20TH MANHUNT INTERNATIONAL: AT THE HOMESTRETCH (CONCLUSION)

SINGAPORE – Zach Haiz.  He’s the sort we expect from a typical representative from this country–attractive-enough face with a superbly buffed physique.  The question is, does he have enough charisma to make the Top 16?

SOUTH AFRICA – Heinrich Gabler.  He’s beefy and good looking but he sometimes register as a tad rough and most of the time Rosko & Company like their guys smooth and finessed.  Still don’t count him out of making the Top 16.

SPAIN – Yeray Hidalgo.  Many Filipino pageant fans and pundits are buzzing about this handsome Spaniard and rating him as one of those most likely to make the Final Five.  I have to agree he exudes a lot of charisma and he reminds me a lot of television personality and celebrity activist Iliac Diaz, so it’s baffling why the sponsors aren’t noticing him?  Is it because of the presence of PAKISTAN, who has a similar jawline like his?  But the prejudging round turned out to be a highlight for him as I sense a luminescence about him that made me believe he shone during the prejudging round while PAKISTAN just didn’t.  If he maintains this radiant charisma during the finals he might knock one of the perceived favorites out of the Final Five–wonder who could that be?

Shining during prejudging
Looking luminescent alongside the reigning Manhunt International, Vicent Llorach
Iliac Diaz

Even as I really like this guy, I still wonder what if Enrique Cavill, er, I mean, Daniel Torres*2 competed here instead?  He seems to actually be more the Manhunt type with his off-the-charts sex appeal.  But then again, we might be getting a similar scenario with the presence of GREECE–he might accidentally cancel out a bit of GREECE’s Superman appeal.  Still, it’s nice to imagine a showdown between these Supermen, right?

*2 Veteran of Mister International 2016/17 (Top 9) and Mister World 2019 (Spainhour-Ajdani awardee)

SRI LANKA – Sajith Perera.  I have a feeling he’s actually the tallest contestant of this batch, and his lean and trim frame can give him serious inroads into the Top 16.

SWEDEN – Elvir Aljicevic.  Here’s another charismatic boyish cutie, one who I can get behind with, and who looks like a shoo-in to the Top 16, with a possible play for the Final Five.

SWITZERLAND – David Keller.  His pre-arrival physique portrait made me think he could probably make a play for the Final Five, but as he arrived in Manila, he turned out to be a letdown–yes, he’s buffed and some may consider him cute, but he just looked washed out.  There is a difference between being luminescent like SPAIN and being pale and pasty like this guy.

THAILAND – Sittipong Imsatian.  He exudes this nice Asian charisma that he looks like he has an inside track to the Top 16.

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO – Reon Elder.  This dark-complexioned fellow may not fit my notion of handsomeness, but he has charisma and seems a bright, outgoing personality.  He particularly made a big splash in national costume, as his is a carnival costume with stilts that for me is the clear standout.  Could his personality parlay him a slot in the Top 16?

TURKEY – Yekta Baki.  He and GREECE could pass off as relatives albeit this guy is a tad subdued that he is no threat of stealing GREECE’s thunder.  Still, he’s competing at a very high level that he could be a Top 16 possibility.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Mohammad Tamseer.  He is attractive and buffed, but well, overshadowed by a bevy of lookers this year.

UNITED KINGDOM – Ben Spong.  See BELGIUM, but this time a tad underrated.

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VIETNAM – Phạm Đình Lĩnh.  There are some buzzing he could be a possible usurper to the current two-way battle for the title.  Yes, this country has been shining in the male pageant arena as of late, but as much as I can concede he has what it takes to belong in the Final Five, I wouldn’t mind having, say, SPAIN, swap places with him.

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It turns out this year’s batch is so competitive that the weakest links I actually rated an otherwise respectable “VERY STRONG”, which in other years would indicate finishing in the mid-pack, not at the bottom.  Though I cannot say it is as magnificent as the 2012 edition, I have to say it is a sterling batch that comes close, and yes, these guys deliver some steam heat especially in that swimsuit-and-sneakers event.  Now, let me trot out my leaderboard:

TOP CONTENDERS: BRAZIL, GREECE, NETHERLANDS, PHILIPPINES, VIETNAM

SHOO-INS: CZECH REPUBLIC, PARAGUAY, SWEDEN

LIKELIEST: AUSTRALIA, BELGIUM, BULGARIA, FERNANDO DE NORONHA, INDIA, INDONESIA, JAPAN, MALAYSIA, MYANMAR, POLAND, SINGAPORE, SOUTH AFRICA, SPAIN, SRI LANKA, THAILAND, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO, TURKEY, UNITED KINGDOM

