Last Saturday at the Sulo Riviera Hotel in Diliman, Quezon City, the 30 candidates for the inaugural Gentlemen of the Philippines pageant were presented to the media. The candidates introduced themselves in white T-shirts and jean ensembles, then paraded in white swimsuits, and then there was a fashion show showcasing three different collections by local designers. It then ended with a n open Q&A session with the candidates, where we learn more insights on their personalities, opinions on some current events, and their advocacies. Special awards are then given out–sponsors New Placenta, HEA watches gave sponsors’ prizes and then the top three darling of the press were given out.
Who among the 30 candidates made a major impression? There were three candidates who I felt made an impact even if they didn’t win a special award that day. First I have to cite the strong catwalk skills delivered by Gentlement 28 (Michael Mendoza of Sarangani). Then the next two are characterized by sexy native appeal, supremely buffed physiques, and strong projection skills–Gentlemen 13 (Roland William de Dios of Cabanatuan City) and 17 (Job Abogado of Camarines Sur).
One guy got one of the Top 10 sponsor’s prize given by HEA watches, and he also stood out in the open Q&A session as he relayed about his background as a former cadet in the Philippine Military Academy and his advocacy for the environment: Gentleman 22 (Paul Benjamin Abal, Jr. of Mandaue City). But will his attractive looks and personality be enough to make the final cut? Observers might have reservations as he has one major obstacle with his obvious “dad bod”–it will be a major miracle if he can whip his body into competitive shape in one week.
Other candidates that caught the eye of Hea watches include Gentlemen 2 (Julius Ceasar Chio of General Santos City) and 7 (Karl Mikhael Balderas of Santiago City). In my opinion, they are okay, but I was more impressed with Gentlemen 13 and 17.
Garnering a 1st runner-up finish as “Darling of the Press” was Gentleman 1 (Kian Jabin Sumague of San Pablo City). There are some pageant fans and pundits who regard him as a possible favorite for one of the six titles at stake, but I think a semifinalist finish will be enough for him.
One of the favorites for a title thanks to his pedigree as a medical doctor is Gentleman 20 (Dr. John Vincent Pua of Quezon City). His physique may not be as defined as a number of his peers, but he does have personality, appeal and charisma to be in title contention.
One guy with native features who has an inside track for one of the titles is Gentleman 3 (Christian Lumasag of Cebu City). At this point he seems to be the native-boy most likely.
Two swarthy fellows are also in the mix and are in title contention: there’s Gentleman 30 (Sonu Singh of Nueva Vizcaya), a full-blooded Indian who was born and raised here, and Gentleman 8 (Mohammed Ali Imran Atendido of Lucena City), who not only garnered a HEA sponsor’s prize, but placed third as Darling of the Press.
Major attention has been lavished by most of the media towards the candidates representing overseas communites, and for most part, they delivered. I was not that initially impressed with Gentleman 21 (Paul Renzo Velo of London, UK), but after witnessing his strong catwalk skills and looking at him better, I believe his prospects for a semifinalist showing seems secure.
Being one of the youngest at 18 years old, Gentleman 16 (Johannes Dula Rissler of Germany) looks poised to take the Mister Teen International title up for grabs.
Winning the top HEA sponsor’s prize, Gentleman 14 (Jason del Juan Martin of Gold Coast, Australia) looks poised to secure one of the titles at stake. There are some angles where he looks great, but some angles don’t seem to appeal to me, but his status as a front-runner seems assured.
The one who seems to be guaranteed a title especially with the heavy buzz he received with the media and the two big special awards as Mr. New Placenta and the Darlng of the Press winner is Gentlemen 23 (Andrea Biondo of South Italy). He is clearly the most handsome and has the most impressive physique among the 30 candidates, not to mention undeniable charisma onstage, and he has also has a likable charm and personality. But I do have a minor quibble about his physique, as impressive as it is–he seems to exemplify that bodybuilding meme about missing leg day as his legs are not as defined as his torso. But as I said, it’s a minor quibble because he still is the most impressive among all the candidates anyway and it can easily be addressed as he prepares for whatever international competition he’ll be assigned to go to.
All images courtesy of Joy Arguil unless otherwise indicated.
All told, it’s a promising beginning for the inaugual Gentlemen of the Philippines pageant. Looking forward to seeing how the coronation night turns out. Good luck to all the candidates and the organizers, Gentleman Charities, Inc.