at the venue and watching it on TV. It just boils down to the individual’s preference. So you better make up your mind while tickets are still available!

Miss Universe and Philanthropy

One of the biggest criticisms that the Miss Universe gets is that its charity/ philanthropic arm isn’t as wide or as strong as that of its other international counterparts. Today we list down a few Miss Universe winners that have been doing their part in special charities and advocacies that is close to their hearts.

Meet 8 Miss Universe Winners that Matter…
Wendy Fitzwilliam, Miss Universe 1998 – after her reign, she pursued and continued her law studies and passed the bar exams. She was also involved in the Trinidad Guardian’s Guardian in Education: Making a Difference project, a series of motivational school tours that aims to promote the development of her country’s diversity. She was also appointed the Red Cross Ambassador of Youth for the Caribbean.
Mpule Kwelagobe, Miss Universe 1999 –  has been recognized and honored as a human health rights activist in her country, especially for her fight against HIV/AIDS. For which she was honored with the Jonathan Mann Health Human Rights Award by the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (IAPAC). She advocates for youth and women to have greater access to sexual reproductive education and services.

Michelle McLean, Miss Universe 1992 – founded the Michelle McLean Children’s Trust in Namibia, which focuses on the education and care of under-privileged children.  The Trust built a primary school in her name and provides education for 900 children. She was presented with The Life Time Achievement Award for her philanthropy work by the Miss Universe organization in 1998.
Gabriela Isler, Miss Universe 2013 – launched the Universe of Blessings Fund, where she is also CEO, which seeks to empower young women and girls and decrease the rates of adolescent pregnancy and maternal mortality, issues which are especially problematic in her native Venezuela. Deeply concerned about the victims of human trafficking and its devastating impact on young women, Gabriela is an ambassador for the Scalabrini International Migration Network.

Leila Lopes, Miss Universe 2011 –  involved in raising awareness about HIV/AIDS and the discrimination that people with the disease experience. As Miss Universe she used her title to champion HIV/AIDS prevention and works with organizations such as YouthAIDS/PSI, Latino Commission on AIDS, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, among others. She was also named Drylands Ambassador by the United Nation Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in an effort to combat land degradation – an issue that affects not only her country but the entire continent of Africa.

Pia Wurtzbach, Miss Universe 2015 – is an HIV/AIDS awareness advocate who was named a UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador for Asia and the Pacificafter her reign. She been actively involved in humanitarian affairs, speaking out against cyberbullying and supporting people living with HIV, as well as the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community. Learn more about the summary of Pia’s reign as Miss Universe on this link.
Jennifer Hawkins, Miss Universe 2004 -she has donated not only her time but also auction items to many Australian charities including Sydney Cancer Foundation, The Sydney Children’s Hospital, Canteen and Make-A-Wish Foundation as well as being a patron for HCRF (Hunter Children’s Research Foundation). She also has worked to raise awareness for heart disease she also participated in the Red Dress campaign. On 6 January 2010, Hawkins appeared naked  on the February cover of Marie Claire Australia magazine to support the Butterfly Foundation and encourage positive attitudes to body image.
Catriona Gray, Miss Universe 2018 – there is no other Miss Universe winner whose reign is hallmarked by her numerous charity work. Even before competing in pageants, Catriona has been a supporter of Young Focus Philippines, an organization that helps provide education in the slums of Tondo, Manila. Then she added her voice to the Love Yourself Foundation to alleviate the stigma on HIV-AIDS in the Philippines. Catriona later carried these social awareness campaigns when she competed and won MU 2018 in Bangkok. Throughout her reign, she has been supporting and lending a hand and voice to causes as diverse as music programs for children, Smile Train, In God’s Love We Deliver and more…

There are several countless other winners who have lent a hand to their favorite charities and other advocacies that we haven’t listed here. Almost all of the recent MU winners of the past 20 or so years have lent time and effort to the HIV-AIDS advocacy of the pageant, as well as women empowerment and child education initiatives. Which only goes to show that the Miss Universe organization and its winners are truly living up to being confidently beautiful with a heart

Sashes&Scripts’ Faves for Miss South Africa 2019

Who will likely be the successor to reigning Miss South Africa, Tamaryn Green? Here are our top 5 faves…
In random order, here are our list:
1. Sibabalwe Gcilitshana – I honestly would want her in Miss World, although I think that her personality might be too strong for that pageant that prefers a meeker, obedient winner. She would be perfect for Miss Universe as well.

