12.31.2015

Philippines wins Miss Tourism Queen of the Year 2015 in Malaysia




     Leren Mae Bautista of the Philippines won the title of Miss Tourism Queen of the Year 2015 on Thursday night, December 31, at the Putrajaya Marriott Hotel and Spa Grand Ballroom in  MalaysiaRepresentatives of India, Iceland, Lithuania, and Uganda also won different titles.
Here is the list of winners:
  • 5th place - Dream Girl of the Year International – Miss India
  • 4th place - Miss Tourism Cosmopolitan International – Miss Iceland
  • 3rd place - Miss Tourism Global International – Miss Lithuania
  • 2nd place - Miss Tourism Metropolitan International – Miss Uganda
  • 1st place - Miss Tourism Queen of the Year International – Miss Philippines

LEREN MAE BAUTISTA
 
      Miss Tourism Queen of the Year International is an international event that honors women who uphold beauty, poise, and good moral character. The pageant was formerly called Miss Queen of the Year International. The first Miss Tourism Queen of the Year International was crowned in 1993. 

     Bautista's victory marks her country's six international crown for 2015, making the Philippines the most successful pageant performer of the year. The other Filipina winners include Pia Alonso Wurtzbach (Miss Universe 2015), Angelia Ong (Miss Earth 2015), Ann Lorraine Colis (Miss Globe 2015), Trixie Maristela (Miss International Queen 2015), and Cindy Madduma (Miss Scuba International 2015).


Source: Rappler.com


12.27.2015

Miss Universe Winner Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach Sends Message To Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez After Crowning Mistake


Miss Universe winner Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach penned a message praising Miss Colombia after Steve Harvey mistakenly awarded her the crown during last Sunday’s telecast.

“To Ariadna, you are an amazing woman and we are now bonded together forever by a unique experience,” she wrote to Ariadna Gutierrez on Miss Universe’s official Instagram page. “In the last 3 weeks we were together, I saw how strong and beautiful you are inside and out. You represented your country with honor and I know how proud everyone must be of you. Fate has a plan for you, and I’m excited to see what’s ahead.”

She added, “And to all the fans who are still fighting about this…Please let’s all stop now. The Miss Universe Organization is about uniting empowered women from all over the world. Arguing and sending hateful messages to each other defeats the whole purpose. You believe in the message of Miss Universe and so do I.”

Harvey named Gutierrez as Miss Universe, but after she was given the sash and crown he admitted that he goofed and Miss Philippines was actually the winner.
Gutierrez previously shared her own message about the mix-up on Instagram, calling what happened “destiny.”

“After the storm comes the calm,” she wrote, adding, “Your destiny is written for you. And my destiny was this.  I  was able to bring happiness to my country after becoming Miss Universe for only a couple of minutes… Today because of that COLOMBIA and the LATIN COMMUNITY are being talked about in every corner of the world.”
 

missuniverse Wow. Words can't describe how grateful I am for this. It was quite a journey getting here with 3 attempts at winning Miss Philippines. Now, I finally got the best Christmas gift ever – and not just for me, for my country. I'd like to say thank you to everyone who believed in my potential and those who supported me from the beginning. To everyone who voted for me, especially to my fellow countrymen, thank you. Maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat. To Ariadna, you are an amazing woman and we are now bonded together forever by a unique experience. In the last 3 weeks we were together, I saw how strong and beautiful you are inside and out. You represented your country with honor and I know how proud everyone must be of you. Fate has a plan for you, and I’m excited to see what’s ahead. And to all the fans who are still fighting about this…Please let's all stop now. The Miss Universe Organization is about uniting empowered women from all over the world. Arguing and sending hateful messages to each other defeats the whole purpose. You believe in the message of Miss Universe and so do I. Again, thank you for the love. I'm excited to begin my duties as Miss Universe and I wish everyone, all the contestants and all the supporters a great holiday with their loved ones. Happy Holidays and let's look forward to a great start to the new year! #🎄 #MissUniverse - Pia


