<HTML><HEAD><TITLE>Thoughts of Miss Universe 2016</TITLE> <META http-equiv=Content-Type content="text/html; charset=windows-1252"> <META content="MSHTML 6.00.2800.1106" name=GENERATOR></HEAD> <BODY vLink=#61D5D9 link=#61D5D9 bgColor=#040A6D><FONT color=#F7F407 size=4> <P align=center><BR><BR>THOUGHTS OF MISS UNIVERSE</P></FONT><FONT color=#ffffff size=6> <P align=center>2016/17</P></FONT><FONT color=#F7F407 size=4><FONT face=Verdana> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><FONT color=#F7F407 size=3><BR> <IMG SRC="uni16crn.jpg"><IMG SRC="uni16win1.jpg"><BR> The Eyeful Tower has a new name and c'est la belle Mademoiselle, Iris Mittenaere of the fashion capital of the world, France! Of all the countries that have won Miss Universe, France is the country that has had to wait the longest for a second win. Christiane Martel won the Miss Universe crown for France way back in 1953 which makes Peru the new country that has had to wait the longest for a repeat win as it is the only country that has won Miss Universe in the 1950s but has yet to crown a repeat winner but Miss Universe pageants held in January seem to be good for ending long crowning droughts seeing how Colombia won its second crown in January 2015 and now France has won its second crown in January 2017 so all eyes will be on the Peruvian delegate if another Miss Universe pageant is held in January! Europe has struggled in recent years to get the Miss Universe crown. The last winner representing a European country was Oxana Fedorova of Russia in 2002 who got dethroned a few months after winning after being unable to fulfill her obligations as Miss Universe and Oxana was replaced by Panama's Justine Pasek. Therefore, the last full term Miss Universe from Europe was Norway's Mona Grudt who won the Miss Universe crown way back in 1990! Iris is only the 3rd French representative to make the top 5. Last year, Flora Coquerel managed to place in the top 5 so even though France has placed in the semifinals many years, only Christiane, Flora and now Iris are the only 3 representatives to make the top 5 for France. France is also one of 3 countries that have competed in EVERY Miss Universe pageant since its inception in 1952. Canada and Germany are the other two and USA was disqualified in 1957.<BR><IMG SRC="uni16class.jpg"><BR> <IMG alt="Iris Mittenaere-Miss Universe 2016 with host Steve Harvey" hspace=12 src="uni16irissteve.jpg" align=left>The 65th Miss Universe pageant was the second to experience a leap year syndrome since it was technically the 2016 Miss Universe pageant even though it was held in January 2017 just like the 63rd Miss Universe pageant (Miss Universe 2014) but was held in January 2015. This year was '16 going on '17 to borrow from 'The Sound of Music' on which much of my <A HREF="uni16thold.html" TARGET="V">first round prethoughts</A> were based this year. The good news was that Miss Universe gave FOX a lead in the U.S. ratings for January 29 with slightly lower results than the last pageant which aired in December 2015. The pageant got an average rating of 1.5 in adults aged 18-49 and 5.21 million viewers compared to a 1.6 rating and 5.62 million for the previous one. However, the 2014 Miss Universe pageant held in January 2015 had 7.5 million viewers which means there was a significant decrease from that last January airing so hopefully this mean that they will find a date in possibly November 2017 to hold Miss Universe 2017 so the calendar years at least match. Today, there are many more options with online video streaming so ratings for practically everything have progressively decreased over the years and since they didn't get 7.5 million in the U.S., it will probably be kept within 2017 perhaps in November or December. <BR><BR> There were a few changes this year and I felt that they were changes for the worse. The formatting of the previous two Miss Universe pageants were much better with all the delegates being featured with proper introductions in their national costumes and factoids presented as well so last year was actually done right compared to this year. It still wasn't 1997 but still 2015 had the better way to keep all the elements of pageantry that are supposed to be there. This year, as Flo Rida (who also performed during the 2009 Miss Universe swimsuit competition) performed a medley of some of his hits (In The Ayer/Low/My House/Zillionaire) during the introduction of the delegates which went by really quickly with each delegate simply walking out on stage in a Sherri Hill dress with only the country announced and not the delegate's actual name being announced or even captioned. It hasn't been done this way since 2000. I realize that some people may shift their eyes to the caption without looking at the girl herself but they did it that way last year and as I have said many times before, these ladies have names and voices that deserve to be heard and recognized which is why the 2015 Miss Universe pageant had better formatting. There was also a reduction from a top 15 to a top 13. It was originally thought to be a top 12 but then they announced that the 13th delegate would be the Internet vote winner. Last year, they cut from 15 to 10 to 5 to 3. This year, they cut from 13 to 9 to 6 to 3. I preferred last year's numbers for each round. Also, they had ladies appear with 2 or 3 delegates at a time which I feel ruins the suspense of each individual delegate walking out on stage as you can see the gown of the last delegate of the 3 before she does her walk. Also, the gown and swimsuit competitions went by way too quickly, especially for a 3 hour telecast. I understand the need for a faster pace when it comes to today's low attention spanned audience but let's be reasonable and the number of viewers was lower so going back to the previous format couldn't hurt. I don't mind the 3 delegates on stage at a time aspect being used for preliminaries to tighten that though but not for the final