Colombia, Philippines and Mexico – A Race for the Miss World Crown
3 former Spanish colonies, geographically distant from each other and ethnically unique, all achievers in the beauty pageant arena each with its own claim to fame; are in a tight race for one common goal - to win the elusive turquoise crown of the oldest big 4 beauty pageant – Miss World. It seems that the Miss World Organization is yet to find a woman from these countries to represent its mantra “Beauty with a Purpose” and tour the world to alleviate hunger and poverty. In the past, all three have almost captured the crown with runner-up finishes but will 2013 be a milestone year for one of them? Here’s the statistics on these 3 pageant achievers:
Location: South America
Current Franchise Holder: Miss Mundo Colombia
Miss World Debut: 1963
Colombia is a country with many claims to fame aside from its principal exports coffee, emeralds, flowers, coal and oil. It is the 2nd largest Spanish-speaking country in the world and ecologically, the most megadiverse country per square kilometer. Originally inhabited by the Muisca, Quimbaya, and Tairona Indians, the arrival of the Spaniards with their African workers and Arabian immigrants/traders added diversity to the gene pool, to the advantage of Colombian pageantry, as they have a wide spectrum of beauties to choose from. However, it is still the most successful country at Miss World without a crown.
Diplomatic Relations with the UK:
Colombia has excellent relations with the UK which go way back when the Britannic legions helped Simon Bolivar’s forces in their fight for independence from Spain. With Britain’s recognition of the Colombian republic in 1824 the chances of Spanish re-conquest was virtually eliminated. The access to British commerce and capital also promised a bright future.
The close relations between Colombia and United Kingdom are based on independent and equal bi-national cooperation principles. Today both countries are working in the diversification on the international agenda to include new relevant issues such as Climate Change and Education, besides the deepening of the more traditional ones.
Here’s Colombia’s Miss World scorecard so far:
1963 Maria Eugenia Cucalón Venegas Top 14
1984 Ángela Patricia Janiot Martirena Top 15
1986 Karen Sue Wightman Corredor Top 15
2000 Andrea Duran Top 10
Finalists and Runners-Up:
1968 Beatriz Eutiquia Sierra Gonzalez 3rd runner-up
This edition was full of protests, the most controversial of all was when Miss Spain walked out due to the presence of Miss Gibraltar (Spain had great interest in the British colony that time). Beatriz gave Colombia its first experience in the podium by finishing 4th overall.
1981 Nini Johanna Soto González 1st runner-up
South American beauties reigned supreme but it was Venezuela’s Pilin Leon who was elected as Miss World. There were no protests as it was noted that the newly-crowned Miss World fulfilled expectations in terms of beauty. The only hiccup was that Miss Portugal Paula Dos Santos turned out to be a South African resident and was sent home.
1983 Rocío Isabel Luna Flórez 1st runner-up,
The victory of the UK’s Sarah Jane Hutt was a bitter pill to swallow for some contestants, most especially Miss Jamaica, Catherine Levy who finished 4th place. Rocio Isabel Florez finished second and the highest placing South American delegate. Notably, Carolina Ceruti Dujim, daughter of Miss World 1955 Susanna Dujim of Venezuela competed but was unplaced. Miss Iceland Unnur Steinson, who placed 5th, is the mother of Miss World 2005 Unnur Birna Williamsdottir (okay I won’t start discussions about her dress LOL).
1987 Claudia Mercedes Escobar Zapata, finalist
Austria’s Ulla Weigerstorfer, a beauty not favored by bookmakers and the press, won over heavy favorite Miss Venezuela. This was a sad year for Asian beauties, as no one from the continent advanced to the semifinals. Claudia managed to advance to the finals, and placed 5th overall.
1989 Mónica María Isaza Mejía 2nd runner-up
In a stunning final event staged in Hong Kong, blonde Anneta Kreglicka became the first Polish and eastern European beauty to be elected as Miss World. This year also marked the American Virgin Island’s first semifinal placement at Miss World. Monica Mejia placed 3rd and was the only South American delegate to place that year.
1996 Carolina Arango Corrales 1st runner-up, Queen of Americas
Magnificent Carolina Arango placed second to Irene Skliva of Greece by 1 point in a dazzling stage final event celebrating Indian culture. There were protests, but they were not for the results but for the pageant itself, as outraged conservative Indians felt that beauty pageants, once again, depict women as objects. One fanatic demonstrator even set himself on fire (I wouldn’t do that FOR ANYONE or ANYTHING).
2002 Natalia Peralta Castro 1st runner-up, Queen of Americas
We all know what happened in this edition (please see Focus on 2002-The Palindromic Year of Pageantry), and what pageant aficionados assumed as a reason for the crowning of Turkey’s Azra Akin. Was the gorgeous and curvaceous Natalia Peralta the sacrificial lamb this time? You figure it out.
2009 Daniela Ramos Lalinde Finalist
Arguably the most maligned Miss World titleholder, Gibraltar’s Kaianne Aldorino was indeed a lady of iron tolerance and grace as there was not one word of her defending herself against her haters as she won over 6 other finalists and was elected Miss World 2009, with Daniela Ramos of Colombia finishing 7th overall.
