Southeast Asian candidates stand out strong in Miss U



Maxine now open to use an interpreter

Move over South America! After many years of being pageant favorites, Southeast Asian ladies seem to be overshadowing Latinas, based on the day-to-day activities leading up to the 65th Miss Universe coronation night on January 30.

The Philippines is no longer the lone country consistently sending strong candidates to the beauty contest what with Thailand’s Chalita Suansane, Malaysia’s Kiran Jassal and Indonesia’s Kezia Warouw also turning heads besides our very own Miss Philippines in Maxine Medina.

Chalita, the 22-year-old microbiology student from Samutprakarn, Thailand has already growing a fan base in the Philippines after wowing the crowds at the swimsuit presentation in JPark Resort and Casino in Mactan, Cebu. She was one of the most applauded candidates for the very crucial segment because of her flawless catwalk and super smooth turns. In The Know got to chat with Chalita who is overwhelmed by the warm reception she has received in the country.  “I am so happy to be here and thank you all – thank you everybody for having me, mahal kita!”

Miss Philippines Maxine Medina

Twenty-year-old dentistry student Kiran Jassal from Kuala Lumpur, meanwhile, first caught the attention of Pinoys when she shared her iconic Petronas Towers-inspired national costume online, which quickly went viral. Pageant fans loved her more after her dancing stint with Maxine while dolling up to the tune of Bruno Mars’ hit song “24K Magic.” She also pulled off an unconventional terno design at the fashion show in Vigan, Ilocos Sur and made it her own.

Meanwhile, the six-footer beauty and brains, Engineering graduate Kezia Warouw from Jakarta is also one to watch especially since she also received training from beauty queen-maker Jonas Gaffud of Aces and Queens. Kezia, or Keke as she is called by friends, made such a huge impact on pageant spectators when she returned to Manila in less than a month from being fair-skinned to tan and exotic for Miss Universe. Kezia also serves up an awesome catwalk, not to mention a striking presence every time she enters the room.

Kezia’s obviously effective training in the Philippines, known as the “Powerhouse of Beauty” in Asia, gained initial criticism since it may lessen Maxine’s chances of winning a back-to-back for the country. But Jonas was quick to explain his decision to take on the Indonesian candidate, explaining, “It’s time na iangat ang  beauty ng Asians sa pageant scene.”

More importantly, Maxine says she doesn’t feel slighted by the situation because she considers Kezia, as well as Chalita and Kiran good friends. “I am here to win. Kaya natin ‘yan.”

Here’s a welcome development. It seems the tide is turning as Maxine is now open to use an interpreter, heeding suggestions from different mentors to do so.

(From left) Miss Indonesia Kezia Warouw, Miss Thailand Chalita Suansane and Miss Malaysia Kiran Jassal

“Oo naman, napakaganda ng Tagalog, and there was one time Pia and I were talking, and all of the candidates were like, ‘Oh it’s so nice to hear you talking in Tagalog.’ So for me wala namang masama kung mag-translate tayo and I’m here to win. I will request for one if I have to.”

Jonas and another Aces and Queens mentor Sig Ulanon are also studying the possibility of making Maxine use an interpreter. And even if everyone’s already talking about it, it will be a surprise if Maxine does on pageant night because she’ll go down in history as the first Filipina to use an interpreter for Miss Universe.

The 65th Miss Universe competition will air on January 30 at 8 a.m. on TV5.
Enjoy the Miss Universe fever, everyone—and until next week, tah-tah!


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