telecast. They used to fit so much in a 2 hour telecast and now it has been extended to a 3 hour telecast and yet, they didn't even have time to announce the winners of Miss Photogenic who was Albania and Miss Congeniality who was Korea. <BR><BR> Steve Harvey returned as host this year following last year's crowning debacle where he mistakenly announced Colombia's Ariadna Gutierrez as the winner when she was actually the first runner up resulting in her being crowned and everyone believing she had won for 2 minutes until Steve returned on stage and corrected his mistake announcing that Philippines' Pia Wurtzbach was actually the winner resulting in Paulina Vega having to uncrown her country's delegate and then crown Pia. This resulted in the most news coverage a Miss Universe win has ever had in a very long time in today's scandal hungry media world. This year's pageant had multiple references to that incident including an introduction with Steve planning to escape if it happened again which we all hoped it wouldn't. This year's pageant was also the third Miss Universe pageant to be held in the pageant obsessed nation of the Philippines following the 1974 and 1994 pageants. The ladies were all treated like royalty during their stay and the ladies must have loved the attention and admiration they received from the locals. There were many high-fashion modelling events and even an event where the delegates got to walk with little girls from the Philippines who acted like their little sisters which was a tradition synonymous with the Miss Universe pageant during the glorious years of 1983 to 1995. Some people commented that this year's pageant didn't showcase the cultural aspects of the Philippines as much as previous years but there were a few segments such was Pia taking co-host Ashley Graham on a tour and some 'It's More Fun in the Philippines' commercials during the telecast so I think ample coverage of the host country was featured. Many people followed the pageant on social media prior to the final show so I'm sure most people were very aware that the Philippines were hosting this year. <BR><BR> How did I do with my predictions? Well, I picked 7 of the top 13 plus 2 alternates (USA and Colombia). The 4 ladies that missed my list were: Panama, Kenya, Canada and Haiti. 3 of those ladies were all mentioned my next tier below honorable mentions as I had Panama at 27th place, Kenya at 30th place and Canada at 34th place but the main surprise this year was Haiti who got all the way to 1st runner up matching the placement of the last Haitian to place at Miss Universe, Gerthie David back in 1975! <IMG alt="Venezuela's Mariam Habach during the preliminary evening gown competition" hspace=12 src="ven16g2.jpg" align=left><IMG alt="Philippines, Indonesia and Venezuela won special awards from Phoenix" hspace=12 src="uni16phoenix.jpg" align=right> But what happened to my 6 ladies that didn't place? Well, the first of them was the powerhouse nation of Venezuela who actually had an unusually bad year in pageantry for 2016 as they didn't place at Miss Universe, Miss World and Miss International which is highly unusual. My friend Hernan who likes to look for patterns found a very interesting one that he mentioned to me about Venezuela 5 years ago. You would notice that USA won Miss Universe in 1954, 1956, 1960 and Venezuela missed the semifinals 50 years later (2004, 2006 and 2010) so since USA won 1967, it technically happened again with this year being 2017 (although I'm aware this should actually be 2016) but Venezuela missed the semifinals in the calendar year of 2017! The next Miss Venezuela, Keysi Sayago, has already been crowned so will she also not place or did Mariam Habach take the non-placement for her? Since USA also won Miss Universe 1980, 1995, 1997 and 2012 this might be a bad thing for Venezuela in 2030, 2045, 2047 and 2062! Mariam Habach epically rocked the preliminaries though. She easily had the best body in the competition and her performance in the preliminaries where she dramatically removed an overskirt to reveal the gown underneath had the audience roar with delight and it was easily the highlight of the preliminaries and a notable demonstration of the magic and glamour that is sadly missing from today's pageantry. I'll admit that Mariam has a long face and I thought this would affect her from getting the win but she is definitely more telegenic than photogenic and she also won two awards in the Philippines from sponsors called Miss Flawless of the Universe and Miss Phoenix Elegant. (Indonesia won Miss Phoenix Smile and Philippines won Miss Phoenix Jewel.) One of the judges, Francine LeFrak was interviewed and mentioned that Mariam seemed less confident during interviews which I found hard to believe as I have seen other interviews with Mariam and her presentation skills are excellent as she is very animated but perhaps Mariam was giving a dumbed-down performance as perhaps she didn't have the desire to win but you couldn't tell that during the preliminary presentation show. Mariam also had a reputation of being a mean girl and other friends of mine got their wish that she didn't place because they see her as spoiled and arrogant behind the scenes and there was a video circulating of Mariam pinching the back fat of Miss Colombia to which Miss Colombia looked back at her questioning her motives but Mariam laughed it off as if she was being playful. Mariam has also won 9 pageants prior to being shut-out at Miss Universe so there may have been some observance of her behavior which resulted in her exclusion. A lot of people noted that Mariam looked down quite a bit while the top 13 were announced so perhaps she knew her exclusion was coming. After Thailand was announced as the last of the top 13, you could see Austria give Mariam's arm a comforting touch. The next exclusion was Australia's Caris Tiivel who was viewed as an early favorite throughout the pageant but somehow fizzled during