Monthly Archives: September 2016

MISTER UNIVERSAL AMBASSADOR 2016: AT THE HOMESTRETCH (CONCLUSION)

PANAMA – Davis Arguelles.  He exudes a swarthy, sexy appeal, though like Ecuador, he’s for those who are in the mood for something “rough”.

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PERU – Becerra Cerna.  He exudes that balance of physical buffness, boyish appeal, and strong communication skills that he made the shortlists in speech, sports, and swimwear.  He looks like a shoo-in for the finals, and a sleeper possibility for the Top Five.

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PHILIPPINES – Andrea Biondo.  With his strong skills in relaying his ideas across in a clear, matter-of-fact way (even with an Italian accent) and his enviably buffed physique, he made major impact in speech and swimwear, and it bodes very well for his overall prospects in this pageant.  Making the Top 15 is clearly secured, and his very intriguing features are not to be ignored–his Italian-Filipino heritage gave him the classical handsomeness we associate with Europeans with the exoticism we associate with native Filipinos (or Latin Americans), and he straddles that intersection between boyish innocence and ravishing sensuality.  All those qualities seems to point to a lock in the Final Five, but there might be a slightly surprising obstacle to achieving this finish–in relation to most of the contestants he’s relatively short.  Mind you, his actual (not “press release”) height of 5’9″ (he’s as tall as I am) is no way to be considered short (especially in our shores), but in relation to most of the contenders in this batch, he may seem dwarfed by them.  But then again, on his own he does have the proportions of a tall man, so he can pull it off.

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PORTUGAL – Nelson Amado.  I wonder if his family’s origins are from one of Portugal’s former colonies like Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde or Sao Tome & Principe.  Anyway, it’s nice to see a man of color representing a European nation, though I don’t foresee him making serious inroads into the finals as he’s generally raw and he has a skinny frame.  He does have an attractive face, though.

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PUERTO RICO – Eric Manuel Gonzalez.  He was the last to arrive in Indonesia and missed the speech and sports rounds.  Still, his good looks and buffed physique are too undeniable that not only did he make the swimwear shortlist, he can still make serious inroads into the finals.

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ROMANIA – Catalin Brinza.  His features may be an acquired taste, but he does possess an enviable physique (he made the swimwear shortlist) and will make a big splash with his talent routine mimicking Jim Carrey’s The Mask character.  Could be a sleeper choice to make the final cut.

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SERBIA – Aleksa Gavrilovic.  Many pageant fans and pundits are raving about his good looks, with justification–those looks and that buffed physique earned him a shortlist in swimwear.  He has not generated as much buzz, but I have a feeling he could be a strong sleeper bet for the finals.  I think he does have a secret edge with his communication skills–I noticed even if he missed making the shortlist in the speech round he was a clear, coherent speaker, and that could help him ace the interview.

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SINGAPORE – Lim Chum Hao.  His third place finish in sports would most likely be the highlight of his stint in this pageant as he doesn’t have the charisma of his other Asian counterparts like India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Macau, Malaysia, and Philippines.

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SPAIN – Cristian Perez Llorente.  Many pageant fans and pundits (including myself) pegged him as the favorite to win, and with good reason:  he parlayed his good looks and lean, rippled physique to make the shortlist in swimwear and Top Four for Mister Photogenic, and he’s the winner of the sports challenge.  I think the key obstacle for him nailing the crown is that he may come off as a tad terse, judging from his very brief speech audition.  But if he nails the question and answer round in the finals, the title is his.

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SRI LANKA – Udaya Sri.  He has a nice scruffy appeal in some angles, but most of the time he’s simply too raw and unpolished–arguably the weakest contestant in this stellar group of 48.

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SWEDEN – Alexander D. Rosso.  His features may register on the mature side, but he is good looking and there are people who dig that.  He has made serious inroads in sports, placing second behind champion Spain, and I have a feeling he’ll win the speech round as it was eloquent and heartfelt–he touched upon a moment he fell ill and his fellow contestants ran to him out of concern, and he equated that as “unity in diversity” in action, which was the them of the speech round.  If the judges find him appealing enough in the looks rounds, he could be a possible usurper for the title and wrest it away from front-runners Dominican Republic and Spain.

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TAIWAN – Chang Kuei Hing.  See HONG KONG.

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THAILAND – Krittayat Kanchanadul.  He reminds me of an Asian David Schwimmer especially with that prominent schnozz.  He actually has appeal, but I think the Asian contingent is too formidable and there may hot be enough room for him in the finals.

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David Schwimmer (image sourced from designtrend.com)

UKRAINE – Oleksandr Katsidatze.  He has that scruffy, smoldering attractiveness, but most of hte time he’s raw.

