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   Since Miss Universe 2015 will officially start in Las Vegas next week, allow me to post about one of my favorite Miss Universe winners of all time, and the most recent on my list.Gabriela Isler, or Molly if you will, is Venezuela’s 7th big winner of our favorite beauty pageant. She also happens to have one of the more meaningful reigns to date. Her popularity remains positively high, as she has also started a number of significant charity causes that stretched from New York City to Coron, Palawan. To top it all, she is a nice person all around, especially after her visit to our shores during Bb. Pilipinas 2014. Watch a video of her farewell walk during Miss Universe 2014 in Doral, Florida now. courtesy of James DonaldMiss Universe Paulina Vega (left) and Miss World Rolene Strauss The Predecessors: Gabriela and Megan To say that Gabriela and Megan are tough acts to follow would be an understatement. Miss Universe Paulina Vega (left) and Miss World Rolene StraussThe Predecessors: Gabriela and MeganThe 63rd Miss Universe Paulina Vega Dieppa of Colombia and Miss World 2014 Rolene Strauss of South Africa have the demanding work cut out for them. With their respective predecessors serving reigns that were considered more than successful in terms of appearances, international causes/charity and positive sustenance of the crown and brand name for more than 365 days, the challenge now is to exceed the efforts and make both Donald Trump and Julia Morley happier bosses. That won’t be too much of a difficult mission to accomplish, right?Call me quick to judge at this point. But methinks Rolene will meet the expectations more handily than Paulina.It is a proven fact that the South African has one of the most wonderful down-to-earth personalities during the competition in London last year. On the other hand, the Colombian has been rumored to have a recurring diva attitude that even Mr. Trump allegedly anticipates to border on being an all-around b**ch. What do you think, dear readers? 😉 Miss World 2014 Rolene Strauss of South Africa The 63rd Miss Universe Paulina Vega Dieppa of ColombiaMiss World 2014 Rolene Strauss of South AfricaThe 63rd Miss Universe Paulina Vega Dieppa of ColombiaGabriela Isler of Venezuela - one of the best Miss Universe winners ever! Gabriela is beautiful, warm, glamorous and well-spoken - an almost perfect Miss Universe! Muchas gracias, Gabriela! Hers is an active reign that extended far beyond everyone’s expectations. And Gabriela Isler made sure that she lived up to every minute of her commitment as Miss Universe 2013 with the beauty and grace of a Queen, the fluidity of a spokesperson and the constant warmth of a role model for all aspiring crown-wearers.Gabriela Isler of Venezuela - one of the best Miss Universe winners ever! Gabriela is beautiful, warm, glamorous and well-spoken - an almost perfect Miss Universe!Muchas gracias, Gabriela!When Gabriela topped the competition in Moscow last November, 2013, she was ushered in to a world that she could only dream of. And she embraced the responsibility with love and passion. It’s no joke to wear the Miss Universe crown. Beyond the glamour, glitz and pride, there is the heightened level of involvement in worldwide charity causes that has really made the MUO (Miss Universe Organization) step up in its image of going deeper than skin-deep. And this Venezuelan is the near-perfect choice for the position. She didn’t only look the job. She assumed the whole thing with open arms and traveled around different countries to continue with the evolution of the title. And I couldn’t be prouder of Gabriela in particular after her visit to the Philippines last year and the unstinting support to the Cordaid Fund that has helped a large number of Filipinos who were displaced by ST Yolanda. Up to now, she is still pitching for the same. Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler with Filipino kids in Coron, PalawanNow is the time to watch Gabriela’s farewell video as Miss Universe 2013 before taking a bow. The reign may be coming to an end, but her efforts will long be remembered even if a new successor takes her place 24 hours from now. 🙂 courtesy of Miss Universe The 88 members of Miss Universe Class of 2014-15 pose with Donald Trump (in cap, blue blazer and white pants). In hindsight, this could be one of the easier editions of Miss Universe to predict. The favorites are so obvious. The Preliminary Competition helped to make them shine even more. And the countdown to the Top 15 from a big group of Eighty-eight (88) wide-eyed wonders shouldn’t be as tough as I had initially thought it would be.The 88 members of Miss Universe Class of 2014-15 pose with Donald Trump (in cap, blue blazer and white pants).But no, that’s just the reckless side of my brain working in maximum overdrive. In making fearless forecasts, there is no such thing as hitting 100% accuracy, let alone a second-guessed line-up that would score 14 out of 15 at best. Be that as it may, I now present to you my final picks to be called on Sunday night’s finals and leave seventy-three (73) clappers in the dusty background. Don’t mind the golf balls. They’re there just so that I can keep up with the Doral theme.The fifteen (15) ladies I am