While the rest of the Philippines was swooning over the #APECHotties, debating who was hotter between the President of Mexico (Enrique Peña Nieto) and the Prime Minister of Canada (Justin Trudeau), the Sulo Hotel in Quezon City provided a venue to introduce this year’s set of the world’s most desirable men officially to the media. I know comparing these youthful, chiseled specimens of manhood over the seasoned charms of those more mature #APECHotties is like comparing apples to orangers, but for those with eclectic tastes there are more options to swoon over.
Twenty-nine of the 37 candidates were present during the Press Preview. Interestingly those who have not arrived yet are from relatively nearer countries like Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka–perhaps they were trapped by the flight cancellations to pave way for the world leaders flying into our shores for the APEC Summit. Hopefully as APEC winds to a close today we will see all of them accounted for by then.
There are no clear front-runners that could be culled so far from this group, and there is a dearth of out-and-out duds from what we see thus far. All 29 present have the right to be classified as at least attractive, with several fitting in the “handsome” category.
Asia typically is a strong performing region in this pageant. For those into the “Oriental” look, they can consider the likes of China (Nan Li), Korea (Song-Jin Lee), and Singapore (Edwin Aw) particularly appealing.
I have to place a special note for India (Halley Laithangbam) as initial portraits of him made me feel that he’s a big step backward from his beefcake behemoth Bollywood-worthy predecessor, but he actually looks better than I expected. In some ways, U S A (Troy Thomas) also fits in this category with his personality and perhaps he has the unique edge of being the only candidate of color thus far in this year’s pageant.
For those who go for boyish looks, they will certainly dig like likes of Panama (Julian Torres), Poland (Rafał Jonkisz), and as a special kind of boyishness, Italy (Andrea Luceri). The last guy is proof that you can have a full scruffy beard and still be boyish.
Generating a bit of buzz behind the heavily lauded front-runners were Dominican Republic (Freds Rivera), Lebanon (Farid Matar), and Netherlands (Cas Winters). Freds has the handsomeness, physique, and sex appeal to be considered among the front-runners, but some noticed that in relation to other contenders out there he seemed relatively short–but then again he has those “Precious Lara Quigaman” proportions: on his own he can pass for a taller guy. Cas is the opposite as he’s the tallest of the group at 6’4″ and he has the qualities to move up to the forefront. Farid actually also seems to have all boxes ticked but is so far receiving less buzz–maybe all that will change in the days to come.
There were nine guys who made the biggest splash during the Press Preview–any one of them could conceivably win it all. I’ll talk about two Latin guys from traditional pageant powerhouses: Mexico (Alejandro Ruiz) and Venezuela (Rafael Angelucci). I can understand the appeal of the former, as I do find him appealing, but I don’t really find him conventionally handsome–but then again I also didn’t have that high a regard for David Zepeda when he competed in Manhunt International 15 years ago and ended up as 1st runner-up, but well he then became one of the biggest telenovela actors in his country. The latter has an undeniable handsomeness, though some might quibble that his physique may not be up to snuff–still do not discount the mystique that the name “Venezuela” brings to any representative.
Our very own Philippines (Reniel Villareal) is holding his own with the front-runners out there–of course it’s a daunting task to equal Neil Perez’s win last year, but at this early stage he’s showing he’s got a fight in him to pull it off–it’s not an easy task with several front-running contenders out there, but he’ll be up there. Also a possible front-runner is a guy with Filipino roots as his mother is from our country: Spain (Daniel Dakila Barreres). He used to visit this country when he was a child, but it has been over a decade since his last visit. I learned that he does adore Filipino snacks like dried mangoes and Nagaraya cracker nuts–two of my favorite snacks, too.
Besides their hunky good looks and buffed physiques, Australia (Chris Nayna) and Czech Republic (Jakub Kraus) possessed winning likable charms that could give them an edge in interviews. For Australia, finally we have a representative who lives up to the great looks and charismatic reputation of its famous Hollywood exports.
Puerto Rico has been on a winning streak in the male pageant realm this year, with wins in Mister Tourism International, Mister Universal Ambassador and Mister Model International, all in a span of less than a month. Its representative to this pageant, Fernando Alvarez, has the potent combination of a perfectly rippled physique, classically handsome Latin features, and an outgoing personality to bring forth another feather to this country’s cap.
The biggest revelation during the Press Preview was Switzerland (Pedro Mendes). He was not heavily buzzed about prior to this preview but when he appeared he became one of the most popular and fawned upon candidates. In some ways, he might owe his astounding appeal to the fact that he is actually of Portuguese descent (though not part of the European Union, with a Schengen visa almost any European can live in Switzerland). This country has just made its debut in this pageant this year–can he make it first-time-first-win?
Speaking of Portuguese descent, of course no one can deny Brazil (Anderson Tomazini). Just like most of the eight front-running contenders thus far, he has a perfect mix of handsomeness, physique, and outgoing personality that he preserves his country’s sterling track record in this pageant–since joining in its second edition, it only missed the final cut once.
Figuring out the winner in this group remains muddled at this point as there are several contenders who have what it takes to win it all. It’ll be fun to see as the days unfold if there will be somebody pulling away in the lead, or will it remain a crowded race? I would like the latter as don’t we all like an exciting competition?