THE RESULTS (Jan. 30, 2017)

Vive la 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 and now the gorgeous and charming Iris Mittenaere, the new Eyeful Tower, has finally won the second Miss Universe crown for the fashion capital of the world. Europe has struggled in recent years to get the 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.

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. Panama, Kenya and Canada were all mentioned my next tier below honorable mentions 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!

My full commentary on Miss Universe 2016/17 will be posted on February 6.



Winner=France-Iris Mittenaere

Winner=Indonesia-Kezia Warouw*

1st Runner Up=Haiti-Raquel Pélissier

1st Runner Up=Venezuela-Mariam Habach

2nd Runner Up=Colombia-Andrea Tovar

2nd Runner Up=France-Iris Mittenaere*

FINALISTS (alpha'l):


Kenya-Mary Esther Were

Australia-Caris Tiivel

Philippines-Maxine Medina

Brazil-Raissa Santana*

Thailand-Chalita Suansane

Philippines-Maxine Medina*



Canada-Siera Bearchell

Mexico-Kristal Silva*

Mexico-Kristal Silva

Puerto Rico-Brenda Jimenez

USA-Deshauna Barber

Ukraine-Alena Spodynyuk



Brazil-Raissa Santana

Peru-Valeria Piazza*

Indonesia-Kezia Warouw

Barbados-Shannon Harris

Panama-Keity Drennan

Thailand-Chalita Suansane*

Peru-Valeria Piazza

Sierra Leone-Hawa Kamara


ALTERNATES: Turkey, Albania, USA*, Colombia*, Chile


HONORABLE MENTIONS: Argentina, Spain, Malaysia, Finland, China


* = made actual top 13

THE PREDICTIONS (Jan. 28, 2017)

Pia Wurtzbach-Miss Universe 2015 wears the Mikimoto Miss Universe crown which used to be the official Miss Universe crown from 2002 to 2007

The 3 Miss Universe titleholders from the Philippines together! Gloria Diaz-Miss Universe 1969, Pia Wurtzbach-Miss Universe 2015 and Margarita Moran-Miss Universe 1973

The big night is January 29 at 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on FOX!

We also have some competition as we are up against the Screen Actors Guild Awards airing at the same time so it is extra crucial that we ensure that as many ratings are given to Miss Universe as possible.

Some important changes this year are that there is a top 12 this year (UPDATE: It will actually be a top 13, instead of a top 12 as originally thought. The 13th delegate will be the winner of the Internet vote.) that will advance to the semifinals instead of a top 15 like last year. The top 13 will compete in swimsuit and then the top 9 will compete in evening gowns, then the top 6 will be asked a question and then the top 3 will answer the final question. There was also a change in how the delegates appear on stage. As we saw in the preliminaries, 3 delegates appear on stage at a time with each delegate getting their individual turn. This has been done in Miss USA pageants in the 1970s and Miss World pageants in the 80s and this is a time-efficient method of presenting the delegates as the preliminaries this year went by a lot faster than they did in previous years when the delegates appeared one at a time which is important in today's fast-paced world catering to a low-attention-span audience. I also heard interview has more weight in the preliminaries this year than previous years so there could a lot of surprises. This is still a three-hour telecast though so it might be filled with more stories than usual.

In addition to Steve Harvey serving as host, we have Ashley Graham doing backstage commentary. Also headlining this year's pageant are special guest performers Boyz II Men in addition to Flo Rida so this will surely be one outstanding memorable Miss Universe pageant! The judges have been announced and three of these judges will serve on both the preliminary and final judging panels. These three judges are: 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. These three will be replaced by three other judges for the finals and they are: Sushmita Sen-Miss Universe 1994, Leila Lopes-Miss Universe 2011 and Mickey Boardman.

So after watching the preliminaries and observing the delegates through videos and coupled with my background knowledge of each delegate, I now present to you my predictions for Miss Universe 2016/17.


Winner=Indonesia-Kezia Warouw

Kezia has managed to stay on top of my list this year as all of you would know from my first round prethoughts. I think Kezia is the kind of young lady that they want as she would be a very respectable Miss Universe and I feel she will appeal to the judges and the general public as she is a very strong overall candidate. Not only is she tall, elegant, modelesque and beautiful but she is also very intelligent as demonstrated by being skilled in PHP coding and she also does a lot of volunteer work with charitable organizations. I had high expectations and she hasn't let me down so I am looking for Kezia to go all the way and bring Indonesia (the world's 4th most populated country) their first Miss Universe crown.

1st Runner Up=Venezuela-Mariam Habach

Mariam is a prime example of why Venezuela has more international crowns in pageantry than any other country. Osmel Sousa and the Venezuelan team always make sure their contenders are a cut above the rest. Not only is Mariam styled impeccably but she also has a phenomenal body, sensational hair and her gown presentation was the highlight of preliminaries. The crowd roared with delight with the way she dramatically removed her skirt and revealed the gown underneath. Mariam could very well get Venezuela its eighth Miss Universe crown and I would not be surprised if it happens. I gave the edge to Indonesia just because I feel that she may be more along the lines of what the new management is looking for but Mariam delivered and gave us the glamour and the show that makes us remember why we follow pageantry in the first place. Get it, Mariam!

2nd Runner Up=France-Iris Mittenaere

Iris is an eyeful tower and she is just so gorgeous and France has consistently performed well in recent years. France struggled to get into the top 5 since their only win in 1953 and they finally did last year thanks to Flora Coquerel. I am looking for Iris to surpass this as she has a phenomenal body and overall look. Her gown is unique and as Jeannie Mai would say, 'Yellow is the color of joy!' How joyful I would be to see this sunny gown propel Iris into the top 3. Can she do it?


Australia-Caris Tiivel

The land down under also placed in the top 5 last year and Caris is another example of Australia's strong contenders that have been sent to Miss Universe in recent years. She has a stunning overall look with a great body and this gown reminds me a lot of the gown worn by Brazil's delegate in 2012 so she stands out in all the right ways and I am looking for Caris to get Australia another consecutive placement and maintain their excellent track record since they have placed 7 of the last 8 years.

Brazil-Raissa Santana

Lucky spot number 5 in my list goes to the sensational Raissa Santana from the land of the Samba! I call it lucky spot number 5 because the last 3 Miss Universe winners (Gabriela, Paulina and Pia) were all 5th on my predictions list. This also happened in 2004 when I predicted Jennifer Hawkins to be 5th place but she ended up winning. Will it happen again and will Raissa who happens to be 5th on my list actually be the next Miss Universe?? Raissa is only the second black woman to represent Brazil after Deise Nunes de Souza stunned her way to a 6th place finish in 1986. Raissa's distinct hair style combined with her great body, eye-catching gown and overall fabulousness makes her a favorite. Will Raissa do it? Edel-Raissa. God bless her homeland forever!

Philippines-Maxine Medina

The Philippines have been a wonderful host country as they were the last two times they hosted in 1974 and 1994 and this year's delegates have been treated like royalty by this pageant obsessed nation. Their bet, Maxine did perform superbly during preliminaries as she has a nice overall look and body and her green fringe gown moved really well on stage and was unique and eye-catching and naturally, Maxine was further encouraged by the support of her people. She has the pressure succeeding the reigning Miss Universe, Pia Wurtzbach from the Philippines in her own country and Philippines also currently has the longest running streak in the semifinals placing every year since 2010. Only Venezuela has won the Miss Universe crown two years in a row (2008 and 2009) so could Philippines be the next country to do this and will this be an all new Thrilla in Manila??


Mexico-Kristal Silva

The land where the optimism lives in their hearts sent a strong contender in Kristal. This gown is classic and stunning and she does have a great figure and wonderful hair and a placement for Mexico would be timely given their presence in the headlines because of a certain wall. I'm reminded of the very wise words uttered by Venezuela's Milka Chulina when she preached wonderful messages that there should be no barriers that may separate us and for us to love each other. I'm sure Kristal will have a similar message.

Puerto Rico-Brenda Jimenez

We've all heard the telenovela of how Brenda got to Miss Universe. The original winner of the Puerto Rican crown was Kristhielee Caride who was stripped of her title after an unenthusiastic interview with a reporter. The case went to court but Kristhielee did not win and now Brenda who was originally runner-up is now representing the shining star of the Caribbean and although I didn't originally think she was a contender, Brenda managed to change my mind during preliminaries and found herself among my top 13 picks. Brenda really does have a great body, gown and her presentation skills are strong also. I think she will do well in interview as she does seem to have a genuine warmth about her that I think the judges will appreciate and reward. Dayanara Torres is also a preliminary and finals judge so this can only help Brenda. Puerto Rico has won 5 Miss Universe crowns but they haven't placed since 2013 and they recently won Miss World last month so are these all good signs for Puerto Rico?

Ukraine-Alena Spodynyuk

Alena was another one that moved into my list after preliminaries as I saw that she does have a great body and overall look and just came across to me as well prepared so I saw the light. I'll admit that I thought that now that a certain someone is no longer involved with the Miss Universe pageant that Ukraine might go back to being ignored so Alena will be the test of that so we shall see what happens.


