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10s across the board: Our 10 favorites at the 69th Miss Universe competition

By Paul Rubio Published May 15, 2021 1:42 pm

Miss Universe has always been catnip to Filipinos. While every single one of the major international pageants gets ample attention here, we have always had a very specific fascination with the Miss Universe competition, especially over the last decade.

This obsession has been at a fever pitch over this past week, as 74 of the most beautiful women in the world are gathered in Hollywood, Florida to compete at the 69th edition of the pageant, which is set to crown their new queen on Monday morning, May 17,  Philippine time.

Here are our 10 standouts, based on their performances so far in the pre-pageant activities. This list is in no particular order; we have a strong crop of women this year and any one of them would wear the Miss Universe-Mouawad crown well.

Laura Olascuaga, 25, Colombia

Like the Philippines, Colombia also does not play around when it comes to Miss Universe. So it is no surprise that their representative, Laura Olascuaga, is one of the strongest delegates this year. Not only does the camera love her, but she has a journalism background that could prove to be her secret weapon in the finals.

Adline Castelino, 22, India

 India has not won a Miss Universe crown in 20 years but Adline Castelino might just be who they need to break that unlucky streak. Her delicate beauty is what will make you notice her, but her excellent communication skills are what will make her hold your attention. With India currently in the middle of an intense COVID-19 crisis (and having survived the virus herself), Adline's great performance so far is even more impressive.

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Andrea Meza, 26, Mexico

 Mexico's Andrea Meza has been one of the buzziest candidates this year, even before she set foot in Florida. Now that the competition is underway, she has proven that she is well worth the hype that precedes her. Besides being indelibly beautiful in every video and photo she's in, she has an intelligence that will make her very exciting to watch in the finals.

Anshika Sharma, 24, Nepal

 Miss Nepal is a surprise standout in this year's batch of delegates. This statuesque beauty has consistently been getting notices for how well she's been carrying herself all throughout the different activities of the past week. But her superpower is her ability to easily express herself with equal amounts of passion and coolness, something that will surely prove to be a great asset in a Miss Universe.

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Rabiya Mateo, 24, Philippines 

Our very own Rabiya Mateo has surprised even us Filipinos with her growth—by leaps and bounds!—since winning the national crown. She has never looked more beautiful and she has expertly managed to toggle the line between sophistication and youthfulness. Her easy charisma makes her a serious contender for the crown.

 Estefanía Soto, 29, Puerto Rico 

Striking and statuesque, Estefanía Soto has been a crown favorite in Latino-rich Miami, and deservedly so. She can go toe to toe with all the Latina glamazons, but her edge is her ability to express herself expertly both in Spanish and English 

Bianca Tirsin, 22, Romania

Romania's Bianca Tirsin has been highly favored by pageant enthusiasts ever since she won her national competition. She has one of the most beautiful faces this year, and add to that the fact that she has effortlessly looked chic and fashionable all throughout the competition, and you have a recipe for a frontrunner. There is a very big possibility that she will score Romania's first win in Miss Universe.

Natasha Joubert, 23, South Africa

 If our reigning Miss Universe had a mountain to climb at last year's competition due to the near perfect showing South Africa has been enjoying ever since Demi Tebow won in 2017, then Natasha Joubert, the current Miss Universe South Africa, is practically scaling Mount Everest the whole competition through. But if anyone could give South Africa a back-to-back victory, it would be her. Her ethereal beauty and commanding presence might just be enough to make history by the end of the coronation.

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Amanda Obdam, 27, Thailand

As another one of the heavy early favorites, Amanda Obdam arrived in Florida with all eyes on her. Her impeccable styling and well-calibrated communication skills make her one of the most prepared among all the candidates. Thailand has been placing very well in the Miss Universe competition over the past few years and judging from Amanda's performance, this could very well be the year they finally win the crown again.

Nguyễn Trần Khánh Vân, 26, Vietnam

 A crowd and social media darling since the competition started, Miss Universe Vietnam Nguyễn Trần Khánh Vân has been delightful to watch in the competition this past week. She has amassed quite a following from a viral clip showing her treating a disabled fan with grace and humility, and she has taken all this goodwill and built upon it with a strong showing in the different activities before the finals. It would not be a surprise if she ends up winning Vietnam its first Miss Universe crown.