Sunday, January 27, 2013

2012 - Year in Review: Miss Earth 2012

To conclude our 2012 - Year in Review Special, we will take a look at the "Big 4":

Miss Earth 2012: Earth Warriors Battle the Elements to Fight for the Title

After months of speculation that the 2012 Miss Earth Pageant would be staged in Indonesia, the same thing happened that happened the year before, the pageant was eventually held in its country of origin, the Philippines. The Philippines always plays a warm and extremely welcoming host to their international pageant and 2012 was no exception. Even though the Miss Earth Organization has desperately been trying to find a host outside of the Philippines, they know that they can always count on their country to step in if need be.
EARTH WARRIORS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME IN MANILA: The Philippines stepped in once again to host Miss Earth
when the organizers' hope to stage the event in Indonesia failed to materialize. The delegates pose after the first press conference that was held at the F1 hotel which hosted the delegates while they were in Manila.
 80 earth warriors converged in Manila in early November to compete for the honor of succeeding Ecuador's Olga Alava to become the 12th Miss Earth. This year the pageant adopted a scoring system similar to Miss World's leaderboard with a whole number of challenge events taking place and girls accumulating points as the pageant progressed. The delegates were divided into three groups. The delegates in each group would compete against each other and their scores were displayed on the Miss Earth website. It is said that these scores would count a percentage of their preliminary scores but the system was never really explained clearly. Some delegates arrived so late that they could barely get any points.
CHALLENGE MANIA: What started off as a fun build-up to the final, became
a nightmare with way too many challenges and sub-titles which did not make sense
 The delegates also travelled together in their groups to different destinations in the Philippines. Filipinos are known as some of the most avid pageant fans in the world and the girls were treated like true royalty. They simply became superstars in the Philippines. It is evident that the delegates have a lot of fun every time the pageant takes place in the Philippines. The warmth of the people combined with their hospitality and the feelings of adoration for the girls make their stay memorable and most of the girls truly leave with the belief that "It's More Fun in the Philippines".
LOVE FOR OUR QUEENS: The Miss Earth delegates are always treated like celebrities by the warm people of the Philippines. Delegates usually treasure the memories they have of their stay in the Philippines.

 The major favorites for this year's title were the delegates from the USA, Brazil, Venezuela, India, Kenya, the Czech Republic, Korea, Costa Rica, South Africa, and the controversial Miss Russia. Miss Russia was criticized for baring her breasts for Playboy but the organizers allowed her to compete. She was later caught up in another controversy when she criticized her own country calling it a "beggar" and described it as being "mercilessly torn to pieces by greedy, dishonest unbelieving people". Russia's Natalia Pereverzeva was definitely Miss Earth's controversy queen of 2012 and she earned world headlines for the pageants with her life and word choices.
QUEEN OF CONTROVERYS: Miss Russia did not just
hit the headlines for posing nude for Playboy but also for
criticizing her country. She was one of the top 8 finalists.
The homegirl, Miss Philippines, Stephany Stefanowitz was criticized by fans in her home country and around the world for being clearly out of shape when she arrived for the pageants. Fans started bashing her mercilessly and questioned her merit as a candidate and slammed her lack of dedication by not staying in the best possible shape. Miss Stefanowitz held her head high at all times and conducted herself with grace and class throughout using her twitter account to express her pride of being who she is and representing her country. After the home victories at the Miss World and Miss International Pageant, fans of the Miss Earth Pageant were dreading a win by Miss Philippines as many feared it would mean the end of the Miss Earth Pageant. Many of her own fans even suggested that she should be excluded from the top 16. When she skipped a few events, it was widely speculated that she was trying desperate measures to appear slimmer so that she would not look out of place when she was with the other finalists on the final night. It was always almost a given that she was going to place, fans were just speculating or fearing how high she would place, and wondering if another home victory would be on the cards.
Stephany Stefanowitz from the Philippines was criticized and ridiculed
for not being in perfect shape by fans in her own country and around the world
As the contest progressed, the challenge events started giving fans an idea of who the favorites were. However, as the days went on, the initial fun of the challenge events started to change into confusion as there seemed to be a challenge event and sub-title for just about everything and everyone. While it was a fun start, it later became confusing and somewhat ridiculous. The awarding of medals could still be accepted but more than 30 sub-titles was just too much and it definitely became quite bizarre and ridiculous. They can keep the contests but definitely scale down on the challenge events and especially the sub-titles.

