A tenth edition or anniversary of anything is usually a milestone that is greeted with pomp, splendor, and heavy fanfare. In many ways the tenth edition of Mister International has those elements, but the expected grandiosity was tempered down a bit as this pageant had to regroup and rebuild from the crises it endured during the previous edition earlier this February. One would expect that this established institution would attract a new record number of candidates, but this year’s final roster of 36 has not exceeded the record set in 2010 (at 40). Nevertheless, we do have to salute the team at PEPPS for delivering a generally well-organized itinerary of proceedings thus far. The five-day sojourn to the two Ilocos provinces was also a treat and I’m glad these candidates were welcomed like kings there–though I do have a few misgivings over the presence of a departed political figure in the backdrop of some of their visits, but I have to give that a pass as this is that political figure’s home turf to begin with, and despite one’s personal political affiliations it cannot be denied that the region provided breathtaking vistas and historical landmarks, and gave 35 of the 36 candidates a memorably grand time.
Another thing that makes this edition memorable and special is the caliber of the candidates. This is the rare year that there are no glaring duds–all candidates all could qualify as at least attractive, and several of them are swoonworthy heartthrobs. Without further ado, I’ll begin my review with…
AUSTRALIA – Christopher Nayna. Thanks to a new franchise holder, this country finally sent a representative that reflects well that this is the land that brought to the world such gorgeous manly specimens like Hugh Jackman, the Hemsworth brothers, the late Heath Ledger, among many others. There is a lot to like about this guy–he’s handsome, he’s buffed, he’s charismatic, he’s articulate, and yes, he’s outgoing and charming. For me he’s one of the stellar frontrunners in this year’s competition. Such a quantum leap from the duds from 2012 and 2013.
BELGIUM – Karim Setta. Some portraits may not be that flattering, but this guy is actually very good looking in person. The son of an Egyptian father and a Flemish mother, despite his Arabic name (and that he observes a halal*1 diet) he looks squarely European–in fact if I didn’t know his background I would assume he was Walloon*2; his prominent angular nose I tend to associate with French people. In less competitive year he would’ve been regarded as having an inside track into the Top 15, but with such a formidably deep bench this year, it will be an uphill battle for him to make major waves.
*1 The dietary rules Muslims observe.
*2 The French-speaking people of Belgium.
BOLIVIA – Rodrigo Arze. He exudes an earthy, raw, animalistic appeal that for certain tastes, could be a good thing. As fit as he is, his physique is not as superbly buffed and toned as several stellar favorites, and his raw stage moves may leave one thinking he’s a “himbo”. But when he opens his mouth, you would discover this guy is intelligent and has a passionate cause to espouse–he’s a law student who aims to protect his country’s natural resources. Many pageant fans and pundits may peg him in the bottom of this heap, but this fellow has strong redeeming qualities that one must reconsider.
BRAZIL – Anderson Tomazini. As we expect from this powerhouse country, this guy is one of the big favorites. He definitely has all the boxes ticked, with his charismatic good looks, buffed physique, strong communication skills, and outgoing personality. It is conceivable he can bring forth his country’s third win, but there is some stiff competition to contend with.
CAMBODIA – Moeurn Makara. In real-world terms he can be considered cute and attractive, and he has a fit-enough physique. In another year, like, say, 2012, he could be considered middle-of-the-pack, but with this year’s stratospheric standards he’s ending up as one of the bottom-feeders.
CHINA – Li Nan. He’s one of the better Asians in an otherwise lackluster year for this continent. He is polished and has some charisma, and there is talk that his country would be hosting the next edition of this pageant, so this might mean he is going to place high. I wouldn’t mind seeing him in the Top 15, but advancing to the Top 10 and beyond with such a formidable field that’s going to be unconvincing.
COLOMBIA – Christian Hernandez Ruiz. This country has been doing pretty well as it made the final cut in two previous editions. This guy actually has got what it takes to sustain the streak as he has those ruggedly swarthly handsome good looks, lean-and-sinewy physique, and statuesque height (reportedly 6’5″, though I think he’s actually more 6’2″ to 6’3″) to receive good notices. But with such a stellar group this year, that streak is far from assured but he does have a good chance of making it through.
COSTA RICA – Richard Coronado Robles. Growing a bit of scruff for pre-pageant night surprising works well for him as he made a better impression than in previous outings. He’s a well-regarded contender, though it’s an uphill battle for him to make the final cut.
CZECH REPUBLIC – Jakub Kraus. Here’s another big favorite oozing with charisma and sex appeal. Sure attention right now seems to be focused toward Switzerland as the top European, but there is that possibility he can pip Pedro in the final clinches. Unlike his 2013 counterpart Antonin Baranek, he has a strong command of English and is a confident communicator–in fact in my reckoning thus far he seems to deliver the best video interview of the entire batch. If he is fortunate enough to make it all the way to the Final Five, I think we would need to watch out for him in the final Q&A as he may edge out some of the big-shot favorites.
DENMARK – Stefano Sandro. His name sounds Italian for a reason–he has an Italian father. But he actually carries his mother’s maiden name in real-life as his parents divorced when he was very young. His Italian lineage seems to be well-reflected in his facial features, but his very white complexion reflects his very Danish identity. Raymond Saldaña did a terrific job showcasing definition on his physique in his official swimsuit portrait, as normally most people couldn’t see the muscle definition beneath his pale white complexion. In real-world terms, his lean, sinewy physique would be worth admiring, but with such a stellar group his physique hs been way overshadowed.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – Freds Rivera. A pageant colleague interviewed him and asked him of his opinion of our Miss Universe reps–he mentioned his big favorites are Venus Raj and Ara Arida. One can say he loves the dusky types, just like his own dusky complexion. Many pageant fans and pundits featured him in their Top Ten lists, and I’m okay with that as he does have the great looks to be worthy of belonging there. It is advertised that his height is 6’1 3/4″ but actually if you set him side-by-side with the likes of Australia and Denmark he seemed to be dwarfed. I’m normally advertised as 5’10” though if I’m measured in my annual physical exam my height is measured at 5’9″, and I stood side-by-side with him and he’s just as tall as I am. Still onstage, especially when he stands on his own, his wonderful body proportions do create the impression of a six-footer–I had previously mentioned in my press preview write-up that this is the “Precious Lara Quigaman” factor.
FRANCE – Bryan Weber. He previously competed in Mister Global and landed as 4th runner-up. He undeniably has good looks and a buffed physique but so far he has not stood out to be in serious contention. Still he’s a worthwhile contender.
All videos courtesy of OXIN Entertainment Productions, all official formal wear photos courtesy of PEPPS, all official swimwear and costume photos courtesy of Raymond Saldaña, all pre-pageant swimsuit photos courtesy of Joy Arguil, and all pre-pageant formal wear photos courtesy of Joseph Magsino for Misssosology unless otherwise indicated.
COMING UP: GEORGIA to NETHERLANDS
Video courtesy of Zhe for Events2Images