Peru-Valeria Piazza

Valeria does have a great body and comes across as genuinely warm-hearted so I feel that she will excel in interview. She was recently injured in a car accident but that certainly did not stop her from fighting to compete and I feel this would be a great story to tell. I had her placed higher earlier but she slipped a few spots after preliminaries. Pia Wurtzbach was also invited to Peru to assist with Valeria's crowning.

Barbados-Shannon Harris

The birthplace of Rihanna hasn't competed since 2007 and they have never placed at Miss Universe but 9 years later, they sent a contender in Shannon. I am looking forward to hearing her speak with that Caribbean accent and while she may have fallen a few spots on my list, I still consider her one of the stronger delegates this year and I'm hoping that she will get a spot. Her body is strong and she is a working model so she also has the moves. The gown isn't as strong as I was hoping but I love that it matches her lipstick.

Thailand-Chalita Suansane

Another delegate that seems to have garnered a lot of favor is Thailand's Chalita who also has a great story about coming from a humble background working from a young age doing odd jobs even as a janitor and is now currently studying microbiology. Thai girls normally have huge support and she could win the Internet vote even though I'm pretty sure Philippines has it this year but Chalita does have a decent body and great walking skills. The gown is a bit of a question mark but she likely has done what is required to place.

Sierra Leone-Hawa Kamara

(UPDATE: There is a top 13, not top 12 as originally thought so Sierra Leone moves up from my highest alternate as my 13th delegate!) Hawa is just so darn loveable! I'm sure you heard the audience cheering loudly for her as well during the preliminaries so she seems to be universally adored. Her style is unique with the very short hair reminiscent of Tanzania's Flaviana Matata who finished 6th at Miss Universe 2007. Her gown is very nice and she has a beaming smile and confident walk. I feel that if they want an African delegate to place that she would probably be it and this is also the first time Sierra Leone is competing so a placement could encourage that country.


Turkey-Tansu Sila Çakir

Tansu was another one for whom I had high hopes as she does have gorgeous hair similar to Oxana Fedorova, the original Miss Universe 2002 but sadly this country doesn't have Venezuelan-level training and Tansu's walk on stage during preliminaries just looked awkward so I ended up placing her as an alternate but this is another one to whom I really wanted to give a spot and it pains me that I can't! I liked her wardrobe and this gown is really intricately designed.

Albania-Lindita Idrizi

If they want a different look in the mix, Lindita surely would be it as she has that distinctive 70s afro hairstyle so it could help her and she does have a good body and her gown is also distinctive but I'm not seeing her on a lot of lists so she could be a surprise.

USA-Deshauna Barber

This is the first time since I've been posting predictions prior to the pageant since 1999 that I left Miss USA out of my list for finals. Miss USA has missed the cut 3 times since (Kimberly Pressler-1999, Shauntay Hinton-2002 and Rima Fakih-2010) and all 3 of those ladies made my top 10 for their respective years. Yes, I'm aware of her army story and that her mother passed away after Deshauna won Miss USA but her body, particularly her legs are not semifinalist material and I felt this way even at Miss USA. However, the new management from IMG seems to be more focused on interview so this could save her but there are other delegates that have stories to tell and are also strong in interview so I left her as an alternate. We'll see what happens.

Colombia-Andrea Tovar

Other people love Andrea but I just am not feeling her. As mentioned earlier, I think a lot of people feel Colombia is owed because of the infamous incident that happened last year when Ariadna Gutierrez was mistakenly crowned only to be uncrowned 2 minutes later. To me, Andrea doesn't quite have the right body and especially the attitude as she was caught calling a gift of candy from someone in the Philippines as 'junk for fatties' so I just find her insincere. I was hoping for a better gown too as I wasn't wowed by this. It makes me think of Frosted Flakes cereal for some reason. She is only among my alternates because she is favored by others.

Chile-Catalina Cáceres

(UPDATE: There is a top 13, not top 12 as originally thought and since I always have 5 alternates and 5 honorable mentions, Chile moves up as my highest honorable mention to the alternates category.) Catalina has a good body and overall look. Her moves and poses are also on point. I think the gown might have been the wrong choice but she's a possibility. Somehow, in this new era, I feel she might fall short but she is one to keep an eye on.


Argentina-Estefanía Bernal

Estefania is certainly photogenic and her body is decent but maybe she could have had a bit more impact and a better gown probably would have helped too. Like Chile, I feel like she is good but somehow may just fall short.

Spain-Noelia Freire

At first, Noelia didn't really stand out to me but after preliminaries, she started to get noticed more. She is tall, elegant, lovely and performed well but is still perhaps more understated. I'm sure the Filipinos have a fondness for the Spanish delegate since Spain won their only Miss Universe crown in the Philippines when they first hosted the pageant in 1974.

Malaysia-Kiran Jassal

Kiran has been featured quite a bit in various videos in comparison to other delegates so maybe that means something. She's actually decent but as we know, it is rare that Malaysia gets noticed as they have only placed once in Miss Universe history which was back in 1970 so could Kiran bring them back? I must admit I really love her gown and that was what pulled her into my honorable mentions and she seems like she interviews well so she might do it.

Finland-Shirly Karvinen

Finland hasn't placed since 1996 when another biracial delegate, Lola Odusoga placed 2nd runner up. Shirly is half-Chinese and has a similar bullying story to last year's Miss Japan who is half-black and made the top 10 so this is what made me place Shirly as an honorable mention. Shirly also has a very toned body as well but the gown could have been better. We shall see if the story pulls her through.

China-Zhenying Li

(UPDATE: There is a top 13, not top 12 as originally thought and since I always have 5 alternates and 5 honorable mentions, China moves up as my highest of my next tier delegates to the honorable mentions category.) I think she is a formidable candidate but she isn't making a lot of lists even though it is Chinese New Year! Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy Year of the... Rooster! I wouldn't be surprised to see China place though.

Others just missing my list but could place for one reason or another are as follows:

*Germany-She has a nice face and a decent body but I didn't feel strongly enough about her during preliminaries.
*Netherlands-I like her hair and she is a decent overall candidate but she probably needed more bust but she is decent overall so she could be up there.
*Curacao-Her presentation in gown during prelims was a bit wild and fierce and she does have a decent body but I'm not entirely sure about her so we'll see if she can get a 2nd consecutive placement for Curacao which has never happened before.
*Panama-Their delegate is good this year but I think they may fall short this year. The gown isn't quite right for me.
*Nicaragua-So this is one that others are talking about and I heard the reason for that was that she was invited to attend most of the various events for the delegates in the Philippines. Her body and gown are decent but she doesn't have the facial appeal to me.
*Slovak Republic-Zuzana is actually very good in all aspects and the last and only time that Slovak Republic placed was in the Philippines back in 1994 when they last hosted but people aren't talking about her but she could be a surprise as I liked what I saw of her.
*Kenya-This country has never placed and is among the better African delegates although her short gown and midsection were some faux pas that caused her to be in this tier but Kenya did quite well at Miss World recently placing in the top 5 there so maybe that success might help her here but it looks doubtful.
*Italy-She has that long, lean body so maybe she could do it and Yamamay is a sponsor so she also could surprise.
*Kosovo-An Argentinian girl wins the Kosovo crown which is interesting in itself so there might be something to that story and she's a decent delegate.
*Jamaica-She is the tallest at 6'2" and she was decent in preliminaries but not a lot of people are talking about her and her gown could have been better so I'm not totally sure about her.
*Canada-She definitely gained weight but she has been making headlines and featured in various articles when she defended herself by saying that she is happy with how she is and she is also studying law so in this story-driven era and emphasis on interview, there is a possibility that she might parlay this into a placement.
*Czech Republic-Crown sponsor is DIC which is a Czech based company so she also could pull a surprise.
*India-Not a strong candidate this year in terms of the external but interview skills are probably strong.
*South Africa-Same as India.

So there you have it! Another year with another list! How did I do? Well, we shall know the truth Sunday night live from Manila, Philippines!

Of course, tell everyone to watch Miss Universe 2016/17 - Sunday, January 29 on FOX!
Maraming salamat po!



The PHILs are alive with the Sound of Music!

Austria's Dajana Dzinic models her national costume which features the iconic Julie Andrews in a familiar scene from the 1965 movie, 'The Sound of Music' which is the movie on which many of my first round prethoughts were based! Wow! We're on the same wavelength!

Be sure to watch the preliminaries which are being held on January 26 at 7 p.m. in the Philippines which is 3 a.m. Pacific Standard Time where all the delegates will compete in swimsuit and evening gown. The webcast should be available at on that day but this is yet to be confirmed. The 86 delegates have arrived and are participating in a whirlwind of activities throughout various parts of the Philippines where they are being so warmly received by this pageant obsessed nation! In Cebu, the delegates had the return of the little sisters (just for this event and not the final show) which was a tradition of the Miss Universe pageant from 1983 to 1995 where little girls from the host nation would serve as escorts for the semifinalists during the evening gown competition. The ladies have participated in various fashion shows, modelled their swimsuits and gowns and attended a prestigious Governor's Ball which even had Manny Pacquiao in attendance and the ladies are seeing the sights as part of the tourism segments to be featured during the final broadcast to show the world (the universe rather) what the Philippine Islands have to offer. Mabuhay!