Carousel Productions, the owners of Miss Earth, should definitely be commended for their quest to ensure that the pageant would reach a broader audience. Just like in 2010, the pageant was shown live again on Star World which can be found on sattelite networks in most Asian countries. ABS-CBN (a channel in the Philippines) and the Filipino Channel (for Filipinos who live abroad) showed delayed recordings of the telecast.
OPEN-AIR EVENT: The Versailles Palace was a rather surprising choice of
venue which ended in Miss Earth 2012 being a rather "windy" affair.
The venue of this year's live final on Saturday November 24 was the Versailles Palace in Alabang, Muntinlupa City close to Manila. It was a surprising choice and especially when it became apparent that the whole show was going to be an outdoor event. The backdrop of the whole show was the Versailles Palace building (which apparently was still under construction) and a ramp was built over the swimming pool. When I saw photos of the way it look with the stage lighting, it did seem quite cool and refreshing to have an outdoor event, and I quite liked the cool ramp over the pool. It did seem to be quite a strange venue for a pageant though and I can just imagine that it must not have been pleasant for the the audience members. It was definitely chosen for the television production.

I was quite excited to tune in on the night of the final to watch the show live on Star World. Now to cut to the chase, in a nutshell, the show was a total mess. The venue was a terrible choice. It was so windy that the girls had to continuously had the struggle to keep their dresses from blowing over their heads and worst of all, they had to keep pulling their hair out of their mouths. I was really feeling for them. Furthermore, it also appeared that the runway was extremely slippery as several of them almost took a tumble and I was just waiting for someone to fall into the pool. The girls who are often called Earth Warriors by the organization, truly had to battle the elements to win. Well, seeing that it's Miss Earth and they do give elemental titles, maybe it's fitting to have this kind of show. But it was definitely hard to watch. The messy camera angles and mistakes that were made during the show just made it seem like a third-rate television show desperately trying to appear glamorous.
 I am by no means a Miss Earth basher, I like their cause and I think it's a relevant pageant, which you might not believe due to all the negative things I just said. It wasn't all bad though. There were some things that I really liked. I loved their choice of music and I loved the troop of  "dancers" that came out in their swimwear during the swimsuit competition and one of the best moments of the show was when they jumped into the pool and started doing syncronized swimming moves. I absolutely loved that and it made the swimsuit competition really cool. The evening gown parade was also quite cool. Loved the dancers doing all kinds of moves on the balcony of the "palace" too. It was just the darn wind that was totally annoying. Oh, and I totally loved their presenters this year. The trio worked well together and were quite polished. Marc Nelson and Ginger Conejero did really well but Sandra Seifert totally stole the show. She should have been Miss Earth and could still compete and win today.
SIZZLING SWIMSUITS: The swimsuit parade was one
of the highlights of the Miss Earth telecast.
 Now let me say a thing or two about the results. Miss Earth is usually known for having a much lower quality of delegates than Miss Universe, Miss World, and even Miss International. This year they actually had quite a strong group but some of the girls who were included in the top 16 were quite shocking especially because some of them were not in the best shape. The exclusion of gorgeous delegates such as those from the Netherlands, Malaysia, Kenya, and especially Thailand was quite painful. As expected, Miss Philippines were first called into the top 16. She competed in the top 16 and did look much better than she did at the press conference 3 weeks before. I did, however, think that top 16 was enough and that she would be cut after that. But no, she progressed to the top 8 and then shockingly made it all the way to the 4 along with the delegates from the Czech Republic, Brazil, and Venezuela (the last two are almost always in the top 4 nowadays).

