Miss World 2016: victory for Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico’s Stephanie Del Valle was crowned Miss World 2016 on Sunday, winning the top prize in the 66th edition of the pageant held this year in Washington, DC, United States.

The 19-year-old law and communications student said it was an “honor and a great responsibility” to represent her country.

The first runner-up was Yaritza Miguelina Reyes Ramirez of the Dominican Republic, followed by second runner-up Natasha Mannuela from Indonesia.

The top five finalists also included Catriona Elisa Gray from the Philippines (4th place) and Evelyn Njambi Thungu of Kenya.

Placing among the Top 11 semi-finalists were the representatives of the United States, Brazil, South Korea, Belgium, China and Mongolia (winner of the popular internet voting).

Quarter-finalists were Hungary, India, Australia, Slovakia, France, Cook Islands, Ghana, Japan and Thailand.

Continental Queens of Beauty were Puerto Rico (Caribbean), Indonesia (Asia), Kenya (Africa), USA (Americas) and Australia (Oceania).

Contestants from 117 countries took part in the Miss World beauty pageant, held at National Harbor near Washington, D.C..

GB´s Review

It all starts with an exciting new venue: The Gaylord National Harbor Resort, an impressive hotel located 30 minutes south of Washington D.C., next to the river, with over 2,000 rooms and a spectacular interior, convention center, restaurants, Christmas village, need we say more?

The final of the event was held at the brand new MGM Theatre located at the MGM National Harbor Casino Complex, located also in Oxon Hill, a 5-minute drive from the Gaylord hotel.

Ticket prices this year were raised tremendously, with the most expensive seats being sold at over USD 900!  As a result, the second floor of the MGM theater was jam-packed with guests, while a lot of seats in front of the stage were visibly empty. The lobby of the theater was full of enthusiasts, families and friends from all over.  But the biggest groups were coming from Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, USA and India.

You can argue about the results, as it usually happens in beauty pageants, however, nobody can deny that Miss World has improved tremendously when it comes to its stage and television production! As a fan in the internet described it, “It was like watching Miss Universe without the swimsuit portion”.

The candidates´introduction was fantastic. After many years, we got to hear their voices, know their names, learn a bit more about them, and see all 117 delegates in their evening gowns. By far it was the best contestants´ introduction in 2016. (Miss World used to feature these intros during the 1990’s and early 2000’s).

Then the Miss World show started out with an explosive opening number, well choreographed, sexy without being vulgar, getting the local crowd involved and cheering for their favorites: “That’s my Girl!!!”.  The three groups, red, white and blue, paraded and danced around in all-American style before forming the United States flag at the end of the musical number (go pom pons!!).

The video showing the preliminary events was a bit too long (especially the Top Model segment), but mostly well-edited and able to bring the competition´s excitement to the people at home.

One surprise for this year was the elimination of the traditional leaderboard and the points obtained during the “challenge events”.  The Fast-Track system was brought back and contestants no longer accumulate points to become a semi-finalist. Rather, the judges´ picks are based on their overall impression of the competitors.

Without the Leaderboard, the pageant gained in suspense. Anything could happen!

Then another choreography number took place, this time with the beauties wearing black cocktail dresses, before quarter-finalists were called: China, Philippines, Mongolia, Indonesia, Cook Islands, France, Kenya, USA, India, Slovakia, Belgium, Puerto Rico, Australia, Thailand, Brazil, Ghana, Japan, Dominican Republic, Hungary and Korea.

Not a single Hispanic-American girl from the Americas group made the cut; the Spanish speaking delegates who advanced to the finals were both from the Caribbean group.

Out of the 20 quarter-finalists, all were winners in their own countries with the exception of Miss France, who was the 1st runner-up of her national pageant. Kenya took over winner duties when the original title holder was dethroned.

The exclusion of Miss Russia, one of the biggest favorites, got “ohhhhhs and whaaaaats” from the audience inside the theater.

When the Top 20 quarter-finalists were called, they were all given some time on camera, and even better, all 20 went back on stage one more time. How exciting it was to see the 20 holding hands backstage, waiting for the announcement of the 11 semi-finalists, just like in Miss World´s old and great days!

They were: Philippines, Indonesia, Belgium, Brazil, Kenya, USA, China, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Korea and Mongolia (winner of people’s choice and also a favorite among her fellow contestants).

By interviewing each of the 11, who also got to walk on their elegant gowns, finally the audience got to know more about the semi-finalists, again, just like in the old pageant days. We had not seen it in Miss World or in Miss Universe since the beginning of the 2000´s. Clever move, we loved that!

The Beauty With a Purpose Tribute, Top 5 announcement and interviews and the winners´calling by Julia Morley were just fine, keeping the Miss World tradition alive.