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U S A – June Wu.  It’s nice to see this vast country represented by a Chinese guy with strong communication skills (that allowed him to make the shortlist in speech).  he’s actually a generally polished contender though I’m not sure if his gift of gab will be enough for him to make the finals.

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VIETNAM – Truong Ngoc Tinh.  He is not conventionally handsome, but he does have appeal, and his buffed physique earned him a swimwear shortlist.  Making the final cut is in the realm of possibility.

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With all 48 gentlemen accounted for, let me now trot out my leaderboard, as follows:

TOP CONTENDERS:  DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, SPAIN

TITLE USURPER:  SWEDEN

SHOO-INS:  ALGERIA, AUSTRALIA, BRAZIL, INDONESIA, PERU, PHILIPPINES

LIKELIEST:  BANGLADESH, BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA, COLOMBIA, EGYPT, INDIA, JAPAN, KOREA, KYRGYZSTAN, MACAU, MALAYSIA, NETHERLANDS, PUERTO RICO, ROMANIA, SERBIA, VIETNAM

DIVERSITY FACTOR:  ENGLAND

INTELLIGENCE FACTOR: U S A

EXCELLENT:  AZERBAIJAN, CROATIA, GREECE, LEBANON, MEXICO, PANAMA, THAILAND

VERY STRONG: ALBANIA, BULGARIA, ECUADOR, MONTENEGRO, NORWAY

STRONG:   CHINA, DENMARK, MOLDOVA, MYANMAR, SINGAPORE

VERY GOOD:  HONG KONG, PORTUGAL, TAIWAN, UKRAINE

GOOD:  SRI LANKA

Now, here’s my “Fearful” Forecast:

TOP FIVE:  ALGERIA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, PERU, PHILIPPINES, SPAIN

TOP TEN:  AUSTRALIA, BRAZIL, COLOMBIA, INDONESIA, PUERTO RICO

TOP 15:  BANGLADESH, BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA, JAPAN, MALAYSIA, SWEDEN

BUBBLING UNDER:  EGYPT, INDIA, KOREA, KYRGYZSTAN, MACAU, NETHERLANDS, ROMANIA, SERBIA, VIETNAM

STRIKING DISTANCE:  AZERBAIJAN, CROATIA, ENGLAND, GREECE, LEBANON, MEXICO, PANAMA, THAILAND, U S A

The way I see it, it looks like a big showdown between two Spanish-speaking contenders, Dominican Republic and Spain, with Algeria, Peru, and Philippines nipping at their heels.  If the judges like Sweden enough to pass through the swimwear and formal wear rounds, he could be the big upset victor.

I watched some of the videos of the event proceedings (thanks Sash Factor) and I can forgive the imperfections on how the various events were conducted, but I hope they can make it up with a very professional program for finals night.  Anyway, it looks like this pageant’s stellar growth and unique hook may propel it to the ranks of the most prestigious male pageants that has long been held by the triumvirate of Manhunt International, Mister International, and Mister World.  Anyway, best of luck to all teh contestants.

JUST ME!

JOSEPH

 

MISTER UNIVERSAL AMBASSADOR 2016: AT THE HOMESTRETCH (PART 2)

GREECE – Spyros Papakonstantinou.  He’s very handsome, but he has not figured in the shortlist of any challenge event.  He could be an underrated gem that deserves better notice.

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HONG KONG – Pei Zhi Kiang.  There are strong, formidable Asian contenders in this batch, but this one is one of the weaker links.

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INDIA – Parmeet Wahi.   My favorite beefcake behemoth during the 9th edition of Mister International, I’m rooting for him to gain vindication in this pageant.  He seems on track, as he got shortlisted in sports, but I’m a tad worried he’s not shortlisted in swimwear–I’ve noticed he seemed a tad too lean during the swimsuit competition, albeit his physique is still enviably rippled.  I know communication is not his strongest suit, but I hope his other qualities would be enough for him to advance.

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INDONESIA – Eka Wijaya.  He was short-listed in two “homely” categories, sports and talent (he’s a singer).  But actually, he is good looking and appealing, and remember he is the host contestant, so we should consider him a shoo-in.

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JAPAN – Ryo Arizumi.  In international pageantry lately, this country is in the headlines for sending mixed-race contestants–obviously Miss Universe 2015 Top Ten semifinalist Ariana Miyamoto started a big trend, as this was followed by the Mister World representative (half-Australian Yuki Sato), the Miss World reprersentative (Priyanka Yoshikawa) and now this guy, who is half-Pakistani.  He was shortlisted in sports and is one of four contenders for Mister Photogenic.  Looks like an inside track to the Top 15 are in the cards for him.