preliminaries wearing a gown reminiscent of the one worn by Brazil's 2012 delegate who made the top 5 that year kissing her shoulders when she got nervous! Caris was strong overall and Australia has been doing well recently but some people thought her voice sounded a little too high-pitched but I thought that was irrelevant but perhaps that's what affected her. Next was Puerto Rico's Brenda Jimenez who was originally her country's first runner up but found herself competing at Miss Universe when the original winner, Kristhielee Caride was stripped of her title after an unenthusiastic interview with a reporter and this case went to court but Kristhielee lost that fight and Brenda competed quite well at Miss Universe. Her body and walk were on point and her gown was very nice and her interview skills are very good but perhaps the whole telenovela that has been going on in Puerto Rican pageantry had an impact and they felt it best to omit Brenda. Ukraine sent a strong delegate and Alena Spodynyuk was admired by many pageant predictors but some thought her red gown looked too similar to the one worn by their 2014 delegate even though she has a great body and overall look. I did mention that I thought a lot of Ukraine's success in recent years were Donald Trump's doing while he owned the pageant and that Ukraine might go back to being ignored like they were before 2006 and it seems like that is the case so Ukraine is really going to have fight to be noticed in the future as that help they once had is no longer there. Barbados sent a great model in Shannon Harris this year after a 9 year absence from the pageant and she also was an early favorite that fizzled during preliminaries like Australia. Her gown probably could have been better but I loved her Caribbean accent and the birthplace of pop sensation Rihanna has gone yet another year without ever placing at Miss Universe. Finally, Sierra Leone competed for the first time ever and they sent an irresistibly loveable delegate with Hawa Kamara who sported the short hairstyle reminiscent of Tanzania's Flaviana Matata who finished 6th at Miss Universe 2007. Her gown was very nice and her body decent so I thought Hawa would get that placement for Africa but it turns out that African spot went to Kenya this year.<BR> <BR><P ALIGN="CENTER"><CENTER><TABLE CELLSPACING=0 BORDER=0 CELLPADDING=7 WIDTH=700> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <P><FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#19DE39">ACTUAL TOP 13:</FONT></TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#19DE39"><P>MY PREDICTIONS:</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#F7F407"><P>Winner=France-Iris Mittenaere</FONT></TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#F7F407"><P>Winner=Indonesia-Kezia Warouw*</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#F7F407"><P>1st Runner Up=Haiti-Raquel Plissier</FONT></TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#F7F407"><P>1st Runner Up=Venezuela-Mariam Habach</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#F7F407"><P>2nd Runner Up=Colombia-Andrea Tovar</FONT></TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#F7F407"><P>2nd Runner Up=France-Iris Mittenaere*</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#19DE39"><P>FINALISTS (alpha'l):</FONT></TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#19DE39"><P>FINALISTS:</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#F7F407"><P>Kenya-Mary Esther Were</FONT></TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#F7F407"><P>Australia-Caris Tiivel</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#F7F407"><P>Philippines-Maxine Medina</FONT></TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#F7F407"><P>Brazil-Raissa Santana*</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#F7F407"><P>Thailand-Chalita Suansane</FONT></TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#F7F407"><P>Philippines-Maxine Medina*</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#19DE39"><P>SEMIFINALISTS (alpha'l):</FONT></TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#19DE39"><P>SEMIFINALISTS:</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#F7F407"><P>Canada-Siera Bearchell</FONT></TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#F7F407"><P>Mexico-Kristal Silva*</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#F7F407"><P>Mexico-Kristal Silva</FONT></TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#F7F407"><P>Puerto Rico-Brenda Jimenez</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#F7F407"><P>USA-Deshauna Barber</FONT></TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#F7F407"><P>Ukraine-Alena Spodynyuk</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#19DE39"><P>QUARTERFINALISTS (alpha'l):</FONT></TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#19DE39"><P>QUARTERFINALISTS:</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#F7F407"><P>Brazil-Raissa Santana</FONT></TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#F7F407"><P>Peru-Valeria Piazza*</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#F7F407"><P>Indonesia-Kezia Warouw</FONT></TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#F7F407"><P>Barbados-Shannon Harris</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#F7F407"><P>Panama-Keity Drennan</FONT></TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#F7F407"><P>Thailand-Chalita Suansane*</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#F7F407"><P>Peru-Valeria Piazza</FONT></TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#F7F407"><P>Sierra Leone-Hawa Kamara</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <P>&nbsp;</TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#19DE39"><P>ALTERNATES: </FONT><FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#F7F407">Turkey, Albania, USA*, Colombia*, Chile</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <P>&nbsp;</TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#19DE39"><P>HONORABLE