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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 20, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 03
Miss Universe heats up in Manila with Colombia, Brazil and host country Philippines emerging as favorites
Arts & Entertainment
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Miss Universe heats up in Manila with Colombia, Brazil and host country Philippines emerging as favorites

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

MISS UNIVERSE PAGEANT
FOX-TV
January 29 @ 5pm


Super Bowl, um, who cares?! For many Gay men, the annual Miss Universe pageant is the biggest event on their calendar. It's something they wait all year for, something they track on the daily and something they'll even travel to and witness in person, if they can.

The 65th installment of the international beauty pageant will be held January 29 in Manila, Philippines, where the event is so popular that it's easily the most watched TV program of the year, shown in bars and shopping malls, or other public places, similar to the Super Bowl here in the States.

86 women from around the world will compete for the coveted title, currently held by Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach of the Philippines, who was crowned a year ago in Las Vegas amidst an unfortunate flub. When reading the winner's name at the tail end of the two-hour telecast, ceremony host Steve Harvey mistakenly announced Miss Colombia Ariadna GutiƩrrez as the winner, but shortly afterwards realized she was the First Runner-Up and Philippines was the actual Miss Universe. The epic guffaw became a top trending story on social media within minutes and continued for days later, leading to some of the funniest memes and gif videos on Facebook and Twitter. But that was so last year.

Speaking of the Philippines, it has a shot at winning back-to-back crowns, most recently accomplished by Venezuela, which claimed a repeat title in 2009 by Stefania Fernandez after a 2008 triumph by Dayana Mendoza. Maxine Medina is this year's delegate from the Philippines and appears high on the list of contenders, with some predicting she'll make the elite Final 5 without a sweat. But at the very top of most pageant pundits' lists is Miss Colombia Andrea Tovar, a 23 year-old model and student at Jorge Tadeo Lozano University.

If neither the Philippines nor Colombia, who finished one and two last year, gets it, expect Miss Brazil Raissa Santana, Miss Argentina Estefania Bernal, Miss Panama Keity Drennan, Miss Thailand Chalita Suansane, Miss Australia Caris Tiivel, or Miss Mexico Kristal Silva to be victorious, as all are receiving high marks a week before the crowning. Miss USA, Deshauna Barber from Washington DC, will probably crack the Top 15, though she isn't considered a major contender, thus far.

Of course, all of these predictions are based on popularity and response that the women have received since arriving in Manila two weeks ago. The real competition begins this week when all 86 contestants participate in preliminary swimsuit, evening gown and interview events that will determine the 15 semi-finalists. Some competitors who are expected to stand out early in the competition fail to impress during the preliminaries, while others emerge out of nowhere and flourish. For the first time in history, Sierra Leone has sent a delegate to the Miss Universe pageant; 26 year-old Hawa Kamara represents the West African nation in Manila.

Though lots of people, including Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, expressed their opposition of Harvey returning as host, the 'Family Feud' star will once again emcee the telecast due to a five-year binding contract. Meanwhile, Flo Rida has been announced as the show's musical talent and Ashley Graham will provide backstage commentary. A panel of celebrity judges will be announced in the coming days, who will decide the next Miss Universe.

Miss Universe 2016 is being telecast on Sunday, January 29 on FOX (5pm PST); however, it is actually taking place on the morning of January 30 in Manila, where it is 16 hours ahead of the West Coast. This marks the second time that Miss Universe is being crowned for the previous year and not the current calendar year.

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Miss Universe heats up in Manila with Colombia, Brazil and host country Philippines emerging as favorites
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