I will be posting my final predictions on January 28 after analyzing the preliminaries and then we will all witness the magic unfold on January 29 on FOX when the Miss Universe 2016/17 pageant broadcasts live from Manila, Philippines. Flo Rida returns as special guest performer after his stint during the 2009 Miss Universe pageant in Bahamas. Steve Harvey will return as host so who knows what surprises are in store for this year but one thing is for certain, the land where Asia wears a smile is surely treating the delegates like the royalty they are and this will surely be a pageant to remember. Of course, my predictions will be finalized after I have had a chance to view all the delegates competing in preliminaries but in the meantime, a lot of you have been asking who I think the early contenders are so here is a 2nd round of prethoughts of my current feelings about each of the 86 delegates for the 65th Miss Universe pageant for 2016/17 so far.

Albania-Lindita Idrizi

Well, let's talk about this afro hairstyle that Lindita is sporting for the pageant. It certainly stands out but is it in a good way? She did win the title of Miss Europe Intercontinental 2015 so Lindita is one to watch. Remember it is more about the body and not so much the hair. As of right now, she is among my alternates as she could stand out enough to get a coveted spot in the semifinals so she is one to keep an eye on. Albania has never won the crown and their last placement was in 2010 when they made the top 10 and let's not forget that her pageant is directed by pageant photographer Fadil Berisha. Will the land where Mother Teresa spent much of her childhood make a comeback this year?

Angola-Luísa Baptista

I don't see Angola placing this year. Angola last placed when they won the crown in 2011 thanks to Leila Lopes who still remains the Miss Universe with the longest reign.

Argentina-Estefanía Bernal

Don't cry for her, Argentina! The truth is your delegate is very endearing. On top of having a very nice body, I do like what I see facially in this girl so Estefania is absolutely one to watch. The land of Evita Peron last placed in the top 10 for 2014 and they have one Miss Universe winner, Norma Nolan in 1962.

Aruba-Charlene Leslie

Placements for Aruba are rare and I'm not expecting that to change this year. Aruba's last and best placement was in 1996 when Taryn Mansell was 1st runner up. However, it should be noted that one of Aruba's placements was in 1974, the first year the Miss Universe pageant was held in the Philippines!

Australia-Caris Tiivel

The land down under has performed extremely well in recent years and a lot of eyes are on Caris to continue that trend as they have placed in 7 of the last 8 Miss Universe pageants missing out only on 2013. Caris is among my top 10 picks at the moment. Australia placed in the top 5 last year and they have won the crown two times which were in 1972 (Kerry Anne Wells) and 2004 (Jennifer Hawkins).

Austria-Dajana Dzinic

I appreciate that she is wearing a national costume inspired by the Sound of Music but the chances of Dajana placing this year are slim but we have been surprised before! Austria's last and best placement was in 1977 was when Eva Maria Duringer would place as 1st runner up and Eva would later marry one of the judges of that pageant, Roberto Cavalli.

Bahamas-Cherell Williamson

This year's Bahamian delegate is tall standing at 6 feet but I don't know if this year's delegate will place. The Bahamas have never placed in the history of Miss Universe but they have hosted the Miss Universe pageant in 2009.

Barbados-Shannon Harris

The birthplace of pop sensation Rihanna sends us their first delegate since 2007 and she is a favorite. Currently in my top 10, Shannon works as a model and is definitely one of the top contenders for this year's Miss Universe crown as she has a phenomenal body and overall look combined with that distinct Caribbean accent, I can see her winning a lot of favor this year so will Shannon get Barbados their first placement in Miss Universe history?

Belgium-Stephanie Geldhof

Belgium did place last year but I don't think this year's delegate will create enough impact to place. Belgium has never won the Miss Universe crown but they have placed in the top 6 in 1981 and 1992.

Belize-Rebecca Rath

The untouched paradise of Belize hasn't placed since 1979 so this nation normally goes unrecognized and that is not expected to change this year. Like Barbados, this country hasn't participated at Miss Universe since 2007.

Bolivia-Antonella Moscatelli

This year's pageant isn't in Los Angeles so they won't place. Of course, I'm kidding as a venue normally doesn't affect a country's chances but it is true that Bolivia's last two placements were when the Miss Universe pageant was held in Los Angeles (in 2006 and 1990). I don't see Bolivia placing this year.

Brazil-Raissa Santana

The land of the Samba has placed every year since they hosted the pageant in 2011 and not only is Raissa expected to make it a 6th year in a row but this beauty is also one of the top contenders for the crown as she is currently among my top 10. Her fabulous unique look and her majestic aura have made her a force to be reckoned with so will Raissa be this tropical paradise's third Miss Universe after Ieda Maria Vargas in 1963 and Martha Vasconcellos in 1968? Raissa is also the first black Miss Brazil in 30 years after Deise Nunes de Souza who placed 6th at Miss Universe 1986.

British Virgin Islands-Erika Creque

I think Nature's Little Secret will remain a secret this year.

Bulgaria-Violina Ancheva

The land of roses has yet to place at Miss Universe. It doesn't look like this will be their year.

Canada-Siera Bearchell

The land of the maple leaf hasn't placed since 2006 but Siera has a story about embracing volunteer work for organizations that helped her family after losing their home in a fire. She was also 1st runner up at Miss Supranational 2015 but recent pictures show her appearing a bit heavier so we'll see how she appears during preliminaries.

Cayman Islands-Monyque Brooks

The land of crystal blue waters and white coral beaches has never placed but Monyque is a talker so maybe her interview skills will get her some high points.

Chile-Catalina Cáceres

This year's delegate certainly looks prepared so she is one to watch. At the moment, I have her as an honorable mention as I'm not entirely sure about her but she could move up after preliminaries. Chile's Cecilia Bolocco won their only Miss Universe crown in 1987 and their last placement was in 2004.

China-Zhenying Li

I'm getting a warm vibe from the delegate representing the world's most populated country so Zhenying is actually among my top 15 picks at the moment as I have a feeling she will place. China last placed in 2013 and they have never won the crown.

Colombia-Andrea Tovar

Andrea seems to be favored by others and I feel part of the reason for this is because I think people feel Colombia is owed due to the crowning debacle that happened last year. I'm not as enamored though with Andrea so she is among my alternates currently as somehow I'm feeling like something similar to 2002 might happen where Colombia and Dominican Republic both sent black beauties but neither one placed and they were favored but I felt that they wouldn't place so I didn't put them in my top 10 list that year which ended up being the right thing to do. I'm feeling the same way this year but the Colombian delegate probably has a spectacular gown but I don't quite feel right about her attitude which is borderline conceited and I'm not that impressed with her body. I was reading that she received a gift of candy from someone in the Philippines and she later called it 'junk for fatties' so I wonder if she will be frowned upon. The world's finest coffee land won the Miss Universe crown twice (1958 and 2014) and have placed as 1st runner up a whopping 5 times.

Costa Rica-Carolina Rodríguez Duran

The land of peace and brotherhood sends Carolina who is another decent delegate so she could pull off a surprise placement. Recent years have been good to Costa Rica. After their first placement in 1954, they incredibly had to wait 50 years for their next placement in 2004 and they also placed in 2011 and 2013 so will Costa Rica pull off another placement this year?

Croatia-Barbara Filipović

Croatia has surprised us before so you never know. She's currently not among my picks as she doesn't seem to be making much of an impact yet she has a decent body so I'll see if she can change my mind after preliminaries. Croatia has placed twice as a semifinalist (2009 and 2012).

Curaçao-Chanelle de Lau

Curaçao made the top 10 last year so will Chanelle keep the streak going? This sunny island has never won but has come close a few times. They got a 1st runner up placement in 1968 and they also finished 4th in 1997. There's possibilities here but I don't think it will happen but we'll see if she can change my mind after preliminaries.

Czech Republic-Andrea Bezděková

The crown sponsor DIC is based in the Czech Republic so naturally the Czech delegate is one to keep an eye on. I don't have her in my list at the moment but we'll see if that changes after preliminaries. Czech Republic has never won the crown but they did have a 4 year streak in the semifinals from 2007 to 2010 so will Andrea bring them back?

Denmark-Christina Mikkelsen

The land of the little mermaid has never won the crown but they did place as 1st runner up in 1963 and last made the semifinals in 2007. I don't think whatever work they did on her face looks natural enough so this may end up working against her but Denmark has surprised us before so we'll see if she can change my mind after preliminaries but at the moment, she is not among my picks.

Dominican Republic-Rosalba "Sal" Abreu García

Although she works as a model, there was a bit controversy surrounding Sal starting a GoFundMe page as a means of fundraising for the pageant. Her look just isn't to my taste so she probably will not be in my list. The Dominican Republic won the crown in 2003 thanks to Amelia Vega and placed in the top 10 last year.

