9TH MISTER INTERNATIONAL: AT THE HOMESTRETCH (CONCLUSION)

In formal wear after preliminary judging.

KOREA – Park Young-Ho.  His face is one of the cutest in this year’s group, juxtaposed on a bodybuilder’s frame–a bodybuilder in the “bulking up” phase in his training, not the “shredding” stage that is why his physique is not as rippled as the other contenders out there.  In my opinion, he’s arguably the best looking contestant fielded by this country ever in this pageant–and yes, I’m even counting the time it garnered a 2nd runner-up finish back in 2007.  Though I feel his physique, albeit enviable, is not up to “modeling” standards, his placement in the finals seem to be assured.

LEBANON – Rabih El-Zein.  He has a complete package of good charismatic looks, buffed frame, and outgoing personality that he can possibly bring forth the third victory for his country in this pageant.

Abs selfie with Poland (L)

MALAYSIA – CJ (Chen Jer) Lee.  He’s attractive and buffed enough, but he doesn’t quite have the appeal or charisma as his other Asian counterparts, so I don’t really foresee him as one of the likeliest to make the final cut.

Don’t try this at home: shirtless at 3 degrees Celsius

MEXICO – Jonathan Villanueva.  This guy has the good looks to have an inside track into the semifInals.  He may not equal the 2nd runner-up finish of his predecessor, Hans Briseño, but he’ll sustain his country’s semifinalist streak.  Note:  he constantly slicks back his hair, but his hair is actually a tad long-ish, as evidenced in the abs selfie photo below.

Abs selfie with Poland (L) and Colombia (C)

MYANMAR – Aung Chan Mya.  He does have attractive Asian features going for him that may be catnip for this market, but otherwise he tends to blend in the background instead of making a splash.

PHILIPPINES – Neil Perez.  He won his national finals thanks to a human interest story over the fact that he’s an actual policeman.  He also does have sex appeal that I respond well to, but I am concerned that his type of native/exotic features may not work well in Korea.  I’m still hopeful he’ll make the final cut, but just in case he doesn’t, Filipino netizens shouldn’t lay blame on the “popular-but-controversial” pageant website this time, unlike in the cases of a couple of (female) pageants as from my knowledge his sort of features normally do not translate well in the Korean market.  It is very noble of him to dedicate his participation to the “Fallen 44” Special Action Force (SAF) colleagues who were massacred in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, but I don’t know if this news garnered international traction or awareness to even garner the “sympathy” card unlike the Typhoon Haiyan tragedy last year.

It dawned on me as I reflected on the non-placement of our own supermodel John Spainhour at last year’s Mister World, and the prospects of the other gorgeous supermodel Sam Ajdani in the updcoming pageant (if it will take place this year), that Neil might actually be a better fit to compete at Mister World than those two highlly regarded hunks–though he is a tad shy and reticent, he does loosen up easily enough and seems more sociable, plus his “human interest” angle works better in the milieu of Mister World than in this pageant.  All he would need to do is to train harder for the expectedly grueling sports and extreme sports challenges.  Speaking of excellent fit for Mister World…

Abs selfie with Lebanon (R)

POLAND – Rafał Maślak.  In case this firefighter doesn’t win in this pageant–because with his complete package of looks (he resembles Grey’s Anatomy‘s Patrick Dempsey, a.k.a. “McDreamy”), charisma, physique, and personality he’s seems poised to be the favorite to win it all–whoever is the franchise holder for his country in Mister World should seriously consider fielding him in that pageant, because his combo of looks and personality are the sort that shines brightest in that pageant.  He already has a headstart in the Multimedia challenge judging from the photos and videos he has been sharing on his Facebook account.  All he would need to work on is to prepare for those grueling athletic challenges ahead (which I know would be tough even for a policeman, soldier, or firefighter).  One fun fact about this fellow is if you see many of the photos in this homestretch review, this guy is the main instigator of the “Abs selfie” (taking shirtless photos with faces looking down the camera to better focus on the defined abdominals).  Is this going to be a trend?

Abs selfie with former fellow front-runner Argentina (L)

Patrick Dempsey (image courtesy of Us Magazine)

PUERTO RICO – Christian Ortiz.  This dude with the wavy long tresses is one of the two late-comers to the competition.  He has a swarthy appeal that can work in this pageant and can appeal to Koreans.  He can be indeed a semifinals possibility.

RUSSIA – Arseniy Potorchin.  He’s cute (but not really that handsome) and his blonde locks might be the standout factor that could allow him to make inroads into the semifinals.

