Philippine Daily Inquirer / 11:33 PM September 09, 2011
u This is the 60th edition of the Miss Universe pageant. Founded by a Californian clothing company in 1952, the organization was acquired by Donald Trump in 1996. Thus, winners get to live at the Trump Tower in New York during their reign.
u One would think it’s a no brainer for a country that embraces pageantry and carnivals but this is the first time that Brazil is hosting the Miss Universe pageant. It is only the fourth South American country to do so after Peru (1982), Panama (1986 & 2003) and Ecuador (2004).
u The stage is set to feature the skyline and architecture of São Paulo, the host city, with the Octávio Frias de Oliveira Bridge being the most recognizable in the stage design. Brazil’s most famous monument, Christ the Redeemer statue, is located in a different city, Rio de Janeiro.
u The 2011 edition has the most number of participating contestants in Miss Universe history with 89. Unfortunately (or fortunately), there are still no participants from other planets.
u On September 8, news broke out that Lea Salonga was selected as one of the judges. She will be the third Filipino to judge the Miss Universe finals, in which the Philippines is not the host country. Josie Natori and Kuh Ledesma judged the Miss Universe finals in 1989 (Mexico) and 1991 (Las Vegas), respectively. Carlos P. Romulo and Emilio T. Yap judged the 1974 and 1994 pageants held in Manila.
u The finals night judges are not the ones who select the finalists. Days before, preliminary judges would have already scored the candidates based on their swimsuit, evening gown and interview. The Top 15 ladies are selected from that.
u One of this year’s preliminary judges, Brazilian businessman and TV host Álvaro Garnero, had to be replaced after photos of him welcoming Ms China circulated in the Internet. Judges are strictly prohibited from interacting with contestants. In 2004, Kwame Jackson of The Apprentice was also fired as a judge by Miss Universe for merely waving at candidates at a hotel lobby.
u This year’s cut-off will be tougher than in the previous years: from the Top 16, the candidates will be trimmed down to eight, and then four. (Last year, it was from 15 to 10 and then to five.) However, that doesn’t sound as tough as in the 90’s and early noughties when only 10 finalists were chosen before the numbers were cut down to 6 and then down to the final three.
u The 16th slot goes to the candidate who gets the highest average rating in the Miss Universe website online poll, not the one who had the most number of votes. Miss Universe will take average of the total votes from the IP addresses originating from each country.
u You can vote 10 times each day per email address. Voting ends on Monday, September 12, 6 a.m., Manila time.
u Shamcey Supsup could be a shoo-in for Miss Congeniality, especially after she gave all her fellow contestants pearl earrings, a traditional gesture of goodwill by Filipina representatives in the pageant. However, Miss Haiti should give her a good fight—she has been going around with a video camera recording behind-the-scenes footage with the other candidates for pageant-crazy fans online.
u Asians have had tough luck since Japan’s Riyo Mori took the crown in 2007. No Asian made it the finals in 2009; last year, only Venus Raj barged into the Top 15. This year, hopes are high for Misses China, Malaysia and Philippines.
u No UP graduate has ever made it as a finalist in Miss Universe. (UST has had more success with alumnae Charlene Gonzales and Miriam Quiambao.) However, fans are hopeful that Shamcey will finally break what the superstitious refer to as the “UP curse.”
u There is no National Costume Competition this year, a puzzling decision by the organizers considering it is the highlight among the many pre-pageant activities. However, that didn’t stop the candidates from going all out in their chosen ensemble. Our verdict on Miss Venezuela’s national costume: it’s a becky iguana that grew wings.