65th Miss Universe Spotlight and Assessment: Sierra Leone

Name: Hawa Kamara
Age: 26 years old
Height: 5’7”
Rating: Race Closer
I see her making semis if she plays her cards right. She will be going against more trained ladies in the competition so she has to calculate where she needs to put her energies on. Kamara has an arresting face but needs to be on point with her wardrobe during the pageant, strong in interviews (opinionated but still politically correct) and stand tall (think Lupita Nyong’O). Should she manage that, she can penetrate the semis easily.

Miss Universe profile bio:
Hawa Kamara is making history this year by being the first contestant to represent her beautiful republic of Sierra Leone during the Miss Universe competition. Kamara was born in Kono, the land of diamonds, and raised in Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital city. After graduating Methodist Girls High School, one of the most prestigious girls school in Freetown, she began traveling and competing in beauty pageants. On the weekends, Kamara spends her time volunteering by talking to young girls about the importance of education. Kamara is looking forward to meeting all of the contestants representing their country in the competition. Kamara hopes to continue to make history by taking home the crown, if she does, she hopes to advocate and raise awareness for HIV/AIDS.

* Profile from http://www.missuniverse.com


65th Miss Universe Spotlight and Assessment: Mexico

Name: Kristal Silva
Age: 24 years old
Height: 5’10”
Rating: Frontrunner
She has some resemblances with Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler of Venezuela, especially when they purse their lips. But that is not what makes Kristal a threat in this year’s competition. Having competed in ME 2013 and landing in the top 8 circle, this tall lovely lady should know by now how to win Filipinos over. Her body is to die for, her face is perfection and she has a strong walk, all of this can guarantee a top 10 placement… all she needs to do is nail the close-door interview. Do I see a top 5 or even top 3 placement? Not impossible.

Miss Universe profile bio:
Funny, positive, and committed is how 24 year old Kristal Silva would describe herself. Ever since Silva was young, she had always watched the Miss Universe Competition and had always dreamt of competing. Now that she has the opportunity to compete, Silva is very proud to be representing the traditions and culture of her country on this year’s stage. If crowned, Silva would like to get involved in building homes for those in need.

* Profile from http://www.missuniverse.com

65th Miss Universe Pre-Arrival SashPicks

In this third round of SashPicks, the Sash Factor correspondents and beauty experts have voted ladies as the possible shakers and movers of the 65th Miss Universe pageant.

1. Philippines – Maxine Medina, 5’8”, her latest round of photo-releases is just testament to her competitiveness.
2. USA – Deshauna Barber, 5’10”,  one of the few ladies who are relentless in the SashPicks. She seems to be the girl that is most likely be the main threat.
3. Colombia – Andrea Tovar, 5’11”, still one of the major contenders for the title. Try to deny all you want but she is expected to do great in the competition.
4. Australia – Caris Tiivel, 5’10”, one of the best faces in the competition. Australia has done consistently well and we won’t be surprised if she brings down the hose with the 3rd title for Australia.
5. Thailand – Chalita Suansane, 5’7”, also gunning for the 3rd title for her country. This spitfire will be one of the girls that will make an impression.
6. Venezuela – Mariam Habach, 6’0”
7. Brazil – Raissa Santana, 5’9”
8. Malaysia – Kiran Jassal, 5’7”
9. Mexico – Kristal Silva, 5’10”
10. France – Iris Mittenaere, 5’8”
11. Indonesia – Kezia Warouw, 6’0”
12. Ukraine – Alena Spodynyuk, 5’10”
13. Canada – Sierra Bearchell, 5’9”
14. Sierra Leone – Hawa Kamara, 5’7”
15. Curacao – Chanelle de Lau, 5’11”

The ladies are expected to arrive between the 12 and 14th of January and the heat is about to peak up once the girls are all in the Philippines to compete.

65th Miss Universe Spotlight and Assessment: Canada

Name: Siera Bearchell
Age: 23 years old
Height: 5’9”
Rating: Race Closer
This young lady is a multifaceted competitor and everyone be better aware of her as a tough competition. She has impressive speaking skills and a meaty resume to boot. She is also a pageant veteran so she knows how to play around the pageant game come pageant season. She may not generate that much buzz now but she will make her presence felt soon.

Miss Universe profile bio:
Siera Bearchell is a law student, entrepreneur, runner, and golfer. After finishing her second year of law school, and running her first marathon, Bearchell earned the right to represent Canada at Miss Universe. Most people enter the world of pageants with potential stardom in mind, but Bearchell began competing for a completely different reason. After her family lost their home to a fire, she was inspired by the help they received from Red Cross. Seeing pageants as potential opportunities to commit herself to charity and community, she set her sights on becoming Miss Teen Saskatchewan and has risen to the heights of Miss Universe Canada. Siera plans to use her law degree for business endeavours and to help the most vulnerable communities throughout the globe. Bearchell is so fortunate to have the opportunity to volunteer for more than seven charities, and if she takes home the Miss Universe crown, she would like to focus on working with young women on their self-worth, self-esteem and confidence.
* Profile from http://www.missuniverse.com

65th Miss Universe Spotlight and Assessment: Philippines

Name: Maxine Medina
Age: 26 years old
Height: 5’8”
Rating: Frontrunner
Despite being a hometown girl, I still see Maxine making it all the way to the top 5. It is with the Q&A that will determine if she makes top 3 (which I hope for). Maxine is the bomb on the runway and that is not something that could be denied. Add to that is the fact that she has a very likeable personality, charming would best describe her. But she needs to get out of her shell and be more confident in interviews. Back to back? Extremely difficult but not impossible.