Ecuador-Connie Jiménez

The land where the hemispheres meet last placed in 2013 when they pulled off their highest placement ever when Constanza Baez placed as 2nd runner up. This year's delegate, however, is not on my list.

Finland-Shirly Karvinen

Shirly is half-Finnish on her father's side and half-Chinese on her mother's side and her unique background might garner some interest so will she bring a placement back to the land where tolerance and northern lights shine bright? Even though the land of thousands of lakes hasn't placed since 1996, they have 2 Miss Universe winners including the very first Miss Universe, Armi Kuusela who won her crown in 1952 and later married Filipino businessman, Virgilio Hilario. I'm thinking Shirly could be a potential surprise since she has a similar bullying story to last year's Miss Japan who made the top 10 so keep an eye on her.

France-Iris Mittenaere

Iris has really impressed me since her arrival and finds herself in my top 5 so will this eyeful tower get that long awaited second Miss Universe crown for her country? France has gone the longest of all the countries that have won Miss Universe without a repeat win since Christiane Martel reigned in 1953. France made the top 5 last year for the first time since their only win so this could mean something grand! France is one of three countries that has competed at every Miss Universe pageant since its inception in 1952 (Canada and Germany are the other two and USA was disqualified in 1957).

Georgia-Nuka Karalashvili

Georgia has sent better before and even then they were ignored so it looks unlikely.

Germany-Johanna Acs

Johanna is actually quite photogenic but usually some of the Europeans either don't quite have the right body or the right walk so I will be watching her closely during preliminaries but Johanna looks like she might do it. The land that has produced some of my favorite music has competed in every Miss Universe pageant since the first one in 1952. Germany hasn't placed since 2002 and they won the crown once back in 1961.

Great Britain-Jaime-Lee Faulkner

Jaime-Lee has competed in other pageants prior to this one so she has some experience. She isn't among my picks at the moment but that could change after preliminaries. Great Britain has never won the crown and last placed in 2013.

Guam-Muñeka Taisipic

I'm not expecting her to place. Guam hasn't placed since 1982 when Patty Chong Kerkos achieved their highest placement of 1st runner up.

Guatemala-Virginia Argueta

The heart of the Mundo Maya last placed in 2010 but this year's delegate is not expected to place. Height is usually a challenge for delegates from this country.

Guyana-Soyini Fraser

This country has never placed and this year's delegate is not expected to change that.

Haiti-Raquel Pélissier

Haiti hasn't placed since their best placement in 1975 when Gerthie David finished as 1st runner up. Raquel isn't one of my picks at the moment so we'll see if that changes after preliminaries.

Honduras-Sirey Moran

Sirey almost lost her crown after a dispute with her national pageant's director but it looks like that issue was resolved and Sirey is competing. Honduras hasn't placed since 1955 which makes them the country that has had to wait the longest for a repeat semifinalist. Sirey is not expected to place though.

Hungary-Veronika Bodizs

The land of the Blue Danube sends Veronika who is making a few lists but I'm not entirely sure about her so she probably won't make my list but she's decent and Hungary has surprised us before. Hungary's last placement was in 2012 when Agnes Konkoly got their highest placement as a top 10 semifinalist.

Iceland-Hildur María Leifsdóttir

The land of glaciers and lava and Björk returns this year after a 7 year absence when they last placed making the top 15 in 2009. Even though they have some experienced directors this year, I don't see a placement in Hildur's future. Iceland has never won the crown but their highest placement was as 1st runner up in 1962.

India-Roshmitha Harimurthy

India can do better as this delegate doesn't quite have the facial appeal so she is not among my picks this year. India has won Miss Universe two times thanks to Sushmita Sen in 1994 and Lara Dutta in 2000 and they last placed for 2014.

Indonesia-Kezia Warouw

For those of you who read my first round prethoughts, you will know that Kezia is my winner and still remains my winner. Kezia is tall, beautiful and graceful and is expected to bring the 4th most populated country in the world their 4th consecutive placement in the semifinals and I am looking for her to go all the way. Will Kezia do it?

Israel-Yam Kaspers Anshel

There are some good visuals for this delegate as she competes in horseback riding and also likes scuba diving and boating. Yam is also academically gifted and is preparing to enlist in Israel Defense Forces so in addition to USA's Deshauna Barber, could there be another army story here similar to many Israeli delegates before? Yam is among my honorable mentions at the moment but if I feel strongly enough about her after preliminaries, she could move into my final list so keep an eye on her. This historic land last placed in 2005 and Rina Messinger is Israel's only Miss Universe winning the crown in 1976.

Italy-Sophia Sergio

I'm not expecting the land of pasta and fashion to place this year but Yamamay is a swimsuit sponsor so hmmm... Italy has never won the Miss Universe crown but they do have two 1st runner ups (1960 and 1987).

Jamaica-Isabel Dalley

Even though this year's delegate is quite tall standing at 6'2", I'm not really sure about her so I'll be watching her during preliminaries but she isn't among my picks at the moment. Even though the island of reggae has won Miss World 3 times, they have never won the Miss Universe crown but their best placement was 1st runner up in 2010.

Japan-Sari Nakazawa

The land of the rising sun isn't expected to place this year. Japan placed last year and they have won the Miss Universe crown twice (1959 and 2007).

Kazakhstan-Darina Kulsitova

Her body isn't right for this competition so it looks like another year out for Kazakhstan which is a country that has never placed.

Kenya-Mary Esther Were

Kenya has never placed and their participation at Miss Universe has been sporadic but Mary Esther Were does have a chance at getting Kenya's first ever placement. Kenya recently placed in the top 5 at Miss World 2016 and their delegate for Miss Universe looks promising so I have her as an honorable mention at the moment but we'll see if that changes after preliminaries.

Korea-Jenny Kim

I don't see this year's Korean delegate placing. Korea last placed in 2007 and the closest they came to the crown was a 1st runner up placement in 1988.

Kosovo-Camila Barraza

Camila was actually born in Argentina but works in Kosovo as a model so will her exotic look help her in this competition? Their national director is pageant photographer, Fadil Berisha which may explain Kosovo's strong showings in recent years placing 4 times since 2008. Currently, I have Camila as an alternate as her looks intrigues me so I will determine where exactly I place her after preliminaries. Kosovo's highest placement was as 2nd runner up in 2009 but they haven't placed since 2012.

Malaysia-Kiran Jassal

Malaysia normally doesn't place and that isn't expected to change this year. They have only placed once which was back in 1970.

Malta-Martha Fenech

Malta has never placed as their delegates normally don't have the body for this competition so I don't see her placing.

Mauritius-Kushboo Ramnawaj

Kushboo was originally crowned Miss Mauritius 2014 but withdrew from participating in Miss Universe 2015 due to personal reasons but directorship changed this year and Kushboo has been given the opportunity to compete this year so we shall see how well her team has trained her and if she can get the first placement for the peaceful island of paradise.

Mexico-Kristal Silva

The land of the Mariachi placed last year and they even skipped a year to align with the delay that Miss Universe has experienced lately and they have sent a contender. Kristal is among my top 10 picks at the moment as she does have a very strong overall look so I see her doing very well. Mexico has won the Miss Universe crown twice (1991 and 2010).

Myanmar-Htet Htet Htun

Myanmar has never placed and this year's delegate isn't quite strong enough for the competition.

Namibia-Lizelle Esterhuizen

The smile of Africa and the only African nation to host the Miss Universe pageant sends us a tall delegate in Lizelle. I don't quite think this delegate will place but I will have a better idea after preliminaries. Namibia won their only Miss Universe crown in 1992 and they haven't placed since 2003.

Netherlands-Zoey Ivory

Zoey is making a few lists but I feel she may not be busty enough but I'll have a better idea after preliminaries. The land of tulips and windmills made the top 5 for 2014 which was their last placement and Angela Visser won the crown for Holland in 1989 so we shall see how Zoey does.

New Zealand-Tania Dawson

New Zealand won the crown once in 1983 but the Kiwis haven't placed since 1992 surprisingly. Their bet this year is half-Filipina on her mother's side so maybe she could appeal to the locals but I don't think she quite has the body but we'll see after preliminaries.

Nicaragua-Marina Jacoby

The land of lakes and volcanoes last placed in 2013 but this year's delegate is not expected to place.

Nigeria-Unoaku Anyadike

Placements for Nigeria are rare. Their only placement was in 2001 by Agbani Darego who would go on to win Miss World later that year. This year's delegate is tall and has a nice face but I need to see more of her body so I'll be watching her during preliminaries.

Norway-Christina Waage

The land of the fjords hasn't placed since 2005 and they won the crown once in 1990. This year's delegate is somewhat deceptive as some of her headshots look very good but then you see some other shots of her and it's like a completely different girl so I feel this country needs to work on their delegates better because the potential is there.

Panama-Keity Drennan

This tropical isthmus last placed in 2011 and Keity is one to keep an eye on. For some reason, I see her being cut even though she has a decent body so I'll wait until after preliminaries to see where I put her.

