MANHUNT INTERNATIONAL 2012: AT THE HOMESTRETCH (PART 3)

MACAU – Martin Wang Yu-Tian.  Official photographer Haruehun Airry raved about this guy and mentioned that he’s amazed with his facility with English.  Plus considering that this photographer is in the preliminary panel, he seems to be likely to make serious inroads into the finals, and even probably go all the way to the Top Five.  I can see how they can rave about his slender but sinewy physique, but his face is simply something that turns off most pageant fans and pundits.  He almost was the one who would be guaranteed a semifinals slot as for a long while he was leading the online popularity poll, but towards the end he was overtaken by Singapore.

I have an issue with the way Manhunt conducts its popularity poll–they decided to make it a revenue-generating exercise so you would need to pay up in order for your vote to be counted.  It makes it seem more like a “sponsorship”, “patronage” poll instead of an actual measure of popularity–but then again, online pageant popularity polls are often tainted by fanatical voting of certain parties (we Filipinos are guilty of this, too).  Filipino pageant fans do not really have the resources to fork out dollars via credit card just to vote for their favorite that is why the Philippines is not figuring at all in the polls so far.

MACEDONIA – Martin Tasevski.  He received good notices for his handsome facial features.  The only drawback is that his otherwise lean and fit physique is not as defined as the other sterling contenders out there.

MALAYSIA – John Tan Wei Jun.  He has a “rough” look about him that is actually very appealing.  He is leagues better than his head-scratchingly successful predecessor Hazwan Hilmi, though his prospects of equaling his prececessor’s achievement is not assured with the high caliber of this year’s contestants.  Whatever the case, I am rooting for him to succeed.

MEXICO – Alejandro Herrero Garcia.  He does ooze oodles of appeal in his Haruehun Airry official portrait.  The only issue is that he’s currently wearing braces on his teeth, so he may not be able to fully maximize on his strengths.

MONGOLIA – Bilgueitui Buyankishig.  It’s quite interesting that even if it hosted last year there is no contestant from Korea in this edition.  However, this guy makes up for it as he could easily pass for a Korean.  He is receiving buzz amongst the locals especially since he studied in the host country.  He has the handsome looks of a Korean star (I thought of Korean-American actor John Cho, star of the “Harold & Kumar” comedies), and if he makes the final cut, he will be deemed truly worthy, unlike the head-scratching inclusion of his predecessor (Amgalanbaatar Odonggavaa) last year.

John Cho (image courtesy of Zimbio.com)

NEPAL – Shanish Sakya.  Though he’s not that highly buzzed about, this fellow exudes a rough, masculine appeal that deserves positive notice, even if his qualities are not the sort that Manhunt International typically looks for.  He should also deserve notice for his buffed physique.  Compared to his predecessor, he’s definitely quantum leaps better.

NIGERIA – Stephen Jyatunde Bakare.  He’s also one of the rare exceptions where the Haruehun Airry portrait is not the best shot taken of him.  But then again, we have to consider that he was the last to arrive in Thailand.  He looked appealing in more candid photos, but I think the issue is he probably should not show his teeth as they seem to detract from his otherwise good features.  If his teeth were in better shape, he could’ve been in better contention and could’ve joined Bahamas in making the final cut.

PANAMA – Henry Rodriguez Rivera.  In most photos, he seemed very raw, and his features too elongated for comfort.

PERU – Dany Peña Perauna.  He does have flattering angles and is attractive, but there are angles where he looks like a commoner instead of a star.  Still, he does deserve some positive notices.

PHILIPPINES – June Macasaet.  Prior to winning the right to represent the country in this contest, he has developed buzz as an up-and-coming male model gracing the catwalks of various Philippine Fashion Weeks.  He also was second in the prestigious Century Tuna modeling search won by current top male model John Spainhour.  Most would assume such modeling pedigree would be an advantage in this contest.  Well, I had to recall the cases of Brent Javier back in 2005 and Roldunne Mendoza in 2007, both of whom have established modeling careers before competing in this contest, and failing to make the final cut (a special note has to made for 2002 contestant Bruce Quebral, who eventually became a popular celebrity model years after his Manhunt stint).  But then again, there’s Iago Raterta, who made the final cut in 2006.  This guy seems to have the looks and charisma to perhaps equal or exceed Vince Pinto’s 2nd runner-up showing back in 1997–but with an insanely high quality of contestants this time, I’m fretful he’ll either go all the way to the top or miss the cut entirely.  I hope for the former as he’s too good to be eliminated (and in my reckoning he’s the best looking and best built representative we ever fielded in this contest).  Don’t you love the distinctively intensely fierce glare he gave in his Haruehun Airry portrait?

