The End of Philippine Supremacy in Miss Universe?

After a long 10-year run of continuous placements in the Miss Universe pageant, should Filipino pageant fans be worried that our luck might be thinning out?

In just 10 years the Philippines has scored 2 Miss Universe titles, 4 runner-up wins and 4 semifinalist placements. As the proverbial saying goes “what goes up, must come down”.  Has the Philippines used up its pageant luck in the last decade? What does this mean for our coming pageant queens and MU reps? That is exactly what we are going to be talking about in today’s blogpost.

Change is constant and nothing is permanent. The Philippines has enjoyed a renaissance in pageantry in the last decade winning one title after the other from different international pageants: Miss Universe, Miss Earth, Miss International, Miss Supranational, Miss World, etc… To think that this will not change anytime soon is naivety. As we know, there is a changing landscape in the Miss Universe pageant that we are seeing reshaping what it means to win the title. Let’s enumerate the changes we are seeing so far in the pageant that could affect how the Philippines’ chances are affected.

  1. Focus on Speaking Ability – with the pronouncement that the Miss Universe is looking for a spokesperson, everyone has to calibrate how they are selecting a national winner. This was quite clear in the latest edition of the pageant. No less than 5 instances where a semifinalist has to speak during the finals. This implies that a candidate has to have a strong command of the English language to be noticed in the competition. Fluency in English is now a strong requirement to be able to win the title.
  2. More Business-like/ Financially-driven MUOrg – this is so far one of the stark changes we’ve seen in the pageant over the last three years. Older franchises are dropped in favor of new pageant orgs that can offer higher franchise fees. This means that newer organizations are more aggressive to prove their merit. Anyone who can bring in more money to the organization is potentially given a positive spotlight. Does it have a bearing on the pageant scoring? Definitely not. But any positive spotlight can be worked to an advantage if the org and the pageant girl know how to play the game.
  3. Opening of Other Pageant Markets in Asia – after the MU pageant held in Bangkok in 2018, the MU found another cash cow country in terms of business opportunity and expansion. Vietnam is also opening in terms of opportunities for hosting. Both countries could offer other business opportunities such as endorsements and sponsorships. Even Indonesia’s annual hiring of the MU winner for an energy drink brings in revenue to the pageant. The Philippines has been able to bring in a Filipino swimsuit and skincare sponsor in the 2019 edition of the pageant. And with Nepal aiming to hold the Miss Universe 2022 edition, the field is getting more and more populated…
  4. Philippines’ Winning Record Creating “Crown Envy” – the Philippines has to be the winning-est country in the last 10 years of the Miss Universe pageant. That too glossy a record has definitely attracted a bevy of haters and envy fans questioning is the MUOrg is favoring the Philippines too much? In the interest of fairness, any pageant organization would start to diminish the chances of winning for that particular country just to preserve the delicate status quo.

With all of these factors in mind, a Filipina’s chances of winning the MU title has increased in terms of difficulty. No less than a tall, facially strong, physically proportioned and fit, advocacy-driven, impeccably dressed, determined and articulate Filipina has to be selected to represent the country in Miss Universe. In short, a Filipina rep has to cover all of these bases to be able to say her placement is warranted and earned – and perhaps for her not to be denied a spot in the semis.

The change in the direction of the wind means that a sailor has to adjust his sails. That is exactly what the Philippines have to do. How long do you think can the Philippines sustain winning in Miss Universe if we don’t recalibrate to the whims and wants of the organization? With how the country has performed in the past decade, the changing of the tides to favor new emerging markets could spell that the Philippines being the apple of the MU eye is over. Thailand, Vietnam, Puerto Rico, Colombia and other pageant crazy countries are emerging to take over. If we are to maintain our supremacy in the competition, then the Philippines have to be one step ahead of the competition.

Miss Universe Franchise Holders: Out with the Old, In with the New

Find a bigger business partner, remove the franchise from old partner, give the franchise to the new business partner, then front a former Miss Universe pageant girl for the new national pageant organization. Or look out for the local financier of the MU pageant, negotiate a 5-year franchise deal, then remove the franchise from the old partner to the new one…

That seems to be the current modus operandi of the Miss Universe pageant in finding new business partners to hold national franchises for the MU pageant.

NOTE: some of the points enumerated here maybe based on rumors alone, reader discretion is advised… 

Do you think money is the major factor in the transfer of these franchises? Do you think this will end here or will there be another casualty in the next few months?
Join in the discussions below…

Why Does the Same Countries Win in International Pageants?

