Blogger and ex-beauty queen Joyce Burton says 2010 could be the Philippines? year
GUESS who are being followed around more than Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are these days? The Miss Universe delegates! With the Internet and its breakout kid, social media, Miss U representatives are hounded by cameras 24/7, and the result?pageant fans are more updated about the competition more than ever before.

For one, did you know that Venus Raj won a chicken-eating contest among all Miss Universe 2010 contestants? If you do, then it?s probably due to the extensive and lightning-speed coverage of our Super interviewees below.

We interviewed by e-mail three of the most popular websites and forums out there in the Internet and they can?t get any better: Two are simply the world?s authority in beauty contest information and one has a bragging right no ordinary people have: She represented the Philippines at Miss Universe! Check out their profiles and be wowed by their answers at the question and answer portion that follows.

Joyce Burton Titular has something that most pageant bloggers don?t have?a Bb. Pilipinas-Universe title. Thus, she is able to offer a unique and a fitting perspective on pageants and their contestants, having been in their shoes once.

?Joining pageants was a childhood dream that I shelved when I grew older,? she said. ?But my Mom made me join against my wishes. I am so thankful to her for pushing me in this direction?it turned out to be one of the best moves I made.?

She represented the Philippines in the 1985 Miss Universe. She had only three days to prepare. Like this year?s representative Venus Raj, she also encountered problems with Bb. Pilipinas. ?There was the issue of my US citizenship but with only three days between winning Bb. Pilipinas and flying to Miss Universe, there was little time to dethrone me, hahaha!?

She said she did win Miss Universe?during rehearsals?and that the black swimsuits she and her fellow candidates wore for the competition were ?super itchy.? She cited Miss USA, now actress, Laura Herring, as her best friend during the pageant (they warmed up to each other after Herring told her she had a Filipino boyfriend). ?She is half-Mexican, she hung out with the Latinas and dragged me along? it was fun!?

Today, blogging has become her ?true passion,? partly because of her journalistic background as a radio and TV newscaster. ?I?m crazy about people more than anything else, really,? she added. As for her message to Venus: ?You go kick Latinas? butts in Las Vegas! Just like Manny Pacquiao, go into that arena will all your claws unsheathed and imagine that you are all surrounded by your kababayans screaming for your victory. I will be scandalized if they don?t choose you!?

AmQ, one of the pioneers of OPMB Worldwide, refuses to give his full name, and perhaps it is for good reason. For this year?s edition of Miss Universe, the website has provided scoops that turned out to be true?the look of Venus? glamour shot with photographer Fadil Berisha and her white terno with hand-painted flowers for her national costume. It also has insider information on a contestant that is mean to Venus although we have no means to verify it.

The five-year-old website is composed of Filipinos based in the Philippines and the US. Its membership go as far as Europe and Middle East: All contribute to the exclusive news, media galleries and forum topics most visited in the site. ?All of us have day jobs and we need to keep them to support OPMB. We do not earn anything from the website,? he said.

OPMB family members and friends sponsor the maintenance of the website. Whatever revenue they get from advertisements is spent on server costs to keep OPMB running. It has also been used to send a correspondent to cover the Miss Universe pageant in Vietnam in 2008. ?On certain instances, some members would schedule their vacations and do the coverage at the same time as it was last year when Miss Universe was held in Bahamas. We have members who would volunteer to cover events in places where they are based.?

Its extensive coverage and reports have allowed OPMB to establish ?a very respectable relationship? with Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc. (BPCI), according to AmQ. ?We know they check our website the same way other pageant companies do, so we have established ourselves from the start as a moderated website. We encourage free speech in our forums but once we see bashings or below-the-belt messages, we make sure appropriate actions are taken.?

Another advantage of its huge network is that some OPMB affiliates are friends with actual candidates and their handlers; thus, they are able to suggest how the candidates may dress or accessorize themselves throughout the competition.

Nicholo Paulo Ventura, known in the Internet as Pawee, is Missosology?s webmaster, correspondent and author of its annual Miss Universe Predictions List. The sociology major considers Ruffa Gutierrez his idol, after seeing her place 2nd Princess at Miss World 1993?the first pageant he ever watched. His interest peaked the year after when Manila hosted Miss Universe, sending him, like most Filipinos, in a Miss Belgium frenzy.

Missosology was founded in 1999 by Ric Galvez of Guimaras, who published a personal webpage containing essays about Miss Universe 1994. It then slowly grew to a community, partnering with a Miss Mexico website and a Miss Indonesia unofficial website to form a Spanish and Bahasa version. Today it covers the top four beauty pageants: Miss Universe, Miss World, Miss International and Miss Earth.

During beauty contest season, it averages 40,000 hits for its website and two million hits for its forum?on a daily basis. It experienced its highest viewership last Aug. 9: More than 94,000 hits for its website and a staggering 5.2 million hits for the forum. Filipinos, Americans, Thais, Puerto Ricans and Indonesians comprise their top visitors.

?Due to Missosology?s popularity, many nationalities want to become part of our website, with some working as official staff of their respective national pageants,? Pawee said. ?Our pageant and beauty experts are based in Puerto Rico, UK, US, Jamaica and Russia. We have countless correspondents who feed us with updates of their respective beauty queens and national pageants.?

With its wide network, it is safe to say that wherever Miss Universe is held, a Missosology correspondent will be there to cover it. ?In 2009, when we had problems in sending a correspondent to the Bahamas, Michelle Malcolm of the Bahamian Tourism Ministry volunteered for us,? he said. ?For the past years, we managed to send a reporter for Miss Universe.?