EXCELLENT: DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, GUAM, MEXICO, MOROCCO, NEPAL, PAKISTAN, PERU, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

VERY STRONG: KOREA, SWITZERLAND

With all 36 contestants accounted for, here comes my “Fearful” Forecast:

TOP FIVE: BRAZIL, GREECE, NETHERLANDS, PHILIPPINES, VIETNAM

TOP 15: AUSTRALIA, BELGIUM, BULGARIA, CZECH REPUBLIC, INDIA, INDONESIA, PARAGUAY, SPAIN, SWEDEN, THAILAND, UNITED KINGDOM

BUBBLING UNDER: FERNANDO DE NORONHA, JAPAN, MALAYSIA, MYANMAR, POLAND, SINGAPORE, SOUTH AFRICA, SRI LANKA, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO, TURKEY

STRIKING DISTANCE: DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, GUAM,  MEXICO, MOROCCO, NEPAL, PAKISTAN, PERU, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

With the “Classic Handsome” look back in vogue, it’s a battle between two chiseled stunners from BRAZIL and GREECE.   There might be some usurpers who could pull off a surprise, like the very motivated and driven NETHERLANDS, but so far it looks like these two guys are far ahead of the rest of the pack.

JUST ME!

JOSEPH

20TH MANHUNT INTERNATIONAL: AT THE HOMESTRETCH (PART 2)

KOREA – Jemin Hong.  I know it’s trendy for Korean guys in the entertainment industry to color their hair to any shade that want, but I think the combination of his blond hair and his slender lanky frame in his pre-arrival photos make me think as the cellar-dweller of this batch.  But thank goodness he decided to revert back to his natural hair color, and he cuts a more elegant impression as a result.

MALAYSIA – Nazirul Mubin.  See INDONESIA.

MEXICO – Luis Zepeda.  Yes, he has features that are similar to his countryman, Mister World 2019 2nd runner-up Brian Faugier and Mister World 2012 Francisco Escobar of Colombia.  But there’s something about this guy’s features that seem a bit off, and maintaining a unibrow just doesn’t help matters.  He just doesn’t quite possess the charisma of those two guys, in my reckoning.

MOROCCO – Lahoudine El Omri.  Yes, he’s dusky and his country is in the African continent, but I don’t think I can classify him as black as I’m not certain if his complexion is simply because of Berber roots and I could not confirm if he has genes from the sub-Saharan parts of this continent.   He’s actually attractive, but there is something about his mannerisms that make me think of that 2016 Danish contestant, Sy Lee.  He was one of the last to comply with Rosko’s clean-shaven policy by shaving for the prejudging round, and to be blunt, it emphasized the Sy Lee-ness of his vibe.

Following Rosko’s clean-shaven directive.

MYANMAR – Shane Htet.  See INDONESIA and MALAYSIA, but with a more East Asian vibe.

NEPAL – Bibesh Shrestha.  Yes he got a sponsor’s prize in an early event but I don’t think he’s got an inside track for the Top 16.  Yes he has some sort of appeal, but for me he would be the closest thing to a headscratcher if he made the cut.

NETHERLANDS – Paul Luzineau.  This guy is very consistent in the way he presents himself, and he shows his drive to win by the way he engages his followers in social media.  He seems poised to finish in the Final Five, and perhaps becoming a possible usurper to the perceived dominance of BRAZIL and GREECE.

PAKISTAN – Mirza Nabi.  Him being clean shaven as he arrived in Manila may have caused some sponsors to underrate a highly worthy and charismatic fellow as they both share very similar chiseled jawlines, which is why that latter fellow did not figure in the sponsors’ prizes, while he got to snag one during the Fox and New Balance swimwear-with-sneakers event.  He is a worthwhile contender, but in the end, I think the prejudging round may have finally created the needed distinction between these two guys.  So who’s the other guy?  He’s in the next section of this review.

PARAGUAY – Williams Ocampos.  He’s undeniably a very handsome boyish cutie, even when sporting scruff prior to his arrival in Manila.  He looks great scruffy or clean-shaven, but he knows the game and he is likely to have an inside track to the Top 16.

PERU – Alonso Bandenay.  Like MOROCCO, he decided to lose the scruff for the prejudging, and with it he does lose that swarthy appeal he possessed.

PHILIPPINES – Daumier Corilla.  There are some pageant fans and pundits concerned that he seems to be subdued in most appearances, but like his predecessor, he knows to conserve his energies to when it counts, and even in “subdued” mode, he still exudes oodles of charisma.  I am very optimistic he’ll sustain a Final Five finish.