Miss Universe profile bio:
Originally from Quezon City, Philippines, Maxine Medina is a sporty Runway, TVC and Print Model at the Professional Models Association of the Philippines. Medina enjoys being creatively engaged in her work, which is why she is so successful at being a residential condominiums interior designer. Medina has visited children who had cancer at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center, supported “Operation: Smile” in Sta. Ana Hospital, taught street children organized by Gawad Kalinga, and participated in relief operations to typhoon victims within the Philippines. After her actively working face to face with many children, she would love to continue to work with adolescents who have cancer if crowned Miss Universe.

* Profile from http://www.missuniverse.com

Top 5 Reasons why the Philippines is a Miss Universe Country

Ever wonder why the Philippines is such a Miss Universe country? Why Filipinos all over the world would travel to any host country just to watch the pageant live? Why despite different timezones, Filipinos would wake up at god-forsaken hours just to watch the pageant live via television or even streaming? What make the Miss Universe pageant so addictive to Filipinos that they love the pageant so much?

Well here are just several reasons why Filipinos have deep seeded connections with this pageant.
1. The Glamour – this is undeniably one of the biggest reasons why the Miss Universe is the most followed competition by the majority of pageant fans. Who could ever forget how the MUOrg eleveated the simple candidate profile pictorial to the glamshot that everybody eagerly anticipates? Or how the website is updated with countless candidate pictures in their evening gowns and swimsuits aside from their glamshots? Or how about the lavish traditional (and even non-traditional and modern) national costumes that we see the ladies prep for? Not to mention the gowns and opening dresses that provide all the glamour to the pageant. These are what keeps every pageant fan glued to their laptops and computers awaiting the next salvo of photos and who among the girls had the best photos or the most number of likes/ shares in Facebook.
2. The MU Entertainment Factor – undeniably, the pageant is one of the most awaited entertainment showcases on television. It has all the glitz & glamour of a fashion show, the competitiveness of a TV reality show, the showmanship of an awards show and the musicality of a Broadway show, all combined in one tight package. There is drama and excitement in its live telecast and you can feel the energy jump through your TV screens… and every Filipino pageant fan is a lover of all that flair, the pomp and pageantry. The multitudes of festivals and fiestas dotting the country is proof of that.

3. The Philippines and the US have a shared history together – if you don’t believe Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach’s top 5 Q&A then just go back to the country’s history. The kinship of these two countries forged a tight bond like its other former territories. This is much like the Miss World has a special bond to former British colonies like India, Australia and several other commonwealth kin. The MU has been generous to former territories like the Philippines and Puerto Rico. The Philippines is one of the colonies of the US in the early 20th century. It is said that aside from education and the love of basketball, the US brought the beauty pageant culture in the country. In fact, the Carnival Queen one of the first beauty pageant in the Philippines was a celebration of the two countries’ friendship.
4. The Philippines is one of the ‘Winning-est’ Countries in Miss Universe – the Philippines is currently ranked in the top 5 most wins and this is why the pageant is followed by a lot of Pinoy fans. With 3 crowns, 9 runners up and 8 semifinalists, the Filipinos enjoy how our reps are successful in the pageant. Knowing that our girls have a shot at winning the title allows more pageant fans to be in love with the pageant. It is one of the pageants where the winners are always deserving (yes, there were object-able winners in the past, but they were never undeserving of the title). And this is why Filipinos continue to flock around their TV screens to watch this annual beauty Olympics, and now Pinoys can watch it live in Manila on January 30th.
5. Fan treatment by the MUOrg – in the cases that I have covered the pageant live, I have seen how fans are treated as important by the MUOrg. They would allow fans to take videos, snap pics and even take selfies with the girls. Add to that is the statement by the MU president herself that the best pageant fans in the world are Filipinos. You would really feel that you are a VIP in the pageant when you can have selfies with Paula Shugart, Lu Sierra, Shawn McClain and the rest of the MU officials and personnel… not to mention the fact that the Miss Universe allows pageant fans to be as loud in their cheers for their favorite ladies during the finals night. This is arguably one of the top reasons why the Miss Universe is loved by Filipinos.
Care to add more?

Chalita’s Lavish Thai Siwalai Ensemble

I hope my Thai online friends would not take offense with my lack of understanding of the Thai national dress. With that out in the open, I am marveled at the splendor of the national costume reveal of Miss Universe Thailand Chalita Suansane.

If my memories of my college subject, Asian Costume History, serves me right, Chalita is wearing the Thai Siwalai  dress which is a formal attire worn by royalty. While I am floored by last year’s TukTuk costume, I am more awe-struck with the richness of this year costume for it reveals a thorough love of the Thai customs and traditions. This Thai silk ensemble is embellished and beaded to perfection reminiscing the Balmain haute couture outfits of Her Majesty the Queen Sirikit of Thailand. Those Balmain outfits were hand-finished, embroidered and beaded by the best workers at the House of Lesage (which is now owned by the same owners of Chanel). 
Here are a couple of videos from @team.chalita showing off the costume…