There are only two ASEAN countries (Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam and Singapore) that can boast Miss Universe winners - Thailand and the Philippines with two each. But it will not be for long that another ASEAN country will emerge as a beauty pageant powerhouse. That country is Vietnam - host of Miss Universe 2008 and Miss World 2010. In 2008, it debuted in the list of countries that successfully penetrated the Miss Universe semifinals and this year they are set to conquer the universe again.
Fierce, versatile and above all photogenic, Vő Hoàng Yến will be in the forefront of Asia's quest to bring back the Miss Universe crown to the continent. Her rise into the top among Asian delegates is rather serendipitous. Both Thailand and the Philippines chose a delegate that most of the fans are not happy with. India is sending an unconventional delegate and Japan's strong showing is predicted to fade this year. Thus the door of opportunity was left wide ajar for Vő Hoàng Yến.
The string of opportunities for Vő Hoàng Yến started when the organizers of Miss Vietnam failed to apply for a license to hold pageant early and when the government decided to regulate pageants and cap the number of contests to one each year. Thus the start of debacle since an earlier contest, Mrs. Vietnam, has already been held. The new franchise holder decided to select its delegate and narrowed it into two: Vő Hoàng Yến and Miss Tourism 2008 Phan Thi Ngoc Diem. Upon learning that she is one of the short listed beauties, Hoàng Yến gushed, "I'm really surprised and very happy. Of course, I will be ready for the contest."
Eighteen years old and standing tall at 5 feet and 10.5 inches, she has a supermodel figure of 35-24-36.5 and is a recipient of various crowns. She was hailed as Vietnam Supermodel 2008 and finished as first runner-up in Miss Universe Vietnam 2008 contest. She exudes far more charisma and far more beauty than the eventual winner of the Miss Universe Vietnam 2008, Nguyễn Thùy Lâm. There is something political about the result actually as Thùy Lâm is North Vietnamese while Hoàng Yến is South Vietnamese. Many observers believe that Hoàng Yến is the more deserving delegate and to think that she stands 3.5 inches taller.
The nomination of Hoàng Yến as Miss Universe Vietnam Universe 2009 sparked a lot of positive criticism. One came from Ines Ligron, the legendary National Director of Miss Universe Japan. She hailed Hoàng Yến as one of the beautiful delegates - and the only one from Asia - in her March 2009 blog entry. Being labeled as the best delegate from Asia is a positive note as Hoàng Yến embarks into a whole new journey.
Vietnam is relatively a newcomer in the world of pageantry. It should learn from the pomp and pageantry of Miss Universe to come up with a spectacular gown from Hoàng Yến. The ao dai inspired styles should be avoided as it won't just work at Miss Universe. Hoàng Yến's towering figure is a huge plus and she should not forget to hit the gym daily to maintain her body tone. She looks far better with an updo or long hair than in short hair. She should maintain her catwalk skills and build a good confident attitude. Honing her English is a plus but not required. Riyo Mori won using the Japanese language anyway.
As it seems, the road is somehow cleared by fate for Hoàng Yến towards the Miss Universe 2009 contest. True, more delegates from Asia are yet to be chosen but her current status is a huge confidence-builder. And yes, she might be the best in Asia for now but the best days of Hoàng Yến is still ahead of her.