Miss International 2017, First SashPicks

It’s almost international pageant season and let’s start it right with Sash Factor’s first Miss International 2017 SashPicks… 

1. South Africa, Tayla Robinson
2. Nepal, Niti Shah 
3. Mexico, Citlaly Higuera
4. Colombia, Vanessa Pulgarin
5. Indonesia, Kevin Liliana
6. Philippines, Mariel de Leon
7. Vietnam, Thuy Dung
8. Poland, Paulina Mariarz
9. Venezuela, Rosangelica Piscitelli
10. Japan, Tsutsui Natsuki
The first three girls in the list are all facially gorgeous ladies, smart and easily fit into the Miss International mold. South Africa’s Tayla Robinson is arguably everyone’s top-of-mind choice among the bevy of girls this year. Nepal’s Niti Shah is a surprise addition but fans better start paying attention to her, her fresh-faced beauty is one that the Japanese could love. Mexico’s Citlaly Higuera is riding the coattails of her recent appointment, her fans feel that this lady should have been sent to Miss Universe on a stronger performance over eventual Nuestra Belleza winner. Same sentiments can be said over Colombia’s Vanessa Pulgarin who is also said to fit the MU mold better. Completing the top 6 are Indonesia’s Kevin Liliana and Philippines’ Mariel de Leon.

The Miss International 2017 Early Frontrunners

The Tokyo-based Miss International pageant is scheduled to be held on November 14th at the Tokyo Dome. So far the prospects of a strong batch is still in the making. 9 girls out of the confirmed 28 candidates for Miss International 2017 makes the initial list of Sashes&Scripts’ early frontrunners.

Colombia, Vanessa Pulgarin – definitely a top 5 material. Colombia has done exceptionally well in this pageant and it is expected to do so again this year. This Gabriella Isler look-a-like might bring back the Mikimoto crown to Colombia.
France, Vaea Kealoha Ferrand – she’s the 2nd runner up to Miss France Alicia Aylies. This Tahiti-based stunner is absolutely gorgeous and could possibly win France’s 2nd MI title.
Indonesia, Kevin Liliana – after placing well in the top 5 last year, Indonesia’s rep has big shoes to fill. No doubt this pretty lass can do well in the pageant.
Philippines, Maria Angelica de Leon – hers is a tough challenge, that is to place the Philippines in the semis and win despite the Mikimoto course. She is still a top 5 caliber-contender though.
Macau, Sofia Paiva – this pretty lass with Portuguese descent is a surprise in this list. We are hoping that she would give Macau a decent placement at MI.

South Africa, Tayla Robinson – the girl everyone is buzzing about that could be the first South African to win MI. Her blonde, blue-eyed looks is certainly gonna be a hit among Japanese judges.
Sweden, Lina Ljungberg – sex appeal in the metric tons! The brunette looker can be her country’s first win in the pageant. Hopefully she would be polished well enough for the Japan-based competition.
USA, Shanel Kapri James – despite the fact that no woman of color (specifically black and/or African of origin) has yet to win the MI title, Shanel is still a lady to watch out for in the competition. 
Venezuela, Rosangelica Piscitelli – an Edymar doppelganger who is gunning for another win for her native Venezuela. This multi-lingual actress/model was Sashes&Scripts’ pick to win Miss Venezuela last year and MI could be her redemption.

While these girls are being evaluated based solely on physical attributes, Sashes&Scripts is eagerly waiting to see more of them speak. Surely that is where the wheat is separated from the chaff.

Who will complete #TeamPhilippines2017?

With the recent crowning of Miss Philippines Earth Karen Ibasco, the Philippines is just one crowning short to complete #TeamPhilippines for 2017. First to be crowned this year was Binibining Pilipinas International Maria Angelica de Leon and Miss Philippines Universe Rachel Louise Peters during the coronation last April 30th. 

Rumor has it that the following girls are gunning for the Miss World Philippines title: Mutya ng Pilipinas alum Janela Joy Cuaton, Reyna ng Aliwan 2016 Cynthia Thomalla, former Binibining Pilipinas runner up Laura Lehman and Miss Globe 2015 Ann Colis. Some of these names are perhaps decoys for the real possible participants so unless we see them in the competition we gotta believe their joining with a grain of salt.

Should Mariel Choose between an Acting Career or the Miss International Crown?

Disappointed. That is what I felt when I heard that Binibining Pilipinas International Mariel de Leon is starring in a movie opposite Coco Martin for the Metro Manila Film Festival. I thought there goes her shot at the Miss International title… after all, how can someone keep focused on a lofty goal when one is side-tracked by another goal.

However after mulling it over, perhaps she might be able to pull it off like how Charlene Gonzales did back in 1994. The Miss Universe top 6 finalist was able to simultaneously do her duties, train for the pageant and at the same time shoot a movie. So Mariel’s case isn’t the first time this scenario has happened. Just how big is her part in the movie might just define how her preparations would be affected. Hopefully it won’t be a lead part as she would need to do more intensive acting workshops and that could eat up time from her MI preparations.
Mariel in an interview with ABS-CBN said, “Oh no, no, [hindi ko papabayaan ang Miss International]. I have time management. It’s all about time management talaga and scheduling“*. That kind of assurance is what her supporters would need to assuage doubts that she could still pull off at least a decent placement in the Tokyo-based pageant. 