All three hosts, Megan Young, Jason Cook (who we had loved in 2011) and Frankie Cena, nailed it! They clearly had fun doing it and the chemistry between them was visible.

After a few years, Miss World understood that for the sake of entertainment there must be movement, good music and dancing, and some actual competition going on stage. We applaud the organization for moving forward and can´t wait for what will be new in 2017. Great job!

The results

What pageant fans do not understand is that what is seen during three weeks of competition is not what is seen during a 2,5 hour telecast. In addition to physical beauty, there´s much more involved, including good behaviour, charisma, education, commitment, punctuality, moral values, character, charity work and the list goes on. 5 quarter-finalists were the winners of the returning fast-track events. The other 15, were chosen by judges who knew those young ladies beyond their pretty faces.

For outsiders, it might have been shocking to see beautiful girls like Ukraine, Venezuela and Russia out of the Top 20 list. Mexico, one of the big favorites, was also shut out of the finals due to the social media controversy around her, when nude photos of herself were stolen from her account and posted everywhere.  Afterwards, she admitted that it was her own fault for taking such pictures, even if to send to her boyfriend, and vowed to create a foundation to fight against internet bullying.

All 15 judges´ picks actually deserved to be up there. It was a very good list.

Questioning starts when the Top 10 semi-finalists are called. Where´s stunning Slovakia?? The woman was a goddess, Top 3 and crown material, but then again, do we outsiders see what judges see? We might have missed something… (but we still wonder what!).

As for the 5 finalists, perhaps the biggest shock was the exclusion of Brazil and the inclusion of Indonesia. Although Indonesia won the Beauty With a Purpose Award for the 3rd straight year, having Liliana Tanoesoedibjo, owner and National Director of Miss Indonesia as a judge, looked questionable and raised many eyebrows among followers, fans and other directors. We will never now how much influence she had in the pageant´s outcome, but fact is, people somehow related to a delegate, should not be among the judges.

After the final round of Q&A, it felt like the blue crown would go to Kenya (smart, spontaneous, unrehearsed, gorgeous), after all, it has been 15 years since the last black winner; Philippines (gorgeous, elegant, and who also gave a very good answer) or Dominican Republic (beautiful, full of energy, intelligent). Kenya would have been refreshing, Philippines would have confirmed her status of favorite, and Dominican Republic would have been fair.

But it was Puerto Rico, who also gave a smart and meaningful answer to her final question, who took the gold, and it was awesome! She did a great job, looked natural, happy, she was somewhat styled like Ivian Sarcos (Miss World 2011) but with a fresher aura. Surprising result? Yes, to a certain extent. Bad? Not at all.

Stephanie became one of the biggest favorites for the Miss World title during the early months of 2016; as other contestants were being crowned, she started to lose positions among pageant experts predictions.  Her arrival in Washington D.C. marked a comeback with incredible force; she gained her status of favoritism back and started swinging back and forth among the first places in the predictions.  Her height, elegance, attire and talent video impressed followers of the pageant.  But it was still a tough competition.

So why so many fans keep on complaining about her victory? Because Wilnelia Merced, Miss World 1975 from Puerto Rico and the daughter of the national director of Puerto Rico, was also a judge. To make it fair, Wilnelia was a judge in many previous occasions and Puerto Rico took 41 years to win its second Miss World crown. However, had she not been a judge, all this talk could have been avoided. It would do Miss World good not having anyone at all somehow connected to a candidate (we would like to stress it again).

Surprising Miss Indonesia finished in 3rd place (but we understand that winning BWP might have helped her with the judges). Dominican Republic was 2nd. Kenya and Philippines, the two favorites at that point, were left behind and had to settle for 5th and 4th, respectively.

An interesting anecdote for the Dominican Republic: Ada Aimee de la Cruz was a Top 17 semi-finalist in Miss World 2007, and went on to become 1st runner-up in Miss Universe 2009; Yaritza Reyes did it the other way around; Top 10 semi-finalist in Miss Universe 2013, and now 1st runner-up in Miss World 2016.

The absence of the current Mister World (India’s Rohit Khandelwal)  was noted among attendants, specially after several announcements stating he would serve as one of the final judges.

Filipino fans inside the MGM Theater did not take the defeat well.  Catriona Gray’s answer during the final portion was not less than brilliant.  However, fans should remember that the final question is more of a test and most likely does not decide the final outcome.   During Del Valle’s crowning, these fans at the theater started chanting PHILIPPINES!! PHILIPPINES! PHILIPPINES! PHILIPPINES!  The contestants on stage took notice, and decided to reply back: PUERTO RICO!! PUERTO RICO!! PUERTO RICO!!  They would not allow the angry fans to take the light away from the rightful winner.  Talk about sisterhood!

Wrapping it up, it was a great show with interesting results. Let´s see how Stephanie Del Valle does during her year of reign. We have our fingers crossed for her and the MWO!!