Camouflage-themed opening number (image courtesy of Joy Arguil)
The event was hosted by two top-tier beauty queens: Mutya ng Pilipinas 2014 Eva Psychee Patalinjug and Binibining Pilipinas International 2014 Bianca Guidotti. Both are strong, articulate emcees with potential, but were saddled with a stilted script especially during the first portion of the program that did not showcase their skills at their best. But the duo became more spontaneous and loosened up when the evening wore on, which made the experience better in the process. I particularly enjoyed Bianca speaking Portuguese to address the Brazilian members of the judging panel (the reigning Mister Model International and Tourism International). Speaking of the proceedings, I think a little more finetuning is needed for the people behind the production–if they have the results (like envelopes) ready for announcement, they should prompt the hosts properly and avoid making the hosts announce that the results were forthcoming and being forced to endure about three to five minutes of tedium. But like the hosts, the production got better as it went along, though I quibble at the distracting window props hanging on the backdrop and never leaving the stage even if the backdrops themselves changed and the windows ended up as obstructions.
The contest is structured very similarly along the lines of Binibining Pilipinas. After the opening number, they announced the first set of special awards, followed by all 30 candidates parading in two rounds, swimwear and formal wear. Then, a second set of special awards would be announced before the Top 15 was announced. Now, in a slight deviation over the latest editions of Binibining Pilipinas, the Top 15 would then strut their stuff in another swimsuit round (sporting swimwear from a different designer) before whittling down to the Final Ten, who will return in formal wear for the question and answer round before the two runners-up and the four titleholders were determined and announced. Well, this format is well justified in my opinion, as this contest is indeed the closest thing we have to a male counterpart to the much more established Binibining Pilipinas. There were also some musical interludes, and prior to the announcement of winners, a video review of their activities, with the 30 candidates looked back with deep fondness–their sentiments as they viewed the video was very palpable onstage as they developed deep bonds of friendship during the two weeks of activities.
Before I proceed with the Top 15 semifinalists, let’s pay tribute to the non-finalists who at least became special awardees during the finals night, starting with:
MISTER NO. 25: KORONADAL CITY – Richard Domingo. At least he got some supporters who helped him generate votes to be cited 3rd runner-up for Mr. Teceruma Spa (an internet-based vote initiated by this major sponsor). He does have a local-boy-next-door appeal, but was out of his league with the wealth of stunning contenders out there.
MISTER NO. 21 – QUEZON CITY – Jake Camarines. Norman Tinio has attested since he was with these candidates throughout their entire journey that this guy is the funny one in the group and that quality was the key why he was voted Mister Friendship by his peers. In most appearances, he actually reminds me of comedian Ramon Bautista, but during finals night he generated a slightly more refined aura, which I liked. If he’s able to master projecting his more flattering angles, he can conceivably be a stronger contender down the line.
MISTER NO. 3: FIL. COMM. OF MELBOURNE – Daniel Polbrat. I would’ve wanted him to advance to the Top 15, but it seems there is only room for one handsome Fil-Aussie guy so he only has a 2nd runner-up vote finish for Mister Teceruma Spa to speak of for finals night. I bet he only missed the cut by very little, just like…
MISTER NO. 14: FIL.COMM. OF AUSTRALIA – Robert McNamara. Here is another very handsome face who missed the final cut. I don’t know how the special award of Misters Overseas Community was determined, but if it was determined primarily by facial handsomeness, well, this guy definitely earned it. Sure, his bodybuilder’s physique may polarize some people, but I did bet on him being the “Fil-Aussie-most-likely”, though unfortunately, he was edged out.
Now, let’s discuss the Top 15, starting with:
MISTER NO. 2: MATI CITY – Red Bayron. Yes, he has a good looking face and a nice lean physique, but other than that, he didn’t quite make a standout impression compared to other, more charismatic contenders out there. I have a feeling his slot was given basically as a sponsor’s concession since his city hosted almost a week’s worth of events (including the beachwear fast-track competition).
MISTER NO. 28: FIL.COMM. OF GREAT BRITAIN – Jules Chan. Most presume Robert McNamara won the fast-track crossfit challenge, but it turns out it was this guy who won. You have to hand it to him that he makes a strong effort onstage with dramatic hand movements and muscle flexing punctuating his swimsuit catwalks, but we all know most people do tend to favor certain other candidates, so making it this far is achievement enough.
MISTER NO. 18: OLONGAPO CITY – Earlmond Ross Lee. I was expecting one of the big front-runners to clinch the Talent fast-track title, but I have no objections with this guy winning–he did have that swagger when he plays that violin; if only he can translate that swagger in other aspects, though he is a worthy Top 15 choice.
MISTER NO. 19: LAGUNA PROVINCE – John Edgar (JE) Adajar. Well, at least I’m glad my sentimental favorite made the Top 15. I know many people expected that he would go beyond this placement and I heard word that insiders did want to grant him one of the titles. But why did he miss making it to the Q&A round? If you ask me, though I didn’t attend the pre-pageant night, I can find hints on why I was fretful he wouldn’t get a plum placement judging from the photos I had seen as 1) though he’s undeniably fit (since he’s an MMA fighter, albeit off-season due to injury), his physique is not as rippled as the other contenders out there; and 2) his stage and catwalk projection needed a bit more fine-tuning–sure his movements makes it clear he’s undeniably a natural dude, but a contest like this requires a more purposeful, assertive swagger instead of the casual struts he makes. Maybe if given another chance (if he wants it) he will clinch it, but for now, at least he served some notice. But then again, one person who advanced to the Top Ten has a not-so-toned physique too–I would rather have this guy take his place if you ask me.
MISTER NO. 11: LIPA CITY – Nicholo Paolo Zacarias. Now, this is a guy who many presumed is a shoo-in for the Top Ten and could’ve been in contention for one of the titles. His buffed physique did earn him an automatic slot as he won the Beachwear fast-track. On top of that, the video he made for Teceruma Spa earned him a special award and the video featuring him is likely going to be used to promote the company. And you would think that in the second round of swimwear he would have an advantage because of that, but he didn’t advance. I don’t know if facial appeal held significant weight that blocked him from advancing, because that seems to be the only reason I could think of why he missed the Top Ten.
All images courtesy of Joy Arguil.
COMING UP: THE TOP TEN and THE CHALLENGES AHEAD…