Miss Earth : NEWS
 October 28, 2001 " CATHARINA: The Danish Who Conquered The Earth (Analysis, Insights, and Notes on the Miss Earth 2001 Coronation Night)" by Kyle T.



 Catharina Svensson, a 21-year old Law Student from Denmark, outsmarted the competition as she came from behind the favorites to capture the first-ever title of Miss Earth at glittering ceremonies held Sunday night at the University of the Philippines Theatre in Diliman, Quezon City.  In the process, she bested 41 other delegates, including three front-runners who were eventually named into her unique court of "elements":  Brazil's Simone Regis - who was named Miss Earth-Air, Kazakhstan's Margarita Kravstova - Miss Earth-Water, and Argentina's Daniella Stucan - Miss Earth-Fire.  The 5'11" Svensson likewise eclipsed other heavily-favored contestants from India, Estonia, and the Philippines who only got as far as the Top 10.

 Going into the semifinals, it appeared to be a long shot for Miss Denmark as she only held on to the personal interviews as the strongest part of her preliminary score tally.  But as fate would have it, she turned the tide to her favor when she impressed the judges not only with her wit and spontaneity, but with more than respectable showings in the swimsuit and long gown portions as well.  When she was called in the Top 10 - alongside Misses USA, Argentina, India, Estonia, Latvia, Bolivia, Kazakhstan, Philippines, and Brazil - the audience hardly cheered for her.  As soon as the interpretation of environmental photographs was conducted, though, she gradually took command of an awe-inspired crowd who took notice of her brainy answers.  As the semifinal phase of competition was winding up, it became crystal clear that she has secured one of four finals slot.  Shamita Singha of India, an early stand-out, looked like another shoo-in.  Having won two special awards earlier in the evening - on top of getting the National Costume and Mabuhay Pageants Miss Internet nods - she was poised to take her gains further up the ladder of victory.   However, her swimsuit score must have been a letdown.  On the other hand, Misses Argentina and Kazakhstan sustained their strong leads and were almost seeded to reach the Top 4, just like Miss Brazil who did a pretty good job in all her semifinal outings.

Top four : Miss Argentina, Miss Kazakhstan , Miss Brazil, Miss Denmark

 The Final Q&A was an entirely different story.  Only one question was asked with an isolation booth serving the purpose of preserving the confidentiality of this segment.  It is here where fluency in English was deemed essential.  Although as it is, Kazakhstan, Brazil, and Argentina - who have fundamental grasps of the medium (read: they can very well get the gist of an English question by just hearing bits and pieces of familiar words in the same) - could have maximized their use of an interpreter by taking advantage of precious seconds to compose their answers while translations were being made.  These ladies, however, must have really found the question tough.  Argentina hardly gave the correct response as she simply went through a short litany of how the earth must be taken cared of. Kazakhstan understood the question, but wanting to intersperse English with her native language, the clarity of her answer was nowhere to be found. She even spent close to one full minute in explaining her side.  Fortunately for Brazil, she benefitted a lot from a charming Portuguese-speaking translator who was able to piece together her rejoinders in a fluid manner.   With Denmark,  she capitalized on her excellent communication skills and gave out a most sensible reply on how to put a balance between technological advancements and environment protection.  She even went as far as detailing the farming practices in her home country and how the government was able to come up with effective methods to improve on their rural technology without harming nature's elements.   At this point, everyone inside the theatre was in unison that she nailed the crown with her reply.  She was already being lustily cheered upon, with those who used to support Argentina and India now shouting of Catharina's looming victory.

During the announcement of winners, the only results being awaited for were the placements of Argentina, Kazakhstan, and Brazil.  Denmark clearly had it in the bag.  And what a sweet triumph it was for a lady who came to Manila with no intentions of winning but to just enjoy the whole experience of her first visit to Asia and participate in a beauty pageant with a cause. 

Top ten : Miss USA, Miss Argentina, Miss Denmark, Miss Kazakhstan, Miss Brazil, Miss Philippines, Miss Bolivia, Miss Latvia, Miss India, Miss Estonia

Pageant notes: 

1.  At least two of Carousel Productions' bigwigs were teary-eyed in joy upon discovering that a simple unassuming but brainy lass (with no airs or attitude problems at all) won over the more well-prepared delegates and highly-touted favorites.  For them, Denmark's winning could be a signal of brighter things to come for Miss Earth. 

2.  Miss Kazakhstan was not too happy with her third-place finish.  Even the production crew of Carousel was rooting for her.  However, when all the picture-takings, congratulatory kisses and handshakes were taking place, Margarita regained her usual warm and affable self and displayed true sportsmanship by sincerely hugging Catharina and the two other finalists. 

3.  Miss India was visibly sad of not making it to the Top 4.  During the final part where all the contestants were onstage to witness the victory of Catharina, she stood behind the taller Miss New Zealand to shield her disappointment. 

4.  After Catharina was promptly whisked away by security and brought to her victory party, Simone, Daniella, and Margarita were still left onstage as they were being adulated upon by countless supporters who were asking for photo ops and autographs from the three.  Semifinalist Evelyn Mikomagi was also with them as she had her share of fans as well. 