Venezuela, the Philippines, Colombia, South Africa and the US are some of the coutries consistently performing well in pageants this past 10 years. What do they do right in pageants that they seem to win or unfailingly place year in and year out? Why do we see the same countries place and win in international pageants?

The answer to this simple question is quite complex. It is not just one major factor that makes these countries stand out and be among the best but a mixture of several equally essential factors…

  1. TRAINING & PREPARATION – we believe that fortune favors not the bold but the prepared… this is especially true in pageants. Countries that have prepared their girls months in advance are typically the ones that do well in pageants. It doesn’t matter if they are front-runners or not, from sash factor countries or other-wise, but those that have gotten ready for every aspect of the competition are usually the ones who do well. Take into consideration Venezuela and the Philippines, they have a very rigid and strict training program unique to each country that works for them. Physical training as well as competition preparation in terms of wardrobe, styling, presentation, interviews and even social media marketing is all taken into account to prepare their representatives. This is why among the 4 biggest pageants in the world these two sit atop everyone in terms of number of crowns.

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  2. CANDIDATE’S MENTAL FORTITUDE – perhaps the biggest contributor to someone’s success is the determination and drive of the candidates themselves. This is where the proverbial anecdote “you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink” comes into play. A candidate has to be willing to put in the necessary effort to actually win, and that effort has to be consistently delivered each and every single day until the very end of the competition. It is like a faucet that you have to keep turned on at all times. So a candidate’s well of mental strength should not dry up.
  3. SUPPORT SYSTEM – of course a girl’s family and friends count to give moral support, but in this case a pageant support system means to be people behind the scenes who provide assistance in all aspects of the pageant. This includes people comprising the glam team, pageant mentors, the social media team and fan support, the local/national pageant organizers, etc… each of these teams of people provide a type of support that only their collective expertise can give. That is why La Quinta Venezuela (during Osmel’s time) includes an orthodontist, a dietician, and cosmetic surgery experts atop their usual pageant coaches.
  4. ECONOMICS AND POLITICS – this is the side of pageantry that is usually glossed over because it is such a ‘touchy’ topic that nobody wants discussed in the open. A pageant is much like any other business venture. It is about the bottom-line for the international pageant organization as it is about crowning a deserving beautiful winner. Local pageant orgs that can bring in revenue to the international orgs are given better attention. Pageant girls who command a strong presence and media mileage on social media are rarely looked past in the semis. Former Miss Universe Lara Dutta puts it well saying that social media is so influencing that a candidate is already adjudged as winnable or not.

Put all of these factors together in the right proportions unique to each candidate and you will probably end up with a winning formula. And you probably need to tweak and re-work this every year as what may have worked in the past may not necessarily be effective today. That is because a different kind of winner is usually searched for by international pageant organizations.

Let us know on the comments below what other factors do you think is essential in winning pageants…

Pageant Candidates and Social Media at the Time of Covid-19 Pandemic

What can our pageant girls do during these times of quiet and quarantine period? Here are some of our suggestions…

Pageant girls can make use of this time to get their names out on social media when pageant activities are on hold. The great thing about this is that all pageant hopefuls have equal opportunity to ‘seen and heard’ on social media. There are no frontrunners or underdogs during this time every pageant hopeful has equal opportunities to be on every pageant fan’s and pages’ feed. Each pageant girl also has the creative control on the message she wants to send across. This pageant break is an opportunity to reach out to fans with regular social content that is timely, informative and useful.

Girls, this is the time where you should be out there creating content/ posts on your social media that will make fans remember you. Got nothing to say? Easy-peasy! Here is a list of things that you can post on your Instagram and Facebook feed: Continue reading “Pageant Candidates and Social Media at the Time of Covid-19 Pandemic”

Should Pageant Organizations Skip the 2020 Pageant Season?

With the pageant season being delayed due to the NCov-19 global pandemic, one of the possible scenarios is to cancel altogether both national and international competitions. Which leaves the question are pageant organizations willing to do so?

Here are some of our thoughts on this matter…

CANCELLATION OF LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL PAGEANTS

This may be the most drastic option but it may be the safest course of action to take.

We cannot predict when this global pandemic will end and it isn’t worth the risk to continue and have people spread the virus. Pageant organizations must need to evaluate their priorities when countries are safe-guarding its citizens from the Corona virus. Countries may even implement lockdowns and travel bans during these period and it will definitely put a dent on a pageant’s activities and live finals.

Pageants are festive activities that cannot thrive without audiences and with mass gatherings being avoided; pageants would need to rethink should they proceed… Continue reading “Should Pageant Organizations Skip the 2020 Pageant Season?”

