Predictions: Who will win Miss International 2017?

TOKYO, Japan – The 2017 Miss International Beauty pageant could possibly be a historic moment in pageant history. The possibility of a back-to-back win for the Philippines is within our reach with the efforts and the beauty of Mariel de Leon, Binibining Pilipinas International 2017.

Filipino pageant fans are waiting in anticipation to see who Kylie Verzosa, Miss International 2016, will crown her successor. Whoever she is has very big shoes to fill, as Kylie proved to be one of the organization’s hardest working and most productive winner.

Unlike other major international pageants, the Miss International pageant does not have a preliminary competition that is broadcast or livestreamed. It is said that the contestants are monitored throughout all the pre-pageant activities and this factors into the final selection.

On the morning of November 14, the candidates will have a full run through of the competition. This dress rehearsal will probably give the organization a final chance to see who will be advancing to the semifinals. It is unclear how the process is done but what is clear is that there will be a national costume presentation, swimsuit presentation, evening gown presentation, and speeches by the finalists. These are the traditional prepared speeches by the candidates that start with “If I became Miss International…”

Given this scenario, it is always very tricky to make any predictions for the semifinalists and winners. For my own purposes, I relied on the photos that I saw of the ladies in the pre-pageant activities and their pageant history (if any).

I have been watching this pageant since 1986, when Alice Dixson represented the Philippines and landed as a semifinalist. I also consider the fact that the judging panel is composed mainly of Japanese judges. Historically, there is a marked preference for fair skinned, tall, doll-like, sophisticated beauties. The looks are chic and modern but still conservative. The walk should glide across the stage and not stomp; the movements are graceful and elegant. It is very different from the vavavoom, Victoria’s Secret, fierce vamps we see in almost all other pageants.

Having said that, here are my predictions for the 2017 Miss International Beauty Pageant.

Dark horses

As it is very difficult to chose without having seen them perform, one can only truly base predictions on photos. Any of these candidates can easily make it to the semifinals.

  • Australia, Amber Dew, 21 years old
  • Nepal, Niti Shah, 21 years old
  • Ethiopia, Bamlak Dereje, 20 years old
  • Netherlands, Nathalie Mogbelzada, 20 years old

DARK HORSE. These countries can enter the Top 15. Photos from Miss International website

DARK HORSE. These countries can enter the Top 15. Photos from Miss International website

Top 15 Semifinalists (in no particular order)

  • South Africa, Tayla Skye Robinson, 23 years old
  • Japan, Natsuki Tsutsui, 24 years old
  • Norway, Vilde Andresen Bo, 20 years old
  • Curacao, Chanelle Wilhelmina Maria, 22 years old
  • Brazil, Bruna Zanardo, 25 years old
  • Canada, Marta Magdalena Stepian, 23 years old
  • Korea, Nam Seung Woo, 25 years old
  • Finland, Pihla Koivuniemi, 22 years old
  • Indonesia, Kevin Liliana, 21 years old
  • Russia, Elena Kviatkevich, 20 years old
  • Mexico, Citlaly Higuera, 23 years old
  • Colombia, Vanessa Pulgarin Monsalve, 25 years old
  • Lithuania, Patricija Belousova, 22 years old
  • Venezuela, Diana Croce, 20 years old
  • Philippines, Maria Angelica de Leon, 24 years old

POTENTIAL PICKS. These ladies may also be a surprise candidate during November 14. Photos from Miss International website

POTENTIAL PICKS. These ladies may also be a surprise candidate during November 14. Photos from Miss International website

Top 8

  • Finland, Pihla Koivuniemi, 22 years old
  • Indonesia, Kevin Liliana, 21 years old
  • Russia, Elena Kviatkevich, 20 years old
  • Mexico, Citlaly Higuera, 23 years old
  • Colombia, Vanessa Pulgarin Monsalve, 25 years old
  • Lithuania, Patricija Belousova, 22 years old
  • Venezuela, Diana Croce, 20 years old
  • Philippines, Maria Angelica de Leon, 24 years old

MISS INTERNATIONAL POTENTIAL. Mariel de Leon aims for a back-to-back, but any of these ladies may also become the winner. Photos from Miss International website

MISS INTERNATIONAL POTENTIAL. Mariel de Leon aims for a back-to-back, but any of these ladies may also become the winner. Photos from Miss International website

I would love to see Venezuela and the Philippines battle it out for the crown. Their countries have a combined total of 13 Miss International titles (7 Venezuela, 6 Philippines).

Venezuela’s Diana Croce has a very Anne Hathaway look. Big beautiful eyes and a huge smile combined with a very charming personality. She was ignored in Miss World 2016 but this year, she is ready for her redemption.

To see Mariel de Leon bag the Miss International crown would mean the first ever back-to-back victory in the pageant and we would tie with Venezuela for the most wins. For the competition, Mariel de Leon will be wearing the custom creations of Mikee Andrei (swimsuit) and the legendary Filipino designer, Cary Santiago (National Costume and Evening Gown). Cary made a very intricate steel gray Filipiniana dress with a matching sarimanokheadpiece. The Cary and Mariel partnership proved to be highly effective in Bb Pilipinas, where Mariel won the Best in Evening Gown award. For her Miss International stint, Cary left no left no stones unturned (or should I say no rhinestones left unsewn).

Besides the obvious historical significance, Mariel de Leon could possibly be the pageant’s first opera singer to win the crown. She can spread love, peace, and goodwill to all nations she visits through song. She has a very natural grace and elegance that is favored by the Japanese. She has a very good heart, kind and compassionate that is loved by all.

Let us all pray for Mariel de Leon’s victory, our country’s triumph in the Miss International Beauty Pageant.

This article originally appeared in Rappler.
All photos courtesy of Rappler unless otherwise indicated.

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