13TH MISTER INTERNATIONAL: AT THE HOMESTRETCH (CONCLUSION)

At a swimsuit shoot in Pagudpod, Ilocos Norte.

RUSSIA – Igor Buyantuev. It’s easy to forget that most of Russia’s land area falls in Asia, and this guy’s Asian features reminds us of that.  And looking at his costume, it would’ve been easy for a casual observer to confuse him as representing CHINA.

SINGAPORE – Famy Ashary.  As usual, this country fielded a representative with an unquestionably buffed bod.  But he has the plainest, most ordinary face of this batch.

SLOVENIA – Matiaz Mavri-Boncelj. He is one of the classically handsome Europeans in this batch and he looks like he has an inside track to make the Top 16.  Still, although his frame has definition, there are some angles where it doesn’t register as buffed as other contenders out there and that could hinder him in the end.

SOUTH AFRICA – Lebogang Rameetse.  Here is another strong black contender in this year’s batch.  I could find no fault in his performance, and so the question is if there would be room for him to join NICARAGUA in the Top 16.

SPAIN – Jesus Collado. He’s handsomely scruffy, yet polished.  He exudes the vibe of the half-Filipino 2015 rep, Daniel Barreres, albeit Daniel for me exuded a lot more charisma than this guy.  He seems to have an inside track to the Top 16, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he would finish in the same spot as Daniel three years ago.

SRI LANKA – Amandha Amarasekara.  His Mister Suprnational counterpart, Tymeron Carvalho, declared that he is an LGBTQ activist and even in homophobic Poland he somehow managed to make a breakthrough and finished in 8th place.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this guy also declares he’s an activist as Tymeron, but the difference is while Tymeron still moves in a masculine manner, this guy’s mannerisms are clearly effete.   For that I’ll give him the Sy Lee diversity award. Now in this pageant, would he be able to get away with it and make the final cut?  Or would that factor be taken against him and he would miss it?  He ticks all the boxes otherwise, as he’s handsome with a buffed bod.

SWEDEN – Kevin Graf. Well, unlike some recent predecessors he’s rather white and pasty so he is definitely out of contention for a Top 16 slot.  His redeeming factor is that some people may find his face utterly cute.

SWITZERLAND – Maikel Ferreira.  He’s generally solid, but his charisma is a tad muted that he can only be considered a worthwhile contender.

TAIWAN – Kevin Chang.  Unlike his mainland counterpart, he has buffness and polish, and even a little more charisma that he is making a great impression.  It might even be possible that he can make the cut.

THAILAND – Nick Nolte.  He should not be confused with the famous Hollywood actor.  He got his name as his father is German.  There were some who deemed him a possible front-runner prior to his arrival but then when you size him up with the rest, he’s one of the shortest in the batch–only NEPAL is shorter than him.  Still, that wouldn’t be a hindrance as there is typically room for the “little-cutie-that-could”, and he could easily fit that bill.  But then it was revealed that like HONG KONG, he has a very provocative modeling layout published–this time he actually revealed more flesh than what HONG KONG did.  If I’m not mistaken as I’m not familiar with Thai laws, it seems his layout is not considered “obscene” or “pornographic” there, albeit in many other countries, it could be viewed as such.  So one might wonder, would this be taken against him?  Much remains to be seen.

U S A – Nicolas Santos. If you hear him open his mouth, you would observe he speaks with an accent, as if English is not really his first language.  His accent is the sort that would make some white supremacist scream at him for (imitating a redneck accent) “not speaking American”.  But you must remember–this country does not have an official language, even if it is assumed to be English, so he has the right to speak English in whatever accent he is accustomed to.  I find him handsome and thought he could be a front-running contender, but then I realize his frame is a bit on the thick side and albeit his physique has more definition than LEBANON and NETHERLANDS, he is in the same boat as those two and would need to play the Siera Bearchell card to pull off making the Top 16.

VENEZUELA – Francesco Piscitelli.  Now, he’s the quintessential Classic Latino and as the days wore on buzz has been rising that he’s the one most likely to win this competition.  Added bonus is that he is one of the Dino Nicolina award contenders with his national costume.

VIETNAM – Trịnh Bảo.  There is something about hsi features that seems Eurasian.  Anyway, he exudes so much charisma that he can be considered the Top Asian in this batch.  It is even conceivable that he can win it all and be the second Vietnamese after Ngo Tien Doan over 10 years ago.  Let’s see how well he plays his cards during finals night.