MENTIONS: </FONT><FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#F7F407">Argentina, Spain, Malaysia, Finland, China</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <P>&nbsp;</TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#F7F407"><P>* = made actual top 13</FONT></TD> </TR> </TABLE> <BR><BR> <FONT color=#F7F407 size=3> <IMG SRC="uni16s.jpg"><BR> It was now time for the announcement of the 13 delegates that would advance in the competition and Steve Harvey mentioned that some of the delegates were chosen by the Miss Universe Organization like it has been since 2005 while most of them were chosen by the preliminary judges while the 13th delegate was the winner of the Internet vote. The exact number of how many of the delegates were actually chosen by the preliminary judges was not made clear. In years past when there was a top 15, it was 9 chosen by the judges and 6 by the organization so my guess is it might have been an 8 to 4 split this time. As Steve Harvey announced each of the top 13 delegates, they had to come up to him this year for an impromptu question which is where I felt a lot of the ladies lost out as there were no interpreters present for this so the non-English speaking delegates suffered here. This seemed to have incorporated the first-impressions-are-everything aspect of a job interview and part of the requirement of the job of Miss Universe is to live in New York for a year and even though this wasn't usually an issue in the past, they seem to want to test how fluent the ladies are in English. <IMG alt="Kenya reacts to being called into the top 13" hspace=12 src="ken16react.jpg" align=left><IMG alt="Steve Harvey interviews Indonesia's Kezia Warouw" hspace=12 src="indo16steve.jpg" align=right> The first delegate called up was the ever so gracious Kenyan delegate, Mary Esther Were, who seemed genuinely shocked and frozen at first when she was announced getting Kenya's first placement ever in Miss Universe history which succeeds a top 5 placement by another Kenyan delegate at Miss World 2016. Kenya was asked by Steve Harvey about losing her parents at a young age and how she managed to stay strong. Mary said she has a very strong and supportive family and she and her siblings were left in the care of her stepmother who encouraged her to pursue her dreams without giving up, keeping hope alive knowing our days are numbered and time is short so she lives her life like it's her last moment. I will say that I noticed Kenya in her silver gown during the introductions so her placement wasn't that much of a surprise to me after that as she stood out in a positive way. In swimsuit, Kenya didn't have the most toned mid-section but she did have nice legs and came across as very sweet and genuine. Next up was my original winner, Indonesia's Kezia Warouw who would have been so great had she not botched this question with Steve Harvey who asked her about struggling to be tall and being bullied in a country where most people are not as tall as her. Kezia said she feels blessed and she said it's a gift from God and that she can help others. Her answer gave the impression that it wasn't hard at all to be tall and if she had a translator, she might have been able to give a better answer. In swimsuit, Indonesia had a granny-panty style swimsuit which usually is unflattering and that was the case here. I had such high hopes for Kezia who is actually very accomplished and intelligent but that didn't really seem to come out here so I felt it was somewhat unfair for her. Next up was USA's Deshauna Barber. I will admit that I was feeling very 2002 about both USA and Colombia as both countries sent black beauties that year like this year who also happened to be from the District of Columbia and Choco respectively and I felt those two didn't quite have a right body type but those body standards seem to have been thrown out the window making it harder to judge and emphasis on interview is the focus. Deshauna must have aced her interview based on that little clip we saw of her speaking to the panel of preliminary judges about being skilled in information systems but also having the ability to take down a 250 pound computer thief. She was asked about what it was like to be out of military wear and into wearing pageant clothes like gowns and Deshauna answered that she has had the opportunity to show the diversity that women have. She feels honored and humbled to represent strong women like the rest of the delegates around the world especially those that serve their countries. In swimsuit, I still think Deshauna's legs are too thin and this was also was even kept her out of my list at Miss USA. It was interesting to see both USA and Canada in the swimsuit round as neighboring countries with two contrasting body types with USA being on the narrower end and Canada being on the wider end and yet they both advanced to the top 9 and the NAFTA countries (Canada, Mexico and USA) were all eliminated in gown and made up the 7th to 9th place rankings. Mexico followed and was asked about a fall she had at a pageant and Mexico said she more-or-less brushed it off and used it as an advantage to see she's here and nothing happened. In swimsuit, Kristal did look sensational with her great body. Peru was called up and I was overjoyed as I truly love Valeria's genuine heart and I loved the cheery way she said she thought her heart would explode from happiness. Of course, she was asked about the car accident she was in a few months ago as anticipated where it took them two hours to pry her out of the car. Valeria said it was painful and she was told she might not be able to compete at Miss Universe but she was determined and went twice a day to therapy and she made it! I would have loved to have seen Valeria advance past swimsuit as I really liked her and she looks great overall but sadly, it was not to be and in what I assume was a bout of nervousness, she