Unlike Israel and Lebanon, these two warring countries can pose together peacefully: Russia and Ukraine

SINGAPORE – Andy Wong.  He may have a beefily buffed body underneath, but would that be enough to overcome resistance towards his plain looks and short stature?  With the exception of a no-show in 2011 and a non-placement in 2010, this country has always made the final cut.  If justice is to prevail, this should be one of those rare years that this country should not make it–if he did, it will be a great injustice over worthier counterparts..

Spot Singapore’s standout quality:with fellow ASEAN contestants from Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Myanmar

SLOVENIA – Mitla Nadizar.  This guy is the last to arrive in Korea.  Prior to his arrival he was considered one of the big favorites, but then I saw his first set of photos in Korea, and I was underwhelmed–he didn’t look as charismatic as his modeling photos suggest.  But then, as subsequent photos came in, he is starting to exude more charisma and appeal, and his status as one of the favorites is assured.

Now, that’s better–freshened up after a long journey.

SRI LANKA – Tharshan Thiyagarajah.  His hairstyle combined with his facial features initially made me question his masculinity as I thought he looked androgynous, but as his gym photos indicate there is a beefy he-man underneath that metrosexual facade.  He looks like one of the likeliest to make the final cut.

Abs selfie with Poland (L) and India (R)

THAILAND – Vittawat Srikes.  Only Indonesia and Korea edges this guy out in terms of cutie appeal.  He seems poised to make the final cut.

Performing some bench push-ups at the gym

TURKEY – Eray Aydos.  He may not be as outgoing and charismatic as say, Poland, but his stature and handsome features could not be denied.  He is one of hose with an inside track for the finals.  I just have to say something about his “national costume”–gold brocade on a red velvet jacket does not look authentically Turkish; it looks like a hotel bellhop’s uniform otherwise.

with Lebanon, Philippines, and India

UKRAINE – Bohdan Yusypchuk.  He has a track record as he made the Top Ten in last year’s Mister World.  Could he duplicate that feat in this pageant?  Well, key factors to his Top Ten placement were his performance in athletic challenges and his talent performing a Charlie Chaplin routine, none of which are at play in this contest.  He still looks poised to make the final cut, but it is also possible that he’ll endure the fate of Belgium’s Gianni Sennesael and Peru’s Rodrigo Fernandini in the previous edition, both Mister World 2012/2013 Top Ten finalists who failed tomake the cut in this pageant.

With Greece (L), Mexico (2nd from R), Australia (L) and a fan (C)

Now that they are all accounted for, let me trot out my personal leaderboard:

TOP CONTENDERS:  INDIA, LEBANON, POLAND

SHOO-INS:  CZECH REPUBLIC, INDONESIA, JAPAN, KOREA, SLOVENIA

LIKELIEST:  BAHAMAS, BRAZIL, MEXICO, PHILIPPINES, PUERTO RICO, RUSSIA, SRI LANKA, THAILAND, TURKEY, UKRAINE

PERSONALITY FACTOR: COLOMBIA

EXCELLENT:  AUSTRALIA, GREECE, GUAM, MYANMAR

VERY STRONG:  CANADA, ECUADOR

STRONG:  AZERBAIJAN, CHINA, MALAYSIA

VERY GOOD:  SINGAPORE

Assuming they will use the same format as last edition, here is my “Fearful” Forecast:

TOP SIX:  CZECH REPUBLIC, INDIA, KOREA, LEBANON, POLAND, SLOVENIA

TOP TEN: BAHAMAS, INDONESIA, JAPAN, TURKEY

TOP 16:  BRAZIL, COLOMBIA, MEXICO, PHILIPPINES, SRI LANKA, THAILAND

BUBBLING UNDER:  AUSTRALIA, GREECE, GUAM, MYANMAR, PUERTO RICO, RUSSIA, UKRAINE

It is such a shame the Korean organizing committee squandered the opportunity to make this edition of Mister International to be its grandest and greatest ever.  They generated such ill will with several national directors with allegations of favoritism in paying for airfare for selected contestants that it could affect the prestige of future editions of this pageant.  Despite all the drama, I want to focus on the positive and hope the camaraderie that developed amongst the contestants would be something that would remain with each and every one of them for a lifetime.  Best of luck to all of the contestants, and hope for healing of frayed relationships due to the debacle.

JUST ME!

JOSEPH

Poland with roommate Argentina prior to the latter’s departure.
At Ansan Wa Stadium

All images courtesy of Missosology and the contestants unless otherwise indicated.

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