With all 39 contestants accounted for, let me trot out my leaderboard:

TOP CONTENDERS:  AUSTRALIA, CZECH REPUBLIC, PERU, VENEZUELA, VIETNAM

SHOO-INS:  DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, INDIA, JAPAN, KOREA, NICARAGUA, NORWAY, PUERTO RICO,

LIKELIEST:  BRAZIL, HAITI, HONG KONG, INDONESIA, MEXICO, PANAMA, PHILIPPINES, POLAND, SLOVENIA, SOUTH AFRICA, SPAIN, SRI LANKA, TAIWAN, THAILAND,

SIERA BEARCHELL FACTOR:  LEBANON, NETHERLANDS, U S A

EXCELLENT:  BELGIUM, GUAM, SWITZERLAND

VERY STRONG:  CHINA, RUSSIA

STRONG:  BOLIVIA, MALAYSIA, NEPAL, SINGAPORE, SWEDEN

Now, here is my “Fearful” Forecast:

TOP THREE:  AUSTRALIA, VENEZUELA, VIETNAM

TOP FIVE:  CZECH REPUBLIC, PERU

TOP 10:  DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, INDIA, NICARAGUA, NORWAY, PUERTO RICO

TOP 16:  BRAZIL, INDONESIA, JAPAN, KOREA, PHILIPPINES, SPAIN

BUBBLING UNDER:  HAITI, HONG KONG, MEXICO, PANAMA, POLAND, SLOVENIA, SOUTH AFRICA,  SRI LANKA, TAIWAN, THAILAND

STRIKING DISTANCE:  BELGIUM, GUAM, LEBANON, NETHERLANDS, SWITZERLAND, U S A.

I think it seems to be a battle between the Surfer Dude (AUSTRALIA) and the Quintessential Classic Latino (VENEZUELA), but don’t discount the likes of VIETNAM, CZECH REPUBLIC and PERU to make a play for the title, and INDIA and NICARAGUA maybe pulling off an upset.  It’s not as easy to call this year, so I’m waiting with bated breath to see how this all unfolds.

JUST ME!

JOSEPH

MrI18 AUS VEN
Could the title go to these two? AUSTRALIA (Harrison Luna) or VENEZUELA (Francesco Piscitelli) (Image courtesy of Joy Arguil for Fab Philippines)
MrI18 CZE PER VEN
Or could it go to these? CZECH REPUBLIC (Jiří Kmoníček), PERU (Duilio Vallebuona), or VIETNAM (Trịnh Bảo) (Images courtesy of Joy Arguil for Fab Philippines)

All national costume preliminary competition photos courtesy of Aski for Events2Images; All official swimsuit portraits courtesy of Erik Esparat; All official formal wear photos courtesy of Alieks Fusilero; and all other photos courtesy of Drew Francisco for Missosology unless otherwise indicated.

13TH MISTER INTERNATIONAL: AT THE HOMESTRETCH (PART 2)

Enjoying the sights of Ilocos Norte

KOREA – Daewoong Hwang. He may not be as handsome as the reigning Mister International Seunghwan Lee, but he has a physique so buffed, this alone may secure him a slot in the Top 16.

LEBANON – Mohamad Taha.  Like BELGIUM, his pre-arrival pictures were more impressive how he looked when he landed in these shores.  He still exudes oodles of charisma and is undeniably handsome, but there is one glaring factor that may hinder his country’s exemplary track record in this pageant–his physique is arguably the least buffed out of these year’s contestants.  Still with his national costume, he’s the front-runner for the Dino Nicolina award.

MALAYSIA – Sylevistian Jon. In real-world terms, his face can be classified as “cute” and he undeniably has a buffed bod, but he just doesn’t possess any form of charisma whatsoever.

MEXICO – Piero Renero.  There are some who would include him as a member of the Classic Latino contingent, and I know there are many who would classify him as “handsome”.  But for me, there is something about his features that I find a bit off-putting that I don’t really consider him handsome (even if for most Filipinos, they would go ga-ga over his features).  Otherwise there is nothing to fault about him so he is contention of making the Top 16.

NEPAL – Prashant Jung Shah. It took me a while to appreciate his features as at first glance I would’ve easily dismissed him as the weakest contestant of this batch.  For most folks he could be classified as homely, but for some odd reason, I started appreciating his unconventionally handsome features and he does have a good bod.  Still, his main disadvantage is that he’s the shortest contestant in this batch, and that could hamper his chances of making any significant inroads.