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KOREA – Park Su Min.  Though there are other Asians generating heavier buzz, he holds his own and earned a shortlist in swimwear.  With the right styling, he is a strong semifinals possibility.

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KYRGYZSTAN – Sengenas Valstis.  The pageant sites Sash Factor and Missosology are all agog over this guy, and I understand his appeal–in our shores, we do dig his Asian-boyish features.  He’s also one of the four contenders for Mister Photogenic.  Can he parlay that appeal to garner a semifinal spot?

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LEBANON – Keven Martin.  Lookswise, he seemed to be in serious contention, but he only got shortlisted in sports.  I think one quibble that might prevent him from sustaining that long Lebanese tradition of making the cut is that he went a bit overboard in the “steam” factor, like in his formal wear photo below (he’s the only one baring his chest, if you notice).  This would work if he was competing in the Dominican Republic, but this is Indonesia, and the pageant format is a tad more conservative (though the swimsuit competition made one want to fan oneself from the blazing heat).

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MACAU – Yan Chuan Qi.  Of the Chinese contenders in this year’s pageant, he’s the one who’s most likely to make the cut, judging from his shortlists in speech and swimwear.  He does have strong appeal and worthy of belonging in the final cut.

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MALAYSIA – Jason Ganesan.  Like Macau, he made the cut in both speech and swimwear.  He is not conventionally handsome, but he does ooze with a smoldering, manly appeal that he’s likely going to make the final cut.

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MEXICO – Eduardo Marquez.  He’s cute, but it looks like he’s overshadowed by sterling contenders out there.

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MOLDOVA – Dubceac Petru.  Just like Bosnia & Herzegovina, he exudes a cute, boyish appeal (without the scruff), but his skinny frame may put him out of contention with this formidable group.

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MONTENEGRO – Muhamed Berisa.  I think his 5th place finish in the sports competition is achievement enough for him as he doesn’t seem to exude much charisma to make serious inroads.

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MYANMAR – Thet Paing.  He is not conventionally handsome but he does have some appeal, especially with his beefily muscular physique.  Still, he’s simply middle of the pack with the wealth of stellar contenders out here.

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NETHERLANDS – Cas Winters.  Just like India, I’m rooting for this 6’3″ behemoth to gain some vindication here and make the final cut.  Hope his half-Indonesian heritage will work to his advantage here.

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NORWAY – Romush Hiseni.  This guy has the most boyishly handsome face in this batch.  I’m wondering about his heritage as his name sounds Middle Eastern, not native Norwegian.  Is it Persian like Eurovision 2012 singer Tooji?  Anyway, I think we should consider his sports shortlist placement as his highlight as I don’t see him in serious contention for the finals–he doesn’t have a buffed physique.

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COMING UP:  PANAMA to VIETNAM plus the “FEARFUL” FORECAST

MISTER UNIVERSAL AMBASSADOR 2016: AT THE HOMESTRETCH (PART 1)

When the Mister Universal Ambassador pageant was launched last year most pageant fans and pundits did not pay much attention to it, dismissing it as a minor pageant with a moniker that obviously attempts to evoke the brand prestige of distaff counterpart Miss Universe–without violating copyrights (remember that no male pageant can use “Mister Universe” as it’s a long-established bodybuilding contest).  There is another pageant (based in Dominican Republic) that has been attempting to do that but that one has been riddled with controversies and is notorious for ramping up the flesh factor with the frequency of having the contestants sport skimpy swimwear over the years, which makes it impossible to treat that pageant with any form of respectability.

Attracting 19 contestants last year (with one with the dubious country designation of “Oceania Federation”) this pageant may seemed inauspicious at first, but the organizers featured a well-rounded programme that not only featured the typical swimwear-fashion-formal-wear patterns of most pageants but added a humanitarian angle that helps give this pageant an edge.  It also helped that they crowned the handsome Christian Daniel Ortiz of Puerto Rico as the inaugural winer, and his travels and humanitarian efforts during his reign has raised this pageant’s profile and attracted the attention of national directors around the world.

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The reigning Mister Universal Ambassador, Christian Daniel Ortiz of Puerto Rico (images courtesy of Sofyan Hendik for IMP Organiztion

It’s incredible that this pageant grew almost three-fold from its initial edition, as this year it attracted 48 diverse and dashing gentlemen from almost all corners of the world.  The fact that in its second edition it’s able to closely (approach (or even exceed) the caliber of the three most-established international male pageants (Manhunt International, Mister International and Mister World) makes this pageant worthy of attention.