2. Chuma Matsaluka – sending her to either MW or MU would be great for SA. IMHO her beauty screams Miss Universe.

3. Nompumelelo Maduna – her resume is the type that works well with MU but her more composed manner of speaking and poise is very MW. Would love to see her in MW tho…

4. Xia Narain – She’s my wildcard in this picks.

5. Kgothatso Dithebe – if she is sent to Miss Universe, she will create waves in the competition. I could almost say that she is most likely to have a guaranteed spot on the top 5 in MU if she is sent there.

With a very diverse and well accomplished women as candidates, it is hard to point who exactly would be the best girl to win the title. But IMHO, whoever among these 5 ladies would be chosen as the next Miss South Africa is surely going to make her country proud.

Miss South Africa is Redefining Beauty Pageants

If there is a national pageant that this blogger is giving mad respect in terms of diversity and inclusion, that would be the Miss South Africa pageant.
After opening its doors to transgender females to participate in the pageant this year, its roster of candidates is the most diverse and inclusive as it could be. We are seeing women representing different colors, backgrounds, genders and body types in its candidates. And we couldn’t be more impressed.

Sibabalwe Gcilitshana is the first finalist in the history of Miss South Africa to be openly gay. This outspoken lady is a parliamentary officer and is also a researcher for Equal Education. According to the website The African Exponent, Sibabalwe said, “I’m so proud to be the first queer woman on the competition because this shows us how progressive our country has become, and representation matters…
I’m very happy to be able to share what I think is an important aspect of my identity as also as a proud South African woman. I hope that I can use the platform to just empower other young women who see themselves represented in me. I in no means intend to represent anyone else, I just have my experience and my truth to share
There is also a good representation of women with fuller figure with Beulah Baduza and Sasha-Lee Olivier who do not fit the usual size 6 model standards. A snippet from reads: “I have been termed a plus-size because I’m not a size zero, and when you’re in the industry long enough you just accept it,” says Beulah, who says her size is her reality. Sasha-Lee said that while industry standards have labelled her a plus-sized model, she has never felt that way, noting that “body positivity is by no means just for skinny or plus-size women, it’s for everyone”. After the recent issue of a Thai pageant girl body shaming reigning Miss Universe Catriona Gray as fat, these kinds of progressive move towards redefining what is body beautiful is refreshing.
Looking at the candidates of the Miss SA this year, you would see brunettes, blondes, dark skinned, fair-skinned, women of Indian descent, women of different backgrounds in the mix. We have Beaulah with her Law degree, Chuma Matsaluka a student of Political studies, anthropology and sociology, retail merchandise planner Eloïse van der Westhuizen, business owner Lisa Stoffela, Noluthando Bennett a sound engineer, private banker Nompumelelo Maduna, and Sasha who is taking a double major in marketing and Psychology. And we cannot help but to be in love with Kgothatso Dithebe whose facial birthmark only shows that this hasn’t been a hindrance for her working as a full-time model and is pursuing a career in law.
The biggest change that the pageant has done was to open up to transgender participants who want a shot at the beautiful Enhle crown. In an Intagram stories post, the official Miss SA account posted that they are open to transgender participants to join. South Africa as a country has moved towards  more inclusion of its LGBTQ citizens. The country was the fifth country in the world, and the only country in Africa to legalise same-sex marriage. This was a great follow up to last year’s Miss Universe pageant with Miss Universe Spain Angela Ponce making  history as the first transgender contestant of the pageant.
These moves are making the pageant more relevant in today’s socio-political atmosphere. Whoever wins the title come August 9th will surely be someone that would represent South Africa in both Miss Universe & Miss World pageants…