RESULTS REACTION & PERSONAL IMPRESSIONS: MISTER WORLD 2019

Waiting for the announcement of the winner (photo by ME!)

I was admittedly in a deadline crunch when I trooped to Cubao after lunchtime last Friday, and I have yet to post the meat of my Homestretch review.  Little did I know that when I arrived in Cubao, I was greeted by a horrendous downpour.  Though drenched while I searched for the nearest internet cafe to complete my piece, I was at peace with my decision to come to the area early, as I’m aware of the horrendous traffic jams ahead if I ended up leaving later, especially with the intermittent downpours happening all over the Metro.

I completed my Homestretch review at 7 PM and that left me ample time to walk to the Araneta Coliseum to take my seat.  Supposedly a livestream was to begin at that time, with the programme supposed to start at 8 PM, but at 730 PM the venue was practically empty.  Stephen Douglas, perennial announcer and gamekeeper of the competition since 2007 (for both Mister World and Miss World) advised that the show would be slightly delayed by 15 minutes and noted that the downpour may have caused the delay of audience members coming in.  Indeed, that turn out to be true as the patron and the stage-left side of the lower box sections started filling in within the 45-minute timeframe.  The stage-right side and the upper box and bleachers sections were mostly empty though.

I learned of talk of an initial cut to a Top 24, but little did I realize this would be on top of the Fast Track winners already announced, so it was actually a Top 29.  So let me revise my original “Fearful” Forecast to add five guys I would’ve put in if I knew this was the format:  CAMEROON, ECUADOR, ITALY, NIGERIA, and NORTHERN IRELAND.  With that in mind, I got 22 out of 29 correct.  Not bad, and I had two in my “Bubbling Under” list that made it.  But there is still some shockers that came in.

The two in my “Bubbling Under” list were POLAND (Robert Kapica) and PUERTO RICO (Jose Cotto).  For the former, I thought he may not pass muster in interview but it seems MWO insiders are more forgiving with Europeans in terms of interview skills, as he has a pleasant, engaging-enough prsonality.  For the latter, I should’ve stuck with my instincts and not be dependent on inputs from my esteemed peers as I thought he has what it takes to make the cut.  I think Miss World 2016 Stephanie del Valle (who has now been perennially a part of the MWO entourage as BWAP ambassador) might have also had a hand to keep him around but this guy has obvious merits worthy of belonging in this group anyway.  I’m just so glad that he didn’t win that “special prize” I hinted on in my Homestretch review.

I had four guys in my “Striking Distance” list who made the cut.  Two of them, I underestimated their merits.  GHANA (Bright Ofori) was such a sunny, enthusiastic presence that I underestimated how MWO put a premium on this type of personality.  LATVIA (Edvīns Ločmelis) I forgot to realize, was very present and active in many of the activities and I have a feeling MWO took note of that and looked upon him with favor.  I have no objections with their inclusion.

I know many pageant fans and pundits would object over the inclusion of RUSSIA (Denis Khadyko) and UNITED STATES (Andresito Germosen de la Cruz but both have parlayed their unique qualities to win favor with the judges.  RUSSIA helped offset his intimidating appearance by behaving like a gentle teddy bear throughout his stay, while UNITED STATES is almost as bright and lively as GHANA.

 

Now the biggest headscratcher was the inclusion of CHINA (Zhang Zhiyu) in the Top 29.  It’s not my recent antithetical stance against my government’s policy that I object over his inclusion, it’s simply a matter of his looks as he’s just plain and scrawny to me.  Sure there is a video on the Mister World Instagram account that shows him in a very sympathetic light, but still, there are so many worthier ones out there instead of him.  The conspiracy theorist in me speculates it’s probably an investment for the future, as maybe MWO wants to talk to China to host the next edition of this pageant as it will be a shame to scale this pageant back after such a resoundingly successful edition this year, as China has the resources to pull off a grand show.  Main Philippine sponsor Bench can have a major play here, since they have outlets and a supply chain in that country too.  Is Ben Chan emerging as MWO’s version of the Miss Universe Organization’s Chavit Singson?  Unlike the latter, I highly welcome this prospect.

Let’s now talk about the guys who missed the cut.  I have to pay a special tribute to INDIA (Vishnu Raj Menon), even if he didn’t figure at all in most pageant pundit’s forecasts (including myself).  It probably boils down to him losing his facial hair as it made him look ordinary that despite his enviably buffed frame and his advocacy he didn’t make much impact at all and could not even have a chance of getting close to potentially succeeding his countryman, Rohit Khandelwal.  But we should still salute him as he tried his very best.