Paraguay-Andrea Melgarejo

Andrea has competed in other pageants like Miss Earth so she does have experience so she is one to watch as there are possibilities here. Paraguay has never won and they last placed in 2006 and 2004 placing as 3rd runner up both times.

Peru-Valeria Piazza

Valeria is both warm and hot at the same time so she remains among my top 5 picks at the moment. The land of the Incas last placed in 2012 and their only winner was Gladys Zender back in 1957.

Philippines-Maxine Medina

Even though Maxine has the most pressure of any delegate this year, she is poised to do well in the competition. She has the pressure of maintaining the Philippines' long running streak in the semifinals and she is also representing the host country one year after winning the crown! I have Maxine in my top 10 at the moment but I actually wouldn't be surprised to see her in the top 5. The warm reception of the delegates this year by her country can only help Maxine in the competition.

Poland-Izabella Krzan

I don't have Izabella in my list as I don't feel she quite has the body for this competition. Placements for Poland are rare. They did place in 2012 but have never won the crown.

Portugal-Flávia Brito

Portugal got their first placement ever in 2011 finishing in the top 10. This year's delegate is decent and could pull a surprise but it seems unlikely.

Puerto Rico-Brenda Jiménez

After a real-life telenovela following Kristhielee Caride being stripped of the Puerto Rican title, Brenda Jiménez now has been given the opportunity to represent the shining star of the Caribbean. Puerto Rico has won the Miss Universe crown 5 times (1970, 1985, 1993, 2001 and 2006) and last placed in 2013. While Kristhielee was a potential winner, Brenda is considered a downgrade but looks like she could hold her own so I'll wait until preliminaries to determine where I place her.

Romania-Teodora Dan

The land of mysterious Dracula has never placed and that isn't expected to change this year.

Russia-Yuliana Korolkova

I don't think this year's Russian delegate quite has the body so she is not among my picks although she does give a good headshot. Russia last placed in 2012 and their only winner, Oxana Fedorova was dethroned in 2002.

Sierra Leone-Hawa Kamara

I love this girl's genuine glow so she is among my top 15 picks at the moment. I realize she might not have the body/height but she reminds me a lot of Tanzania's Flaviana Matata who placed 6th at Miss Universe 2007 so I feel that the judge's will take a liking to Hawa just like a lot of other people and she could get Sierra Leone's first placement ever.

Singapore-Cheryl Chou

Placements for Singapore are rare and this year's delegate is not in my list. Singapore last placed in 1987 which was also the year they hosted the Miss Universe pageant.

Slovak Republic-Zuzana Kollárová

Slovak Republic placed only once which was in 1994 in the Philippines so will they finally get their return to the semifinals with this edition in the Philippines? Zuzana does have a decent body and overall look but I think I see a tattoo on the side of her ribs so tsk tsk.

Slovenia-Lucija Potočnik

Slovenia placed only once which was in 2007 so will the land of the first lady of the U.S. do it this year? I think Lucija's body isn't quite right so I don't think she will place.

South Africa-Ntandoyenkosi Kunene

South Africa placed last year so will Ntandoyenkosi do it again for Mandela's rainbow nation? This year's delegate bears a lot of similarities to last year's delegate so maybe she will excel in interview and get that coveted spot in the semifinals but I have her as an honorable mention at the moment. South Africa's only Miss Universe is Margaret Gardiner who won the crown in 1978.

Spain-Noelia Freire

Even though Spain won its only crown in the Philippines back in 1974, it doesn't look like they will place this year.

Sri Lanka-Jayathi De Silva

Sri Lanka hasn't placed since their only placement back in 1955. It doesn't look like that will change this year.

Sweden-Ida Ovmar

The land of the midnight sun hasn't had much success in recent years and that isn't expected to change this year. Sweden has won the crown 3 times (1955, 1966 and 1984) and they last placed in 2009.

Switzerland-Dijana Cvijetić

The land of the Alps and chocolates returns this year after missing out last year but this year's delegate is also not expected to place. Switzerland has never won the crown and they last placed in 2013.

Tanzania-Jihan Dimachk

Tanzania last placed in 2007 and this year's delegate intrigues me as she has a very nice face. She is not on my list at the moment but we shall see if that changes after preliminaries as she has potential.

Thailand-Chalita Suansane

At the moment, Chalita is among my top 15 picks. She is garnering a lot of favor universally so she may just get Thailand in the semifinals two years in a row as she seems to be a well-prepared, decent all-around delegate. Thailand has hosted two Miss Universe pageants (1992 and 2005) and they have won two Miss Universe crowns in the years of 1965 and 1988.

Turkey-Tansu Sila Çakir

I have Tansu in my top 10 as this girl is actually quite stunning! Turkey pulled off a surprise placement in 2012 and they have never won the crown but Tansu has a real shot at going far in the competition so keep an eye on this lovely lady.

Ukraine-Alena Spodynyuk

Alena is among my top 15 picks at the moment but I wonder if Ukraine will go back to being ignored so with a certain someone no longer involved, one can only wonder if Ukraine will still enjoy the success it has had recently placing 6 of the last 10 years. I'll have a better idea after preliminaries. Ukraine has never won but they were 1st runner up in 2011 and 2nd runner up for 2014 but missed the semifinals last year.

Uruguay-Magdalena Cohendet

Placements for Uruguay are rare and this year's delegate isn't expected to change that. Uruguay hasn't placed since 1985.

USA-Deshauna Barber

You'll remember in my prethoughts for Miss USA that I felt Deshauna didn't have the body for the competition. I feel the same way this time around so I think Miss USA is enough for her as respect for her service in the Army but I just have her as an alternate right now as I'm currently feeling very 2002 about both USA and Colombia which is coincidentally the last time a Miss USA from the District of Columbia competed so we'll see what happens.

US Virgin Islands-Carolyn Carter

The US Virgin Islands return after a 5 year absence from competing at Miss Universe but they haven't placed since 1971 and a placement isn't expected this year.

Venezuela-Mariam Habach

Also in my top 5 is the international pageant powerhouse of Venezuela who is sending a polarizing delegate but I see all the necessary elements in Mariam. I see a great body, glamour, warmth, animated presentation and strong speaking skills which are necessary assets at this magnitude of competition. Mariam even won the Flawless of the Universe award for her excellent skin after the Cebu swimsuit show which came with a $1000 U.S. cash prize. Mariam has a chance to win the 8th Miss Universe crown for her nation so we will see if she can pull it off.

Vietnam-Đặng Thị Lệ Hằng

Vietnam has only placed once which was in 2008, the year they hosted the Miss Universe pageant but this year's delegate is not expected to place.

So there you have it! Again, preliminaries are on January 26 and I will post my final predictions on January 28 and then the truth will be unveiled on January 29 on FOX!!
Maraming salamat po!



Watch Miss Universe 2016/17 on January 29, 2017 at 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on FOX!

Who will succeed the Philippines’ Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach and be crowned the new Miss Universe? The 86 delegates for Miss Universe 2016/17 are starting to arrive in the Philippines so it is now time to post my first round prethoughts for the 65th Miss Universe pageant which is being held at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines. This year’s event will see the return of host Steve Harvey, who has reportedly signed a 5 year deal to host the pageant, even after the not-so-little crowning debacle that occurred last time when he mistakenly named the runner-up Colombia’s Ariadna Gutierrez as Miss Universe only to take a walk of shame a few minutes later to reveal his mistake resulting in Ariadna’s infamous uncrowning and the crowning of the actual winner, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach of the Philippines. Pia will be giving up her crown in the pageant-obsessed land she represented in a spectacular event that will surely have the whole world singing ‘Mabuhay’ at its conclusion!

