MISTERS 2015: AT THE HOMESTRETCH (PART 1)

In only its second year of existence, the pageant formerly known as Misters of the Philippines has emerged as the premiere national male pageant in the country.  It has attracted the creamiest crop of young men who possess a plethora of qualities beyond good looks, buff bodies and wholesome sex appeal.  So far, it seems that with the quality of the candidates at hand, this pageant also effectively strikes a balance of showcasing both the candidates’ obvious appeal and emphasizing other dimensions of Filipino masculinity.   The only drawback about attracting a sterling bunch of contenders is that many worthy candidates who would’ve made serious inroads in other male competitions would have to face the prospect of getting the short end of the stick. After a packed two weeks of activities, who has emerged at the top of the heap?  Let me break it down for you, starting with:

MISTER NO. 1:  TACLOBAN CITY – Rick Kristoffer Palencia.  Yes, he has an undeniably good looking face, though I wouldn’t exactly regard him as classically handsome.  He does possess charisma and appeal (especially with his buffed, beefy physique) that made him a big favorite from the get-go, and as the activities wore on, he seemed to just accelerate the pace and pull away from the highly competitive pack.  Besides winning two sponsors’ prizes, he is short-listed in the fast-track events of beachwear, formal wear, and talent, seemingly acing all three and conceivably being the top pick for all three of them.  As a cherry on top of all those staggering notices thus far, he also won the native wear portion of the pre-pageant.  He doesn’t have the same aspects as the reigning Mister International Neil Perez, but it is likely that he will take over his mantle and represent our country later in November for Mister International, and yes, he can make an impact against the potential bevy of hunky contenders from around the globe coming over these shores.

1 Tacloban

MISTER NO. 2:  MATI CITY – Red Bayron.  For some personal reason, he wasn’t present during the Press Presentation.  But since he is based in the Davao region, and the first salvo of official activities were held there, it was easy for him to catch up with his co-candidates and eventually complete in full force with them the rest of the way.  He possesses a boyish appeal with a trim lean figure, but is that enough for him to make the final cut?

2 Mati

MISTER NO. 3:  FIL. COMMUNITY OF MELBOURNE – Daniel Anthony Polbrat.  He is one of the trio of Fil-Aussie guys in this competition, and this formidable trio made a major splash with their classically handsome faces (especially highly prized in these shores).  The tough part about having such handsome faces is that their features are so similar that sometimes a more casual follower would confuse which one of them is which.  Muddling matters further is that the only fast-track event they were all short-listed in was the crossfit challenge.  Anyway, this guy at least distinguished himself in the talent competition by performing a well-received Magic Mike-inspired dance routine (sans striptease).  Will there be room for all of these Fil-Aussies in the final cut?

3 Melbourne

MISTER NO. 4:  ILOCOS NORTE – JM dela Cruz.  He does have a native boyish appeal about him with a lean, slender frame.  He tends to not receive as much hype, but he garnered a shortlist in the formal wear round.  Did that citation make him gain momentum, or this is the most that he’ll get out of this journey?

04 Ilocos Norte revised
Costume photo courtesy of Joy Arguil

MISTER NO. 5:  BUTUAN CITY – Marcel Stulir.  During the screening he made a major splash with his thick wavy mane and swarthy good looks (thanks to his Turkish parentage).  His prior modeling background (with television commercials to his credit) should’ve made him one of the front-runners, but he only generated a low spark through all the pageant activities.   For many fans and observers of this pageant, he was the one whose potential seems to be the least realized.

5 Butuan

MISTER NO. 6:  ILOILO CITY – Willan Pagayon.  He had previous pageant experience in a rival pageant that carries a similar name as this pageant (and gave this pageant grief over the similarity, and used to be the pageant that selects the representative to Mister International).  He had made a major splash in that pageant back then.  But in this pageant?  There are fans and observers who do believe he does have what it takes to make the final cut, and it is likely that he’ll ace the closed-door interview, but it is an uphill battle for him to make top tier with such formidable competition out there, that making the Top 15 might be achievement enough.

6 Iloilo City

MISTER NO. 7:  FIL. COMM. OF GERMANY – Siegfried Schmidt (Bauer).  Facewise, he doesn’t quite hold a candle to the Fil-Aussie trio, but he’s still good-looking and possessed a major edge with his strong communication skills, outgoing personality, and his memorable talent performance combining singing and drawing skills.  If he plays his cards right, he might even be a possible usurper for the Top Five.

