It looks like the Thais got what they wanted. One of their homegirls took the Miss International Queen crown.
Thanyarat Jiraphatphakorn, AKA Nong Film, was crowned Miss Tiffany Universe only a few short months ago. She got to enjoy another crowning ceremony in Pattaya Saturday night during the fourth annual edition of this pageant.
The pageant was conducted in Thailand November 5-10. The talent took place on Friday, November 9 with the televised finals on Saturday. Tiffany's Show Pattaya runs the event and claims to be the world's largest transsexual cabaret. They do have competition from not only other cabarets in Thailand, but the Amazing Philippines Show as well. A spokesperson said that they expected more than 25 million Thai television viewers to tune in to the finals which were televised live.
The first runner up was Miss Brazil, Aleika Barros and the second runner up was Miss Philippines, Chanel Madrigal.
Interestingly, there was no contestant representing the United States in this year's edition of the pageant. Jazmine International from New York chose to represent Puerto Rico.
This one was dominated by the Asian girls. Half of the 23 contestants represented Asian nations. There were 4 representing the Philippines, 3 each representing Nepal and Japan and one representing Malaysia in addition to the homegirl from Thailand.
The European reps were in the house as well. There were two girls representing Switzerland, and one each from Great Britain, Germany and Italy.
The South American beauty pageant hotbeds of Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil were represented along with the nations of Mexico and Costa Rica and the Caribbean islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico.
The cool thing about this pageant is that in Thailand, this pageant is taken as seriously as Miss Universe or any other beauty pageant.
"I feel excited and so happy. Everybody enjoyed the contest and I didn't expect anything like this," the 21-year-old student said from atop her throne after winning $10,000 USD and the title.
"This is the night I have been preparing for my whole life," gushed Colombia's Melania Armenta, a 25-year-old model.
Last year's queen Erica Andrews performed "Mexican Aztec" -- an upbeat, pulsating dance homage to her homeland complete with ancient pyramids, flashing native symbols and historic outfits.
In the costume round, Thanyarat had to compete against a butterfly, a swan and a Mercedes Benz, but the top prize in the category was given to Japan's Beni Tsukishima for her authentic kabuki ensemble.
Tanyarat's angelic white-beaded evening wear, fit for the grandest of galas, gave way to the more salacious floral pink bikini in the swimsuit competition, showing off her shapely legs and slim figure.
But she finally wooed the crowd with dedication to loftier issues.
"Global warming is one of the most serious problems the world faces today," she said when asked how she helps educate people on environmental issues.
"I tell them to 'think about it'. It's your world too," she said.
The crowd, consisting of mostly Thais and tourists, cheered loudly for the homegrown favorite but were upstaged by feverish, flag-waving Filipinos who supported four of their compatriots.
Thai transsexuals have slowly been leaving the cabarets for mainstream success in music and other endeavors, helped in part by the popularity of beauty contests.
Pageant participants praised Thailand for its progressive attitude towards transgender people.
"There is still a lot of discrimination against people like me in the Philippines," said 24-year-old Chantal Rain Marie Madrigal, from Manila.
"Thailand is like a utopia for transgender people."
So long live the new Miss International Queen. It'll be interesting to see who takes it next year.