ABQ’s Miss Universe 2013 Prediction: Ariella Arida in the Top 5!

Miss Philippines Universe 2013 Ariella 'Ara' Arida... worthy of a Top 5 placement!

Miss Philippines Universe 2013 Ariella ‘Ara’ Arida… worthy of a Top 5 placement!

Click here to read this article which was originally published in Rappler.

CHIANG RAI, Thailand – With the crucial Miss Universe prelims are done, here’s ABQ’s list of who’s hot and — who’s not.

It seems the Latinas are grabbing most of the attention. They are a force to reckon with this 2013, with most of them resembling Barbie in the flesh.The downside? Well…all Barbies tend to look alike.

The Europeans, meantime, pose the biggest threat to a Latina win; but don’t be surprised if an Asian or Eurasian snatches the prize. The weakest group would be the blonde contingent with only 2 or 3 who fall into the “bombshell” category.

What about our girl — Ariella “Ara” Arida? What are her chances of winning or, at least, maintaining the Philippines’ excellent performance in Miss Universe with the past 3 queens placing as runners-up?  More thoughts on that below and in this article I wrote for Rappler – “Ariella Arida: Tough Contender in 2013 Miss Universe”)

Here’s my list of Top 21 girls to watch out for:

Top 5

In this interview at the Rappler studios, Ariella Arida herself identified at least 3 girls she believed were her main rivals for the win: Puerto Rico, Spain and France.

1. Puerto Rico – Monic Perez

Monic Perez - Puerto Rico

Monic Perez of Puerto Rico. Elegance personified…

This statuesque 5’10” nursing degree holder is a classic beauty and one of the front-runners for the crown if we are to go by the lists of most pageant fans. Monic Perez’ best performance IMHO, was during the Evening Gown competition at the prelims, where she wore a yellow gown with her hair up in a high, queenly bun. Her advocacy as a nurse is caring for the elderly.

2. Spain – Patricia Yurena Rodriguez

Patricia Yurena Rodriguez of Spain

Patricia Yurena Rodriguez of Spain. This Spanish girl is sooo FLY!

An interesting beauty, this one. In spite of her angular jaw-line (which reminds me of Mariel de Leon), Patricia Yurena Rodriguez has one of the prettiest faces in this year’s collection of international beauties. Her performance in the prelims was captivating. However, this writer finds her a little too thin for comfort. This 5’8” Tenerife native is a volunteer fund raiser for Red Cross in Madrid.

3. France – Hinarani de Longeaux

Hinarani de Longeaux of France

Hinarani de Longeaux of France. If Angelina and Beyonce had a daughter, this is how she would look like…

Although her Official Miss Universe Web Interview seemed blah, Hinarani de Longeaux made up for it, trés beacoup, during the prelims where she finally let her oooomph ooze out. She’s like an Arabica version of Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie or R&B singer Beyonce. This 5’10” Tahitian-French model works for SOS Village Enfant which helps place orphans in new homes.

4. Ukraine – Olga Storozhenko

Olga Storozhenko  of Ukraine

Olga Storozhenko of Ukraine

Can you believe that this 5’10” porcelain doll grew up playing with cars? But there’s no sign of boyishness in this elegant beauty now. Olga Storozhenko actually runs a local beauty pageant to raise funds for orphans. Her radiant beauty, which brings to mind actress Jane Seymour, was highlighted in the Official Miss Universe Web Interview and during her self-introduction in the prelims. Now, if only her stylist would stop making her look way older than her 21 years…

5. Philippines – Ariella Arida

Ariella Arida of the Philippines

Ariella Arida of the Philippines. Wanted in Russia!

Just because she’s at the bottom of this Top 5 list doesn’t mean she’s the least in our eyes. While the 4 contestants mentioned above will make it hard for her to win, Ara still has a huge chance of bringing home the 3rd ever Miss Universe crown for the Philippines.

The 5’7” chemistry graduate from Laguna is one of the most in-demand contestants with major sponsors (like Yamamay, Tony Ward, Mercedes Benz and Nobu) always requesting for her to grace their events. Russian singer Emin also included her in a shortlist of 7 contestants to be featured in one of his MTVs.

