MISTERS 2015: AT THE HOMESTRETCH (CONCLUSION)

MISTER NO. 16:  STA. ROSA CITY – Karan Singhdole.  Just like Arcel Yambing, he made the Top Eight in Bodyshots 2014.  His sleek buff body got a lot of positive notices that it’s no surprise he was shortlisted in beachwear.  He also was cited in the Top Five of best ethnic costume.  I will also remember him for his talent performance–not only does he have a good voice, but he revealed he’s an ally in the cause of LGBTQ rights as he serenaded a transgendered person.  In my opinion, his stock is rising and he could conceivably become one of the titleholders this year.

16 Sta Rosa

MISTER NO. 17:  BULACAN PROVINCE – Paolo Lester Caballero.  He has a native man-next-door appeal about him, with an above-average lean physique.  If it weren’t for the presence of formidable contenders, he would’ve gotten serious inroads into the finals.

17 Bulacan

MISTER NO. 18:  OLONGAPO CITY – Earlmond Ross Lee. Just like Kevin Fichera, I’m not that into his features, though he does have this exotic boyish appeal about him.  He seemed to be the gaining the most momentum in the latter days of the competition, making the shortlists in crossfit, talent, and formal wear, and made a dramatic impact in ethnic costume, earning a well-deserved Top Five slot.  He is another one of the possible usurpers for one of the titles up for grabs.

18 Olongapo

MISTER NO. 19:  LAGUNA PROVINCE – John Edgar (JE) Adajar.  He remains my sentimental favorite to go far in this contest, and he has his outgoing personality, manly handsomeness, and overall personal charisma going for him.  But would they be enough to secure a place in the Top 15?   Can the judges overlook his less-rippled physique and not-so-impactful performance during Pre-Pageant Night to make the final cut?  He has not figured in any shortlist at all, so I’m fearing he could become a potential Lucas Malvacini awardee.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed and am now also sending offerings to the altars of Miss World 2006 2nd runner-up Sabrina Houssami of Australia and Miss World 2007 1st runner-up Micaela Reis of Angola* to keep JE on the path of making all the way to the Top Five.

*These two Miss World runners-up were notable for not making any fast-track event shortlist but still yielding very high placements in the end.

19 Laguna

MISTER NO. 20:  FLORIDABLANCA, PAMPANGA – Patrick Magtanong.  He is also a Bodyshots 2014 alumni, but he didn’t make the Top Eight in that contest.  He is also getting overlooked in this contest.

20 Floridablanca

MISTER NO. 21:  QUEZON CITY – Jake Camarines.  Of the bevy of lookers in this year’s batch, his face is arguably the plainest of them, and he has not made the shortlist in any fast-track event nor won a special award.  But, I did like his OPM serenade during the Talent Show…

21 Quezon City

MISTER NO. 22:  TARLAC PROVINCE – Church Hill Garcia.  He has a boyish cuteness about him and he’s a polished contender.  It’s in the realm of possibility that he makes the final cut, even if he didn’t figure in any fast-track event.

22 Tarlac

MISTER NO. 23:  ANGONO, RIZAL – Robert Lopez.  Despite my misgivings about his shortlist placement in talent, I do think he has a strong chance of making the final cut–he has one of the handsomest faces in this competition, and he does keep up with the best in terms of physique.

23 Angono

MISTER NO. 24:  FIL. COMM. OF VICTORIA – Ari Kane.  See MISTER NO. 3.  His most distinguishing characteristic is his outgoing personality and that his handsomeness registers better in person than in photographs for some odd reason.

24 Victoria

MISTER NO. 25:  KORONADAL CITY – Richard Domingo.  He made his mark making the shortlist in the crossfit challenge, but otherwise doesn’t seem to make an impression anywhere else.  If this were another pageant, he could’ve made more serious inroads.

25 Koronadal

MISTER NO. 26:  BOHOL PROVINCE – AR dela Serna.  I find him a tad too skinny for comfort, and also strikes a raw presence, but reports seem to point to him making a strong impression in the Pre-Pageant night, that he might make the final cut.

26 Bohol

MISTER NO. 27:  DAVAO DEL NORTE – Ian Flores Alibo.  Despite his plain-for-Filipino-taste facial features, he possessed a superbly buffed physique that earned notices in both beachwear and ethnic costume.  He embodies that Mikey Bustos parody of Brandon Beal’s song “Twerk It Like Miley”, called “I Have a Brown Body”.   Could he parlay that physique into the final cut?