'16 Going on '17

Armi Kuusela-Miss Universe 1952Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach-Miss Universe 2015 Call this leap year the second as 2016 becomes the second calendar year to not have a Miss Universe pageant in it just like 2014 so instead the 65th Miss Universe pageant is being held in January 2017 so Miss Universe ’16 is going on ’17! The 2014 Miss Universe pageant was pushed to January 2015 just like this year’s pageant which is technically the 2016 Miss Universe pageant is being held in January 2017. Of course, I must reiterate my fear that this could be become a permanent skip and we might end up post-dating some previous Miss Universe titles and 2014 might forever remain a skipped year and Pia Wurtzbach, who was crowned near the end of the year 2015 could technically be named Miss Universe 2016 instead of 2015. It is quite possible that the cause of these post-dated pageants is due to ratings. The 63rd Miss Universe pageant held in January 2015 enjoyed decent ratings in the U.S. but the pageant in December 2015 experienced a dip in the ratings by 1.5 million viewers compared to the one held in January which is deemed a significant loss these days so for presumably higher ratings, they are having the Miss Universe pageant during awards season at the end of January and the week before the Super Bowl which is traditionally the event that gets the highest ratings in the U.S. If the 2016/17 Miss Universe pageant gets over 7.5 million U.S. viewers then that will probably mean that could mean that 2014 will be a forever skipped year and we may end up having post-dated Miss Universe titles like they did in the 1950s. The first official Miss Universe pageant was held in 1952 but that winner, Finland’s Armi Kuusela’s sash read 1953 on it as the winners of the 50s had their titles postdated. As of the 1960s, the winners would be named the titleholder of the year in which they won the title. The USA’s Linda Bement was named Miss Universe 1960 and crowned during that year. The post-dated title is a common practice of the Miss America pageant, excluding the years of 2006 to 2013 when the Miss America titleholders where held during the year they reigned but they went back to their traditional method of post-dating titles in 2013 when New York’s Nina Davuluri was crowned Miss America 2014 in September 2013. This begs the question will the next Miss Universe pageant be held in 2017 or will it be held in 2018 causing a possible permanent post-dating of the Miss Universe title? Philippines’ Pia Wurtzbach now becomes the second Miss Universe to reign over three calendar years being crowned on December 20, 2015 and giving up her crown on January 29, 2017. Venezuela’s Gabriela Isler was the first Miss Universe to reign over three calendar years being crowned in November 2013 and giving up her crown in January 2015. This gives the Philippines’ Pia Wurtzbach the fourth longest reign in Miss Universe history as she reigns from December 20, 2015 to January 29, 2017 which equals 13 months and 1 week. The longest Miss Universe reign still belongs to Miss Universe 2011, Angola's Leila Lopes who reigned from September 12, 2011 to December 19, 2012 = 15 months and 1 week. Miss Universe 2013, Venezuela’s Gabriela Isler's reign from November 9, 2013 to January 25, 2015 was 14 months and 2 weeks and Miss Universe 2005, Canada's Natalie Glebova had the third longest reign from May 31, 2005 to July 23, 2006 = 13 months and 3 weeks.

The Thrilla in Manila
(Tom's Page of Miss Universe Manila)

As widely speculated, this year’s Miss Universe pageant is being held in the tropical haven of Asia, the Philippines for the third time in history! The Philippines was the first Asian country to host the Miss Universe pageant in 1974 and then they hosted again in 1994 so naturally to continue the 20 year chain, I was hoping the 2014 Miss Universe pageant would be held in the Philippines but 2014 ended up not even having a Miss Universe pageant In it as that year’s pageant was pushed to January 2015 and was held in Miami, Florida, USA. Since the 2016/17 pageant in being held technically 22 years after the 1994 pageant, maybe the chain is 20-22-24 years and the next Miss Universe pageant hosted by the Philippines would be in 2040 or will it revert back to the 20-year chain and perhaps the 2034 pageant could be held in the Philippines! Amparo Munoz-Miss Universe 1974 and her courtSushmita Sen-Miss Universe 1994 and her court The 1974 Miss Universe pageant was the third pageant to be held off mainland United States. With television satellite development, it became possible to broadcast live events from other countries. After years of holding the Miss Universe pageant in California and Florida, the 1972 pageant was held on the island of Puerto Rico, then the 1973 pageant won by the Philippines’ own Margarita Moran was held in Athens, Greece and the 1974 pageant was held in the Philippines for Margarita to crown her successor in her home country, Spain’s Amparo Munoz who tragically passed away in 2011 of brain cancer making Amparo the second Miss Universe to enter mortality after Miss Universe 1955, Sweden’s Hillevi Rombin Schine passed away in a plane crash in 1996. Spain’s Amparo Munoz was the only Miss Universe to have never been invited back to a succeeding Miss Universe pageant as she did not technically complete her reign and was rumored to be hard to handle and even punched her chaperone, perhaps a behavior learned from her father who was a boxer! To add to the drama in 1974, Amparo’s runner up at Miss Universe was Helen Morgan of Wales who would later that year win the Miss World title only to resign shortly after it was discovered that Helen was an unwed mother of an 18-month old child which is technically was not a violation of the rules at the time which stated that participants had to never have been married but didn’t say anything about having children. Helen felt pressured to resign and the Miss World pageant later included the rule that participants should not have had a child. The 1974 Miss Universe crown was not given to the 2nd runner up, Finland’s Johanna Raunio but coincidentally Finland would win the 1975 Miss Universe crown thanks to Anne Marie Pohtamo who was crowned in El Salvador by Miss Universe 1972, Australia’s Kerry Anne Wells. The Miss Universe pageant would return to the Philippines in 1994 with a much beloved pageant hosted by Bob Goen and featuring one of the best top 3s in pageant history with India’s Sushmita Sen taking the crown with Colombia’s Carolina Gomez finishing as 1st runner up and Carolina still holds the record for the highest recorded evening gown score in the Miss Universe pageant’s history (a whopping 9.897) and the 2nd runner up was the revered Photogenic-award winner with the fabulous name, Venezuela’s Minorka Mercado. The 1994 pageant is considered a must-watch for those who want to experience the glory of pageants past. What treasures will be revealed from the 65th Miss Universe pageant which is the third being held in the pearl of the Orient, the Philippines?
Maxine Medina is crowned Miss Philippines by Pia Wurtzbach, Miss Universe 2015
Of course, no one feels more pressure in this year’s pageant than the host delegate, the Philippines’ Maxine Medina. Maxine is in that stressful position of not only representing the host country but also the country of the reigning Miss Universe, Pia Wurtzbach. Add to this pressure, that the Philippines currently holds the longest streak in the semifinals placing every year since 2010, 6 years in a row and Maxine hopes to continue that streak and make it a 7th year which most people expect to happen. However, it is extremely rare for a country to win two years in a row and the only country that has done that is Venezuela who captured the Miss Universe crowns in 2008 and 2009 thanks to Dayana Mendoza and Stefania Fernandez. There have been other close instances when a country got as close as 1st runner up at Miss Universe succeeding their country’s win from the previous year. The first woman to do this was India’s Manpreet Brar in 1995 who placed 1st runner up when her country won the year before. The next woman was another Venezuelan, Marena Bencomo in 1997 who was 1st runner up the year after her country won and just recently, Colombia’s Ariadna Gutierrez was 1st runner up for 2015, the year after her country won. 6 of the 8 American Miss Universe winners won in their home country (1954, 1956, 1960, 1967, 1997, 2012) as did 1 Puerto Rican in 2001 so what does fate have in store for Maxine and what will her place in history be?

When the TrumPence Sound

Alicia Machado-Miss Universe 1996 with Donald TrumpWhen the bee stings, when I’m feeling sad. I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad. Call it a sign of the times if you will. The presidential race in the United States came to a conclusion in 2016 and the world learned the results on November 8, 2016. As of January 20, 2017, the new president of the United States will be none other than Donald Trump! Trump selected Indiana governor Mike Pence to be his vice president. Of course, pageant fans are very aware that Trump purchased the Miss Universe family of pageants in 1996 and then sold part of his stake in 2003 to NBC, then bought back the entire pageant in 2015 and then sold it to WME/IMG who took ownership of the pageant prior to the 2015 Miss Universe pageant prior to Pia Wurtzbach’s win. On June 16, 2015, Trump made the official announcement that he was running to be the Republican candidate for the U.S. presidency and during his speech, he made some controversial remarks about Mexicans and this resulted in a near derailment of the 2015 Miss USA pageant that was set to air a month later on July 12, 2015. The original performers, hosts, judges and the network NBC all boycotted the pageant resulting in a chaotic scramble to get the pageant back on track and it all came together with the network Reelz stepping in to air the pageant. Donald Trump seemed to have amended his relationship with NBC after buying back his share in the Miss Universe pageant from them as Trump was invited to host NBC’s Saturday Night Live on November 7, 2015 and Trump serves as a producer of the show he once hosted, ‘The Celebrity Apprentice’ which began airing on NBC in January 2017 but with a new host, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Of course, controversy has been the name of the game in the publicity of pageants while Trump owned them and that even continued after he left with the last Miss Universe pageant with the infamous uncrowning of Colombia’s Ariadna Gutierrez. Alicia Machado is crowned Miss Universe 1996 by predecessor, Chelsi Smith Controversy was also very much a part of his run for president and he took it all the way to the Whitehouse. Trump’s rival in the run for president was Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton (the wife of former U.S. president, Bill Clinton) who many thought would become the first female president of the United States and even though Hillary had over 2.8 million more votes than Trump, the U.S. election is determined by the Electoral College system so whoever has more than 270 electoral votes becomes the president and Trump got 306. This caused some to question the fairness of the Electoral College system which sees a state like Wyoming with a low population have more voting power than a highly populated state like California. The last time the winner of the popular vote lost due to this system was in 2000 when a super tight race saw George W. Bush get just a few more electoral votes than Al Gore. During the presidential race, since Trump was involved, pageantry got in the mix with some former delegates supporting Trump and others accusing him of being inappropriate doing things like walking into changing rooms and a tape from 2005 was even revealed of Trump making lewd remarks talking with Billy Bush (who hosted the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants from 2003 to 2005 and 2009) on an Access Hollywood bus. Deshauna Barber-Miss USA 2016 Access Hollywood was the show Billy hosted at the time. Trump passed it off as locker room talk but that ended up getting Billy Bush to resign after being suspended from his job on NBC’s Today Show. One central figure during the presidential debates was Miss Universe 1996 herself, Venezuela’s Alicia Machado who gained weight during her reign as Miss Universe and she said Trump called her names like Miss Piggy and Miss Housekeeping and an eating machine. I, of course, was very familiar with the situation as many of you know, I have written about it multiple times. Alicia is even Honoree #3 in my Shrine article written in 1998 when I started this website. Naturally, I got all giddy when, to my surprise, Hillary Clinton mentioned Alicia Machado’s name during the presidential debates saying that Alicia had just become an American citizen and she would be voting. Alicia was seen supporting Hillary Clinton during various campaigning events and Alicia, while making the media rounds, said she was very hurt by what Trump said to her. Trump’s defense was that with his comments, he was trying to help her and show Alicia some tough love. Of course, the Donald-Alicia connection runs deeper as the pattern-finder in me had to reveal this little gem of a pattern I found. Donald Trump took over the Miss Universe pageant in 1996 while the 45th Miss Universe who was Venezuela’s Alicia Machado reigned and now Donald Trump is the 45th president of the United States and not only are both Alicia and Donald the 45th holders of their respective titles but they both also succeeded biracial winners - Donald Trump succeeded Barack Obama and Alicia Machado succeeded Chelsi Smith! These parallels have a way of emerging and further my belief that pageants are very relevant. So the United States have yet to crown a female president but perhaps, people voted for a businessman like Trump because they were sick of the politics of politics and wanted to see how America would be if it was run like a business… However, there has been a lot of repulsive behavior exposed so people need to remain vigilant. Who knows what the future holds but one thing is certain, the next four years are going to be very interesting so we shall see how it all plays out. The first Miss USA to be crowned since Trump sold the pageant to WME/IMG will be competing for the Miss Universe crown in the Philippines. The nation’s capital of the District of Columbia was represented by Deshauna Barber whose story of serving in the U.S. Armed Forces propelled her to the win at Miss USA but can she do it at Miss Universe? Deshauna is the District of Columbia’s third Miss USA succeeding Bobbi Johnson in 1964 and Shauntay Hinton in 2002 who both did not make the top 10 at their respective Miss Universe pageants although Bobbi was among the top 15 so if Deshauna can at least make it to the top 10, she could surpass her capital predecessors.