Pageantry and Covid-19

With the news of several new cases of Covid-19 found, how will that affect the national pageant season?

The Covid-19 virus scare is a hot topic in the news nowadays. No one can escape it on the news and even on social media. With this global epidemic becoming more widespread, we fear that this may affect the national pageant season and more so the international pageant season come 3rd-4th quarter of 2020.

First to postpone their inaugural pageant is the Miss Charm International pageant that is supposed to happen in Vietnam this month of March. It has made public that due to the continued spreading of the said virus, they are postponing their pageant towards the latter end of the year.

Another pageant that has made changes in their finals night is the Binibining Pilipinas pageant whose April 26th coronation night is moved to May 31st. Insider rumors are saying that the said move was due to the Covid-19 virus, although no confirmation is yet available. One thing is for certain, the events and public appearances of the Binibinis for this week have been postponed for safety reasons.
One of the latest cases of the Covid-19 infection discovered in the Philippines is an employee of Deloitte Philippines in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig. Taguig is currently the headquarters and base of operations for the Miss Universe Philippines pageant. It was earlier reported that the MUPh activities are postponed in light of this new development. It is also likely that even pageant fans are to take up more precaution and avoid the infected locations altogether.

Two of the countries gravely affected by the Corona virus is the United States, which is the headquarters of the Miss Universe org, and the Miss International pageant, which holds the annual Miss International pageant. It is likely that these countries would be very cautious in holding these pageants. It is also likely that the Miss Earth pageant may take necessary precautions in holding the pageant in the Philippines.

The Corona virus outbreak IMHO will pose a serious blow to tourism everywhere and it will severely affect both national an international pageants. What we can hope for is that this epidemic would have treatment options before it gets any worse…

It’s No Longer Only About the Miss Universe Pageant

There are more international pageants these days than we can count. And that comes with a sudden realization that nowadays, it’s no longer just about the Miss Universe pageant anymore.

Pageant fans like myself are in this bubble thinking that the most relevant, most prestigious and most important beauty pageant is still the Miss Universe pageant. However, with the surge of newer international competitions being more aggressive in their promotions and the series of letdowns and inherent flaws of the MUOrg, we wonder if are fans unaware that the pageant is suffering an erosion of its prestige?

The Golden Era of Miss Universe
It can be argued that the Golden era of the Miss Universe pageant happened in the 70’s to 90’s. It was a time when the winner get to go home with a car, jewelry from sponsors, wardrobe and even fur coats, and a hefty cash prize ranging from US$10,000 to 20,000. In total, the cash and prizes awarded to the Miss Universe winner amounts up to US$250,000. Winners back in the 80’s to 90’s get to keep their Miss Universe rhinestone crown by Sarah Coventry, a trophy and a Miss Universe brooch. The last titleholder to have seen with the MU brooch was Alicia Machado back in 1996. Newspapers would even publish the cash prizes that a winner like Chelsi Smith in 1995 would receive, something that is hush hush nowadays.
Chelsi Smith's prizes amounted to around US$250,000
Big name celebrities have also served as either judge or host in the pageant. Names like Gloria Estefan, Julio Iglesias (Sr.), etc… aside from notable dignitaries are usually invited. The pageant is aired by big name television networks and pageant venues are announced a year in advance.
Back then, it means something to be a Miss Universe. Winners are celebrities even in celebrity circles. Imagine having breakfast together with notable artists like Salvador Dali at the St. Regis Hotel and getting an invitation from him to paint you.
It was the age of glamour and everyone knew it. Back then beauty pageants are un-apologetically glamorous. Continue reading “It’s No Longer Only About the Miss Universe Pageant”

Swimsuits in Pageants: Necessary or Not?

The two oldest beauty pageants were created to promote swimwear, the bikini for Miss World and Catalina swimsuits for Miss Universe. But in today’s changing social atmosphere, we ask: Are swimsuits still essential in pageants?

Last 2018, the Miss America decided to remove the swimsuit segment and it has unleashed a whole new discussion in pageantry about it. Earlier in September of 2019, they seem to put themselves into controversy once again with this statement:

“In reaching out to the Miss America Organization, the donor made clear the important reason for the generous gift. As a young woman who wanted to compete in a local Miss America competition in the 1980s, she was discouraged by her parents because they believed ‘Miss America does not look like us, and an educated woman does not parade around in a swimsuit.’”

That part of the statement has earned them the irk of some pageant girls who took offense saying that there is no correlation between being uneducated whilst wearing swimsuits in public. This line of thinking from the Miss America organization could easily be a license for conservative people to ‘slut shame’ anyone who is wearing bikinis. Said controversy prompted the MAOrg to release a statement that says, “We sincerely apologize to our dedicated participants, volunteers and fans. We genuinely hope our misstep does not detract from the intent of this valuable new scholarship or the openness and inclusivity of the Miss America Organization’s vision.