27 Davao Oriental

MISTER NO. 28:  FIL. COMM. OF GREAT BRITAIN – Jules Chan.  As a theatre actor back in London, talent is supposed to be his main forte to shine, but he missed the Top Five shortlist in that category (though his performance was commendable).  He made up for it by making the shortlist in the crossfit challenge and formal wear.

28 Great Britain

MISTER NO. 29:  CEBU CITY – Carlos Ching.  I like his looks, and at least he got notices for the crossfit challenge and the ethnic costume competition.  He looks like one of those most likely to make the final cut.

29 Cebu

MISTER NO. 30:  CITY OF MANILA – Don McGyver Cochico.  Before the pageant proceedings began, I pegged him as one of the possible front-runners, and that, yes, he can follow in the footsteps of his fellow policeman, the reigning Mister International Neil Perez.  In fact, arguably he’s handsomer than Neil Perez, with a resemblance to incumbent Manhunt International winner (for the past three years as no pageant was staged since then) June Macasaet.  But he faded a bit as standouts like Rick Palencia and Reniel Villareal emerged to rule the roost, and he didn’t make the shortlist in any of the fast-track events.  He came roaring back in the Pre-Pageant Night with a minor makeover–he grew a mustache.  I have a feeling it’s a strategy concocted by his handlers who want to remind everyone of Neil Perez, by making him physically like him as much as possible (plus remind everyone of his background as a policeman).  Most people in the know, though, could see Neil Perez’s true essence can be found in another guy, as this guy only resembles Neil on the surface but not quite capturing his full essence.  Still, a semifinalist and possible finalist spot for him remains very secure and he’s one of the surest bets for the finals.

30 Manila

Manhunt International 2012 June Macasaet (image courtesy of Manhunt International)

Now that all 30 candidates are accounted for, here is my “fearful” forecast on who will make the brutal final cut:

TOP SIX:  1, 7, 11, 12, 16, 30

TOP TEN:  10, 15, 18, 29

TOP 15: 6, 14, 19, 23, 26

BUBBLING UNDER:  3, 5, 8, 9, 17, 22, 24, 27, 28

STRIKING DISTANCE: All the rest.

I enjoy competitions where everyone competes at a very high level like this one.  The only tragedy is, there are so many stellar choices who would miss the cut in the process.  Anyway, it looks like R&R (Rick and Reniel) are locks for two of the titles–which between International, Global, Model International, and Tourism International will they take?   And who among the rest will jockey for positions and garner the remaining honors?  Watch out for the finale on Sunday.

JUST ME!

JOSEPH

The two sureest best for the titles. Who'll get International?
The two sureest best for the titles. Who’ll get International?

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

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

MISTERS 2015: THE TALENT SHOW (CONCLUSION)

Video courtesy of Dencio Natividad / In Dencio’s Eyes

Now, let’s proceed to the dances performed during the talent show:

  • Understandably, Fisher Mall has a safety policy that affects one or perhaps two performers as they cannot light fires on their props.  This is especially evident with Cebu City (Carlos Ching) as remember his hashtag is #TheFireDancerfromCebu.  Those objects he was swinging about with a rope were supposed to be lit, and you sense it could’ve been more impactful if there were flames, but still his skill in moving them about and making formations (I momentarily mistook them for yo-yos) is commendable.
  • I’m not sure if the two sticks that Bulacan (Paolo Caballero) was brandishing were also meant to be lit.  It seems to be a conceptual tribal dance piece with a narrative, though I couldn’t follow if it was a tragedy lamenting the death of a child (the prop baby in question) or a celebratory offering to the gods for said baby’s birth.  His stoic expression as he danced just left me scratching if I’m supposed to feel happy or sad during his performance.  Or maybe it’s meant to be enigmatic and ambiguous–something to think about and perhaps inspire debate…  
  • Floridablanca, Pampanga (Patrick Magtanong) brought two backup dancers for his hip-hop number, and delivered some fly moves to a medley of tunes including Fifth Harmony’s biggest smash to date, “Worth It”.  
  • Iloilo City (Willan Pagayon) proved that a ribbon routine can be a masculine thing with his highly energetic performance.  
  • For something more cultural, we are treated to a Muslim-inspired folk dance with prop bolo from Candelaria, Quezon (Mark Lester Latina).  
  • )Tarlac Province (Church Hill Garcia) delivered on his hashtag #TheHipHopDancerfromTarlac with his slick hip-hop moves, set to a Drake track.   
  • Actually, Fil. Comm. of Great Britain (Jules Chan) sang Skrillex & Diplo (featuring Justin Bieber)’s hit song “Where R U Now”, and he was expectedly good with both his singing and animation-style hip-hop dancing (remember he’s a theatre performer back in the UK), but well, his dancing was the more memorable element that is why I placed him in this category.  
  • Fil. Comm. of Melbourne (Daniel Polbrat) was one of the biggest crowd pleasers as he gyrated to a medley of three songs, starting with Ginuwine’s “Pony” (revived thanks to the film Magic Mike) and closing with Silento’s “Watch Me (Whip / Nae Nae)”.   