Friction with Miss World:
In 1965, Nubia Bustillo was one of the Latin American delegates who complained that the British sponsors of the contest, the British public, the press and photographers discriminated against them. They alleged that the photographers just swivel the cameras past them and take more pictures of other girls.
Colombia’s Miss World performance is outstanding. However, Colombia has always focused on the beauty aspect of the competition and not so much in the Beauty with a Purpose aspect of the competition. IMO there’s tremendous opportunity for that in Colombia and I truly believe that if they take this in mind, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t clinch the title.
Current Franchise Holder: Miss World Philippines
Miss World Debut: 1966
The bastion of Christianity in Asia, the Philippines was originally occupied by people of Negrito, Malay and Indonesian ancestry. Successive occupation by the Spanish, Americans and Japanese, as well as intermarriage with Chinese immigrants eventually made the Filipino nation as ethnically diverse as any other nation in the world. It is currently the largest producer of coconuts and fresh pineapples and is the only country out of the top 5 world banana exporters which is not in South America. Since 1981, the Philippines got the most continental queen award the most among the 3 countries with 5 trophies.
Diplomatic Relations with the UK:
Between 1762 and 1764 was the British occupation of Manila which had to end due to the peace settlement during the Seven Year War. The United Kingdom gave its full support to the new government of Corazon Aquino after the People Power Revolution of 1986. The UK is currently the largest European investor in the Philippines and British citizens account for the majority of European tourists to the Philippines totaling 90, 000 yearly.
How has the Philippines done at Miss World over the years? Let’s see:
2012 Queneerich Ajero Rehman Top 15
2005 Carlene Ang Aguilar Top 15
1994 Caroline Villarosa Subijano Top 10
1986 Sherry Rose Austria Byrne Top 15
1982 Sarah Jane Coronel Areza Top 15
1972 Evangeline Rosales Reyes Top 15
1970 Minerva Manalo Cagatao Top 15
Finalists and Runners-Up:
1968 Arene Cecilia Anas Amabuyok 4th Runner-up
“Pinky” as she was called, created her own controversy by claiming as a nun who escaped from the convent to compete at Miss World. She later retracted this story but still finished as 4th runner-up. In an era, where perfection is an aspiration in pageants, did her fabrications botch her chances for the crown?
1973 Evangeline Luis Pascual 1st Runner-up
In 1973 Miss USA Marjorie Wallace was in a deadlock with another favorite, Evangeline Pascual of the Philippines for the title. American actor Gregory Peck was asked to break the tie and of course he chose his compatriot. Marjorie it seemed, had a different notion of what a Miss World should be and partied like a rock star, which was unfortunately not the image approved by the MWO so she was fired. The title was reportedly offered to Evangeline who had to decline it, due to a burgeoning acting career. I personally watched an interview of her saying she refused the crown because it should have been her title in the first place. I guess the gut feeling rings true with Evangeline. It was assumed by some that MWO was somehow offended by Miss Pascual’s rejection of the title.
1993 Sharmaine Rama Gutierrez 2nd Runner-up
20 long years after Evangeline’s 2nd place finish, Sharmaine Gutierrez charmed the judges with er elegance and beauty and finished 3rd behind 2 black beauties, Jamaica and South Africa.
2002 Katherine Anne Ramos Manalo Finalist
Witty, beautiful and assertive, Katherine Manalo ended up in the top 10 of this controversial edition where text votes were introduced as a method of determining the top 20 semifinalists.
2003 Maria Rafaela Verdadero Yunon Finalist
With beauty queen genes in her, Maria Rafaela or Mafae’s natural, easygoing vibe impressed the judges and she finished 5th in an edition won by Ireland’s Rosanna Davidson.
2004 Maria Karla Rabanal Bautista Finalist
Articulate Maria Karla Bautista charmed the judges with her wit and catwalk skills as she placed 5th overall and was awarded the Queen of Asia and Oceania.
2011 Gwendoline Ramos Ruais 1st Runner-up
The first Philippine delegate from the new franchise holder for Miss World, Gwendoline Ruais gave the Philippines another close brush with the crown as she finished 2nd to Ivian Sarcos of Venezuela. For the first time, the Philippines were also in the top 10 for the Beauty with a Purpose fasttrack.
Friction with the Miss World:
1976 saw Joy Conde and 8 other girls leave the competition which finally prompted the MWO to do away with South Africa’s 2-girl policy.
1977 South Africa’s apartheid policy still outraged the rest of the world, and Miss Philippines was ordered to go home by her country’s government in protest to the South Africa sending a white delegate. The delegate, Peachy Veneracion was allegedly upset of the withdrawal since she’s one of the photographers’ favorites and is gaining momentum as one of the frontrunners for the crown that she vowed “The Philippines will never win Miss World unless it’s my daughter.” She supposedly lifted the curse in 2005 for Carlene Aguilar whom she considered as a daughter but Carlene only managed to place in the top 15. Is the Philippines still cursed? You be the judge!
