2016, A Year of Shocking Non-Placements for Osmel’s Girls

2016 will go down in pageant history that all of Osmel Sousa’s girls did not penetrate the semis of the international pageants they were sent into. If not for the Miss Earth – Water title of Stephanie de Zorzi (under the new national director & former Miss Earth Alyz Henrich after the MVOrg dropped the franchise), Venezuela would have no placement in the four Alpha pageants of 2016. While I may not be privy to how the judges scored the girls in their respective pageants, here are my thoughts on the possible reasons why Osmel’s girls did not make it this year…

1. Jessica Duarte – there is an unwritten/ unspoken rule in Miss International that no reigning country is to make semis the following year, and that has been happening for the past 4 or 5 years. However, observing Jessica’s performance in the MI pre-pageant activities, she looked more of a wall flower than a go-getter that Edymar was in her year. This perhaps was the reason why she was not endeared to the judges. Despite a lovely face and banging body, she could have made better impression had she been more engaging and more magnetic in her personality(?)… This is perhaps why the judges chose other girls over her, since the MI has started to redefine what they want from their winners.

2. Diana Croce – in retrospect, I can see now that she came in ill-prepared for the Miss World challenges at hand. She barely updated the Miss Venezuela Facebook page which could have increased her Multimedia score. Her BWAP project was also too quiet and that could have really boosted her chance at the semis. Her styling was too much of a copycat with that of former MW winner Jacquline Aguilera and MW runner up Adriana Vasini. This has to do with her announcement as Miss Mundo Venezuela at November only to compete in December. It also would have hurt that the MW prefers to have a girl crowned from a separate pageant than just a runner up. So it was a total waste to have Diana Croce compete when she was unprepared and raw. She had the looks and the qualities that could have performed better in MW if she had more than enough time to prepare.

3. Mariam Habach – this is a head-scratcher as Mariam did everything almost right. Mariam did well in the preliminaries which leaves the interview as possible culprit of her non-inclusion. One of the judges has spoken that Mariam didn’t look or sounded confident in the interviews, and that puts into light how heavy the one-on-one interviews is. While rumors of a diva attitude hound her, those are considered rumors until some of her fellow candidates or someone from the MUOrg will say so. But those rumors wouldn’t die down, so I am inclined to believe that when there’s smoke, there might be fire. My personal theory is that Venezuela’s non-placement had something to do with the ‘no concurrent titleholders‘ policy of MU. Whichever is the case, Mariam still deserved a place at the semis for her preliminary performance alone.

With these painful non-placements of Osmel’s girls I believe that the Miss Venezuela Organization would have to re-calibrate their machinery in how they train their ladies… and re-calibrate and fine tune they will have to do. This is just one stumbling block that Venezuela can overcome. This is just one year in many.
Osmel’s record is still unbeatable and he can and will come back again stronger… 


Why is Mariam Habach’s Non-Inclusion Painful

Hers was a sash that we all thought was a formidable one in any beauty pageant. But we were all left in shock seeing her miss the first cut in the recent Miss Universe pageant.

Mariam Habach is easily one of the frontrunners in the 65th Miss Universe pageant and to see her not being called among the semi-finalist was a clear unadulterated shock. For her country, a powerhouse at that, to miss the semis despite a strong showing at the preliminaries only gave the rumors that the preliminary interview accounts for a heavy portion of the scores. In a report by ABSCBN News, pageant judge Francine LeFrak said that “the judges thought Habach lacked confidence during the preliminary interviews”. Such statement only strengthened the belief that the interviews accounted for at least 50% of their preliminary scores.
Mariam may have performed well in the SS and EG rounds but her interview probably costed her a spot.
Her message on social media/ Instagram as below:

An experience that I will never forget, I love the Filipinos thanks for so much support your love was indispensable for my participation! VENEZUELA MY BELOVED LAND, thank you for allowing me to leave your name very high, worked so much to make you feel proud, the results were not what expected, gave the best of my journey, my soul and life during those 20 days !! God will have something better for me, my life will continue, I will not leave, I will continue in this world in what God has for me! I love you all! Thank you for so much support I will carry you in my heart forever … I will continue to work… (translated from Spanish)

What makes this non-inclusion painful was the realization that no powerhouse country is safe from being cut from the semis…including the Philippines. We could be what Venezuela was this year. But hope springs eternal, as there is always next year to bounce back…

My Miss Universe Predictions: A List based on Hunch

Unfortunately, my list is not gonna be a popular one. In fact, after the rehearsals yesterday, my gut feel became stronger that the Miss Universe winner might not be coming from the perceived front-runners in the competition. I also believe that it will be a strong showing from the Southeast Asian girls in the competition. So it is needless to say that this list are purely based on hunch, no science or controlled methodology is involved.