forgot to take off her sarong so they may have docked points for that. Panama was called next and there are more rumors of them being a potential host country again so hmmm... but they could withdraw again like they did after 2011. It should be noted that Panama's national pageant is now being directed by Justine Pasek who became Miss Universe 2002 after Russia's Oxana Fedorova was dethroned so it looks like Panama is one to watch again. Panama was asked how she and her sisters being raised by a single mother prepared her in the competition. Keity responded that her mother told her and her sisters that with effort and working hard, they can have anything they want and that gave her confidence and the strength to pursue her dreams. In swimsuit, Keity did have one of the better bodies but she was also excluded in the first round so I have no idea what happened there. Colombia was up next and it became clear here why she placed as a little throwback to what happened last year and an opportunity for forgiveness for the Colombian audience to see. She was asked what Colombians feel about Steve Harvey. Andrea said to Steve, "Don't worry, hug me!" as a sign of forgiveness. Andrea honestly said that a lot of people hate him but that she now loves him which triggered a humorous moment. I thought Colombia would be omitted which is why I had her as an alternate seeing her attitude following an incident where she was given a gift of candy from someone in the Philippines that she was taped as calling 'junk for fatties' in Spanish so that soured me on her and I wasn't particularly fond of her from the beginning. That whole 'Hug me!' forgiveness bit and even Steve Harvey mentioning that she wanted Andrea to marry his son was even done during rehearsals when Colombia was called into the top 13 so it seemed very planned. In swimsuit, I didn't think Andrea had a great body but she certainly knew how to work it on stage as many of the Latin delegates do. Philippines was called next inevitably and Maxine was asked what advice was given to her by her aunt who was Germelina (Gem) Padilla-Thomas who competed as Miss Philippines at Miss Universe 1990. Maxine replied that she told her to be herself and to be more confident since it was going to be in the Philippines. In swimsuit, Maxine looked fine. She had the most pressure of any delegate this year, succeeding the reigning Miss Universe who was also from her country and representing the host nation but the Philippines still currently holds the longest streak in the semifinals at Miss Universe placing seven years in a row and Maxine kept the streak going. <IMG alt="Siera Bearchell - Before (2015) and After (2017)" hspace=12 src="can16bna.jpg" align=left><IMG alt="Pia Wurtzbach crowns Ashley Callingbull, the winner of the Miss Universe VIP Experience contest" hspace=12 src="piacrownsashley.jpg" align=right> Next up was Canada's Siera Bearchell who made headlines after she called out body shamers who made some negative online comments to her about her weight. Siera parlayed this publicity in a placement but was asked by Steve Harvey about running her first marathon and she was asked if being athletic gave her an edge over the other contestants. Siera replied that running a 42.2 kilometre marathon takes determination, perseverance, patience and a lot of stamina and all of those seem to be attributes that a Miss Universe needs to have. A very true answer with appropriate adjectives used here. Siera was later asked by Ashley Graham about the body shaming incident which was something Ashley could relate to being a full-figured model herself and what she would say to the haters. Siera replied that they are women who are confident with who we are and we love ourselves and that's what is important and when looking in the mirror, to focus on things we love about ourselves rather than what we want to change. These changes from IMG may result in more plus-sized women entering pageants so we shall see in the future what this turns into. Siera is a law student and she would have done well in the interviews as anticipated and she was even first runner up at Miss Supranational 2015 and I have placed a picture here where we see a before and after shot indicating the change in her body since competing at Miss Supranational but since Siera is quite athletic, we might even see her using this publicity and possibly being involved with a weight-loss campaign so Siera is one to keep an eye on in the future. I should also note that there was a contest for someone to have the Miss Universe VIP experience sponsored by Omaze and the winner of that challenge was Canada's own Ashley Callingbull who was seen in the audience cheering Siera on. Ashley got to be crowned and sashed as if she was Miss Universe by Pia Wurtzbach. Ashley has a pageant history of her own as she was 2nd runner up to Miss Universe Canada 2010, Elena Semikina and Ashley was also crowned Mrs. Universe 2015 and even placed 3rd at the Amazing Race Canada competing with her father. Brazil was called up next and was asked about being the first black woman to represent her country in 30 years since Deise Nunes de Souza stunned her way to a 6th place finish at Miss Universe 1986. Raissa struggled to answer in English that she is proud to (be) an example to other girls like her. Raissa does have a great body and a lot of people loved her overall fabulous look but I think this question round sadly did her in to the disappointment of many. France followed and was asked about what her favorite French dish to cook is. Iris boasted that her specialty is boeuf bourguignon and hers is the best. She described it as beef slowly cooked with red wine and said it was amazing and that Steve should try it. She invited him to Paris but Steve humorously declined saying that he has a wife who wouldn't allow it. Iris really did shine here as she was very engaging, funny and also simultaneously very calm and collected so she really set