Now let’s discuss the five performances that the judges that afternoon deemed as the best.  I agreed with four of the five choices.  I’ll get the slight negativity out of the way by tackling the performance I’m not that into:

Angono, Rizal is a town that is reputedly renowned for its artists, and, well, this contest’s representative, Robert Lopez delivered what can be described as a “performance art” piece.  He started out by drawing a sketch, but you wonder why he was in Igorot garb.  After he made the sketch of a woman’s face, he then did a tribal dance, showcased a picture of a heart juxtaposed with his own drawing, then flipped upside down to reveal his backside has a drawing of a cartoon face, all set to a rendition of an OPM chestnut that if I’m not mistaken, was originally popularized by Rico J. Puno, “May Bukas Pa“.*  All I could think of when I watched the whole thing was, “WTH?”  It was probably some universal message of love and peace, but all those elements just do not make any sense to me and in my opinion they don’t really gel together well.  I would prefer this slot be awarded to Daniel Polbrat, Karan Singhdole, Jules Chan, Jake Camarines, or Reniel Villareal.

* On a personal note, I associate that song with my brother’s death, as my father said he likes to play that song to help him cope with his grief over our tragedy.

Fil. Comm. of Germany (Siegfried Schmidt) also showcased his drawing talent, and combined it by singing a song, Freddie Aguilar’s folk-pop classic “Bulag, Pipi, at Bingi”.  His tone was steadily reedy and lilting, and adding to the charm of this performance was he opened with a brief and sincere spiel in Tagalog.  Technically, Karan and Marcel (and some fans might argue and add Arcel in this mix) displayed stronger vocal prowess, and the illustrations delivered by  AR, JM, and yes, even Robert were more polished compared to the raw drawing of Jesus Christ that he delivered at the end of his song, but Siegfried deserved to be rewarded with the degree of difficulty combining two skills into one, and the overall charm of the performance.

Olongapo City (Earlmond Ross Lee) has been defined by his violin skills, and he showcased it with full aplomb in this show, performing an instrumental cover of Fall Out Boy’s hit “Centuries”.  I find no fault with the performance, and he exhibited swagger where on other occasions it seemed to be in short supply.  Definitely one of his finest moments.

Makati City (Jazzie Magne Vasquez) performed a hip-hop dance number, and he delivered some slinky slick moves, but what sets his performance apart from the other strong hip-hop dance performances was that he framed it with a comedic (with a dash of poignant, if you reflect on the concept) twist, making it a story of a brittle old man who in a flight of fancy broke out into a dancing reverie, until he snapped back into reality.  It was one of the most memorable performances that afternoon, and worthy of being shortlisted.

(Image courtesy of Dennis Natividad)

For many in the audience (including myself), the best and most fully realized routine was the tribal warrior dance performed by Tacloban City (Rick Kristoffer Palencia).  It had ferocity, energy, skill (with those splits that then transitioned into fleet feet flickerings), artistry, and commitment.  With his buffed physique also in full display here, it is also sexy.  Considering that earlier in the week he was also short-listed in the beachwear competition back in Davao, it makes for a delicious prospect that he can top two fast-track competitions–will they make him concede one, and which of them will be conceded to make way for a worthy candidate?

Opening position…
In dynamic action...
In dynamic action… (images courtesy of Boyet Blas)
11150585_1044985368854081_719970729596911082_n
Yes, he even did splits… (image courtesy of Boyet Blas)

Though talent normally is not a gauge of a contestant’s overall prospects of winning a pageant (unless it’s integrated in the scoring like in the case of Miss America and the current system employed by Miss World), this event clearly cemented Rick Palencia’s status as the man to beat in this contest.  Can the other candidates catch up with him as the competition wears on?  Keep your eyes peeled, and enjoy the ride…

JUST ME!

JOSEPH

The Five Best in Talent: Tacloban City (Rick Kristoffer Palencia), Fil. Comm. of Germany (Siegfried Schmidt), Olongapo City (Earlmond Ross Lee), Angono, RIzal (Robert Lopez), and Makati City (Jazzie Magne Vasquez)