While some felt she was too muscular-looking during the prelims’ swimsuit competition, these critics may not know that Miss Universe tends to favor “lean, mean, fighting machines.” Out of all the Asian representatives, it’s safe to say that Ariella Arida is clearly number one!

ABQ’s Next 11 favorites rounding up the Top 16:

6. Czech Republic – Gabriela Kratochvílová

Gabriela Kratochvílová of the Czech Republic

Gabriela Kratochvílová of the Czech Republic. Who says girls with long hair are prettier?

Gabriela Kratochvílová proves that not all beauty queens have voluminously long hair. She is, in fact, the first-ever Miss Czech Universe winner with a page-boy cut. In a pre-pageant show, Gabriela was also chosen as the “People’s Bond Girl” by swimsuit sponsor Yamamay.

7. Australia – Olivia Wells

Olivia Wells of Australia

Olivia Wells of Australia. Oi-Oi-Oi!

Could her first name be a good luck charm since she shares it with reigning Miss Universe Olivia Culpo? I don’t believe in luck but it’s fun to speculate. Olivia Wells is the beautiful mind behind the blog The Procrasti-baker. But don’t think for a second that you’ll see cupcakes on her hips! The 5’10” Melbourne miss is fabulously fit. She is also passionate about her charity work and has once flown to Vietnam as a volunteer to help disabled children.

8. Bolivia – Alexia Viruez

Alexia Viruez of Bolivia

Alexia Viruez of Bolivia. Loving every minute of her…

This feline femme consistently delivers in the Miss Universe beauty pageant. From her Web Interview to all her stage moments in the prelims, Alexia Viruez does not disappoint. The 5’8” South American beauty once volunteered to serve rescue workers during a building collapse in her town of Santa Cruz.

9. Haiti – Mondiana J’hainne Pierre

Mondiana J'hanne Pierre of Haiti. Dark. Mysterious. Forbidding...

Mondiana J’hanne Pierre of Haiti. Dark. Mysterious. Forbidding…

Delicate mahogany skin…Flawlessly chiseled face. The most beautiful among the dark queens, Mondiana Pierre evokes memories of a former Miss Universe winner — Leila Lopes of Angola who won in 2011. The 5’10” stunner founded Big Sister, an organization that encourages children in her hometown Port-au-Prince to seek an education.

10. USA – Erin Brady

Erin Brady of the USA

Erin Brady of the USA. Smiling or pouting, she’s amazing!

Could we see a back-to-back win for the USA? I’m sure Erin Brady wouldn’t mind it at all! The best asset of this 5’8” accountant from Connecticut is her gorgeously perfect face.

11. Turkey – Berrin Keklikler

Berrin Kekliker of Turkey. Would love to have her for Thanksgiving...

Berrin Kekliker of Turkey. Would love to have her for Thanksgiving…

What a sweet darling. This animal rescuer was happily laughing away on stage during the swimsuit competition of the prelims! Berrin Kekliker’s smile is much like that of local actress Alma Concepcion, who was also a beauty queen once. I just hope that this 5’10” Turkish delight didn’t lose any points for wearing a gown that looked more like a glorified swimsuit during the prelims.

12. Colombia – Lucia Aldana

Lucia Aldana of Colombia. Those eyes just drive me crazy!

Lucia Aldana of Colombia. Those eyes just drive me crazy!

Owlish à la Anne Hathaway. Abs that belong on the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated. The 5’6” Lucia Aldana might be the shortest on this shortlist of favorites but she has big dreams of producing and directing a government-related TV show.

13. Malaysia – Carey Ng

Carey Ng of Malaysia.

Carey Ng of Malaysia. Ballerina turned Beauty Queen..

The only other stunning Asian (from Asia, I must add) aside from Ariella Arida of the Philippines — is Carey Ng who grew up in Kuala Lumpur. She’s got a sexy vibe and walks like water; but whoever is styling her hair, please, no big “bumpits” to make her seem taller than her 5’8” frame. She’s simply “Malay-zing” just as she is!