herself apart here. In swimsuit, Iris has a phenomenal body and it was her overall look that propelled her into my top 3 so I was elated to see her win as she was truly deserving. Although, my lucky spot number 5 in my predictions list trend was broken this year when I placed Brazil in that spot and the last 3 Miss Universes as well as the 2004 winner were all 5th in my list but it turns out, spot number 3 in my list has sometimes been the winner. In addition to Iris, Canada's Natalie Glebova in 2005 and Mexico's Ximena Navarrete in 2010 were also 3rd place on my predictions list but ended up winning the crown! It should also be noted that Iris' national costume was an outfit worn by Moulin Rouge dancers and they made an exception for Iris to wear it outside the country! France's national pageant is also directed by former Miss France 2002, Sylvie Tellier who also performed well during her year so Sylvie must be trs fire d'elle! Haiti was the big surprise for me but I understood why she placed as her story came through having survived the earthquake and is studying optometry in Spain to help her grandmother whose vision has been getting worse. Raquel was asked about being part of a research team looking for a cure for blindness. She said she is part of a research project that looks for alternatives to curing blindness like surgery and that project has taught her to not to take her eyes forgranted and its because of your eyes that you are able to watch the show and read who is the next Miss Universe. To which, Steve Harvey humorously said, 'Hey! Hey! Enough with the eye jokes!' Haiti looked decent in swimsuit. Being tall, she had that long, lean body but I wish her hair had more flair as it looked too flat throughout the night. Finally, the winner of the Internet vote was announced as the 13th delegate and since Philippines was already announced, I immediately knew it was Thailand and sure enough, it was! Thailand has won numerous online votes before so this was not a surprise to me. Chalita was asked about bringing 17 suitcases and what was in them. She replied that they were filled with clothes and accessories from her sponsors. In swimsuit, Chalita worked her fit body with her very fierce Latin walk so this girl was trained well. <BR><IMG SRC="uni16judges.jpg"><BR> <IMG alt="Steve Harvey asks Htet Htet Htun of Myanmar to show her winning national costume" hspace=12 src="mya16cos.jpg" align=right>The judges for this year's pageant had a different change this year which saw 3 of the 6 preliminary judges stay for the finals but 3 preliminary judges were replaced by 3 other judges for the finals. I believe this is the first time I have ever seen a mixed panel of judges like this. The 3 judges for both preliminaries and finals were: Dayanara Torres-Miss Universe 1993, Cynthia Bailey (from Real Housewives of Atlanta) and Francine LeFrak. The other three preliminary judges were: Riyo Mori-Miss Universe 2007, Fred Nelson and Rob Goldstone. Those three were replaced for finals by: Sushmita Sen-Miss Universe 1994, Leila Lopes-Miss Universe 2011 and Mickey Boardman. I loved that they were asked about what they were looking for as a judge. I especially enjoyed Sushmita's dignified answer. She briefly was India's national director from 2010 to 2012 and this was her first time acting as a judge at Miss Universe so it was great to see her back in this role. In swimsuit, the ladies walked to the awesome SeeB remix of Mike Posner's 'I Took A Pill in Ibiza' and Chainsmokers feat. Daya's 'Don't Let Me Down.' I should also point out that the cues were off as to when Steve and Ashley should speak during swimsuit which should be another sign that this style of swimsuit presentation of 3 or 2 ladies on stage at a time doesn't really work for finals. When my beloved Indonesia, Brazil and Peru were all sadly eliminated in the first round when it came down to the top 9, I comfortably had France for the win at that point. It was on to the gown competition after each of the top 9 were announced accompanied by their video packages. Then we saw some but not all (pout) of the national costumes in a little video segment and Myanmar who won the national costume competition with her little puppet stage costume got to perform after telling us multiple times that her outfit was 'too heavy.' You'll know that my first round prethoughts was based largely on 'The Sound of Music' and Myanmar's costume reminded me of 'The Lonely Goatherd' song in the movie with the puppet show which reminds me of Austria's costume which happened to have a picture of Julie Andrews in that iconic scene from the movie that they were very careful not to show possibly due to some rights issues. For the national costume competition, you might have noticed some other mishaps. Mauritius was out of order because someone stepped on the cape of her costume causing her to fall and cut her lip but she really wanted to showcase the costume made by Filipino designers so they touched her up and they let her go on stage after Netherlands. Sweden also wore her evening gown with pictures printed on it instead of a Pippi Longstocking outfit so some delegates might have had lost luggage. Spain also couldn't take part of her costume in a suitcase. USA's Captain America inspired costume had a malfunctioning cape also. Venezuela could barely walk in her costume and Mariam really looked distraught while slowly walking across the stage but she made it! <BR><IMG SRC="uni16g.jpg"><BR>To the sounds of Kiiara's 'Gold', the 9 remaining ladies came out in sets of three again with many of the ladies changing into different gowns than their preliminary gowns. First up was USA, in a brown and red long-sleeved off-shoulder gown that looked very 90s. Her style was very throwback even at Miss USA. I would have preferred her red preliminary gown. Thailand's gown looked a little more like a national costume as it had a very Asian look to it but it was a nice black gown with