While I still have nagging doubts that she might not do well with her focus split between the two, all I can do is to give her the benefit of the doubt and my support. But in my two cents worth of opinion, something might just have to give way. I am afraid that her task of breaking the Mikimoto curse just became a tad more difficult to overcome. But who knows Mariel might just be able to pull it off. Cautiously optimistic, that is at best what I can describe my thoughts on this matter…at least just for now.

* http://news.abs-cbn.com/life/07/05/17/panday-wont-affect-mariels-miss-international-preparations

Rosangelica & Maria Angelica: a Race for Miss International Supremacy

Rosangelica Piscitelli and Maria Angelica “Mariel” de Leon…two lovely ladies from two of the biggest pageant-crazed countries. Both aiming for a win at Miss International 2017.
Venezuela and the Philippines have the most number of Miss International titles to date. In fact even if you add the wins of Puerto Rico, Colombia, Australia and the USA in MI, the two countries still have more titles to boot.

Rosangelica was 4th runner up to Keysi Sayago last October. After her fellow Miss Venezuela comrades were sent to other international pageants (Diana Croce to Miss World, Antonella Massaro was 2nd runner up in Reina Hispanoamericana 2016), she was appointed as Miss Internacional Venezuela last February. The 5’10” blonde beauty is being compared with MI 2015 Edymar Martinez in terms of her facial beauty. This leggy beauty can speak Spanish and English quite well.
Mariel de Leon in the other hand was named Binibining Pilipinas International last April. It was said among insiders that she was eyeing the Miss International pageant all along. Mariel’s 5’8″ demure beauty is quite right for the MI prototype. But don’t let her docile looks fool you as she is quite headstrong in her opinions. 

Two lovely ladies whose differences are as night and day. Both very photogenic, both smart and articulate and both represent the ideal beauty that could easily win Miss International. 
It is no wonder that Rosangelica and Mariel would be two of the most watched girls in this edition. Will Mariel tie the number of wins at 7 each or Rosangelica leads the win 8-6?  We would have to find out on November 14th…

Venezuela, USA & Philippines: Gearing up for Another Pageant Season

Venezuela, USA and the Philippines: they are three of the world ‘winning-est’ countries when it comes to beauty pageants… and with the approaching international pageant season starting this September, the world is anticipating if will they acquire more crowns this year?

Except for the United States, the three countries has won crowns from four of the biggest international pageants around: Miss Universe, Miss International, Miss Earth and Miss World. Venezuela is of course in the lead with 22 wins. If the Philippines manages to win two crowns this year, then it would take over the number 2 spot among the countries with the most overall wins. The USA has 14 crowns while the Philippines has 13, though USA has more runners up with a total of 59.
While all three countries are yet to select reps for Miss Earth and Miss World, their respective reps for Miss Universe and Miss International are regarded as heavy contenders. Shanel James was just recently crowned Miss US International 2017 while Rosangelica Piscitelli was appointed as Miss Venezuela Internacional several months ago. On the Miss Universe front, nuclear scientist Kara McCullough is easily a shoo in for the semis while Keysi Sayago is still undergoing her transformation for the pageant. Miss Universe Philippines Rachel Peters has started her training. While Binibining Pilipinas International Mariel de Leon is gunning for a back to back win.

These countries seem to be leagues ahead in terms of wins but other countries are thirsty as well.  It will be interesting to see how things will unfold in the months to come. 

Mariel de Leon for Young Star Philippines

Binibining Pilipinas International Mariel de Leon was recently featured in Young Star Philippines (published last June 23rd). We thought we should bring some snippets of that feature on the blog for those that missed it.

Outspoken and Unapologetic
Mariel has been vocal on social media about current events and political issues. Her stated opinions thus far have been extremely firm, which is pleasantly surprising. For instance, in an interview with Boy Abunda, Mariel boldly stated her position against the return of the death penalty, saying that there is too high a risk of wrongful conviction and that the justice system needs to be reformed into something trustworthy and incorruptible. Likewise, when the TRO on contraceptives was recently brought up, Mariel expressed disappointment, saying, “You’re not ‘pro life’ if you deprive women of something that’s good for our health and our future.

The Weird One
She recounts a story from her childhood, where she excitedly shared with her friends that her favorite genre of music was classical. Her announcement was met swiftly with, “What’s wrong with you?” Mariel explains with a laugh, “I have three older brothers: one’s into gypsy jazz, one’s into classical music, and one’s a rocker. So growing up, it’s what shaped me into, like, a… weirdo, I guess.” She also talks about how she’s a bit of a goth, which might surprise most people to know. She enjoys watching horror and gory films, and she has a special place in her heart for Quentin Tarantino’s work, especially Kill Bill.

Tailor-fit for Miss International
Mariel was somewhat peculiar, saying, “I felt that International was the one I wanted, but I couldn’t say it out loud.” No one comes to Binibining Pilipinas and asks to be a runner-up; everyone is in it to get the Universe title. But the clear difference is that between the two, Universe is a high-octane, largely celebrity, quite Hollywood-oriented pageant that requires a certain amount of spunk, sexiness, and fierce attitude. International is slightly more regal, more reserved, and requires its participants, instead of braving the dreaded Q&A, to compose a minute-long speech that touches on international affairs and cultural values. In short, it is a much more introvert-friendly pageant, and is definitely more Mariel’s speed. One could say that it’s almost as if she was made for it.

Text by Gabbie Tatad
Photos by Cenon Norial III
Produced by Maine Manansala & Marga Buenaventura
Styled by Andrea Ang
Makeup by Don de Jesus
Hair by Raymund Defeo for Phyto

Young Star Philippines, published June 23, 2017