Ti Do Re Mi Fa / In Do Ne Si A

Indonesia-Kezia Warouw
Indonesia-Kezia WarouwIndonesia-Kezia WarouwYou might notice some of these headlines are a play on some songs from the film, ‘The Sound of Music,’ which came out in “1965” and this is the “65th” Miss Universe pageant after all so here’s a wild attempt to rewrite a famous song from that film, “In-A Way to Enter Through. Do-A Deer, A Female Deer. Ne-A Horse Bray or a Vote to Reject. Si-A yes, a Spanish Yes. A-An expression of delight or fear...” – So this one’s a bit of a stretch but you get where I’m going with this! I thought we would focus on Indonesia’s delegate, Kezia Roslin Cikita Warouw who is currently my winner for Miss Universe 2016/17. Indonesia is the 4th most populated country in the world after China, India and the USA so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they are looking for their moment of glory and Kezia could become a hero by getting a win for these 13,000 spectacular islands. Indonesia regularly invites Miss Universe winners to assist in crowning their Miss (Puteri) Indonesia winners and although, relatively quiet in terms of pageant performance for years, Indonesia is a country that does have a lot of pageant fans. Their first placement was in 2005 and they have placed 3 consecutive years from 2013 to 2015 so will Kezia not only bring Indonesia their 4th placement in a row but also the coveted win?? Remember that Indonesia did win the National Costume award for 2014 and it was determined by an Internet vote and in recent years, Internet voting has become an important part of the selection process of the winner so I can see it happening for Kezia who is unusually tall for an Indonesian woman standing at 6 feet tall with her fabulous long legs and she works as a model and she has very striking features. Nicknamed Keke, she is also very smart as she holds a degree in Informatics Engineering and worked as a head of Accounting and Finance. Kezia volunteers for Smile Train Indonesia which is a charity that provides free cleft lip and palate surgery and care to children in need which is a cause that has garnered much attention in the Miss World pageant in recent years and cognizance of this may cross over to the Miss Universe pageant. Kezia also hopes to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS which is one of the main causes Miss Universe works for throughout her reign. Another interesting factoid to note was that in the last Miss Universe pageant to be held in the Philippines in 1994, Venna Melinda was supposed to be representing Indonesia but she could not participate in the pageant due to some of her country’s members’ religious disagreement at the time with the swimsuit competition and so Venna only watched the pageant as an audience member. Will the Philippines lift up Indonesia in a big way this time around?? Also remember that the Philippines has crowned first time winners of major countries before like Spain in 1974 and India in 1994 so will the 4th most populated country in the world, Indonesia experience its first win in the Philippines?

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Mariam?

Venezuela-Mariam HabachVenezuela-Mariam Habach You just work in a little of Osmel Sousa’s Venezuelan magic and voila! Instant glamazon! Mariam Habach is the pageant powerhouse nation of Venezuela’s bet for the Miss Universe crown and no country can compare to Venezuela when it comes to the international pageant scene. Venezuela has more international pageant crowns than any other country and Mariam has an opportunity to become the eighth Miss Universe for the gateway of South America. Venezuela is the only country to have won the Miss Universe title two years in a row and their seven Miss Universe titleholders are Maritza Sayalero (1979), Irene Saez (1981), Barbara Palacios Teyde (1986), Alicia Machado (1996), Dayana Mendoza (2008), Stefania Fernandez (2009) and Gabriela Isler (2013). Now we have Mariam representing this pageant powerhouse and as expected, she certainly has the body and the long legs standing at 6 feet tall. She also has the moves and her strong stage presentation is bound to make a powerful impact on this year’s competition. Mariam’s mother is Italian and Mariam’s father is from the ravaged nation of Syria which is a country in crisis after the Syrian civil war and now many refugees are seeking shelter in other countries around the world so this may come up when Mariam tells her story. Mariam is studying to be a dentist and speaks four languages: Spanish, English, Italian and Arabic. Venezuela is currently a country that has experienced a significant amount of economic turmoil recently so one can only wonder if this will garner some sympathy for their nation's representative to give hope to that nation. Can Mariam do it?


Brazil-Raissa SantanaDeise Nunes de Souza-Miss Brazil 1986 Every morning you greet me… It is very rare that a woman of color wins the Miss Brazil title but when one does, you better believe she will be universally adored. Such is the case with Raissa Santana from Parana with whom the world seems to be madly in love including myself which is why Raissa is currently among my top 3 picks for the Miss Universe crown. Another Miss Brazil of color was Deise Nunes de Souza who stunned her way to a 6th place ranking at the 1986 Miss Universe pageant and while this was a respectable finish, many people feel that Deise should have placed even higher. Now we have Raissa Santana who has a strong chance of capturing the Miss Universe crown and maintaining the land of samba’s streak in the semifinals as they have placed every year since the year they hosted the Miss Universe pageant which was in 2011 and three of those years were placements in the top 5 but Brazil seems to have dipped in the last two Miss Universe pageant even though they placed among the semifinalists so Raissa, with her stunning and fabulous exotic looks is being counted on to bring on a resurgence for the fifth most populated country in the world. Raissa stands 5 feet 9 inches tall and holds a Marketing degree. She also loves to cook and play basketball. Brazil has won the Miss Universe crown twice – Ieda Maria Vargas (1963) and Martha Vasconcellos (1968) so will the beautiful flower of noble Raissa get a third win for this tropical paradise?

I Have ‘Confidently Beautiful’ Confidence in Me

Barbados-Shannon HarrisPeru-Valeria Piazza with Pia Wurtzbach-Miss Universe 2015The island nation of Barbados from which the popular singer Rihanna hails sends a very strong delegate this year, Shannon Harris seems to be a favorite on many lists and she could very well become this country’s first semifinalist in Miss Universe history. Shannon is competing in the Philippines for the Miss Universe crown and she will certainly ‘work’ and show us ‘this is what she came for’. Lightning strikes every time she moves or at least, it feels like lightning when she electrifies the stage with her jawdropping beauty and glamour. Shannon works as a professional model and she wants to demonstrate how confidently beautiful she is by encouraging young girls to love themselves and advising that being true to yourself is the best thing you can do, similarly to the words from a very notable Shakespearian. Barbados doesn’t often compete for Miss Universe. In fact, their last participant competed 9 years ago in the 2007 Miss Universe pageant. Will Shannon make a huge name for herself and for her country? Another strong contestant for the Miss Universe crown is the representative of the land of the Incas, Peru! Valeria Piazza is a stunning beauty who is also well prepared. Valeria holds a degree in Communications from Universidad de Lima. Peru hasn’t won the crown since their only titleholder, Gladys Zender did it back in 1957. Peru’s placements have been sporadic in recent years but their titleholders do receive strong preparation from Jessica Newton, Miss Peru 1987 who was a top 10 semifinalist at Miss Universe who has been active in Peru’s pageant scene for several years. Peru hasn’t placed since 2012 so will Valeria bring the land of Machu Picchu back in a very big way?