7 Germany

MISTER NO. 8:  CANDELARIA, QUEZON – Mark Lester Lhatina.  I actually find him very good-looking, with a nice lean, trim frame.  With so many sterling standouts he seems to be relegated to the background, but on his own terms he deserves more notice.

8 Candelaria

MISTER NO. 9:  MAKATI CITY – Jazzie Magne Vasquez.  What I noticed most about him is his angular jawline.  For a “wildcard”choice among the 30 candidates, he has made a big splash so far, by making the Top 7 in the crossfit challenge, and with his memorably comic hip-hop dance routine for talent.  Can these fast-track achievements harbor a possible Top 15 placement?

9 Makati

MISTER NO. 10:  FIL. COMM. OF ITALY – Kevin Fichera.  There are several pageant fans and observers who gravitate to his sort of cure, boyish features–admittedly, though, I’m one of those exceptions.  I suppose it’s simply because his sort of boyish appeal is not my cup of tea.  But he’s undeniably attractive, and based from the notices he received for ethnic costume and most especially formal wear, plus the strong wellspring of support he is one of the guys most likely to make the final cut.

10 Italy

MISTER NO. 11:  LIPA CITY – Nicholo Zacarias. This guy has a more native sort of boyish appeal, that is plopped on top of a very buffed bod.  With a “Darling of the Press”award during the Press Presentation, he seemed to be one of the big favorites for one of the four titles at stake.  He got a shortlist in beach fashion, but it seems to have lost ground in later fast-track events.  Is his perceived spot in the top still secure, or will he be forced to make way for a fast-rising contender at the final stretch?

11 Lipa

MISTER NO. 12:  PAGBILAO, QUEZON – Reniel Villareal.  Imagine the spirit of reigning Mister International Neil Perez inside the body of a (future) Filipino matinee idol and you get this front-running contender.  My impression from his pre-arrival modeling photos was that he resembles Robin Padilla.  But when I saw other photos and met him in the Press Presentation, I realized he’s handsomer than that famous “bad boy” superstar–I had visions of a more mestizo Jomari Yllana at his Bench prime all of a sudden.  He made his presence as a possible titleholder felt by figuring in the Top Five in both beachwear and formal wear, on top of a Top Five finish in ethnic costume won by his perceived main obstacle for the top title, Rick Palencia.    Can he usurp the domination of Rick thus far, or will he be content with garnering any one of the other titles on offer?  Whatever the scenario, the next step after that will be interesting–will he pursue a modeling career (hopefully with international bookings), go back to being a regular OFW, or dip his toes into Philippine showbiz?   If he choose the last path, he has already displayed potential judging from his comedy routine during the Talent show–it’s easy to imagine him starting out in a gag show then evolve into a leading man in one of our telenovelas in either ABS-CBN or GMA.

12 Pagbilao

Robin Padilla (image sourced from fanfix.famouspix.com)

MISTER NO. 13:  PANGASINAN PROVINCE – Jerome Tabayoyong.  He is an epitome of the buffed brown native Filipino, but it seems he’s overshadowed by an even buffer brown native Filipino (see MISTER NO. 27).

13 Pangasinan

MISTER NO. 14:  FIL. COMMUNITY OF AUSTRALIA – Robert McNamara.  See MISTER NO. 3, and if you examine their faces more closely, he has the handsomest face of the trio.  Another distinguishing trait is his bodybuilder’s frame, most especially his well-developed thighs.

14 Australia

MISTER NO. 15:  BACOLOR, PAMPANGA – Arcel Yambing.  He is one of three Bodyshots 2014 alumni competing in this pageant, having made the Top Eight in that modeling search.  His modeling skills were put to good use during Gala Night and Pre-Pageant Night, as he made a strong impression in both those events.  He may yet to garner a shortlist in any of the fast-track events, but it seems he has an inside track into the Top 15.

15 Bacolor

All swimwear images courtesy of Khalil Zantillian; costume and formal wear images courtesy of Jory Rivera for OPMB Worldwide unless otherwise indicated.

COMING UP:  MISTERS 16 TO 30 plus the “FEARFUL” FORECAST

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