Manhunt International 1997 Top Three: 2nd Runner-up Philippines (Vincent Pinto), Manhunt International New Zealand (Jason Erceg), and 1st Runner-up Venezuela (Sandro Finoglio).
Manhunt International 2005 contestant Brent Javier (image sourced from spot.ph)
Manhunt International 2006 semifinalist Iago Raterta (image sourced from starmometer.com)

POLAND – Michael Danilewicz.  In most photos, he looks plain, but Haruehun Airry unlocked a twinky appeal.  He is not in serious contention for the Top 15.

PORTUGAL – Arthur Barbosa.  He has a very handsome face and is well built.  He doesn’t quite sparkle like other contenders out there, but he is still one worth reckoning.

PUERTO RICO – Jimmy Perez Rivera.  He can easily pass for a former member of the legendary Puerto Rican boy band Menudo.  I’m not that into those kind of features (with the exception of Robi Draco Rosa and present-day Ricky Martin), but I understand his appeal.  He is in serious contention to make the final cut.

ROMANIA – Andrei Malaescu Dumitriu.  He looks gorgeous in his Haruehun Airry portrait, but looks rather rough in most other shots.  Still, there is strong appeal in his rugged type of handsomeness.

All images courtesy of Haruehun Airry and Manhunt International unless otherwise indicated.

COMING UP:  SINGAPORE to VIETNAM and the “Fearful” Forecast

MANHUNT INTERNATIONAL 2012: AT THE HOMESTRETCH (PART 2)

DENMARK – Alexander Bach.  His rough, ruddy facial features are not the sort that is viewed as handsome, but they are unconventionally appealing.  Would there be room for his sort of unconventional looks?

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – Joel Perez Nunez.  I find him more appealing than his successful predecessor (who landed 1st runner-up), Nelson Omar Sterling.  But it is unlikely he will duplicate or exceed his predecessor’s showing especially with the astoundingly high quality of this year’s batch.  He does have the looks, physique, and charm to secure a Top 15 placement.

FRANCE – Guillaume Reydel.  The first thing that came to my mind when I saw pictures of him is that he resembles a Baldwin, like Stephen Baldwin in his younger days.  If this was another year, he would’ve been considered as having serious inroads into the Top 15, but with the bevy of stunners he is simply regarded as worthwhile contestant.  Still, a Top 15 placement is still within reach.

Early Stephen Baldwin (image sourced from nndb.com)

GERMANY – Cedric Pick.  After fielding a disastrously homely cellar-dweller last year, this country fielded a front-runner for the title this time.  He possesses a youthful handsomeness that is not too boyish, a balanced buffed physique, and sizzling sex appeal that makes fans of all persuasions swoon at his sight.  His stock seems to be rising as the days wore on that he seems to be the one to beat for the finals.   Interesting to note that the first ever international winner back in 1993 came from this country (Thomas Sasse).

Manhunt International 1993, Thomas Sasse

GREECE – Thomas Gabriel.  After the German Thomas Sasse won the inaugural Manhunt International contest in 1993, he was followed by the hunkerrific Greek Nikos Papadakis.  This year, two of the main frontrunners for the title are German and Greek.  Just like Cedrick Pick, this guy also has youthful handsomeness, a balance buffed physique, and sizzling sex appeal in his favor.  It will be interesting to see if either of these two would indeed take the title–in either case, it will only be the second instance of a country winning this pageant twice (so far only China performed that feat–winning in 2007 and last year).

Manhunt International 1994, Nikos Papadakis

HONG KONG – Guo Chuang-Tao.  He is better looking than his predecessor, Wu Tian Chao, though his predecessor has a buffer, more defined physique.  In other years, he would’ve been regarded as a worthwhile contender, but with the current high standard this year, it is unlikely that he’ll make serious inroads into the Top 15.

INDIA – Arry Dabas.  His fair Indian features are an acquired taste, but most pageant fans and pundits agree that he is a letdown compared to his pre-arrival photos.  Though making the final cut still remains within (distant) reach, it is likely he is overshadowed by the stellar choices out there.

INDONESIA – Akbar Kurniawan.  He is reportedly the shortest amongst this year’s group of contestants (though at 1.77 m or 5′ 9.5″, he is actually of above average stature for Southeast Asians).  But despite that, his rugged, masculine features and buffed physique remains enviable, and he consistently smolders with charisma and humongous sex appeal.  Prior to his arrival, he was regarded as a possible front-runner.  His height issue and reports from photographer Haruehun Airry (who is among the preliminary judges) made the buzz diminish somewhat (that he might end up winning the inaugural Lucas Malvacini award) but I think we should not count him out.