Climb Every Rocky Mountain

Canada-Siera BearchellCanada, the land of the maple leaf, is being represented by Siera Bearchell, who is no stranger to the pageant world and has quite the pageant resumé. Not only was Siera 1st runner up to Miss Supranational 2015 but she was also 2nd runner up at Miss Teen World 2009. She was also 1st runner up at that controversial year of Miss Universe Canada 2013 where the wrong winner was originally crowned but the results were corrected and Riza Santos was declared the actual winner. It was an episode similar to what happened with Pia Wurtzbach's crowning. Another instance in the past where the wrong winner was crowned only to be corrected later was at Miss California USA 2008 when there was a tabulation error and Raquel Beezley was later declared the winner even though Cristina Silva was crowned on the night of the pageant. Siera hails from the central Canadian province of Saskatchewan which is a province that hasn’t produced many pageant winners. In 2009, shortly before she was a Saskatchewan teen titleholder, Siera’s family lost their home in a fire but her family received assistance from the Canadian Red Cross and this experience led Siera to compete in pageants to use her platform as an opportunity to give back and help others. Siera has even done volunteer work with charities in other countries like Kenya and Nicaragua. Siera also wears a lot of hats (or crowns?) as she also studied law at the University of Saskatchewan and she also runs her own clothing business called Watered Down Apparel. She is also very athletic and this competitive spirit coupled with her achievements and charity work should help Siera in the Miss Universe pageant. Canada hasn’t placed at Miss Universe since 2006 and has won the Miss Universe crown twice (1982 and 2005) so will Siera bring the true north, strong and free, back to the semifinals in a big way and will she climb every Rocky mountain until she finds her dream?

The Young and the Crownless

Brenda Jimenez and Kristhielee CarideKristhielee CarideGenesis Davila is sashed Miss Florida USA 2017 by predecessor Brie Gabrielle In true telenovela style, there has been a lot of Puerto Rican drama in the pageant world. Puerto Rico was originally supposed to be represented at Miss Universe by Kristhieelee Caride who was dethroned after an interview with Venezuelan entertainment reporter Patricia Vargas in which Kristhielee appeared rather nonchalant and unenthusiastic. Desiree Lowry, Miss Puerto Rico 1995 and top 6 finalist at Miss Universe 1995, is now the national director for Miss Universe Puerto Rico. She gave a televised announcement regarding Kristhielee being fired due to her attitude with the reporter and later it was said she was missing scheduled appearances. Beauty queens are normally expected to be regularly on the ball in many cases but Kristhielee’s defense was that she was having a bad day. Even after an apology letter, this case went to court but the judge did not side with Kristhielee. Call it a case of Caribbean Blue turned Caride-‘n’ Blue as I’m sure Kristhielee feels blue that she will no longer be representing the shining star of the Caribbean. Kristhielee was originally my winner after she was crowned but the new representative for Puerto Rico, who is Brenda Jimenez is a bit of a question mark. This was not the only case of dethronement involving a Puerto Rican beauty queen. Genesis Davila has quite the pageant resumé as she was Miss Puerto Rico World 2014 (unplaced at Miss World 2014), she was 1st runner up to Miss Universe Puerto Rico 2013, Monic Perez and she was also 1st runner up to Miss Intercontinental 2012. Genesis would originally win the Miss Florida USA 2017 pageant only to be dethroned after she was alleged to have hired professional hair and make-up artists for the state pageant which is apparently against that pageant’s rules giving her an unfair advantage. Linette De Los Santos who was Davila’s runner up at Miss Florida USA will now represent Florida at Miss USA 2017 this summer. Interestingly enough, given all this Puerto Rican drama, they managed to win the Miss World crown in December! Stephanie Del Valle won the 2016 Miss World crown and it is quite a feat for a country to hold the Miss Universe crown and Miss World crowns in the same year but it has actually happened several times with countries like France (1953), Australia (1972), Venezuela (1981), India (1994 and 2000) so will Brenda Jimenez be the next to achieve this feat and possibly get a 6th Miss Universe crown for Puerto Rico?

Rest in Peace, Alan Thicke (So Long, Farewell)

2016 was a year that saw many shocking celebrity deaths including those of David Bowie, Prince, and George Michael (whose song ‘Careless Whisper’ was used as the 2000 Miss Universe evening gown competition song but performed by Montell Jordan and Dave Koz). Also passing away were Carrie Fisher (best known for playing Princess Leia in the Star Wars films) and one day later, her grieving mother actress Debbie Reynolds who was a pageant winner who was discovered after winning the Little Miss Burbank pageant at age 16. This year even saw the passing of Florence Henderson best known from ‘The Brady Bunch’ but she has also co-hosted past Mrs. America and Mrs. World pageants. Alan Thicke and Porntip Nakhirunkanok-Miss Universe 1988Alan Thicke and Gina Tolleson-Miss World 1990 hosting the 1992 Miss World America pageant However, since this website focuses on the Miss Universe family of pageants, there was a notable death when Alan Thicke, who hosted the 1988 Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants, tragically passed away after suffering a heart attack while playing hockey with his son Carter who is the son of pageant royalty himself. Carter is Thicke’s youngest son with his second wife, Gina Tolleson who was Miss World 1990 and 1st runner up to Miss USA 1990, Michigan’s Carole Gist. From 1981 to 1991, a runner up at the Miss USA pageant would automatically become the United States representative at Miss World whereas the winner of Miss USA represents the United States at Miss Universe. Other Miss USA 1st runners-up that would later compete at Miss World included Shauna Gambill in 1998 and just recently, Audra Mari (1st runner up to Miss USA 2014) won the right to represent the United States at the 2016 Miss World pageant. Both Shauna and Audra finished in the top 10 at their respective Miss World pageants. Alan Thicke had quite a storied career as a songwriter of some very notable songs including the theme songs for hit American sitcoms, ‘Diff’rent Strokes’ and ‘The Facts of Life’. He would later host a Canadian talk show ‘Thicke of the Night’ and he was even a judge at the 1984 Miss Universe pageant in Miami (won by Sweden’s Yvonne Ryding) before landing the role that made him famous: Jason Seaver, the father on the hit 80s sitcom, ‘Growing Pains.’ Thicke’s fame at the time would land him the role of succeeding long-time Miss Universe host, Bob Barker who hosted Miss USA and Miss Universe for 21 years which is the longest period of any host (from 1967 to 1987). Thicke would succeed Barker who left the pageants due to his disagreement with awarding pageant winners with furs. Thicke would host the 1988 Miss USA pageant in El Paso, Texas which saw host-delegate Texas’ Courtney Gibbs winning the 4th of 5 consecutive Texas wins at that pageant. Thicke would later host the 1988 Miss Universe pageant in Taiwan which saw Thailand’s Porntip Nakhirunkanok take the crown. Thicke was replaced the following year with Dick Clark at Miss USA 1989 and John Forsythe at Miss Universe 1989. Even though 1988 was Thicke’s only year to host the Miss USA and Universe pageants, he would host other pageants including the 1992 Miss World America pageant along with his soon-to-be second wife, Gina Tolleson. Thicke also hosted the 2004 Miss Universe Canada pageant which was won by Venessa Fisher but included a notable delegate, Natalie Glebova as 3rd runner up who would go on to win Miss Universe Canada the next year and subsequently Miss Universe 2005! Thicke also hosted the Mrs. World 2006 pageant in Russia which saw a similar crowning debacle to the one Steve Harvey unleashed on the world for Miss Universe 2015. However the Mrs. World 2006 incident was not the fault of Thicke, rather it was a former Mrs. World who mistakenly sashed and crowned the 1st runner up Mrs. Costa Rica leading to a dramatic episode which was later corrected as an 18-year-old married Mrs. Russia (who was also the host delegate) was named the winner of the 2006 Mrs. World crown. Sadly, it seems that a controversial incident is needed these days for media publicity as a regular scandal-free pageant win is rarely covered in today’s media. Alan’s son Robin Thicke is a noted musician whose song ‘Magic’ was the 2008 Miss Universe evening gown competition song and Robin would later go on to score one of the biggest hits of 2013, ‘Blurred Lines.’ May the multi-talented and handsome Alan Thicke rest in peace.

Alan Thicke (March 1, 1947 – December 13, 2016)

So as of January 9, Tom’s tentative top 5 for Miss Universe 2016/17 are:
1. Indonesia
2. Venezuela
3. Brazil
4. Barbados
5. Peru

Will my top 5 change over the coming weeks or will they stay the same? I will post a second round of prethoughts on January 18 where I will comment on all of the delegates and then after viewing the preliminary swimsuit and gown competitions (being held on January 26), my final predictions will be posted most likely on January 28.

Of course, tell everyone to watch Miss Universe 2016/17! The big night is January 29 at 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on FOX! Salamat po!




Some photos courtesy Miss Universe L.P., LLLP