Ariella Arida: Tough contender in 2013 Miss Universe
CHIANG RAI, Thailand - When Ariella “Ara” Arida won in Bb Pilipinas 2013 Gold last April, she was not a clear favorite. Some said that her beauty was "divisive" — you either liked her or not.
But the 5’7” Chemistry whiz from Laguna has since amped up in terms of stage projection and styling; her non-fans have morphed into likers, and that included this writer. When she left for Russia last October 21, it was as if the Philippines sent a heat-seeking missile to Moscow.
Indeed, Ara Arida has become a dangerous force to reckon with, and so far she’s outshining many of her competitors in the 2013 Miss Universe pageant. (Read: 10 things you don't know about Miss Universe-PH Ariella Arida)
Why Ara Arida could become the next Miss Universe:
1. Major sponsors love her
As soon as our girl landed in Russia, she caught the attention of Yamamay, the Italian lingerie and swimsuit brand which promptly included her in its select list of 23 contestants to model at its Meet and Greet Show.
To be selected by Miss Universe’s official swimsuit partner said a lot about Ara's physique. Her fitness trainer, John Cuay, who worked hard to sculpt her into a lean tigress, must be so proud.
As a testament to her catwalk skills, Ara was also chosen by Tony Ward Couture to be one of 27 girls to model its creations in Moscow’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week.
Unfortunately, both shows happened on the same day (October 26) in venues far apart, so Ara could only participate in one. She was eventually fielded to the Tony Ward show which seemed to be a slightly more important gig since it was an evening gala show, unlike the Yamamay event which was held in the day.
Even more exciting: Ara was hand-picked to appear in a Mercedes Benz TV ad. Only 6 contestants were chosen, with Ara being the lone Asian in the group. The other girls were Poland, Austria, Mexico and Germany. Host nation Russia was also included in the advert.
Note that there are 86 girls vying for attention in the pageant, so Ara is indeed shining bright.
2. Her web interview has the most views
Ara’s official Miss Universe Truth or Dare web interview (where she did an unforgettable "Tik-Tilaok" imitation of a chicken) has culled the most number of views as of writing.
While having the most views doesn’t necessarily guarantee victory, it gives the Miss Universe group a good indicator of who is bringing in the biggest online audience.
We all know that more viewers = more sponsors = more revenue.
Below are the Top 5 and their number of views:
Philippines – 201,291
Poland – 172,086
Thailand – 74,504
Korea – 62,591
Vietnam – 57,765
Note that these figures were gathered at the time of writing and will change in the coming days. But the lead by the Philippines is too great to ignore and will be difficult to overtake with a few days to go before coronation night on November 9 (November 10, Philippine time).
3. She overcame the “Latinas-can’t-complete-a-sentence-in-English” controversy
For sure, it wasn’t smart of Ariella Arida to say on Philippine TV that Latinas couldn’t even complete a sentence in English. She was actually defending her own "not so good" English skills, trying to explain that many candidates struggled with English just like her; unfortunately, she exaggerated her point and chose the wrong words.
Those who knew her well came to her defense and said it was purely a faux pas. But when the wildly popular DJ Mo Twister did a major, major rant on Twitter about it, Ara found herself the butt of grammar jokes and nasty criticism. Some even advised her to get a translator (something which seems unlikely to happen at this point) to avoid future embarrassment.
When Miss Brazil Jakelyne Oliveira also tweeted that “we will make you eat what you have said and help you choke to death,” it stoked the fire. Although Brazil later issued a statement saying the tweet was not from her official account, it had already been re-tweeted numerous times, doing much damage to an already hurtful situation.
In spite of it all, Ara kept her cool. She issued an online apology and explanation while her handler, Jonas Gaffud of Aces & Queens (the group that develops and trains pageant contestants), did something similar.
When Ara arrived in Moscow, she quickly made friends with the Latina contestants. Several photos of Ara with them have since surfaced online. One "chummy" shot of Brazil and the Philippines seemed to be proof that no offense was taken — or, at the very least, all was forgiven.
In this controversy, Ariella passed with flying colors. She handled it like a true beauty queen by apologizing and then befriending the group that she seemingly maligned.
It looks like no matter what obstacle she faces — even the hefty contingent of haters and the bashers online — Ara is an over-comer. This unseen asset could very well be her key to the Miss Universe crown. (Miss Universe-PH Ariella Arida: 'Whatever happens is God's will for me')
Not-so-final assessment on Ara’s chances:
It’s still too early to say who the main front-runners are in the 2013 Miss Universe beauty pageant. The National Costume competition just took place last November 3 (November 4, Philippine time) and the very crucial Prelims on November 5 (November 6, Philippine time). It’s still anybody’s crown and scepter. (Read: Ariella Arida competes in National Costume at Miss Universe 2013)
Let’s hope, though, that the 3 Latino/Latina judges in the Prelims will disregard Ara’s faux pas.
The meeting between Miss Universe franchise owner Donald Trump and the contestants hasn’t happened yet (as of writing), and that is another key-event-in-waiting — pageant fans know that DT has the right to select a handful of his favorites who automatically enter the semi-finals.
What is clear at this point is that the Philippine representative has a very strong chance of making it all the way to the semis and even the runners-up circle with all the attention she’s been getting thus far.
However, more than a handful of competitors are blocking her way to the crown.
But as mentioned, Ara Arida is an over-comer, and it’s not beyond imagination for her to snatch the crown from her 85 rivals. - With reports from Lex Librea/Rappler.com
The 2013 Miss Universe Official Fan Vote is ongoing until November 8. The winner will automatically be included in the semi-finals. (To vote for Ariella Arida, click here.) Voters are required to have a valid email address, and can vote for up to 100 times a day. To vote, go to http://www.missuniverse.com or http://www.telemundo.com.
You can also read:
- IN PHOTOS: 2013 Miss Universe National Costume competition
- Ariella Arida competes in National Costume at Miss Universe 2013
- Watch! Miss Universe-Philippines Ariella Arida plays 'Truth and Dare'
- Ariella Arida's official Miss Universe photos released
- Watch! Miss Universe-PH Ariella Arida: 'Whatever happens is God's will for me'
- Miss Universe-PH Ariella Arida leaves for Moscow
- 10 things you don't know about Miss Universe-PH Ariella Arida
- Miss Universe Philippines 2013: ‘I’m prepared’
- Bb 41: Ariella Arida, 24, Laguna
Joyce Burton-Titular is a Filipina beauty queen with two Binibining Pilipinas titles: Miss Young Philippines 1980 and Binibining Pilipinas-Universe 1985. She currently keeps a beauty queen blog called Adventures of a Beauty Queen.
Joyce has more than a decade of experience as a news presenter. Her main work today is voicing — hers is the voice that reminds you to fasten your seatbelt and turn off your cellular phone when you fly Cebu Pacific.
Joyce is a mother of two, wife of one and the slave of 7 dogs and 7 cats.