I could not resist but note that his official Haruehun Airry photo (and similar photos caught from the same shoot) is the equivalent of a female Indonesian beauty queen photographed in a two-piece bikini and caught having a cameltoe.  I remember the furor 16 years ago when Indonesia’s Miss Universe representative, Alya Rohali, received flak for being photographed in a very modest one-piece swimsuit–by most accounts, this lady is dignified, and such accusations by Muslim clerics about her denigrating their values are uncalled for.  It resulted in Indonesia refusing to send a contestant to Miss Universe for nine years.  So far there is no such furor over Akbar–perhaps because Indonesia is increasingly a more liberated and secular society, or it’s simply a double-standard being practiced between males and females.  There are swooning reactions over the messageboards, though.

Go for it, shorty!
The Indonesian media used to make a huge fuss over this: Miss Universe 1996 contestant Alya Rohali, flanked by Thailand’s Nirachala Kumya and Philippines’ Aileen Damiles (image source from gitu-sesen.blogspot.com)

IRAN – Farhad Alizadeh-Tabrizi.  Just like India, this guy is also considered a letdown compared to his pre-arrival modeling photos–he was originally considered of having an inside track to the Top 15 and even all the way to the Top Five.  Now, his best prospects are to be consided a worthwhile contender.

JAPAN – Shintaro Kato.  Though his bio says that he is based in Tokyo, I somehow associate his dusky features to that of an Okinawan fisherman.  It’s quite challenging to find a viable contender coming from this country, though at least he seems to be having fun in his stay here.

LATVIA –  Ivans Jevstignejevs.  Pageant fans and pundits are paying more attention to the stellar likes of Germany, Greece, and Sweden, but there is insider buzz that this guy may also be in contention.  Could he be a sleeper threat for the Top Five?  He is buffed and youthfully handsome, so it is possible.

LEBANON – Elie Najem.  His scruffy, swarthy looks does have its appeal.  In another year he would probably have been a shoo-in or even a front-runner (if this is Mister World, he would’ve sustained a surprising streak for this country).  But with the high quality of contenders this year, it’s going to be a bit of a challenge but he remains in serious contention.

LESOTHO – Pubern Padayachee.  His looks and his name made me wonder if he is indeed a bonafide Mosotho.  I first assumed his name is Thai, but after some Google searches I found out he’s a doctor/actor/presenter based in South Africa of Indian descent.  He probably got the rights to represent the tiny landlocked African nation as he might have also performed his medical practice there.  Despite his credentials, his looks and physique are out of league with the rest of the handsome and superbly buffed contenders out there.

All images courtesy of Haruehun Airry and Manhunt International unless otherwise indicated.

COMING UP:  MACAU to ROMANIA

MANHUNT INTERNATIONAL 2012: AT THE HOMESTRETCH (PART 1)

52 of the 53 contestants during the press presentation with the reigning Manhunt International

What a difference a year makes.  Last year, I bemoaned the quality of the contestants in this pioneering and regularly-held male pageant.  Worse still, some of the handsomer favorites were surprisingly then shut out to pave the way for a slew of headscratchers–I particularly lamented the fate of Brazil’s Lucas Malvacini, who I thought had what it took to win it all.  I suppose it’s about time there is a male equivalent of the Ruth Ocumarez award, and for male pageants, I will now call it the “Lucas Malvacini” award.  This year, we are treated with a host of high caliber stunners–I think about 5-10 of them could beat the reigning winner, Chen Jian Feng from China, in a head-to-head battle (though even during his stint last year, he already has strong appeal that made him a worthy winner).  Moreover, based on who is present (including the late arrival from Nigeria), it seems we have a tie for record turn-out of contestants.  There are still a few relative duds, but the dud-to-star ratio dropped precipitously from last year.

Come to think of it, he is kinda hot: the reigning Manhunt International, Chen Jian Feng
Lucas Malvacini at last year’s Manhunt International

The thing that I’m a bit saddened about this year’s pageant is that the timeframe for activities is abbreviated, only a mere 9 days.  With such a stellar group, we want to see more of them and wish there are more items in their itinerary to enjoy Thailand.  However fleeting the moment is going to be, a development worth relishing is that the official portraits are being taken by rising Thai photographer Haruehun Airry, who is now developing a reputation as a premier photographer of male physiques and is probably like the equivalent of Fadil Berisha at Miss Universe.  The results, as you will see below, are stunning (and admittedly swoon-inducing).