Suddenly, another home victory did not appear too far-fetched anymore, especially after gorgeous Miss Brazil gave a very incoherent answer to the question (which by the way was a total ridiculous question - What would you consider as your defining moment as a woman? - I meant WTF?!), and Venezuela's answer was fine but not very inspired. My favorite at this point was by far Miss Czech Republic and my heart sank when she did not understand the question and just started giving a message to the crowd, which with hindsight could actually have been an answer for the question compared to what the others answered but it just felt impossible that she could win after basically saying she did not understand the question. Miss Philippines answered with a lot of confidence. In fact, she was overdramatic and basically screamed her answer. It was a tad embarrassing to watch. But I knew that a home victory could very well happen and I could already sense the backlash that was about to happen.
WINNERS WHO BRAVED THE ELEMENTS: The top 4, Miss Fire from Brazil, Miss Earth from the Czech Republic, Miss Air from the Philippines, and Miss Water from Venezuela looking rather windswept after the conclusion of the show
Finally, it was time for the crowning. I can only describe the crowning as a horrible mess. When the elemental titles were announced, it was apparent that the crowns and sashes could not be found. Cathy Untalan was even seen dashing across the "stage", probably frantically trying to find the crowns. These kind of incidents are just unforgivable in what is supposed to be one of the Big 4. Miss Earth really needs to step up their production. The teething stages are supposed to be over. They are more than a decade old. As expected Brazil was called out first. I expected Czech Republic to be called next but was quite surprised when Venezuela was called, as I had expected her to be in the final 2 with the winner, Philippines. So it was down to the Czech Republic and the Philippines and now I was convinced another home victory would take place so it was a very pleasant surprise when the gorgeous Tereza Fajksova was named Miss Earth 2012. Phew... it was close. The home delegate should never even made it to the top 8, or top 4, let alone be the runner-up but I was just glad that a stunner won and suddenly I was much more forgiving for all the errors that happened during the show and my love for the Miss Earth Pageant definitely grew. I was ecstatic with the choice of the winner and would almost say that she might be the most gorgeous winner yet.
BOMBSHELL: Tereza Fajksova from the Czech Republic, the 12th Miss Earth
I wish this is the point where I could happily say "The End" but unfortunatley I have to address the scandal that pretty much ruined the Miss Earth Pageant's reputation for a lot of us. First of all, Miss Ukraine made some pretty serious allegations. With regard to this, there will always be some sourgraping when girls do not win. This is not new and will never be. If there would ever be real evidence that her allegations which suggest prostitution are indeed true, I would be absolutely disgusted. For now, given the fact, that these are just allegations, I take note of them, and feel disappointed but also give the Miss Earth Pageant the benefit of the doubt because most of the girls mentioned how much they enjoyed the pageant and how welcome they felt in the Philippines, and how brilliantly they were treated.
DEFIANT: Lorraine Schuck, Executive VP of
Carousel Productions maintains her innocence
and did not resign or step down from her position
However, the scandal involving Lorraine Schuck is the one that leaves a very bitter taste in the mouth. Surely, she was set up. It is evident that she was pushed to fall in a very nasty trap to cause sensation and scandal. Pageants are essentially businesses and they are fighting for survival and business decisions obviously take place all the time but the video was clear evidence that she was not opposed to selling the Miss Earth title for US$4 million, setup or no setup. None of the other Big 4 pageants have actually had one of their owners caught on camera in a similar way. I believe that this year's winner won on merit or I really want to believe it. But I now have my serious doubts about the way the owners of Miss Earth run their pageants. Actually it's mostly disappointment about the way it was handled. Lorraine Schuck and Carousel basically just put out a statement claiming Schuck's innocence. This is not enough. Schuck should have distanced herself from the pageant or quite, even if only for a year or two, despite being one of the owners. That would have been a small sacrifice to help build their credibility again. Acting like nothing has happened is just a slap in the face of the people who follow this but it's their choice. And we have a choice whether we will continue to follow the pageant or not. Global Beauties made their choice. They have totally disregarded the pageant. Other portals such as Missosology and Critical Beauty will continue to follow the pageant. For now, I will cautiously still follow it but I am NOT IMPRESSED AT ALL BY WHAT I SAW ON THAT VIDEO and I hope this organization can pull themselves together.

Andre Sleigh
Eye For Beauty Blog


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