GEORGIA – Tamar Beradze. At a cursory glance, I couldn’t quite imagine that actors Ralph Fiennes and Joseph Fiennes are brothers. But a glance on the pictures of this representative from Georgia made me realize their facial connections–in fact one can joke that Tamar is a lost Fiennes brother. The official swimsuit shot, for instance, made me recall the younger Fiennes (Joseph), while the official formal wear photo made me think of the older Fiennes (Ralph). I also love his dashing national costume–in fact I prefer it better than Poland, for example. But why wasn’t his costume shortlisted? Well, as attractive as he is and despite the fact he undeniably has a fit frame, well, the standards are simply too stratospheric and he pales in comparison. Moreover, his stage projection skills are a bit raw, so he’s not able to channel that needed charisma to make a better impression.
GUAM – Lukess Sos. If this was another year he would’ve gotten more serious notices. But this group as stellar as it is, it is an uphill battle for this guy, especially as he has a height disadvantage being one of the shorter guys in this group. Still, he has great merits with his attractive features and buffed frame.
INDIA – Halley Laithangbam. I was wondering why when I started following this pageant more seriously since 2011 that this country’s representatives don’t necessarily look like what one would expect an Indian to look like (the last edition’s representative was an exception to that rule). It turns out that the current franchise holder is based in the state of Manipur, which is in Northeast India that borders Tibet and Myanmar–the people in that area tend to share similar features with those along its borders. So far, this guy seems to be the best representative coming from that particular part of India, and perhaps this country’s best shot in making the final cut in this pageant in so many years as he garnered positive notices as he turns out to qualify as good-looking with a buffed physique and solid communication skills to boot. This country last made the cut in 2008–could he break that drought?
INDONESIA – Kenny Austin. He’s the closest thing in this pageant to a “little-cutie-that-could”. This country can be considered as a powerhouse in this pageant with a string of successes thus far, and this guy could at least sustain the streak and make the Top 15.
ITALY – Andrea Luceri. This guy garnered a lot of fans in these shores, and his scruffy, boyish appeal is undeniable. But does he have the qualities to win over the judges and go far? It is possible, but there are so many other worthy contenders jockeying for slots.
JAPAN – Junpei Watanabe. He is undeniably cultured and polished, but his appeal doesn’t really translate that well to these shores, unlike his predecessor who made the Top Ten earlier this February. Especially with such a ratcheted standard this year, he couldn’t keep up despite possessing obvious merits.
KOREA – Sang Jin Lee. Sang Jin or “Ryan”, is the closest thing we have to a beefy bodybuilder in this group. I know that beefy bodybuilder types normally don’t make serious inroads in the male pageant world, but his beefy frame is still worth reckoning.
LEBANON – Farid Matar. If this was any other year, he would’ve easily be a Top Five or Top Ten shoo-in. But he has not been generating as much buzz as others despite his obvious charisma and merits. Still, I will not count him out.
MALAYSIA – Ahmad Kasyful “Kash” Azim. He was a latecomer, only arriving to the Philippines on the 25th of November, way after the Ilocos sojourn and the official photo shoots. Still, during the pre-pageant night he exuded some strong appeal with his sinewy physique and likeable appeal. But will there be room for him in the presence of superb contenders?
MEXICO – Alejandro Ruiz. His buzz faded after the Press Preview, but he still is competing at a stratified level so I would not count him out. But then again, there are so many contenders jockeying for limited slots that he could be one of those who could be shut out. Let’s see if he’ll end up becoming a nominee for the Lucas Malvacini award, or avoid that dubious distinction.
MYANMAR – Zin Min Htet. Well, his grey suit does make a distinctive impact, but other than that, he’s one of the weaker links in this year’s batch. In another year he would’ve been considered a middle-of-the-pack contender.
NETHERLANDS – Cas Winters. This behemoth is the closest thing to a sentimental favorite for me. He has undeniable good looks, buffed physique, and that towering 6’4″ stature going for him, and he has a nice personality. But I’m a bit concerned as even as he’s a nice guy, judging from the video interview he’s not really a confident communicator (but neither am I, actually). But I still will not count him out.
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: PANAMA to VENEZUELA plus the “FEARFUL” FORECAST
Video courtesy of Zhe for Events2Images.