Now, let’s weed out the (few) duds and celebrate the numerous stars starting with:

ALBANIA – Greit Çollaku.  There are fans who respond well to his slim frame and boyish features, especially his sensually pouty lips.  But his sort of physical qualities are not always the sort that the powers-that-be appreciate enough to make inroads into the semifinals.  Still, he is a well-regarded contender in a major embarassment of riches.

AUSTRALIA – Lee Stefan Stamkowski.  He possesses some important physical qualities that we expect in an ideal Manhunt International winner:  manly handsome features, beefily buffed physique (without going into bodybuilder extreme), and overall charisma.  He is not as buzzed about as other favorites, but I am rating him as one of the front-runners.

BAHAMAS – Drew Palacios.  He is only one of two black contestants in this year’s pageant.  Though I don’t expect him to win, his standout complexion, striking good looks, and beefily muscular physique could propel him all the way to the Top Five.

BELGIUM [EDIT 08 APRIL 2014] – As per contestant’s polite request, name and image are removed.  However, moving forward, any similar requests will not be entertained and will instead will result with verbatim request being added or posted to review in question and with potential for further ridicule by netizens.

BOLIVIA – Diego Soto Arce.  The organizers expressed a sentiment that they tend to prefer their contestants clean-cut.  Though Lebanon, Romania, Turkey, and Vietnam disobeyed that directive and remained scruffy (and besides, there were some scruffier contestants who went far over the years), this guy most likely heard the directive that he shaved his goatee off by the time of the press presentation.  He looked distinctively swarthy during his early appearances, and now without the goatee, he doesn’t have a standout feature (except for his tall height) as his face looks rather ordinary.

He shaved off his goatee! (Image courtesy of Missosology)

BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA – Tarik Šubara.  Here is another member of the boyishly cute and lankily built contingent.  But he seems to have some buzz and appeal that could help him edge out his counterparts and make the final cut.

BRAZIL – Marcio Berg Lusardo.  In real-world terms, he would be regarded as extraordinarily handsome.  But in my reckoning he pales behind his predecessor in terms of appeal and charisma, and he often looked like he has constant insomnia with his eyebags.    Still, I noticed in candid shots he exudes an outgoing personality, and that could win over the powers-that-be, so there is still that possibility he would avoid Lucas Malvacini’s fate.

BULGARIA – Daniel Georgiev.  If he competed last year, he would probably be considered a standout.  But with the astounding embarrassment of riches that is this year’s batch, he seems to be one of those worthy contenders being overlooked.  File him as an underrated gem.

CAMBODIA – Sary Phanith.  His facial features are a bit too mature to be in contention for the finals, but he does have a nice, outgoing personality judging from some candid pictures of some activities.  In fact, considering the photos taken by himself with other contestants, it might seem that he might benefit from a new rule that one of the Top 15 would be determined by votes amongst the contestants themselves.

CHINA – Liu Mingxiong.  He is not expected to duplicate the victory of Chen Jian Feng, but he seems to have an inside track of making the final cut.  Even if his facial features are on the mature side, he still exudes enough sex appeal and charisma to make a great impression.

COLOMBIA – Jorge Leon Perez.  Most Haruehun Airry official photos for this pageant would be the best photo taken of the contestant.  This is one of the exceptions as for some odd reason his facial features seemed non-descript here while on most other photos he actually looks handsome.  I actually regard him as a Top 15 possibility.

A better view: a swimwear modeling photo session with Germany, Turkey, Dominican Republic, and Australia

COSTA RICA – Jorge Suarez Gomez.  His Haruehun Airry portrait made me recall someone familiar:  former soldier and now senator Antonio Trillanes IV.  He actually has handsome features, but in most other candid photos, his hairstyle seemed too greasy–it gave me visions of Latino gangster thugs in a U.S. barrio with his look.  He should tone down on the hair gel, and maybe get a haircut.

Philippine Senator Antonio Trillanes IV (image sourced from rcbagumbayan.blogspot.com)

CZECH REPUBLIC – Adam Klavik.  He has one of the handsomest faces in this year’s competition.  It’s such a shame that he rarely projects sparks in most photos and his lean frame, though undeniably fit, lacks definition unlike buffer contenders out there.

All images courtesy of Haruehun Airry and Manhunt International unless otherwise indicated.

COMING UP:  DENMARK to LESOTHO.