So now we ask are swimsuits still necessary in pageants? Here’s our thoughts:

  1. Fitness and Health never goes out of style – the swimsuit competition for this blogger is a showcase of what a healthy and fit body should look like. Today, about 40 percent of U.S. adults and nearly 20 percent of children are obese, a surge reflected worldwide, with more people now overweight or obese (1.9 billion) than underfed (800 million). In 1985, no state in the U.S. had an obesity rate above 15 percent; now every state is higher than 20.
    Fitness and healthy lifestyles are something that should be promoted and having a wider healthy body types promoted in the swimsuit competition would be a positive message. Granted that there are different body types, each body type should be given opportunity to be presented onstage to show how a healthy body to aspire to. Having curvy, athletic, short, tall, thin and other different kinds of body types represented in pageants is important because there is not just one healthy body type.
  2. Not limiting pageant girls into a boxed idea of what is respectable and socially acceptable outfits – whoever said that you cannot be smart, educated, and worth of respect while wearing a swimsuit has a very narrow understanding and thinking. Women should be given the respect regardless of what she wears, that be either a bikini or a floor length evening gown. If ‘respectability’ is the only reason why you do not approve of swimsuits in pageantry, then you should be expanding your definition of respect.
    While I personally do not endorse teen pageants to compete in two-piece swimsuits (they can compete in athletic wear), “Miss” pageants should have the option to wear one-piece or two piece bikinis for the swimsuit segment.
  3. Humans are drawn to beauty – this is self evident and self explanatory. We are hard-wired towards the attractive and beautiful. Studies have shown that even as babies, we are attracted to beautiful faces and to a larger scale to beautiful people and things. And guess what, when we see a beautiful person, there is actually an increase in our dopamine levels. Dopamine for those who are not in the know is one of the “happiness hormones” of the body, and dopamine can be addictive. That is why when you find something beautiful or desirable you tend to look for more.
    And there isn’t a lack of beauty in pageants, thus them being called beauty pageants. This is why we like to look at pageant girls in their swimsuits and gowns because we appreciate them and the hardwork they put into their physiques.

Going back to the question: Are Swimsuits necessary in pageants? IMHO, they aren’t but they are an integral part of pageant tradition. If pageant organizations are to remove the swimsuits from their respective pageants, then that is their call. But they should be asking whether or not it is a move that their core audience is willing to support or not. With the recent decision that the Miss America will now be removing the evening gown competition in their pageants, will there be enough pageant fans left to support it? Apply that logic to the rest of pageants around the world. If there are no swimsuits or evening gowns in a pageant, is it still worthy to be called a “beauty pageant competition”?

Visit a related post on this topic for more – Top 5 Reasons Why the Miss Universe & Miss USA Should Keep the Swimsuit Competition

When Interviews and Social/ Community Involvement Counts

If you think that the 90’s era of Miss Universe has returned, you gotta think twice. It’s not just enough to nail the interviews, future Miss Universe hopeful has to stand for something and has to be able to tell a story of empowerment and triumph.

Of course beauty and presence still count in pageants. Beauty and universality still weights heavily when selecting the winner from the top 3. While it was evident in the past 2 editions of Miss Universe that the interview bears a huge weight, we also have to factor in that community involvement/ social awareness and advocacy also plays a part. Pageant girls have to add a social dimension to their pageant stories and resumes. Because this allows them to have a jump off point for conversations in the closed-door interviews. It also allows the judges and the MUOrg to see that their possible winner is not self-involved but rather one who has something to contribute to her community.

In my humble observation, the people at the MUOrg are looking for someone who is not just a manufactured doll with a pre-packaged backstory. They want someone with an authentic story and authentic advocacy. It is easily recognizable if it is inauthentic and faked just for the pageant. Even if it is said to have been established years ago, the question of consistency and sincerity are just things that couldn’t be faked. There has to be visible proof not just press releases to make it look ‘real’.
Because if it was manufactured, how it is presented would be robotic/ rehearsed… and judges would pick up on that during the interviews. That is because 80% of communication relies on non-verbal cues. Lying  would be very obvious during the close door preliminaries. This is perhaps why the interviews contribute to 60% of the preliminary scores in Miss Universe. Candidates are not just judged on confidence and speaking ability but also on sincerity. Of course if one is not sincere, how could that person represent the MU organization?