Wildcards: Mexico, Malaysia and Jamaica
Most possible Spoilers: Kenya, Curacao and Australia
Top 13: Germany, USA, South Africa and Nicaragua
Top 9: Singapore, France and Sierra Leone
All of these six girls listed below are going to be worthy of the Miss Universe title and it was such a difficult task to really narrow them to my final 6 names. In fact I can still feel that any of the girls in my list can spoil the chances of everyone…it’s still fair game for everyone! 
6 Most Likely to be Miss Universe
Thailand, Chalita Suansane
–  Chalita is very relate-able which makes her formidable. She came from an impoverished background that can help her to win the crown. I am putting her as my second best choice for the title.
US Virgin Islands, Carolyn Carter – Carolyn has a very classy, high-society beauty that is approachable. This Madeline Stowe doppelganger has class written all over her face. Her string of charity work with Smile Train Philippines cannot be ignored.
–  this girl is a performer and she will not disappoint. I am hoping that Maxine would make it among the final three. As a matter of fact, I will not be surprised if the top three will eventually be all Asian girls.

Indonesia, Kezia Warouw; one of the possible winners of the online voting alongside Philippines and Thailand. Kezia did it right when she had her tan and came in curls just as I previously suggested, it worked on her. There is a sincerity in her that I find appealing.
Venezuela, Mariam Habach; most possible crown contender for MU but my fear is that she might have looked too ‘trained’ at this point… and I find that she might likely be the girl in the top 2. I still believe that she can be the eventual winner.
Aruba, Charlene Leslie; the biggest underdog who may spoil it all for all the front-runners. In fact, I am getting it out on a limb to say that she is my  choice to be the next Miss Universe. Should Charlene win the Miss Universe title, the Philippines would be one of the few host countries who will go down in MU history to crown first-time winners (Spain and 1974 and India in 1994).
I am more and more inclined to think that a possible underdog might win it all come finals. I hope that whoever wins, she could be embraced by a lot of the pageant fans.

Venezuela, Mexico & Brazil: My Latina Queens

These three countries are among the toughest rivals in their part of the world. In fact they are the considered superpowers in the world of pageantry from Latin America.

Kristal Silva has been a personal bias of mine since her participation in Miss Earth in Manila last 2013…amd didn’t I mentioned that she was a top8 finalist that year? The girl has hypnotic eyes and luscious lips. Raissa Santana came to Manila with a bang… from the time she stepped into the country, she has already cemented her place as a favorite for the title. And she hasn’t let that go ever since. Then we have the Hurricane Habach who seems to kill every even she is in. Mariam Habach is a (and I don’t get tired saying this) force to be reckoned with.
Possible spoilers from this group are Nicaragua, Argentina and Colombia. Estefania Bernal of Argentina started to get heads nodding during the swimsuit event in Cebu. Then we have the milk-chocolate perfection of Colombia’s Andrea Tovar, who despite not being on her best physical shape is still a major frontrunner for the title. Marina Jacoby of Nicaragua is also on my list, I still feel that at least a semifinal placement for her is quite possible.
Never underestimate the Latinas as they are guaranteed to always deliver at the crucial moments. I would not have a problem seeing at least 3 of the ladies on my list in the finals.

65th Miss Universe Spotlight and Assessment: Venezuela

Name: Mariam Habach
Age: 20 years old
Height: 6’0”
Rating: Crown Contender
Venezuela never rarely send unprepared ladies to the competition, same can be expected of Mariam Habach. Being a Venezuelan with Middle-Eastern/Italian roots, she can use that to her advantage to talk about plight of immigrants. Not to mention that this lady is a performer on-stage. After a lackluster performance of her predecessor last year, she is about to give Venezuela a major comeback in the pageant. Will she be the next Miss Universe? Anything is possible, she is Miss Venezuela after all.