Harvey named Gutierrez as Miss Universe, but after she was given the sash and crown he admitted that he goofed and Miss Philippines was actually the winner.
Gutierrez previously shared her own message about the mix-up on Instagram, calling what happened “destiny.”
“After the storm comes the calm,” she wrote, adding, “Your destiny is written for you. And my destiny was this.  I  was able to bring happiness to my country after becoming Miss Universe for only a couple of minutes… Today because of that COLOMBIA and the LATIN COMMUNITY are being talked about in every corner of the world.” 


gutierrezary After the storm comes the calm. I want to thank each and everyone of you who have sent messages of support and strength. Every one of you has become an incredible human being in my book and I am the most fortunate and thankful for having the support not only from one country but from the whole entire world. Your destiny is written for you. And my destiny was this. I was able to bring happiness to my country after becoming Miss Universe for only a couple of minutes... Today because of that COLOMBIA and the LATIN COMMUNITY are being talked about in every corner of the world. I also want to congratulate the Philippines for their new Miss Universe 🙏🏼. The happiness that you must be feeling must be incredible. Life continues and in the future we will find out why things happen the way they happen. Thank you all for your LOVE SUPPORT and KINDNESS. ❤️


SOURCE: Entertainment Weekly, 12/26/2015

12.23.2015

Philippines wins Miss Universe 2015 - but in the most awkward way! / Review of the Telecast



Las Vegas, Nevada – December 20, 2015 – In front of a global audience, Miss Universe Philippines, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach was crowned Miss Universe 2015 at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. The telecast aired live on FOX for the first time ever.
     Miss Universe Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach is a Filipino-German actress and model. Pia was born in Stuttgart, Germany and grew up in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines. Pia finished her secondary education with the ABS-CBN Distance Learning Center and studied culinary arts at the Center for Asian Culinary Studies in Metro Manila, Philippines. Pia is currently a stylist and writer for the lifestyle section of a leading newspaper in her country.
     Emmy Award winner Steve Harvey hosted the three-hour event with live reporting from Roselyn Sanchez. Grammy Award-winning, multi-Platinum singer and songwriter SEAL, Grammy Award-winning sibling trio The Band Perry, and Golden Globe and Grammy Award-nominated Charlie Puth took the MISS UNIVERSE® stage as performances throughout the night.
     Emmy Award nominee Niecy Nash, Miss Universe 2012 Olivia Culpo, football legend Emmitt Smith, and celebrity entertainment mogul Perez Hilton made up the judging panel. Additionally, for the first time ever, fans worldwide had a say in who was crowned MISS UNIVERSE®. With a virtual seat at the judging table, fans were able to vote on each category to help decide who walked away Miss Universe 2015.
     Throughout the MISS UNIVERSE® telecast, contestants representing 80 countries competed in three categories: swimsuit, evening gown and interview. The telecast concluded with Miss Universe 2014 Paulina Vega from Colombia crowning her successor.

Final Results:
First Runner-Up: Miss Universe Colombia, Ariadna Gutierrez.
Second Runner-Up: Miss USA, Olivia Jordan.
Top Three: Miss USA, Olivia Jordan; Miss Universe Colombia, Ariadna Gutierrez; Miss Universe Philippines, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach.
Top Five: Miss Universe France, Flora Coquerel; Miss Universe Colombia, Ariadna Gutierrez; Miss Universe Philippines, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach; Miss Universe Australia, Monika Radulovic; and Miss USA, Olivia Jordan.
Top Ten: Miss USA, Olivia Jordan; Miss Universe Colombia, Ariadna Gutierrez; Miss Universe Japan, Ariana Miyamoto; Miss Universe Thailand, Aniporn Chalermburanawong; Miss Universe Australia, Monika Radulovic; Miss Universe Dominican Republic, Clarissa Molina; Miss Universe France, Flora Coquerel; Miss Universe Curaçao, Kanisha Sluis; Miss Universe Philippines, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach; and Miss Universe Venezuela, Mariana Jimenez.
Top Fifteen: Miss USA, Olivia Jordan; Miss Universe Brazil, Marthina Brandt; Miss Universe Australia, Monika Radulovic; Miss Universe Indonesia, Anindya Kusuma Putri; Miss Universe Dominican Republic, Clarissa Molina; Miss Universe Philippines, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach; Miss Universe France, Flora Coquerel; Miss Universe Curaçao, Kanisha Sluis; Miss Universe Belgium, Annelies Törös; Miss Universe Japan, Ariana Miyamoto; Miss Universe Venezuela, Mariana Jimenez; Miss Universe Colombia, Ariadna Gutierrez; Miss Universe Mexico, Wendy Esparza; Miss Universe South Africa, Refilwe Mthimunye; and Miss Universe Thailand, Aniporn Chalermburanawong.