NETHERLANDS – Claudio Schoorstra. Like BELGIUM and LEBANON, he impressed more in his pre-arrival pics.  Anyway, like LEBANON he has handsomeness and charm in huge spades–it’s the buffness of his bod that is the main point of contention.  Sure back in Miss Universe 2016 Siera Bearchell got away with it so the question is, can he also play that card and get away with it?

NICARAGUA – Naykel Nino. Of the four black guys in this year’s pageant, this guy is the one making the biggest splash.  With his ready smile, his lean-but-buffed sinewy frame, and outgoing personality he is emerging as the black-man-most-likely, and he could conceivably not only sustain Elvis Murillo‘s breakthrough last year, but make a play for the Top Five.  I have a feeling he’s the front-runner to win Best National Costume, at least.  I’m rooting for this guy to go very far here.

NORWAY – Mathias Duma. With his previous stint at Mister Supranational last December, this guy is the “veteran” of the group.  He looks poised to duplicate his Top 10 finish at that pageant here.

PANAMA – Juan Angel Gavirira. He is actually a polished contender, but he has a plain face that sometimes register as brusque.  For me, he’s the weakest of the four black guys competing, but he still has a conceivable shot of making the cut.

PERU – Duilio Vallebuona. He is another unequivocal member of the Classic Latino contingent, and he is probably what we consider the boyish one of that contingent.  He actually registers best in action than in still photos, as videos reveal his utterly charming personality and for that he could be considered a Top Five contender.

PHILIPPINES – Mark Kevin Janda Baloaloa. He at least styled himself properly unlike the way he looks prior to this competition.  I’m still on the fence about his charisma, but perhaps he performed well enough to merit belonging in the Top 16 without playing the host country card–but then again the host country card is no guarantee of securing a semifinals slot, especially if we look at the cases of Thailand 2011 and Myanmar last year.

MrI18 OP PHI

POLAND – Tomek Zarzyscki. He decided to go the cleaner-shaven route, but somehow I kinda liked him scruffier.  Still, his handsomeness is undeniable so it should be a good basis for him to make the Top 16, right?  But then again remember Rafal Jonkisz (2015) and Jan Dratwicki (2016) were undeniably handsome and undeniably charismatic but they still didn’t make the cut.  Let’s see if the judges look upon him with favor.

PUERTO RICO – Julian Rivera. Here is a guy who benefited from a haircut–from sporting long locks he trimmed it enough that now he evokes the vibe of A Star is Born actor/director Bradley Cooper.  He seems a shoo-in for the Top 16 with a possible play for the Top 10 and beyond.

COMING UP:  RUSSIA to VIETNAM, plus the “FEARFUL” FORECAST

All national costume preliminary competition photos courtesy of Aski for Events2Images; All official swimsuit portraits courtesy of Erik Esparat; All official formal wear photos courtesy of Alieks Fusilero; and all other photos courtesy of Drew Francisco for Missosology unless otherwise indicated.

13TH MISTER INTERNATIONAL: AT THE HOMESTRETCH (PART 1)

At the press presentation / sashing ceremony

After more than three years, the Mister International pageant is back in Manila.  And with this, it promised to attract a record roster of contestants.  Well, after confirming 41 (beating the record set in 2010), two countries fell by the wayside–Iran’s representative, Max Mehrafsha encountered visa issues that prevented him from competing (even if he competed here the previous year on the Man of the World pageant) and Myanmar ran afoul of Mister International Organization head Alan Sim as its representative, Naing Naing, was repeatedly a no-show and the national director was deemed “deceitful”.  Anyway, the final tally of 39 was at least close to the record–in fact we can say this year was the second highest turnout in the history of this pageant.  To add to this, this time we have four representatives of color, and the caliber of these men is high–the question now would be, how many of them would make the cut?  Plus, depending on your criteria, we seem to be witnessing the revival of the Classic Latino, with three (or five) clean-shaven handsome guys from Latin America making major impact.

Now, what about the quality of the batch as a whole?  I have to note that for me the batch of 2015 remains a gold standard that subsequent editions seem to have come close but fall a tad short.  How did this batch size up?  Read on.

AUSTRALIA – Harrison Luna. Despite his Latin-sounding name he exudes the vibe of a Caucasian blond tanned surfer with his long locks and beach-ready buffed bod.  I still think Chris Nayna was their best representative thus far, but this guy has been garnering the heaviest buzz that day-by-day he is looking like a favorite to win it all.

