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.
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.