It is now a very close fight for the distinction of being named Country of the Year in pageantry between the Philippines and Venezuela after Venezuela's candidate Alyz Henrich was named the 2013 Miss Earth during the finals night held at Versailles Alabang in Las Piñas last night
The Philippines and Venezuela are now tied with two Grand Slam titles each. The Philippines reigns as Miss World and Miss Supranational while Venezuela is the winner of both the Miss Universe & Miss Earth titles.
Last pageant for the year and might also serve as decisive tie- breaker is Miss International which is scheduled on December 17 in Japan.
Interestingly, both Miss Philippines and Miss Venezuela have been pegged by pageant experts as the most likely to slug it out for the crown
Austria's Katia Wagner was named Miss Air, Thailand's Punika Kulsoontornrut took home the Miss Water title, while Korea's Catharina Choi placed as Miss Fire.
Pageant Coaches: Venezuela's Osmel Souza & RP's Jonas Gaffud
Henrich, whose advocacy is the conservation of the Los Roques chain of islands in her native country, was asked during the Question & Answer round how she thinks eco-tourism can contribute to the protection of the environment.
The 22-year-old answered: "We are responsible for the destruction of our nature. We need to be aware and take care of Mother Earth."
The crowing of Henrich as Miss Earth marks the second major win for Venezuela, considered as a pageant powerhouse, in international beauty competitions this year.
Only last month, another Venezuelan beauty, Gabriela Isler, clinched the Miss Universe crown. The Philippines' Ariella Arida finished 3rd runner-up in the same competition.
Angelee Delos Reyes, the Filipino candidate to Miss Earth, almost matched Arida's success by finishing in the top 8 on Saturday night, alongside the delegates of Austria, Mexico, Korea, Thailand, Venezuela, Serbia and Poland.
Delos Reyes, who got the loudest cheers from the predominantly Filipino audience during the finals night, picked a topic related to super typhoon "Yolanda" for the Q & A portion.
"A month after Yolanda struck the country, how do you think Mother Earth feels now?"
The 26-year-old registered nurse answered: "She [Mother Earth] feels sad now. It's a wake up call for us. We must take care of Earth so it can take care of us."
Completing the top 16 were the candidates of Turkey, Chile, France, China, Mauritius, Spain, USA, and South Africa. Special awards such as the Best in Swimwear and Best in Evening Gown, which Jenrich and Ukraine's Anastasia Sukh won, respecitvely, were handed out days before the coronation night.
Kazakhstan's Kumis Bazarbayeva got the Best in Talent award, Kulsoontornrut won Best in Resorts Wear, while India's Sobhita Dhulipala took home the Miss Photogenic trophy. She also won the Miss Earth Eco-Beauty competition, where each candidate showcases her environmental advoacy through a video.
Awarded Miss Friendship were Indonesia's Nita Sofiani, Lebanon's Rita Houkayem, and Gabon's Filiane Mayombo Koundi.
Leading up to the coronation night, the candidates took part in relief efforts for the survivors of "Yolanda." This year's pageant had been announced to focus on raising awareness about climate change, in relation to the devastation caused by the typhoon.
The Philippines-based international pageant, whose slogan is "beauties for a cause," has been held in the country annually since 2001, except in 2010 when Vietnam hosted the finals night.
Delos Reyes' top 8 finish in Miss Earth follows several successes of Filipinas in other international pageants, including Megan Young's Miss World win, Mutya Datul's Miss Supranational win, and Arida's Miss Universe 3rd runner-up finish.
Photo Credits: OPMB