Special Awards : Miss Lux - Miss India , Miss Cream Silk - Miss Argentina, Miss Close up - Miss Philippines, Miss Ponds - Miss Estonia

5.  A relatively strong Brazilian contingent was in the audience was present in support of Simone.  One of them was even wildly waving the flag of Brazil up to the final announcement. 

6.  Right after the pageant, Miss Russia, Victoria Bonya, stepped in front of press photographers and stole the limelight from the winners by posing while garbed in an attire that looks like the replica of the very controversial low-cut see-through dress Jennifer Lopez wore during last year's Grammy Awards when she was still seeing Puff Daddy.  Victoria made the whole get-up more infamous this time by wearing a blue swimsuit panty which was so visibly displayed. 

7.  Misses Australia, South Africa, and Canada gamely posed with some of the audience members for souvenir photographs while wearing their elegant evening gowns.

 8.  It was noticeable during the evening gown semi-finals that Miss Estonia wore a long pastel-colored dress different from what she paraded during the preliminaries.  She must have thought that the white gown did not create an impact among the judges at the Mandaluyong Gym. 

9.  Among the candidates with whom Mabuhay Pageants did an informal survey as to who they feel deserves to win Miss Earth, only Miss USA, Abby Royce, correctly picked Miss Denmark as the girl who will bag the title.  Must be a case of intelligent minds thinking alike? Well, we really should have asked Miss Denmark at that time.  I'm not sure if she will pick Miss USA as her choice in return.

 10.  For the first time in my pageant-following years since 1974, I actually got a high 90% in my semifinal predictions.  Of the 10 ladies I posted in this board as my final Top 10, 9 girls actually made it.  Only Miss Latvia, my #11, was not on the list. 

11.  I don't like the Miss Earth crown.  It made the wearer look like an alien with the skeleton of a space helmet that did not pass quality control. The tiaras of Misses Air, Water & Fire are far more attractive, although the designs can still be improved.

 Production Notes:

 1.  The stage design was obviously done on a shoestring budget - no fancy stuff.  With a drawn backdrop of trees amidst a forest-like scenery,  real greeneries were transported to the theatre and laid over this painting.  It actually gave the audience an initial feel of a woods-like setting with laser lights providing the minor spectacle every so often.  The problem was that some of the greens emitted a somewhat foul smell after being enclosed inside the venue.  This must be one of the main reasons why their turned down the air-conditioning.  I also noticed that, except for the opening number showing Chin-chin Gutierrez rising from a mechanical contraption beneath the centerstage, no other moving portions were utilized.  All in all, it was a back to the basics motif. 

2.  Among the three hosts, Miss Asia-Pacific 1997 Emma Suwanalat is the most seasoned in terms of pageant experience and it showed in the way she projected, read her cue cards, and delivered her spiels.  She has been an anchorperson of the Miss Asia-Pacific for the past two years.  On the other hand, Asha Gill may have been a VJ for a long time now, but the Miss Earth being a formal event, she was kind of ill at ease, especially that she had to wear tight-fitting long gowns and high heels.  However, she was very good at throwing punch lines for comic relief during the long breaks in the live taping of the show.  The male emcee, Jaime Garchitorena, did a decent job. He had his share of slips and buckles here and there, but nothing too huge a blunder to make a big deal of.  At any rate, he committed a major boo-boo during taping which, fortunately, was already edited out and no longer shown to the TV audience.  I will not go into full details of this incident anymore so as not to dampen his chances of pursuing a career as pageant host.  He apologized to the theatre crowd for the same and I forgive him. 

3.  Thankfully, the choreography executed by Robbie Carmona was not complex. This allowed the ladies to master their moves within two days and nights of continuous rehearsals.

 4.  The live taping of the pageant inside the UP Theatre was excruciatingly long.  It actually started at half past 7pm and ended with the announcement of winners close to midnight.  I was told by friends who watched on TV that the RPN-9 coverage began at around 9:30pm already, with so many commercials filling in the lulls that were actually caused by a couple of retakes in the live taping, aside from unforeseen delays coming from video clips (which sandwiched the commercial gaps) which kept on running amuck.   

5.  Due to the length of the taping, Jaime Garchitorena and Asha Gill were instructed to fill in the loooonnng gaps by entertaining the live audience. At first, their banters were fun and amusing.  At one point, though, their jokes bordered on subject matters a little too risque' for some of the people inside the theatre, especially the children.  When the two cajoled Emma Suwanalat for being so quiet, the latter smiled and tactfully quipped that she won't be part of their verbal exchanges.  Therafter, they played it safe with wholesome humor. 

6.  Asha Gill was so uncomfortable with her black gown (worn during the first part of the show) that she actually stepped so hard on one of the long heavily-beaded tussles that it got pulled out in place.  She quickly apologized to designer Frederick Peralta for what she just did.  At least, she was able to carry her 2nd gown (a reddish pink spaghetti-strapped number with a large overlaying shawl covering 3/4 of her body) with aplomb. 

Well, so much about all these notes and insights about the recently concluded Miss Earth 2001 Finals.  All I can say is that Catharina Svensson is truly deserving of the title.  Denmark should be proud of her. Considering that this country has not been actively participating in beauty pageants lately, this victory should propel them back to the mainstream from hereon.  If not, the Filipinos would be very happy accomodating another Danish candidate in next year's Miss Earth.