     As previously announced, WME | IMG wholly acquired The Miss Universe Organization in September 2015. Prior to the acquisition, IMG had produced a number of shows for The Miss Universe Organization and did so with this year’s MISS UNIVERSE® telecast.

SOURCE: Miss Universe Organization


Okay... that was nice. But the press release totally ignored the unexpected ending witnessed by billions of viewers around the world... 

 Miss France and Miss Australia were eliminated after the Top 5 question round, USA, Colombia, and Philippines celebrate their Top 3 placements:



Immediately after the Top 3 Final Question round, the official results were announced: Miss USA was declared 2nd runner-up, which left Miss Colombia and Miss Philippines as the last two women standing:


Finally, host Steve Harvey declares Miss Colombia as Miss Universe 2015 and Miss Philippines as 1st runner-up. Miss Philippines joins Miss USA to the rear of the stage:

Picture: APSource:AP

Miss Colombia doing her victory wave, unknown of the controversy that was about to happen:

Picture: Getty

Miss Colombia was already blowing kisses when host Steve Harvey awkwardly interrupted to say, "I have to apologize. The first runner-up is Colombia. Miss Universe 2015 is Philippines."


A shocked Miss Philippines (with Miss USA behind) could not believe 
what she just heard:



 Host Steve Harvey shows the card revealing the official results, putting USA as 2nd runner-up, Colombia as 1st runner-up, and Philippines as Miss Universe:

Picture: APSource:AP

A close-up of the card :

Picture: SuppliedSource:Twitter


“It was my fault,” Harvey stammered as a confused audience held its breath.
“Please don’t hold it against the ladies,”  he added.

Outgoing queen Paulina Vega was instructed to take away the crown 
from her compatriot (who looks bewildered)... 
Picture: APSource:AP
... and places it on Miss Philippines' head. A distressed Miss Colombia on the verge of tears:

(Picture: GettySource: AFP)


WATCH THE VIDEO OF MISS PHILIPPINES' AWKWARD CROWNING MOMENT
 

Several contestants rushed to congratulate Miss Philippines, while most rushed to console Miss Colombia:

Picture: GettySource:AFP


Miss Colombia was visibly upset while being consoled by some of the contestants :

Picture: APSource:AP



Less than hour after the telecast ended, the Miss Universe Organization posted the following apology on its website:




So here's what I really think of the telecast...

     First off, I was pissed that FOX did not start the live telecast at 7 PM (EST) as it was supposed to be. There was a football game still going on, and the football ignoramus that I am, I wasn't sure when it would end. Meanwhile, the live streaming started on time and I was viewing it on my laptop in my living room, but the reception was grainy and it kept freezing! Members of the Critical Beauty Facebook Fan Page were already posting real time updates, while here I was pulling my hair and gnashing my teeth because of the interrupted telecast due to some stupid football game and the inferior quality of the live stream which eventually froze permanently on me! Ha! What have I done to deserve this fiasco?

     Anyway, I had missed the opening where all 80 candidates introduced themselves in their national costumes. No big deal, as I can watch it later once the show becomes available on YouTube. I caught the part just when host Steve Harvey was getting ready to announce the top 15 semifinalists. 


