Months before delegates to the Miss International 2016 contest were confirmed, beauty pageant authority missosoloy.org ran its first official “Hot Picks” in July and named Miss Philippines Kylie Verzosa as most likely to win the title and wear the pearl-studded Mikimoto crown come October 27. She was followed by Misses Mexico, Indonesia, Bolivia and Finland.
In the second “Hot Picks” in September, Miss Poland Magdalena Biekowska replaced Verzosa as the most likely winner, with Miss Indonesia wresting second place from Miss Mexico, followed by Ecuador, Panama and Mexico. Miss Philippines dropped to sixth place.
As the big day approaches with the candidates now in Japan for the lead up to pageant night at the Tokyo Dome City Hall, the beauty pageant website said, “This should not dishearten [Versosa’s] fans because this is just the ‘2nd Hot Picks,’ and anything can change especially when the delegates are already in Tokyo.
“Kylie is very photogenic, but being put in the spotlight during our ‘1st Hot Picks’ has exposed her to several criticisms. She needs to be more versatile in her posing too, because it seems that she is avoiding being caught outside the usual side view pose,” the website added.
But during the press presentation on October 12 the Philippine bet regained her stature as the leading candidate with her golden National Costume especially created for her by noted Filipino designer Francis Libiran.
Should Versoza win, she follows the footsteps of five Filipinas who have been crowned Miss International before—Gemma Cruz in 1964, Aurora Pijuan in 1970, Melanie Marquez in 1979, Precious Lara Quigaman in 2005, and Bea Rose Santiago in 2013.
The Ateneo De Manila University Business Management graduate actively chronicles her Miss International journey on Instagram. She posted a photo of her group comprised of roommate Miss Thailand and the delegates from New Zealand, Northern Marianas and Poland.
Her photo with Miss International 2015 Edymar Martinez garnered almost 9,000 likes with netizens commenting that the Filipina is the worthy successor of the current queen from Venezuela.
Last year’s Philippine bet, Janicel Lubina, managed to be in the Top 10 finalists, and was also named Miss Best Dressed.
Meanwhile, only Venezuela, with its seven wins, has beaten the Philippines in the most number of Miss International queens since the Japan-based beauty contest began in 1960, with Miss Colombia Stella Marquez as the first winner. Marquez married Jorge Araneta and founded the Binibining Pilipinas Charities, organizer of Binibining Pilipinas Beauty Pageant.
Miss International is one of the “Big Four” pageants in terms of prestige and number of delegates in the world.
Spain, Colombia, Poland, Australia and USA have three winners each; and two for Puerto Rico, Mexico, Norway, Greece and the United Kingdom. Countries with a single winner so far are Japan, Ecuador, Lebanon, Panama, Portugal, England, Guatemala, Costa Rica, France, Yugoslavia, Finland, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Iceland and Netherlands.
According to the organization, the Miss International Beauty Pageant “aims at becoming more than a beauty contest, [moreso]an actual opportunity for the participants to improve their inner selves, through proactively contributing to the international community and international exchanges.”