Pawee is in communication with several former delegates, some of whom are close to him until now. ?(Contestants) usually contact me for tips and suggestions on how to snag the crown?it?s up to the delegate to heed my advice or not.?

Missosology also communicates with BPCI: ?They do listen and welcome suggestions. As pageant lovers, we?ve done some lobbying?the latest had to do with Venus? reinstatement as the country?s representative in Miss Universe.?

Question and answer portion

I?m sure you?ve heard of many pageant stories?rumors or confirmed. What?s the weirdest one you?ve heard?

Joyce: ?Oh in this one international pageant, a certain Asian beauty queen accidentally hurled a shoe at another girl. At least it looked accidental.?

Pawee: ?Confirmed from a past Miss Universe contestant: During her time, Miss Zimbabwe told of her roommate who she said was absolutely weird. The roommate walks around the room naked, and caresses her nipples whenever she was talking to Miss Zimbabwe!?

We?ve been sending beautiful Filipina delegates through the years, but many times, we have missed the cut?why do you think so?

Joyce: ?Oh wow, I wouldn?t know. Maybe we really need to have better scouting and training procedures??

AmQ: ?It is a matter of packaging, preparation, sending the right girl for the right pageant, plus fate and luck. If there is something missing from these, you won?t produce a winner.?

Pawee: ?New Miss Universe standards and concepts have been implemented, but sadly, in the case of the Philippines, the organization that is responsible for choosing our representatives has been relatively more conservative in embracing these changes as compared to other countries specifically those found in the Latin American region. Miss Universe is not all about beauty: It?s about the perfect package?she must be beautiful, charismatic, sexy, confident and must be a perfect image of what she represents, Donald Trump?s organization.?

Is there ever a formula to winning the Miss Universe crown?

AmQ: ?I think there is. Everything needs to be calculated, from how the girl smiles, to the way she conducts herself, to the wardrobe she wears from head to toe. Look at Venezuela!?

Pawee: ?Every year the judges look for a different type of girl. A girl who is destined to win will have certain qualities that her competitors don?t have and that will make her a standout among her peers. In this type of competition, winning usually rests on lady luck?s fingers.?

This year?s delegates had the choice to go topless for a photo shoot. Some find this controversial and risqué. Does the organization deserve this feedback?

Joyce: ?I will always value the intimate things about myself and other women. How would you like to see your daughter (or your mother for that matter) with her boobs in the air for everyone to see? That?s why Miss World is now getting better representatives from other countries, especially the European countries. And that?s why Miss Earth is slowly creeping up and gaining ground. The direction Miss U is going leaves much to be desired, but I am still watching and praying for things to change.?

AmQ: ?It is a sign of the times and how people and life is changing. I just hope that they do not go overboard. This is still Miss Universe, and we are trying to crown a QUEEN. I am hoping they will still try to keep the elegance it has been associated with for years back.?

Pawee: ?They own the pageant so they can ask the girls to do whatever they want them to do for as long as they are not violated or taken advantage of. But I do hope that these conditions or so-called ?choices? were initially relayed to the local pageant franchise holders before they chose their respective representatives. Sometimes it?s just too late to convince a very conservative delegate to do such things. Although we are in the year 2010, there are still people that are bound by their belief, religion and culture who find the ?glamour shots? offensive.?

Stella Araneta is controversial herself for her seemingly lack of confidence in Filipino designers to allow them to create the national costume and evening gowns of our delegates?what is your opinion on this?

Joyce: ?I love Miss Stella and will always love her. But I believe that a Filipino designer should be the one designing the wardrobe of our contestants.?

AmQ: ?I sometimes question this, too, but she probably has reasons why she is doing this. I just hope they will open their doors to our local designers. I am sure these designers would be willing to dress our candidates for free as it is publicity for them as well.?

Pawee: ?Madame Stella reportedly spends a huge deal of money over the Barraza beauty packaging deal but to no avail. I?m sure she has her reasons why she prefers a foreign designer to create the national costume and evening gown for our Philippine candidate. But whatever her reasons are, I believe that a Filipino designer would know best how to dress up our Filipina representatives.?

In your opinion, which gender is the best connoisseur of beauty: Males, females, gays, or lesbians?

Joyce: ?Honestly? I think it?s the gay community, at least when it comes to beauty contest material. What would us beauty queens do without them??

AmQ: ?I don?t think there is one. Each one has a different take on what beauty is. That is what makes it exciting.?

Pawee: ?Gays! They usually have an unmistakable eye for beauty.?

If you were to judge the Miss Universe, how would your criteria look?

Joyce: ?I am a sucker for intelligent women, what they call ?beauty with brains??someone with a good head on her shoulders and who truly cares about what goes on in this world. But she has to be drop-dead gorgeous, too.?

AmQ: ?Beauty would be 80 percent. Wit would be 20 percent.?

Pawee: Beauty of face, figure, personality and wit, perhaps in a 40-30-20 equation.?

What?s your fearless forecast for Miss Universe 2010? Who do you see as the remaining Top 3?

Joyce: ?Venus is in it for sure!?

AmQ: ?Philippines, I think we sent the right girl at the right year, fully prepared; Venezuela, sash factor plays a lot, the pressure of doing a triple plays a role; third, a toss-up among USA, Australia, Ireland.?

Pawee: ?My Top 3 picks right now are Ireland, France and Philippines. It might change after the preliminaries.?