     A few days earlier, I had posted my top 15 on my Facebook page which included (in random order) USA, Colombia, Australia, Vietnam, Argentina, Brazil, Philippines, Dominican Republic, Thailand, Italy, Peru, Russia, Myanmar, Venezuela, Paraguay. I got 8 out of 15 correctly (my worst prediction so far since 2002! lol).  


Bad stuff: 

- The ungodly pace of the Spanish-speaking interpreter for Miss Colombia who seemed irritated every time the interpreter cut her off.

- The Band Perry and Charlie Puth: nondescript entertainers. 

- The elimination of the Miss Congeniality and Miss Photogenic awards. Why? Could it be that none of the girls was worthy of either title?  And since an optional talent segment had been added, it would have been nice to present a Miss Talent award to the best performer. Otherwise, the talent segment was nothing more than a filler.

- Steve Harvey's major, major gaffe of announcing the wrong winner, which robbed Miss Philippines of a real crowning moment. I read later that he missed the end of the rehearsals and "did not practice announcing the winner." 

- The Global Fan Vote because it prevented many fans watching a delayed telecast from voting on real time, not to mention that the voting site crashed once or twice.

- The 3-hour format was just tedious and sometimes dragging. If Miss Universe wants to change for the better, it needs to stop imitating Miss World's über-long telecasts. 

- A shortage of judges. Why only four celebrity judges? And they were all Americans. It's supposed to be an international competition. Budget issues? I don't even what to know. Ugh!

- The inclusion of Miss Mexico Wendy Esparza in the top 15. What was she doing there? The girl gave an average performance during the prelims and she had gained weight. I would have chosen another favorite of mine, Miss Paraguay Myriam Arevalos who blew me away!


Good stuff: 

- The introduction of a second question which gave the finalists another opportunity to be heard. The question was "Why do you want to be Miss Universe?"

- The variety of swimsuits: I usually prefer to see the girls wearing identical swimsuits, but since the new owners (IMG) took over, they wanted to promote the idea that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Good enough!

- The four celebrity judges: Look how cool they all are!


From Olivia Culpo's Twitter
From Niecy Nash's Twitter

- Judge Perez Hilton for his bluntness. Okay, I have to be honest. I never did like Perez Hilton since he judged Miss USA 2009 which sparked the same-sex marriage controversy, which led to Perez's incessant bashing of Miss California USA Carrie Prejean which eventually led to her downfall. If you don't know what I am talking about, you can read all about it here.  When backstage commentator Roselyn Sanchez asked Perez the difference between Miss USA and Miss Universe, the eccentric blogger celebrity responded, "First, a lot more people are watching Miss Universe, and second, Donald Trump no longer owns the pageant." Applause from the audience! Perez had to say something to gain attention, and he succeeded, though I am sure he had done Trump a huge favor by giving the businessman millionaire more free publicity which helps him maintain his lead in the polls! Bite that, Perez! lol 

- Steve Harvey, despite his blunder, proved to be a very entertaining, dynamic and charismatic host. There was not a moment when he did not engage the audience. And did I say that he is also a sharp dresser?

- The inclusion of Miss Curaçao Kanisha Sluis in the top 15! Even though I did not have Kanisha in my personal top 15 list, I am delighted that she won the first Miss Universe CB Facebook contest based on the most number of likes! 



- British entertainer Seal serenading the top 3 finalists during the last look segment. If I am not mistaken, Seal is the biggest entertainer ever invited to perform in the history of the pageant. Lady Gaga performed during the swimsuit competition in 2008, but she was not yet a "megastar" back then. Let's hope that IMG will invite more A-list musical celebrities in the future. Meanwhile, I love, love, LOVE the giant screen in the background projecting the glam head shot of each finalist: the pics could have come out from Vogue or Vanity Fair magazine. Watch the video:



- A new ownership also means bringing in new elements such as the top five questions which were relevant to the current situation or history of the finalist's country. Gone are questions picked out of a bowl, and questions asked directly by the judges. Even though the top three finalists were given the same question ("Why should you be Miss Universe?"), they were each given one minute to answer, which is a substantial amount of time to elaborate their response, and in the case of Miss Colombia - enough time for her answer to be translated to English. I also love the idea of Miss Universe pageant trivia being zipped through the bottom of the screen:


- The fans! Without them, there wouldn't be a show and the auditorium would be quiet as a library:





Great stuff:

- A sweet tribute to Miss Slovenia Ana Halozan who appeared on stage following a seizure that left the right side of her face paralyzed. A week before the finals, fans were wondering why her profile was removed from the MUO website. Did she withdraw? Did she get involved in a fight with another girl? What? Then when news came out that she had a seizure,  the doctor recommended that she quit the competition to get a much needed rest. But instead of returning home, she decided to stay to support the other girls.



- Versatile camera angles that captured many interesting scenarios, be it an aerial shot that made the venue look three times bigger, or an arc shot where the camera rotated around the stage in circular motion, thus giving the impression that it was a fashion/awards show instead of a traditional beauty pageant.

- For me, the best gowns of the evening belonged to Miss USA Olivia Jordan and Miss Thailand Aniporn Chalermburanawong.  Both women wore dresses that could pass up as bridal gowns accentuated with a cape. Olivia looked radiantly serene when she sashayed on the stage, and Aniporn had fierce written all over her in a striking low-cut silvery white gown enhanced with fabulous hand jewelry. 




- The crowning fiasco generated perhaps the most publicity for the Miss Universe pageant, as evidenced by the explosion of comments on social media and on television. It also made Steve Harvey, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach and Ariadna Gutiérrez-Arévalo instant household names. People who have never heard of Miss Universe are now following its various official social media accounts. Just a day after the fiasco, its Facebook page received over 400,000 likes! As I write this review four days after Pia's coronation, social media is still buzzing with stuff related to the crowning fiasco. The popular quote, "There is no such thing as bad publicity", seems to hold true for Miss Universe! 


By Rafa Delfin, 12/24/2015

(***As I mentioned above, I still have to see the complete show as soon as it is available on YouTube or Google Plus. So as soon as I have finished watching the full show, I will post additional comments, so come back soon!




12.19.2015

Iraq Crowns First Beauty Queen Since 1972




Baghdad (AFP) - "Some people out there think we don't love life," said Humam al-Obeidi, one of the organisers, as the crowd spilled out of the Baghdad hotel ballroom where the pageant was held.

The jury chose Shaymaa Abdelrahman, a tall, green-eyed 20-year-old from Iraq's multi-ethnic city of Kirkuk.
The decision was popular with those in attendance, especially in the back rows, where young men with hipster beards and tight blazers had been standing on their chairs shouting her name.
"I'm very happy to see Iraq going forward," the new beauty queen told AFP as she tried to fend off a scrum of admirers hoping to clinch a selfie. "This event was huge and put a smile on the faces of the Iraqis."
Wearing her sash and holding her bouquet, Shaymaa Abdelrahman was fast learning her new trade, saying all the right things without ever breaking her smile.
There was more talking than glamorous strutting during the pageant as the contestants, in high heels and evening dresses that were sleeveless but below the knee, pitched their charity projects to the jury.
The pageant was designed to meet enough international criteria to propel its winner to the next Miss Universe contest, but some details, such as the Kalashnikov-toting guard at the door, set the event firmly in Iraq.
The winner said she would use her fame to forward educational initiatives, especially among the massive population of people who have been displaced by conflict.
One contestant said she would try to fix the Mosul dam, Iraq's largest and reportedly in need of urgent repair work, "because it threatened the entire country."
- 'Still alive' -
In the week running up to the event, the eight finalists embarked on a string of pre-pageant activities, including the visit of a camp for displaced people in Baghdad.
Speaking to AFP during a tree-planting ceremony near the ruins of the ancient city of Babylon on Thursday, Suzan Amer, a 22-year-old from the Kurdish town of Sulaimaniyah argued that a beauty pageant was more than a mere distraction in Iraq.
"It's my first time doing anything like this but it's an experience I wanted to be part of. I think Iraq needs events like these," said the young woman with ash blonde hair, bright fuscia lipstick and a rosebud tucked above her ear.

