13TH MISTER INTERNATIONAL: AIMING FOR THE UNIVERSE (PART 1)

The 13th Mister International pageant may not have boasted the grandeur of the 2015 edition at Resorts World, as actually this year’s venue at One Esplanade is a scaled-down venue compared to Resorts World.  However, it turned out to be a lean-and-mean affair with proper lessons applied from the previous staging here.  For starters, the opening number featuring the song  “Babanam” by ethno-rock group Kandangyan, proved to be a thrilling soundtrack befitting the cultural dancers (clad in Philippine costumes from various areas in this archipelago).  This also provided a perfect way to present the 39 contestants in national costume.  Now, for practical purposes, many contestants scaled down (or in one case, literally stripped down his) their costumes for easier navigation across the stage during this segment, but it’s still a great treat.  And the best part–they were not required to do a silly dance.  Just fierce preening and walking.

The proceedings were hosted by Michael Bristol, who hosted the pageant in Myanmar last year.  He is generally very solid, and I have nothing to fault about his hosting.  But there are a couple of distractions:  first was the pancake makeup placed upon him–I understand how this is needed for stage purposes, but there has te be a balance especially since the proceedings are being streamed.  Second is the “doubling” echo effects as he delivers his spiels–I don’t know if this is so those at the live venue could hear him better, but the effect also made those watching the livestream feel they are in a cheesy bar for some odd reason.

It is obvious this pageant has the big ambition be the male counterpart to Miss Universe.  The ambition is so blatant for several years now they basically copied the format of the previous Miss Universe edition.  This year, they were inspired by that pageant’s innovative staging–albeit it’s not a direct copy as instead of an X-shape, it’s now a Y-shape; wonder if this twist was inspired by the chromosome that identifies the person as male?  After the opening number, the contestants were presented according to three regions:  Americas, Europe & Africa, and Asia & Oceania, and like in Miss Universe, a group of candidates would be called out before presenting the next region, and there would be wildcard slots.

But even if the copying was blatant and obvious, there were some variations that were welcome.  For instance, they integrated the introduction with a barong fashion segment–it’s almost as awesome as 2015’s Francis Libiran formal wear fashion show, with all barong designs as presented making everyone look dashing.  However, the producers had a glaring gaffe as they interchanged the flags of Venezuela and Vietnam when they presented the contestants by continents, so it’s a jarring sight to see VENEZUELA being called out and see the flag of Vietnam and vice-versa.  I’ll discuss other variations done to the Miss Universe format as I discuss the semifinalists and finalists.

Now, let me discuss my Top Five non-finalists for the entire pageant, as follows:

MEXICO – Piero Renero.  Yes, he has the stature, the mestizo features, and the buffed physique to garner strong notices, but as I mentioned in my homestretch review, his sort of facial features are simply not my cup of tea, and it turns out the judges and powers-that-be shaed my sentiment.  There might also be an attitude issue, too, as exhibited by his video rant post-pageant against the fact he didn’t make the cut.

INDONESIA – Rezza Praditya. I presumed there would’ve been a Top 16 and included him in my “Fearful” forecast because though he may not possess a handsome face, he was a strong interview and he otherwise is in strong competitive shape.  But I’m not that shocked that he missed the cut to make way for certain people who I was concerned about (more about them in the Top 10).

BRAZIL – Danilson Furtado. I think he has a handsomeness and buffness worthy of a Top 15 placement, but admittedly his charisma is a tad muted and well, he had to make way for certain favorites who I thought would’ve been penalized because of some “issues”.

INDIA – Balaji Murugadoss. In a certain way, I can understand the gripes he posted in social media post-pageant, as I thought he was a shoo-in for the Top 10.  But, the judges and insiders just favored certain people and perhaps because he arrived late and didn’t showcased his physique in national costume until the opening number on final night (his costume was this heavy black tunic, which I actually found stylish but yes, didn’t showcase his buffed bod that much).  I’m sympathize with his sentiments (not like MEXICO).  For me, he deserved better, alongside…

NICARAGUA – Naykel Niño. I truly believed he was the black-man-most likely.  But then again, I suppose the judges and powers-that-be don’t appreciate his slender-yet-sinewy buffed frame the way I did so they decided to award that slot to someone with a beefier frame.  He’s my winner for the Lucas Malvacini award.  At least he has the consolation of deservingly winning Best National Costume.

In previous editions of Miss Universe, the Top 15 would parade in swimsuit before a cut is made to a Top 10 for the evening gown round.  But last year, they did a Top 20 where they were made to then deliver a 30-speech about themselves, before cutting to a Top 10 who would then walk in both swimsuit and evening gown.  This pageant decided to follow suit, but because this group of contestants are not really known as a very verbal bunch, the speeches were eschewed.  Just another barong parade before they made the cut to the Top 10.

JAPAN – Tsuyoshi Takemura. I have no objections to his inclusion as even if he’s not that handsome, he has the desired buffed physique and strong stage presence, which could be similarly said about…

KOREA – Daewoong Hwang.  I have to make an interesting note that during the preliminary competition in Ilocos Norte, he stripped out of his traditional hanbok to showcase his enviably buffed physique, and perhaps that’s a factor how he made the final cut.  Unfortunately, the barong round hides the physique and he and JAPAN could not advance further because their presences in barong were generally subdued.

SPAIN – Jesus Collado. It seems that like in the most recent Manhunt International and Mister Supranational, the tallest contestant comes from this country, and that could be the key that even if his presence in most pictures is  relatively subdued, he still made a strong enough impression to deservingly make the cut.  I did notice he can deliver a spark onstage–if that spark could be captured on photos, he could be golden if he choose to compete in another international pageant.

MrI18 NB ESP

PERU – Duilio Vallebuona. It turns out he got his slot thanks to the popular vote.  The judges and powers-that-be were not that into him as I thought they might.  Perhaps because his frame is a tad on the lean-and-slender side that was the culprit?

AUSTRALIA – Harrison Luna. I thought with the heavy publicity about him and his distinctive surfer dude presence, that he was a front-runner.  I was shocked that the powers that be were not that into him in the end.  If you ask me though, I would’ve seen him advance to the Top 10 over a couple of guys from that group.

COMING UP:  THE TOP 10

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