predicting for the first cut come finals night. Top 10 would be the ones numbered #1-#10 Following the conclusion of the Preliminary Competition, some re-shuffling is in order to give way to ladies who outperformed the others and to downgrade those who are initially seeded to stamp their superiority but fell short of expectations.The fifteen (15) ladies I am predicting for the first cut come finals night. Top 10 would be the ones numbered #1-#10The most consistent ones among the favorites are Miss Colombia Paulina Vega and Miss Philippines Mary Jean Lastimosa. They did not allow the pressure to get into their performance, unlike Miss Spain Desireé Ferrer and Miss Venezuela Migbelis Castellanos who were just alright in comparison. This development certainly allowed Miss Jamaica Kaci Fennell to shoot up in my own rankings, alongside Miss Ukraine Diana Harkusha. Miss USA Nia Sanchez remains middling, but at least she did not slide down in overall assessment. But breathing down her neck could be Miss Argentina Valentina Ferrer who is fast-tracking herself the true pageant way.Miss Costa Rica Karina Ramos and Miss Serbia Andjelka Tomasevic are also solid spoilers who could tilt things in their favor. But for now, I still see them as safe Top 15 entries with a good shot at the Top 10. The rest of my Top 15 could be a bunch of wildcards where one or two just might deliver well on finals night. The most glaring part here, however, is Migbelis falling down several notches from the top tier to the third rung. She has a beautiful face and all, but sadly, will never hold a candle to Gabriela Isler. A back-to-back is clearly out of the question.My Top 5 (from left to right): Miss Philippines MJ Lastimosa, Miss Colombia Paulina Vega, Miss Jamaica Kaci Fennell, Miss Spain Desiree Ferrer and Miss USA Nia Sanchez And so, we have here the five (5) delegates I am feeling so much love for that I have decided to make them Top 5. Miss USA Nia Sanchez almost didn’t make the magic circle for me, owing to a bull-headed performer from Ukraine who threatened to grab one golden place in the quintet. In the end, I gave the slight edge to the host delegate who will most likely be given higher scores by the judges.My Top 5 (from left to right): Miss Philippines MJ Lastimosa, Miss Colombia Paulina Vega, Miss Jamaica Kaci Fennell, Miss Spain Desiree Ferrer and Miss USA Nia SanchezMiss Philippines Mary Jean Lastimosa and Miss Colombia Paulina continue to lead the pack, but it is Miss Jamaica Kaci Fennell who could be the thorn in either ladies’ path. The final Q&A is the one last hurdle to complete. Given that scenario and how I would expect these five beauties to answer the question, I am assigning my #1 to #5 places to:MJ is the ONE for me…the 63rd Miss Universe and the 3rd Filipina Miss UniverseI am not dreaming. I can definitely see the Philippines winning a 3rd Miss Universe crown via Mary Jean Lastimosa. While others will counter that there are more crown-worthy victors, there is this element of boldness and maturity that embodies her personality. In my opinion, she is the one who has shown the most determination to win the whole thing. While Miss Colombia is very likely to get just as close to the crown as her, gut-feel tells me that Miss Jamaica will do a Yendi Phillips and finish next to our bet. Nia and Desireé will rank 4th and 5th in my endgame.As I’ve always said in the past, predictions will never be absolute. In fact, I could still be overlooking one or two this late in the competition. But decisions need to made, and with finality. I can always healthily move on from defeat in my guesses and gracefully take all the potshots if proven to be sorely misguided in my views. One thing is for sure, though. I will never relinquish my support for Miss Philippines if the feeling is right and nobody – outside of the traditional judging & nothing – outside of acceptable lobbying – will get in the way. 🙂Donald Trump and Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler explaining the mechanics Here’s the chance to get your one important #FinalQuestion asked during the 63rd Miss Universe Pageant on January 25.Donald Trump and Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler explaining the mechanicsVisit the Miss Universe Facebook Page starting today and wait for the new pinned post at the top where you can write down the question as a reply. If it gets to be selected, then you get the credits announced worldwide.P.S. Just a tip. Don’t give a long question that could eat up so much time on air. Go for something that is both witty and concise. 😉Miss Philippines Ariella Arida (rightmost) hearing her final question during Miss Universe 2013 in MoscowThis one's going to happen Wednesday night in Doral Miami and around 8am Manila time The stage at FIU Arena in construction for the Prelims and Finals of the 63rd Miss Universe Pageant (Photo credit: Hector Joaquin) The Preliminary Competition of the 63rd Miss Universe Pageant in Doral Miami will start January 21 Wednesday night (7:00 PM) in the host city and January 22 Thursday morning (8:00 AM*) of the 22nd in Manila. This one's going to happen Wednesday night in Doral Miami and around 8am Manila timeThe stage at FIU Arena in construction for the Prelims and Finals of the 63rd Miss Universe Pageant (Photo credit: Hector Joaquin)You only need to go to missuniverse.com to watch the Live Streaming of this much-awaited Pre-Pageant event to be hosted by Roxanne Vargas and Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler. So just to refresh your memories a bit, watch in Full HD the Preliminary Competition of Miss Universe 2013 held at the Crocus City Hall in Moscow, Russia. courtesy of Miss Universe * – Manila is 13 hours ahead of Miami.Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler modeling a ring made by DIC Holding Left to right: Miss USA Nia Sanchez, DIC Head Lubós Rihá and Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler Can you blame us for getting overly giddy about seeing the new Miss Universe crown? Truth be told, I simply can’t wait till the January 25 finals just to see the DIC Holding creation. It would be best to unveil the same before the big day so that it will no longer take away the attention from the proceedings. After all, the rumored designs have not do not passed muster so far. If the makers are trying to get as much feedback from online netizens by floating several possibilities that may or may not be the real thing, then I believe they have arrived at one final design by now. Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler modeling a ring made by DIC HoldingLeft to right: Miss USA Nia Sanchez, DIC Head Lubós Rihá and Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler What do you think, dear readers? 😉I'm certainly not liking the picket fences design on the lower right photo. It looks very uninspired. The one being worn by Gabriela is better, but with no edgy wow factor, imo.Hi! Norman here. When I'm not working, I spend most of my free time planning on daily blogs. If you will notice, I always make sure that a fresh topic comes out everyday - not an easy thing to do but it's all good. Thanks for dropping by and enjoy the visit! Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.Join 7,948 other followers Sawadee.com for all Thailand bookingsClick on the badge above to know more.



2On this, the third of the 12 Days of Randonneurmas, we turn toward the worst kept secret in randonneuring: randonneurs love to obsess over bags. It’s true. Every randonneur thinks about how they are going to carry their stuff. Some get by with the storage capacity of seat packs and jersey pockets, but over time many graduate to hauling their jackets, tools and energy bars in bike-specific bags that combine practicality and style. MG is fully convinced that radonneur men have like to ride their bikes in part to buy bags — and to shave their legs. Read her essay about it at her Chasing Mailboxes blog.MG has an Ortlieb pannier, Carradice saddlebag and Rickshaw Bagworks mini messgenger bag on the way to work. If you or your loved one is going to put bags on their bike, the choices to surprise them this holiday season are growing. Here at TDR HQ, MG and I still rate Carradice saddlebags No. 1 for usability and value, and we use them on most of our bikes. But there are many high quality alternatives — perfect for gift giving. Here are two we like that aren’t cheap but pay off every time you use them. First up is the Sackville TrunkSack Small from our favorite bike supplier, Rivendell Bicycle Works. This little front trunk is intended for those small front racks that are growing in popularity. It’s perfect for putting in a few items and being able to get to them while riding. Sackville TrunkSack Small side view, with straps underneath rack. Sackville TrunkSack Small with fancy Rivendell metal Made in the USA tag. For the back of the bike, I picked up the Japanese Ostrich saddle bag from Velo Orange this year. Ostrich is not well known in the United States, but should be. The quality is terrific. Velo Orange is not likely to carry Ostrich beyond current stock, so give Chris and company a call soon. The saddlebag requires a support that fits into a slot under the bag. See more photos of both bags in a set I posted to Flickr. Ostrich makes a sturdy canvas bag with handy side pockets and lashing straps. The boxy Ostrich saddle bag holds more than it appears. Bags are expensive, so you’ll be a big hit with your randonneur with these or any other brand you know they are hoping to get from Santa this year. Tomorrow: cheap and effective protection from the sun and wind. Posted in Randonneuring, Randonneurmas Dec·13You may not be aware that world-famous fixie-riding randonneur, Emily O’Brien, hand-makes a mighty fine saddlebag, with features she refined from many kilometers of brevets. See her bags at http://www.dillpicklegear.com/Acorn Bags at http://www.acornbags.com/ makes far and away the best bags on the market, but they are hard to get a hold of because of their limited supply. The quality is outstanding and they fit bikes better than Carradice or other brands I have purchased.Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. ( Log Out / Change ) You are commenting using your Twitter account. ( Log Out / Change ) You are commenting using your Facebook account. ( Log Out / Change ) You are commenting using your Google+ account. ( Log Out / Change )Connecting to %s Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email.





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