Iraq is wracked by an ongoing war against the Islamic State, the world's most brutal jihadist organisation, and plagued by deep sectarian tensions and corruption.
But the pageant, which culminated with the jury announcing the winner as Beethoven's Ode to Joy filled the ballroom, left participants, organisers and guests feeling that beating the gloom was part of the war effort.
"I think it is wonderful; it makes you feel things can come back to normal," said veteran human rights activist Hana Edwar.
The last time the Miss Iraq competition was held was in 1972, when the oil-rich country was on an upward track.
Old footage of the contest available on the Internet shows Wijdan Burhan al-Din Suleimank, at a venue in Puerto Rico, introducing herself at the microphone, between India and Ireland in the speaking order.
"We look forward to having a good ambassador for Iraq," said Senan Kamel, the 2015 pageant's artistic director, who also organised Iraq's first fashion show in years last March.
"What we're hoping to accomplish is to make Iraq's voice heard, show that it is still alive, that its heart is still beating," he said.
The fashion designer was carried out to the car park after nearly fainting from exhaustion and stress before the show but he was back on his feet and all smiles in time to vote with the jury and present the winner with her crown.
Source: AFP, 12/19/2015

First ever televised Miss Iraq pageant to take place tonight!

Iraqi Beauties from the Gardens of Babylon. 

By Sayed Kemal



     Amid the chaos of internal violence and recently ISIS, Iraq will hold its the first ever televised national pageant tomorrow at the Sheraton Grand Ishtar Hotel in the capital city of Baghdad. The Miss Iraq national pageant is a brand new initiative of Iraqi civil activists called Inanna Group and Al-Mada Foundation of Arts, Media & Culture. 

     The historic event, which will be a delayed broadcast on Al-Mada TV, is being directed by Henry Conway, an Iraqi Assyrian Christian, from the Cinema and Theatre department at the Ministry of Culture & Tourism of Iraq. The panel of judges will include personalities like Senan Kamel (director of Baghdad Fashion Show) and representatives from the Ministry of Culture & Tourism. 

     10 women were shortlisted to compete for the title after auditions were held in September in Baghdad and Erbil which saw women from cities of Mosul, Baghdad, Sulaymaniyah, Erbil, Basra and Kirkuk vying for the title. The finalists took part in activities involving a visit to a refugee camp in Baghdad and the ancient archaeological Babylonian site of the Ishtar Gate near Al-Hillah, Babylon province.

     Earlier, death threats from terrorists and conservatives in the religious lobby prompted many women to drop out of the contest after a major Shiite religious channel aired a programme denouncing the contest as "unIslamic". Regardless, the organization of the event has also received praise from many segments of the Iraqi society. The late Sir Naim Dangoor, head of Iraqi Jewish community and whose wife Renee Dangoor is Iraq's first known beauty queen, commented in a special message to Miss Iraq Organization shortly before his death that "it would be wonderful for Iraq if the images the world identifies with it are images of beauty instead of the images of mutual conflict."

     The history of beauty pageants in Iraq is long but scattered. They were traditionally held in social clubs as private affairs on a city or regional level beginning with Renee Dangoor who was crowned Baghdad's Queen of Beauty in 1947. Though "Miss Iraq" pageant as such has not taken place in the country before, there were a few instances of nationwide competitions being held but under different titles such as "Belle of Iraq" (Hasna'a Al-Iraq) whose winner Wijdan Burhan represented the country in Miss Universe 1972.

     The organizers hope to mark a return of Iraq to international pageants such as Miss World, Miss Universe and others next year.

Video Promo of Miss Iraq by Al-Mada TV: 


















PHOTO CREDIT: AL MADA TV / OFFICIAL MISS IRAQ FACEBOOK PAGE