The Miss Universe is truly trying to reinvent itself to be relevant, hence their way of looking for a winner that speaks of relevant topics and advocacies is the way to go. It enables the potential winner something to talk about during her reign. Because after all the glitz and glamour of the finals night, the work as Miss Universe truly begins.

USA, A Terrible Miss Universe Host?

Every time I watched the Miss Universe pageant in the US, there is always something to be disappointed about it.
This is this blogger’s account on how and why does it seem that the Miss Universe fail at an aspect whenever the pageant is held in the US.

It all started in January of 2015 when the 2014 edition of the pageant was held a month after the supposed year that it should be held in. The owner was still Donald Trump, and the venue was at Doral, Miami. The actual venue wasn’t a fancy coliseum or a hotel ballroom. It was a sports hall inside of a university, a place more apt for graduation rites than a pageant finals. But the way the stage was dressed up, you wouldn’t even see the difference.

After experiencing the posh Bali Nusa Dua International Convention Center for the Miss World 2013 pageant, we expected something just as grandeur for Miss Universe 2014. Sadly that wasn’t the case. We were seated on the bleachers while watching the pageant, a far cry to the expectations of an exhibition hall that we had expected. I was glad that we chose the bleachers as those who paid more to be at the front of the stage but were seated towards the back had a shitty view. The seating wasn’t in an elevated space so when the people at the front stood up, you wouldn’t like the view.
Then came the Miss Universe 2015 held in Las Vegas. It was a level up from the pageant held earlier in January as the pageant was inside the Axis Theater of Planet Hollywood. The only downside to this edition was the fact that the candidates were mainly sequestered inside the hotel for pageant activities as it was too cold for most of them to go around tourist spots in Las Vegas.
But when the pageant went back to Las Vegas a couple of years after, it was a bigger disappointment considering the Miss Universe pageant held in the Philippines did so much better in terms of pre-pageant activities. In the 2017 edition, both the National Costume Show and the Preliminaries happened at a ‘dressed up’ mezzanine of the Planet Hollywood hotel. The space wasn’t built to showcase the candidates in the best lighting possible. The lights used in both were inadequate and the makeshift stage just wasn’t good enough that the audiences were instructed not to livestream it on their phones/ social media. Add to this is the fact that the candidates rarely even left the hotel for any pre-pageant activity or sightseeing. This was perhaps a bigger letdown than that of the 2014 and 2015 editions combined. Thankfully, Bangkok Thailand gave a spectacular show and pre-pageant activity the year after.

And this year we have a 10 day Miss Universe pageant. A mere 10 days of what usually is a two or three-week pageant in a studio that has probably a limited seating capability. This is probably the reason why tickets sold out in less than 10 minutes because the venue could only accommodate so much. I wouldn’t be surprised if people will find out later that the seating would be flat unlike elevated seats in coliseums, much like in Doral, Miami. It would even come as a shock if the venue would accommodate 5000 seats as I am estimating a seating capacity of somewhere between 1,700-2,500.
At least for this blogger it seems that if the pageant is being held in the US, it would be better to watch the pageant on your tv screens. You wouldn’t be laden by high expectations and you would enjoy it at your convenience.
Personally, I still think that the best pageant hosting done for the Miss Universe pageant was the one held in Manila for the 2016 edition or even the pageant held in Bangkok in 2018. Everything was perfect in terms of the pre-pageant activities, there were so much of it that the 3 weeks of pageant activity still seemed not enough with the fun to be had. Hopefully, the pageant finds its way back to make it an enjoyable one for its live audience as well as its candidates in the future.

Miss Earth: The Alpha Pageant

After a very satisfying 1-2-punch wins for Puerto Rico’s Nelly Pimentel as Miss Earth 2019 and USA’s Emanii Davis as Miss Earth-Air and a well-earned elemental crowns for Czech Rep and Belarus, we were treated to a battle of wits and beauty in the latest edition of the pageant. With several pageant pages and portals dropping the pageant it its list of the biggest pageants, we here at Sashes&Scripts reiterate that Miss Earth stays among our list of the four biggest pageants in the world.

We have written a version of this piece quite some time ago on our old blog and this demands a revisit and an update. While some pageant fans in other parts of the world don’t have support the pageant or its cause, the MEOrg has still stayed strong through several ups and downs in the pageant’s history.