BELGIUM – Mohamed Mahouk.  He has some great pre-arrival photos that made him seem like a contender, but on these shores, he’s basically a cutie who seems to need a bit more polishing to make maximum impact.

BOLIVIA – Lucio Prado. Other than his cute face, everything about him lacks charisma, finesse and polish.

BRAZIL – Danilson Furtado. He’s great looking, and for some, he is the first member of the Classic Latino contingent*1.  I find no fault with how he presented himself thus far, so he has an inside track for the Top 16–but he seems to have a subdued vibe and there are others making a splashier impression.  Still, his consistently strong presence could not be denied and he can still pull off a sleeper surprise.

*1 I have reservations applying this term to this guy because of his brown complexion, but then again, remember that Latinos come in a broad variety of skin tones and colors, and he’s clean-shaven and handsome to also fit this bill.

CHINA – Ruitao Li.  Interestingly he’s one of the weaker links in a formidable East Asian contingent.  His counterpart from a “disputed” territory is actually outshining him.

CZECH REPUBLIC – Jiri Kmonicek.  He has a passing resemblance to the reigning Mister Global, Dario Duque, and an even stronger resemblance to the 2015 winner of this pageant, Pedro Mendes, albeit with a beefier bodybuilder’s frame than with those guys.  His handsomeness and enviable buffness could not be denied–he is for me a Top Five contender, if not making a possible play for the title.  If he were a couple of inches (about five centimeters) taller, he could’ve been classified as a “Beefcake Behemoth”.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – Arturo Paredes. This guy is unequivocally a member of the Classic Latino contingent, as he has a classic clean-shaven handsomeness about him and strong charisma.  He looks like a lock for one of the Top 16 slots, with a possible play for the Top 10 and even Top Five.

GUAM – Christian Layao.  I find him very attractive with a vibrant, outgoing personality, but his frame is not as buffed and chiseled as other contenders out there and hence at most I can consider him a worthwhile contender.

HAITI – Ghael Jean-Louis.  He reminds me of Empire actor Jussie Smollett with a beard weave.  I know with the controversy embroiling the actor these days, the previous sentence may not be viewed as a compliment, but well, I do see he is a great-looking, buffed fellow.  Will there be room in the Top 16 for him?  I also have to note that for the competition for the Dino Nicolina award, it seems within the confines of this competition it is not being contested in the swimsuit competition but in another milieu–with the preponderance of tight white pants*2 in the national costume competition.  As such, he’s one of the nominees for that competition.  But if we’re talking about activities done prior to this competition…

*2 The guys in tight white pants in the national costume competition put Jimmy Fallon and Will Farrell to shame.  They are so tight those characters could not stand a chance.

HONG KONG – Waikin Kwan. It turns out this guy did a rather, um, revealing modeling layout prior to him competing here and based on that layout, it could be said he is hands-down winner of the Dino Nicolina award.  But I have to disqualify him from that “honor’ on the technicality that he did that shoot prior to the competition, not during.  Anyway, that layout aside, he has proven to be a very polished contender who could have an inside track to the Top 16–if the judges were willing or are unaware of the said modeling layout he did.  Unlike another guy who also has a risqué set of photos, he might be able to be given the benefit of the doubt as even if it is, um, revealing, no flesh was actually exposed.

INDIA – Balaji Murugadoss. I’m glad for the latter part of this decade this country is finally fielding reps that possess the charisma we associate with Bollywood actors.  He’s the last to arrive to this competition, and as such, he missed out of the Press Presentation.  Still, I’m bullish that he’ll go far in this competition–maybe he won’t win, but he looks like a lock for the Top 16 and beyond.

Swimsuit photoshoot image courtesy of Joy Arguil for Fab Philippines.

INDONESIA – Rezza Praditya.  Facewise, yes, he’s not much, but he has an undeniably buffed bod and he has great interview skills and an outgoing personality, qualities that could secure him a slot in the Top 16.

JAPAN – Tsuyoshi Takimura.  He is taking notes from the Masaya Yamagishi (Mister International 2016 1st runner-up) playbook.  Skimpy fundoshi national costume?  Check.  Buffed bod?  Check.  He may not match Masaya’s stellar charisma, but he can sustain his country’s strong streak in this competition.

COMING UP:  KOREA to PUERTO RICO

All national costume preliminary competition photos courtesy of Aski for Events2Images; All official swimsuit portraits courtesy of Erik Esparat; All official formal wear photos courtesy of Alieks Fusilero; and all other photos courtesy of Drew Francisco for Missosology unless otherwise indicated.