POLAND – Adrian Michalowski.  I think learning from the missteps of some of his fellow countrymen who attempted a clean-shaven look to their disadvantage, he decided to stubbornly keep the scruff, alongside FERNANDO DE NORONHA and DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, Good on him, though admittedly with a batch as highly competitive as this one, it’s from far assured that he’ll secure a slot–it seems CZECH REPUBLIC has an advantage over him this time…

Scruffy until the bitter end.

COMING UP:  SINGAPORE to VIETNAM plus the “FEARFUL” FORECAST

20TH MANHUNT INTERNATIONAL: AT THE HOMESTRETCH (PART 1)

AUSTRALIA – Riley Channells.  This floppy haired dude is for me a major improvement from his predecessor, who finished 1st runner-up in the last edition.  Even with that it is unlikely he’ll be able to duplicate that finish as there are so many outstanding contenders in this edition, though he seems to have an inside track for the Top 16.

BELGIUM – Franca Enid.  He’s a boyish cutie who garnered quite a bit of special awards and sponsors’ prizes.  To be honest, I find him a tad overrated in that respect, even if he’s undeniably cute.  Based on those prizes, it seems he’s a near shoo-in for the Top 16.

BRAZIL – Mateus Giora.  Hard to believe this country has never won this pageant yet, and its best showing was 2nd runner-up back in 2010.  This classically gorgeous specimen looks poised to deliver his country’s best finish in this pageant–the question now is, will he win it all?  There is one guy who is perceived to be the big favorite as on top of also possessing a similarly classically gorgeous look, he seems to have an edge in communication skills (especially since this guy’s English is not that good).

BULGARIA – Asen Mitev.  His pre-arrival photo made me think of that notorious MTV reality TV show Jersey Shore but most of pics as he set foot on these shores reveal he can project finesse, and he has the handsomeness and buffness to make the Top 16.

CZECH REPUBLIC – Jan Potočný.  He also has an inside track to the Top 16, and could even be a possible usurper over the perceived favorites and even make a play for the Top Five.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – Argenis Grullon.  Though his complexion could be more considered brown or mocha, in US parlance he could probably be considered black, so he is one of four black guys in this year’s competition.  I like his swarthy appeal, but I think Rosko Dickerson and company don’t really dig his type of look.

FERNANDO DE NORONHA – Cuca Souza.  This Brazilian (as this “region” is actually a Brazilian island attraction) seems to be competing at a high level, and he could be the black-man-most-likely in this year’s pageant.  But with so many compelling choices out there, his slot in the Top 16 is not that assured.

GREECE – Nikos Antonopoulos.  From the Press Presentation onwards, he’s been dubbed the “Greek God” and even “Superman”.  Both nicknames are apt as he has the classically handsome features and chiseled physique of a Greek God, and when I first saw him, the first thing that came to my mind was Tyler Hoechlin, the guy who plays the Arrow-verse version of Superman in various CW TV series (and will be having his own TV series called Superman and Lois premiering this October).  Prior to his Manila arrival, most of his photos show him sporting a heavy beard, and he also looks great with that look, just like Tyler…

Nikos in bearded mode
Tyler Hoechlin, bearded vs clean-shaven

…but unlike Tyler, I didn’t quite recognize him in his bearded look.  And yes, he also received comparisons to the DCEU version of Superman (and now star of Netfix’s The Witcher), Henry Cavill.  Like Henry, you can make the mistake of thinking bearded Henry is a different person from clean-shaven Henry.

Henry Cavill, shaven vs unshaven

GUAM – Jordan Pauluhn.  He is not your typical Guamanian as he’s Caucasian (I presume perhaps German?).  He has a handsome face and he does work the long hair well, but in a highly competitive year like this, I don’t think he is making as much of a splash as he normally would have in a less competitive edition.

INDIA – Mavur Gangwani.  He is making a great impression and garnered some sponsors’ prizes and special awards so he looks to have an inside track to the Top 16.

INDONESIA – Elardy Tan.  I don’t find him classically handsome but I think he’s highly appealing and he does have strong qualities worthy of making it into the Top 16.

JAPAN – Ryuta Kishigami.  Yes, many pageant fans and pundits may consider his featues to be plain, but somehow he exudes a certain charisma that can be catnip for those who could appreciate very Asian features like his.

COMING UP:  KOREA to POLAND

Press Presentation images courtesy of Dion Besa for Rappler.