With all of these conflicting opinions and thoughts why another pageant should take place of Miss Earth in the Alpha 4, here are reasons why Miss Earth is and will be a part of the Big 4…

  1. Advocacy and Platform – Amongst the Big 4 pageants, only Miss Earth is deeply rooted on a strong and very current advocacy. While other Big 4 pageants started from the lines of swimwear promotions, Miss Earth started with the environmental advocacy to which it still stands for today. So it meant that its core has always been deeply rooted on its environmental advocacy. While other pageants promote worthy causes, none of them revolve fully on these advocacy from the beginning of its existence. The Miss Earth message is not overtly diluted by commercialism unlike its other counterparts.
  2. Quantity and Quality of Candidates – Even if most countries send delegates to Miss Earth that are deemed 2nd or 3rd best in their country, the mere fact that they are considered crown and title holders speaks volumes on the quality of the girls. The fact that most of the delegates are not appointed delegates meant that countries are taking this pageant seriously. With growing number of participating countries, this could catapult it to greater heights. Further to this is the fact that each candidate that is joining the pageant already has an environmental platform of their own. This further reinforces the environmental advocacy of the pageant itself.
  3. Consistent Annual Pageant – While relatively young in comparison to its other Big 4 counterparts, Miss Earth nonetheless boasts of its record as a pageant with consistent annual competition. Since in conception, there never was a wavering of its annual celebration of women and of the Mother Earth. That is what creates the prestige in this pageant. Even during the flooding in Bangkok last 2011, the fact that it was able to find a suitable venue amidst a short time of preparation only goes to show how serious this pageant is. When a pageant gets discontinued even if it is only for a year, speaks volumes on its quality and prestige. Its says, “I don’t have enough funds“, “I don’t take my pageant seriously“, “I am not a quality pageant“, etc…
  4. Popularity and Pageant Fan Awareness – If we are to compare the current pageants’ topic popularity on Google Trends, the Miss Earth pageant ranks 3rd behind the Miss Universe and Miss World pageant. After ME the next most popular are the Miss International, Miss Supranational, Miss Globe competitions. And trailing behind are the Miss Intercontinental and Miss Grand International pageants. The numbers (in a 2004 to present comparison) on Google Trends places the Miss Earth pageant as the third most popular pageant in the world.
  5. Credibility amidst Controversies – What is a beauty pageant without its fair share of controversy? The hullabaloo of removing Miss Earth from the Big 4 originally stemmed from a Russian TV report that was supposedly an expose on “crown buying”. Although this created uproar amongst pageant fanatics, it did not dent the credibility of the pageant. It in fact cemented it status by a quick retaliatory message disputing such crown buying claims. The entire scenario was handled with diplomacy, staunch stand and with very much tact. Others have questioned some of its winners, most of them were Filipina winners, but each of the girls crowned has furthered the ME brand in their own individual ways.
  6. Strong set of winners – As previously mentioned, although there might be questionable runners up as pageant fanatics would have, there were no undeserving winner/s thus far… Each Miss Earth winner does not come from the cookie cutter mold of what a pageant winner should be. This creates much diversity and much equality among pageant hopefuls. We have intelligent, facially gorgeous, advocacy active title holders and even winners with masters and doctorate degrees. The mere fact that there is no set mold or pattern of what a Miss Earth winner looks like, only demonstrates that every girl has equal chance of winning.

To Miss Earth’s credit, it has always been unapologetic in its approach to selecting its winners. The mere fact that it does not bend to the whims of outsiders but is listening to the advice and wishes of its core fans, says something about the pageant. It knows which opinions are valid. So it is no surprise that it manages its affairs without validity from approval ratings or stats.
The pageant is far from perfect, no pageant ever is. But throughout the years we see the ME pageant always being true to its core values and advocacy. That it itself is most commendable. And this is why the pageant is among the 4 biggest international pageants in the world…

The Rise of Asia as a Miss Universe Pageant Powerhouse

Back in the 70’s and 80’s, Europeans and blondes dominated the pageant circuit. In the 1990’s and 2000’s, we all saw the rise and then dominance of Latin American girls in pageants. This decade, are we now witnessing the rise of Asia as a pageant powerhouse?
The Miss Universe pageant has been reinventing itself ever since it was sold by its previous winner, Donald Trump. In their move to make pageants more modern and relevant, they have revamped how they select their winners. Whether it be the additional Q&A, free speech, or the continental groupings of selecting the semifinalists, or the all-female judging panel, the MUOrg has been responding to social movements to stay relevant. Those changes started in 2015, when 4 Asian women made it into the semis of the pageant held in Las Vegas. Since then we saw how Asian countries started to make its presence felt in the competition…