ALBANIA – Xhemal Xhyra.  Albanian language lesson–his name is pronounced “Jemal Jüra”–Xh in Albanian is like the “J” sound in English, and Y is like the German “Ü” (sounds like the “ee” sound in “free”, but with rounded lips).  He is attractive, but with an extremely competitive bunch, he’s facing an uphill battle making a major impression.

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ALGERIA – Hazi Mohammed.  Physically he evokes the hunky appeal of the reigning Mister World, India’s Rohit Khandelwal.  Netizens of course took notice and it’s not surprising that he was leading the popularity polls being conducted, and it also helps that he has an enviable physique and athletic skills that made him make the short list in swimwear and sports.  Communication skills may be a bit suspect, but a Top Five finish is very possible.

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Mister World 2016 Rohit Khandelwal (image sourced from keeplane.com)

AUSTRALIA – Rede Carney.  With his GQ-model looks, he looks like one who has an inside track into the finals.  But besides his good looks, he also made the shortlist in speech and ranked 4th in sports.  He probably missed making the swimwear shortlist by very little but he is one to watch.

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AZERBAIJAN – Joseph Jafarti.  See ALBANIA, though he’s one of the three who are short-listed in talent, with his traditional folk dance performance.

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14516614_531132463753127_728261573254728913_nBANGLADESH – Naseef Rahman.  His boyish looks may appeal to many (though not really my cup of tea) but judging from his swimwear (he has a superbly buffed bod) and speech shortlists, he looks like he has an inside track into the finals.

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BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA – Sinan Subara.  He has an irresistible boyish cuteness that registers very well on camera.  It’s no surprise he’s one of the four contenders for Mister Photogenic.  In the last popularity poll update, he was the front-runner.  If the official poll serves as a fast-track to the semifinals, it might be a cinch for him to make it.

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BRAZIL – Marcello Pilotti.  We all know Brazil is a major powerhouse in international male pageants and this guy holds up to that tradition, and he made an impact being short-listed in speech and swimwear.  I don’t foresee him winning, but he’s a lock for the Top 15 with a strong shot for the Final Five.

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BULGARIA – Tomas Atahacnoc.  He’s good-looking, but he seems not that polished and that may hinder him from making major impact in this pageant.

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CHINA – Li Jinghao.  He has a boyish appeal, but has been facing an uphill battle making an impact as there are more formidable Asians out there.

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COLOMBIA – Jose Oswaldo Ramos.  He made the shortlist in both sports and swimwear.  In his formal wear photo, he displays angular cheekbones that gave him a passing resemblance to Benicio del Toro.   He is one of several possibilities to make the final cut.

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CROATIA – Denis Klaic.  In a lesser male pageant, his features would make serious inroads, but here he seems crowded out.

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DENMARK – Danni Pederson.   He has a passing resemblance to the Philippine representative, and interestingly looks more like a regular Asian/Latin American native than European.  He’s a tad raw that he is not making any serious impact.  Still, he’s good looking in real-world terms.

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DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – Alejandro Martinez.   He gave one of the strongest speeches in the speech challenge, and with his lean and rippled physique makes major impact that it’s obvious he is worthy of making the cut in swimwear.  I have a feeling he’s one of the main front-runners for the title as his appeal is off the charts.

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ECUADOR – Sergio Morales.  As Tina Turner would put it as she introduces her cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary”, if you like it “nice and rough”, he’s your guy.  I know many (including myself) could be in the mood for that from time to time.

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EGYPT – Mustafa Medhat.  He has a swarthy, handsome appeal about him, and he at least has made an impact by making the sports shortlist.  It’s still a possibility for him make the Top 15, but it’s a strong, crowded field out there.

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ENGLAND – Pavel Diaz.  During his speech, he reported he was the original UK representative for Mister United Continents but due to some machinations he was ousted from his title.  Though I have to admit the one who eventually competed in that pageant last July (Mark Redfearn)* is way more appealing and ended up as 1st runner-up, it’s still a blessing in disguise as this is the “better” pageant.  I think he only missed the speech shortlist because he cited another pageant (a lesser-regarded one, at that) in that speech.  It’s interesting to note that he’s only one of two black contestants in this pageant, and both of them are representing European countries.  His best prospects would be if the judges are in the mood to embrace diversity to allot a slot for a dark-skinned contestant, and he is the “black-man-most-likely”.  But I have a feeling if we base it strictly on merit, we have seen more charismatic and appealing black males around, and admittedly he is an acquired taste.

*He went on to gain notoriety by revealing his entire body on the controversial  reality dating show, Naked Attraction–let’s just say he was impressive and expectedly won a date.

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All images courtesy of IPM International unless otherwise indicated

COMING UP:  GREECE to NORWAY