14. Russia – Elmira Abdrazakova

Elmira Abdrazakova of Russia

Elmira Abdrazakova of Russia. A Siberian siren…

Of course, the host nation has to be in the Top 16! The sultry Siberian is a spokesperson for Operation Smile in the Russian territory. Love her lips, but the 5’8’ global economics student needs to keep off the red lipstick — it just makes her pouty lips look more swollen than sweet.

15. Canada – Riza Santos

Riza Santos of Canada. If she and Ariella make it into the Top 5 (or even Top 16) it will be history in making...

Riza Santos of Canada. If she and Ariella make it into the Top 5 (or even Top 16) it will be history in making…

The only other full Pinay competing in Miss Universe aside from Ariella Arida is the representative from Canada, Riza Santos. The 5’8” Canadian queen is proud of her Filipino roots and in her Miss Universe bio, she mentions the work she’s done in the Philippines. (Read: 3 Filipinas in 2013 Miss Universe)

16. Italy – Luna Voce

Luna Voce of Italy. Her name literally means 'moon voice'...

Luna Voce of Italy. Her name literally means ‘moon voice’…

The boot-shaped nation of Europe sent a 5’9” eye-catcher this year. Luna Voce (yes, even her name is unreal) is often mistaken for an actress. Love the eyes and the body. Viva Italia!

ABQ’s Dark horses: 5 beauties that pose a threat to all of the above

 17. Israel – Titi Yitayish Ayanaw

Titi Yitayish Ayanaw of Israel. Ebony in Ivory...

Titi Yitayish Ayanaw of Israel. Ebony in Ivory…

Titi Yitayish Ayanaw, who is originally from Ethiopia, towers over the competition at 5’11”. Although her Web Interview seemed flat, Titi was fabulous in the prelims with her upswept hair and cocoa-colored skin.

 18. Croatia – Melita Fabečić

Melita Fabčeić of Croatia. I can see her on a billboard for Guess...

Melita Fabčeić of Croatia. I can see her on a billboard for Guess…

Melita Fabčeić has an odd beauty that keeps you wanting for more. It must be the tilted Asian eyes and sexy buck-toothed pout. This 18-year-old has jumpstarted a successful modeling career in Milan.

19. Curacao

Eline de Pool of Curacao. The heart-shaped lips are all that matter...

Eline de Pool of Curacao. The heart-shaped lips are all that matter…

This 5’8” Caribbean queen has a Charlene Gonzales vibe going on. Because of her unique look, Eline de Pool is a stand-out beauty.

20. Kazakhstan

Aigerim Kozhakhanova of Kazakhstan. When she smiles with the dimples, she reminds of of Charice Pempengco...

Aigerim Kozhakhanova of Kazakhstan. When she smiles with the dimples, she reminds of of Charice Pempengco…

This one’s a very pretty version of singer Charice Pempengco. The 5’6” Aigerim Kozhakhanova has a smile that can light up a giant stage. But I do hope her being skinny is a natural thing because thin is not always in.

21. Tanzania

Betty Omara of Tanzania. ABQ's favorite African Queen...

Betty Omara of Tanzania. ABQ’s favorite African Queen…

Betty Omara is the most stunning among the African contestants, and seems to be chanelling the biblical Queen of Sheba. The 5’8” fashion model is the second on this list with short hair.


Yep. Venezuela is not on the list and it’s a daring move for me since I’m the type of pageant fan that puts stock in the ‘Sash Factor’ of a country. Venezuela is the leading country when it comes to pageant winners but lately, they’ve been flailing. And, to be honest I’m just not attracted to the Venezuelan candidate’s beauty but she is gorgeous none-the-less. I just hope I don’t kick myself in the butt for not including her in my list… if she wins, LOL!

So that wraps up my list of favorites for the Miss Universe 2013 crown.  We’ll find out on November 9 (November 10, Philippine time) who the winner will be. Will it be one of the girls on this list or will it be a shocking upset?

Whatever the case, it promises to be another exciting edition for the Miss Universe beauty pageant!