silver crystals and a cut-out in the stomach area. France changed from her yellow preliminary gown to this sheer multi-colored gown with a similar design but it was breathtaking and intricately designed taking 5 months to make and design by Vietnamese designer Hoang Hai. Mexico kept her classic silver figure-hugging gown with the slit on the side. I liked this gown and it really suited her well. Kenya's gown was an improvement from her preliminary gown which was too short and caused her to fall in my list but this gown had a better fit with a scarlet shade to it and heart-shaped cut out above the bust and it also had cut-outs on the sides. Colombia followed in a gold crystal-covered peplum gown which I call the Frosted Flakes gown because that's what it looks like to me. Don't you just want to dunk her in milk?? Canada followed in a white gown that was all kinds of no. Something about the bustline looked wrong and even the fit seemed off. I think she should have worn a darker color also. She even changed back to her purple preliminary gown after she was eliminated in this round. Haiti had a shades of gold gown that was decent. It didn't really get a strong reaction from me as it was more of a neutral feeling. Finally, Philippines had a red gown with silver crystals predominantly on the bust. It was an okay gown but I think her green fringed gown that she wore in the preliminaries and the way it moved made more of a statement but it didn't matter, we all knew she was a lock for top 6. <BR><IMG SRC="uni16t9.jpg"><BR> <IMG alt="Top 6-Haiti, Thailand, Philippines, Colombia, Kenya, France" hspace=12 src="uni16t6.jpg" align=left>After the top 6 were announced, it was on to the individual questions. Philippines was up first and was asked, "What is the most significant change you've seen in the world in the last ten years?" Maxine answered, "In the last ten years of being here in the world is that I saw all the people bringing in one event like this...in Miss Universe. And it's something big to us that we are one. As one nation, we are all together. Thank you. Salamat po." Maxine really needed to think of a better answer if she was going to advance but I think she was content with a top 6 finish. Kenya was asked, "Arguably, no United States president has had a more active first ten days in office. What are you most excited about and what most concerns you when it comes to the presidency of Donald Trump?" Kenya answered, "Politics (laughs) uh, is... Okay, let me just start again. Donald Trump having been elected as the president of the United States may not have been the choice of many people living in the United States because, because of the divided support system for the outgoing president, Barack Obama, who was supporting a--an upcoming woman president, who was supposed to be a woman president, Hillary Clinton so so many people opposed his position but I feel that once he took up his position, he was able to unify the entire nation. Thank you very much." So this was powerfully unfair to ask Miss Kenya about American politics but she tried hard to work with a loaded question to no avail. It was sad because she was such a sweetheart. Thailand was up next and was asked, "Name a current of past world leader whom you admire and why." Thailand replied, "Mabuhay, Philippines! (through translator) For me, that would be the King of Thailand. His majesty has been working tirelessly on behalf of the Thai people ever since I was born. For all the Thai people, his majesty has been like a father to us. Thank you very much. Salamat po." This was the obvious answer to come from Miss Thailand seeing how King Bhumibol Adulyadej just passed away in October 2016 which was a major event for the Thai people. It wasn't among the stronger answers though. It was very clear that the final 3 delegates to answer gave the best answers and so it was no surprise that they advanced. France was asked, "Given today's worldwide refugee crisis, do countries have an obligation to accept refugees or do they have a right to close their borders?" France replied through her translator, "So the countries should have the right to open or close their borders. So throughout the world, people can choose to have the borders opened or closed. In Europe, we have open borders. In France, we have... we want to have the most globalization that we can, we want to have the biggest exchange of people that we can. Maybe some day, that will change but now, we have open borders. So having open borders allows us to travel more through the world and to find out more about what's out there in the world. Thank you very much!" This was a very sensible answer and well delivered so France once again aced the question round. Haiti was asked, "On January 21st, an estimated 4.8 million people marched worldwide for human rights, women's rights and other issues. If you were able to participate, what would you have been marching for?" Haiti answered, "Hello everybody. One of my... one of the women I admire in the world is Eleanor Roosevelt because she fought so much for human rights and I feel like that's what we need in the world. We are just one. A hundred-thousand years ago, six species of humans lived in the world. Now, we are just one and we all need each other and we need to respect each other." This was also a very strong and knowledgeable response from the Haitian delegate. Finally, Colombia was asked, "Why do you believe violence is so prevalent is so prevalent in today's society and what can we do about it?" Colombia answered through her translator, "Good evening. Well, I come from a country that does have violence and this is my reference point. And although there are presidents who don't get along with others, we work together to be able to unite. Campaigns, respect and inclusivity to be able to have a social transformation that will educate our children. Thank you very much." This was also a very good answer for which she was very prepared as this