Miss Universe profile bio:
Perseverance, hard working and determined is how 20 year-old, Mariam Habach, would describe herself. As a student studying dentistry, she is focused on providing children with the care they need for healthy and beautiful smiles. Her passion for helping others led her to work with more than two thousand adolescents in her volunteer work as Miss Venezuela. When Habach takes time out for herself, she enjoys singing and dancing. Habach is grateful to be representing Venezuela in the upcoming competition, and hopes to advocate for HIV awareness if she takes home the crown.

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

Hurricane Habach: Continuously Gaining Momentum

Mariam Habach is a force to reckon with and to call her Hurricane Habach is an understatement. Back in 2015, I had predicted her to come out as the runaway winner of her batch to which she did with her killer stage performance. Now she is still killing the Miss Universe competition with an impeccable performance so far.

She is of Middle-Eastern descent and stands at a towering 6’0”. The lady from the Venezuelan state of Lara has kept on getting sponsor awards in several legs of the competition. Winning Miss Flawless and the Phoenix sponsor awards is just tip of the iceberg for this blonde bombshell. Mariam first tasted us with a glimpse of what to expect from her during the Philippine terno event in Vigan, Ilocos Sur. Personally, she was one of those that truly stood out among the 19 ladies invited. Then she followed that up with a smashing swimsuit presentation in Cebu, where even pageant connoisseur Jonas Gaffud saying that she has the best bod in the group. But Hurricane Habach showed no signs of slowing down as she smashed another round at the recently held Mindanao textile fashion event in Davao.

Keep your eyes glued on this lady as we can expect more from her. Hurricane Habach is going to keep getting intense every minute.

65th Miss Universe 4th SashPicks (The Post-Arrival SashPicks)

After the fittings and registrations, Terno event in Vigan and the fun trip to Boracay, these are the girls in Sash Factor’s 4th SashPicks (The Post-Arrival SashPicks)…

1. Thailand, Chalita Suansane
2. Indonesia, Kezia Warouw
3. Venezuela, Mariam Habach
4. Colombia, Andrea Tovar
5. US Virgin Islands, Carolyn Carter
6. Sierra Leone, Hawa Kamara
7. Philippines, Maxine Medina
8. Jamaica, Isabel Dalley
9. Germany, Johanna Acs
10. Italy, Sophia Sergio
11. Brazil, Raissa Santana
12. Canada, Siera Bearchell
13. USA, Deshauna Barber
14. Turkey, Tansu Sila Cakir
15. Kenya, Mary Esther Were

Mariam Habach: Don’t Count Me Out Just Yet

“Don’t Count Me Out Just Yet”, that seems to be the message of Miss Venezuela, Mariam Habach in the latest photos and videos that came out online.

The daughter of Italian and Middle Eastern (Syrian to be exact) parents, Mariam wowed pageant fans with her drop-dead gorgeous bod in her latest pics. Add to it is the latest video of her in a blue two-piece swimsuit practicing her pasarela. With several girls making their presence felt on social media, Mariam has been a bit of a low key compared to other Asian contenders who have released their wardrobe online. Her strategy to wait it out created anticipation on what will she be bringing into the competition in Manila. Now that has gotten you curious, right?
In the meantime, check  out this video of her practicing her pasarela in a two piece swimsuit…


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.

New Year’s SashPicks for the 65th Miss Universe

Happy New Year everyone! As an opening salvo to the New Year, here we have the 2nd Miss Universe SashPicks!

1. Colombia – Andrea Tovar, 5’11”
2. Ukraine – Alena Spodynyuk, 5’10”
3. Australia – Caris Tiivel, 5’10”
4. Philippines – Maxine Medina, 5’8”
5. Venezuela – Mariam Habach, 6’0”
6. USA – Deshauna Barber, 5’10”
7. Mexico – Kristal Silva, 5’10”
8. Malaysia – Kiran Jassal, 5’7″
9. Netherlands – Zoey Ivory, 5’11”
10. Nicaragua – Marina Jacoby, 5’8”
11. Jamaica – Isabel Dalley, 6’2”
12. Brazil – Raissa Santana, 5’9”
13. Thailand – Chalita Suansane, 5’7”
14. Canada – Sierra Bearchell, 5’9”
15. Sierra Leone – Hawa Kamara, 5’7”