Except for the slight brush with MWO during the 70s it’s clear that the Philippines is on the right track this decade as for the first time, Miss World-Philippines 2011 was among the finalists in the Beauty with A Purpose for her charitable efforts. However, much is to be done and the new Philippine representative must be a well-rounded beauty with brains, compassion and a genuine heart for charity work. If they could crown a woman who is already immersed in charity work prior to joining the contest, it would be a great advantage.
Location: North America
Current Franchise Holder: Nuestra Belleza Mexico
Miss World Debut: 1963
Mexico, among other claims to fame is the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world, and has the largest tourism-based income in Latin America. It also houses the largest Spanish media company in the Spanish-speaking worl, Televisa. This ancient country was first shared by the s the Olmec, the Toltec, the Teotihuacan, theZapotec, the Maya and the Aztec before Spanish conquistadors stepped in and brought Christianity and Western ideas. Intermarriage has produced interesting results, with the existence of a diverse array of Mexican beauties which sign up to be their country’s premier symbol of beauty.
Diplomatic Relations with the UK
The United Kingdom was the first country in Europe to recognize Mexico's Independence. The relationship between the two nations began after the Pastry War were the United Kingdom aided Mexico against France. Also, relations improved when Mexico joined the British alongside with the allies to fight the Japanese forces in the Pacific War.
The only time that this relationship got strained was when 13 explorers got trapped in a flooded cavern in the Cuetzalan Cave system in Puebla in 2004. The explorers raised suspicion when they repeatedly refused help from Mexicans while British rescue divers were being contacted. This led to the allegations that they were exploring for uranium and were not just simple cave explorers. Britain’s Foreign Office said in London that the trip was “strictly a caving expedition” had no other purpose and any suggestions to the contrary are completely unfounded.”
Check out how Mexico is doing in Miss World:
1972 Gloria Gutiérrez
1977 Elizabeth Aguilar González
1979 Roselina Rosas Torres
1981 Doris Pontvianne
1995 Alejandra Quintero Velasco
1996 Yessica Salazar González
2004 Yessica Ramírez Meza
2006 Karla Jiménez Amezcua
2008 Anagabriela Espinoza Marroquín
2012 Mariana Berumen Reynoso
Continental Queens: 3
Finalists and Runners-Up
1978 Martha Eugenia Ortiz 3rd Runner-up
Martha was the darling of the photographers and her 3rd runner-up finish supplemented her Miss Photogenic award. She was also the highest placing Spanish-speaking delegate.
2005 Dafne Molina Lona 1st Runner-up
As Unnur Birna Williamsdottir achieved what her mother almost did in 1983 by winning the Miss World title, Dafne Molina also made history by giving Mexico its highest placement by finishing 2nd.
2007 Carolina Morán Gordillo 2nd Runner-up
Carolina’s classic good looks won the adoration of the judges and she was awarded the 2nd runner-up prize, as China’s Zilin Zhang made history by being China’s 1st Miss World and the first of East Asian descent.
2009 Perla Beltrán Acosta 1st Runner-up
She was hailed by many as the beauty to beat that year and her 2nd place finish was considered by many as a robbery of the title as Gibraltar’s Kaiane Aldorino was elected as Miss World 2009.
Friction with Miss World:
Lupita Jones, Mexico’s national director reportedly walked out in disgust last year after Mariana Berumen’s exclusion in the Top 7. Mariana was 2nd to eventual winner Yu Wenxia in total accumulated scores after all fast-track events. There were allegations that this was due to her failure to comply with MWO’s insistence that Mexico should hold a separate pageant for choosing their delegate to Miss World. To date they have already crowned their representatives to Miss Universe and Miss International, but their representative to Miss World is still to be decided.
Despite its diversity of ethnic beauties, Mexico always had the propensity to send doll-faced ladies to international beauty pageants. This might work well with Miss Universe, Miss Earth and Miss International, however, Miss World is known for crowning ethnic beauties more often than the other Big 4 pageants. It would be risky by maybe they could mix it up by sending a different representation of Mexican beauty.
All of them currently have good diplomatic ties with the United Kingdom, and
All 3 countries have already proven that they are capable contenders by almost capturing the Miss World crown however; they must remember that Miss World is more of a cause-driven pageant and they would have to strive to get the Beauty with a Purpose emphasized in their own national pageants. Beauty and intelligence is already there in their delegates but they must get more focus on finding that beautiful and intelligent woman with a heart for helping the less fortunate.
This is indeed a race, as these countries are stepping up their game to get their first Miss World title. Will it be Colombia, with the most runner-up finishes, Philippines with the most continental queen of beauty awards, or Mexico with the most semifinalists? All of these would be answered as the 3 countries crown their Miss World representatives for this year. This makes 2013 an exciting year of pageantry indeed not just for Miss World and these 3 countries but ultimately to us pageant followers as well.
Thank you and happy reading!
Note: This is my personal analysis through years of following Miss World. Clarifications and corrections are most welcome.