But is this reason enough to proclaim that Asian countries is on the rise? Here are some observations that we think contributes to it…
1. Asia is being an Economic Superpower -it’s not just about having the biggest economies of China and India but also the rising economies of most Asian countries as well. The continent is set to have greater economic growth in the coming years compared to its Latin American counterparts.  Argentina has been facing currency crisis, there is hyperinflation in Venezuela, political issues mar Brazil… Asia on the other hand has been showing record high tourism boom as well as a rise in manufacturing. Singapore (thanks to the movie Crazy Rich Asians) is seeing growth in the tourism sector same as Thailand, Japan and other parts of the ASEAN region. The Philippine economy has been marked by its resilience despite major economic downturns of the past. China is now becoming the world-wide leader of artificial intelligence surpassing the US. Korean best import seems to be the K-Pop phenomenon still having a foothold in different parts of the world. But what does that mean in pageantry?
People and businesses gravitate towards what is considered new and fresh, to where the money is. With that being said, whoever is the economic superpower, they usually dictate what are the standards of beauty is. With the economic shift towards Asia, pageants like the Miss Universe competition will shift their focus to be more inclusive of different aspects of beauty including those of Asia. With this inclusive definition of beauty, it now opens opportunities for Asian countries to make its presence in the semis of the MU pageant and ultimately translate sooner or later to winning crowns. This is best illustrated by the Philippines who has consistently made semis in the MU pageant since 2010. It took 5 years of unbroken placements before it won its first crown in more than 40 years. Since 2010, there had been more and more Asian women making it into the semis of the Miss Unvierse pageant. Something that has been unheard of since the 90’s when there was usually one token Asian in the semifinalists’ circle.

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Last year, the Southeast Asian countries dominated the top 10 of the Miss Universe pageant with the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand. This year's reps from these countries are also gearing up for a successful repeat of their predecessors' achievements. But what are their chances against other countries within the continental grouping? IMHO, these ladies won't be getting much competition from within SE-Asia but from other parts of Asia and Africa. Nepal did splendid last year making top 10. If India sends Menakshi or Vartika, then they have a fighting chance of making it to top 5. Indonesia could only manage to make first cut but not further. Malaysia's Shweta Sekhon has to bring out that personality to stand out. South Africa, Kenya, Angola and other African countries have been stepping up their MU game. And I am starting to see that the MU will have 1-2 African ladies in their roster of semifinalists year in and year out. In summary, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam looks to be locked in for a spot in the continental grouping of MU. But that doesn't mean that things may not change. Just because they are so far the strongest in SE-Asia and even possibly the whole of Asia, doesn't mean that they should take it lightly. They should be securing that lead. Artwork by Godzini . . . . . #SashesandScripts #PageantBlogger #UltimatePageantBlog #PageantBlog #PageantBlogger #pageant #pageantry #MissUniverse #ConfidentlyBeautiful #MissUniverso #MissUniverseThailand #MUT2019 #Fahsai #PaweensudaDrouin #MissUniversePhilippines #GaziniGanados #MUP219 #GAZINI #MissUniverseVietnam #HoangThuy #PuteriIndonesia #MissUniverseMalaysia

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2. Asians are becoming more “Visible” to a Worldwide Audience – owing to the success of TV shows like “Fresh Off the Boat” and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” who featured Chinese and Filipino families in its episodes, more and more people are seeing representations of Asians in mainstream media. It also helps to see Indians making it big in Hollywood with the likes of Kal Penn, Dev Patel, Mindy Kaling, Priyanka Chopra, Freida Pinto, Naomi Scott, etc… Let’s not forget the mega blockbuster “Crazy Rich Asians” that has put Asia as rich and powerful, far from the usual impoverished image the most of the Western world look us on…
This only illustrates how Asians are becoming more visible. And that comes with recognition on the Asian definition of beauty. This holds special power because Asian countries can start reinforcing what is beautiful by our own definition of beauty. That creates diversity in the selection of the semifinalists in MU simply because Asia as a continent has a wide range of races and ethnicities. Hence we have been seeing more and more Asian countries hitting the marks into the semis specially in the 2010’s. India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, China, Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines has made it into the Miss Unvierse semis with their diverse set of ladies sent into the competition. The Philippines even making the most recent longest placement streak in the pageant with 9 consecutive placements and 2 MU wins. It will be just a matter of time before Thailand and other Asian countries will follow suit and win the Miss Universe title.
So it is safe to say that this decade will be the start of the rise of Asia in Miss Universe and eventually in other Alpha pageants.

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.
Footnote:
* We included dethroned Miss Universe winner Oxana Fedorova of Russia.

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.

Thoughts on the Crown Swap Issue

With the latest sordid gossip going around social media, we can’t but help but be fearful of how this type of talk can be detrimental to Philippine pageantry.