question comes up quite a bit in pageantry. <BR><BR> <IMG alt="Top 3-Colombia, France, Haiti" hspace=12 src="uni16t3.jpg" align=right>After the top 3 were announced, it was time for the final question. "Name something over the course of your life that you failed at and tell us what you learned from that experience." Colombia answered through her translator, "I think that many times, one makes mistakes for many things. During moments when you may not accept someone due to their differences, to not accept them due to their sexual preferences, and to not be capable of accepting their error. I think any of those experiences gives you the opportunity to have strength and value and principles. Thank you." She evaded the question and the answer wasn't as well delivered as her previous answer. France replied through the translator, "I failed several times in my life. So I thought that I failed the first time that I went out on a casting because my name wasn't on the list and the very next day, I found that I was in a new book. So I think that when you fail, you have to be elevated and you have to try and keep going. If tonight, I'm not one of the winners, I'll still have the honor of being one of the three finalists. So I think that I have failed before, but for me this is the first great opportunity." This translation was quite off. I don't know what was going on here but she said nothing about a casting as she was talking about medical school and I think even people who didn't speak French could at least hear her saying 'medicine' in her answer when she was talking about medical school bearing in mind that Iris is a dentist. Courtesy of my friend Hernan, a better translation would have been, "I thought I had failed my first year of medical school because my name wasn't on the passing list. So the very same day, I went to buy a new set of medical books to keep on studying. I think when you fail you need to stand up and keep going. We are all able to do so. If I don't win tonight, I will still keep on smiling tomorrow because I am proud to be a top 3 finalist. I have learned a lot from my failures. And happily, I did end up passing my medical school." The actual answer was very complete. She gave a valid answer and it also demonstrated humility so Iris absolutely earned the crown in spite of this botched translation. Finally, Haiti answered, "About seven years ago, I survived the earthquake. I feel I was failing myself because I was not living my dreams. I was living day by day and that earthquake... It was a bad event but I chose to be a very positive person and learn a great lesson from it because if I am here today, it is because I am living my dreams. Thank you." She referenced the earthquake again but this was a fair answer. France easily gave the best answer and you could even see it in how she delivered it in her calm, collected manner whereas Haiti and Colombia seemed quite nervous. <BR><BR><IMG SRC="uni16t32.jpg"><BR> <IMG alt="Pia Wurtzbach in her farewell gown holds the crown" hspace=12 src="uni16piaprays.jpg" align=left><IMG alt="The top 2" hspace=12 src="uni16t2.jpg" align=right>After Boyz II Men (minus one original member Michael McCary who has health problems) serenaded the top 3 with a medley of hits (On Bended Knee/I'll Make Love to You/End of the Road), it was time for Pia to say her farewell in a stunning electric blue ballgown and Pia humorously handed Steve Harvey some thick glasses so that he wouldn't make last year's mistake again. The 2nd runner up was announced as Colombia and the winner was France and this time Steve Harvey got it right, which meant Haiti was the first runner up even though it was not announced perhaps to thoroughly ensure last year's mistake was not made again. I wish the former Miss Universes from the Philippines, Gloria Diaz and Margarita Moran assisted with the crowning like they did in 1994 because I know they were there along with several other winners. My friend Diego pointed out a few patterns in that there are 7107 islands in the Philippines and 71 - 07 = 64. France won Miss Universe and 1953 + 64 = 2017 (even if it's technically 2016). This also works for Philippines winning the 64th Miss Universe pageant so there's double power of the number 64 when it comes to Philippines. Another pattern was Philippines won after 42 years (1973 then 2015) and if we count 2016 as 2017, Haiti was first runner up again after 42 years (1975 then 2017) to a European country starting with F (Finland 1975 and now France for 2016/17). My friend Paulo mentions that this is the first time since 2007 that the Miss Universe winner's first name doesn't end with an A. Iris' name ends with an S and only Gladys Zender of Peru 1957's winner also has her first name end with an S. France has had to wait a very long time for this second win and the timing is excellent given the recent attacks that have occurred in that wonderful country and even in Europe after a long time as well. The Eiffel Tower was even lit up in the French colors of red, white and blue when the Eyeful Tower, Iris Mittenaere was proclaimed the new Miss Universe. The PHILs were alive with the sound of music and she climbed every mountain until she found her dream! <BR><IMG SRC="uni16win3.jpg"> <BR><IMG SRC="uni16win4.jpg"> <BR><IMG SRC="uni16tea.jpg"> <BR><BR> </P> <BR> <P align=center>&nbsp;</FONT><A href="uni16thold.html" TARGET="V"><FONT size=4>The Prethoughts - Miss Universe 2016/17</FONT></A></P> <P align=center><FONT color=#fcc8e3 size=3><FONT face=Verdana><BR></P><FONT color=#F7F407> <P align=center>&nbsp;</P> <P align=center>&nbsp;</FONT><A href="http://www.tpmum.com/index.html"><FONT size=4>BACK TO FRONT PAGE</FONT></A></P><FONT color=#51387F> <P align=center>&nbsp;</P> <P align=center>Some photos courtesy Miss Universe L.P., LLLP</P> <P align=center>&nbsp;</P></FONT></FONT></FONT></FONT></FONT></FONT></FONT></FONT></FONT></FONT></FONT></FONT></FONT></FONT></FONT></FONT></FONT></BODY></HTML>