WARNING: this is not going to be a ‘light read’ so we urge everyone to have an open mind on what we have to say. Second, this is our interpretation of how this issue could be taken negatively not just only by Filipino pageant fans but by the international pageant fans on a larger scale.
There is a rumor circulating that it was Bea Patricia Magtanong that came up as the top choice for the recently held pageant and it was what started this hullabaloo. Those in the Patch camp would want an explanation why she was relegated the Miss International title and of course wanted her to be instated as MUP. Said rumor also throws shade on the judging panel’s process of deliberation.
Our knowledge of this issue came about the same time as everyone else. It was a story that was shared by people on social media that grew legs until it was picked up by some online news portals. Reading through how fans have reacted to this news these are the things we can surmise.
1. Philippine Pageantry Fandom Divide – this issue continues to split fans into two distinct groups: one that is pro-Gazini and the other pro-Patch. Those that are pro-patch would want her to end up with the Miss Universe Philippines title. On the other spectrum, pro-Gazini fans are arguing that it was Gazini who obviously performed well that night and that in itself was incontestable. Put those two in the social media forum and fights/ arguments are bound to happen. IMHO, that divide is ultimately going to be the rift that will break the pageantry fandom no matter how strong it is. It may be a simple crack now but it is a weakness that could haunt us later. This is the weak link in the Philippine pageantry fandom that other countries can exploit to their advantage. Any name-calling used by Filipino pageant fans can easily be used against both beauty queens come international pageant season.
2. Patch Magtanong & the International Disconnect – timing was totally not on her side on this pageant rumor/issue. First, this issue puts her in a negative light as it makes her look like SHE DOES NOT WANT THE TITLE GIVEN TO HER. This is aggravated by the fact that some of her rabid fans keep on pushing this issue on social media. Add on top of that is when her fans started bullying others even before the finals night whenever they see pageant forums, bloggers, FB groups, etc… not putting her on the top of their MUP picks. If former winner Mariel de Leon is to be believed in that a beauty queen is a reflection of her fans, then this is a bad image to be painted in. Second, based on observations on social media and insider rumors that it was another candidate that was the international pageant favorite, this issue is even more a reflection of the uphill battle ahead. If Patch wasn’t even the type of the international org, then imagine how difficult it would be to sell her if the misconception surrounding her is that she doesn’t like the title given to her. Then thirdly, add to it is the timing of her green card appointment during the time the issue went viral with her being a green card holder an issue for not getting the top title. It made it look like she wasn’t in the country to fulfill her duties as part of the new set of queens because she didn’t want her title. The timing was very terrible and the issue is to her detriment.

3. Deliberation Process in Question – the deliberation process is in place to make sure age requirements and international pageant winnability  are met. This practice is in place for years now and only those who are new to the national pageant are unaware of this process. The rumor that one of the judges disagreed to the decision is not something new and it is something that should happen during the deliberation. This is the process when discussions and arguments on who and where to place the ladies SHOULD TAKE PLACE to make sure that we are sending the best girl with the best chances of winning an international crown. Let’s face it, there are people who are more knowledgeable on the international pageants and their tastes for winners – those are from the committee and the tv executives. Majority of the judges probably do not even have a clue on the age requirements of each international pageant so for them to know what type of lady does a specific international pageant is looking for might be a stretch. Let’s face it, the judges who this blind item were demeaning at are perhaps the reason that we have been winning and placing in international pageants.
4. The Rumor Itself is Suspect – if indeed the deliberation process is an issue, then why did it not become an issue when insider rumors confirmed that last year  Catriona Gray and Vickie Rushton were the top 2 scorers? How come nobody contested that Ahtisa Manalo was crowned for Miss International if it was Vickie who placed in the top two? In 2013, it was alleged that Bea Rose Santiago was the top scorer that night and was also placed in the Tokyo-based pageant. Why was there no clamor as huge as this for Kylie Verzosa to be instated as MUP when she clearly was the best overall performer in 2016? Hence the rumor is suspect. It does nothing except harm and spread malice rather than to right a perceived wrong.
There was nothing positive to come out of this issue. The intent of the rumor is to make the new MUP look like she didn’t deserve her title. The problem with that is it was clear to majority of fans who performed spectacularly during the finals and they could decide for themselves who truly was deserving. If the intent was to create a trial by publicity then this was just a futile attempt and a huge failure.
In our opinion, the national organization owes no explanation to anyone. Not even just to invalidate this rumor. They shouldn’t even be paying any iota of time on it. It does not put anybody in a positive light and it does only harm to the org, the ladies and the image of the country’s pageant fandom…