It seems in every edition of this pageant in this decade, there is an utterly gorgeous hunk who many believed would be a shoo-in, but whose personality/demeanor seems either too low-key or otherwise incompatible to what MWO is looking for that they are shut out.  I would henceforth officially call this the SPAINHOUR-AJDANI*1 CHILLOUT AWARD and very aptly, this year’s award goes to SPAIN (Daniel Torres, a.k.a. Cavill en Español or perhaps, Enrique Cavill).  Interestingly when I reviewed the 2010 and 2012 editions, this “honor” would’ve retroactively gone to this country, too.  So in three occasions, “Spain got Spainhour’d”.   I hope for the next edition, Spain would find a hunk with a bright spark to avoid this frustrating honor.

*1 Named after our hunky Philippine reps in 2014 and 2016, John Spainhour and Sam Ajdani.

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Proto-Spainhour’d: Guillermo Garcia (Spain 2010) and Alvaro Villanueva (Spain 2012)

Continuing on the Latin topic, I thought COLOMBIA (Daniel Castrillon) was a lock for the Top 24 considering his strong showing in Sports and placements in Extreme Sports and Top Model.  Is he too chill for MWO, too?  I also feel bad that EL SALVADOR (David Pivaral) missed the cut as despite his relatively short stature, he has a spark about him and I still maintain he’s better than his predecessor who made the Top 10 in 2016.  Maybe he just looks a tad too rough for the MWO’s tastes

For most pageant fans and pundits, the LUCAS MALVACINI award would’ve gone to SPAIN, but knowing the format of this pageant, I would reserve this honor to one with a bright spark of personality or human interest story that many presumed would’ve catnip for the MWO, but somehow did not garner favor.  Many pageant fans and pundits presumed THAILAND (Anakin Nontiprasit) would’ve been a lock for the Top 24 and beyond, but somehow, his qualities are not enough to win the favor of Morley and Co.  He’s the runner-up for this dubious honor…

…as the LUCAS MALVICINI Award goes to CANADA (Alessandro Coward).  I thought his autism human interest story would be catnip for MWO, alongside his strong showings in Sports, Extreme Sports, and Top Model.  Wonder what made him fall short with the powers-that-be?

I have to say, I’m so happy I got 11 out of the Top 12 correct, as I thought CANADA was a lock but he fell way short.  I kinda sense MWO would like to rate their British reps high, so it’s not that much of a shock that NORTHERN IRELAND (Adam Steenson) made this lofty cut.  Anyway, he has a cute boyish appeal that no one would seriously object to his inclusion.

With a European winning the whole thing, Mister World – Europe honors went to AUSTRIA (Alberto Nodale).  It’s well-deserved as he competed at a high level throughout, making the cut in Extreme Sports, Sports, and Top Model.  After the coronation, I went closer to the stage and I happened to see his family–his mom is a proud, happy woman but interestingly I saw his brother–he’s like an almost exact clone of this guy, except younger and skinnier.  Some fans complimented on the brother and the mom proudly declared that her son can compete in a future Mister World.  We’ll see if that materializes.

Many Filipino fans are mightily pleased that PHILIPPINES (JB Saliba) made the Top 12, only the second time we had made the cut in this pageant.  Of course many (including myself) were expecting a Top Five finish, but the Top Five proved to be too formidable, but Mister World – Asia & Pacific is a great achievement enough.

BRAZIL (Carlos Franco) has always been Top Five worthy, but I thought that besides a possible “Continental” format that would provide a slot for the PHILIPPINES in the Final Five, that MWO would reward us with that slot, but this guy proved to bee too formidable to be deprived.  More on that on my full-fledged review of the final.

I’ve always expected DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (Alejandro Martinez) to figure in the Top Five, but I have to say, based on the onstage Q&A, he was actually out-answered by BRAZIL.  Still a Mister World – Caribbean is a great honor to have.

I think many pageant fans and pundits would’ve wanted MEXICO (Brian Faugier) or SOUTH AFRICA (Fezile Mkhize) to win and these two left no stone unturned and covered all the bases.  My Top Two prediction of a England – Mexico pair was broken thanks to the Q&A rounds, as SOUTH AFRICA gave brilliant (albeit verbose) answers.

An amusing behind-the-scenes moment was hearing Stephen Douglas constantly paging Frankie Cena to come towards the judging table seconds before they resume from commercial break.  Wonder where Frankie wandered to during those breaks?

Frankie Cena with Miss World 2018 Vanessa Ponce

It’s not surprising for pageant fans and pundits who keep a close eye throughout the pageant that ENGLAND (Jack Heslewood) won.  He is worthy and he does look better in person than in photos.  Still, there are some pageant fans and pundits who do not seem to welcome his victory and they decided to spin some conspiracy theories that somehow involve his parents.  Let me debunk at least a couple of those theories…

I was seated at the upper box (yes I bought my own ticket as I had no time to cover as a pageant blogger due to my work commitments), and to my right were supporters of JAPAN (Kenta Nagai) and to my left happened to be… Mr. and Mrs. Heslewood, Jack’s parents!  Mrs. Heslewood in particular was seated beside me, and I engaged in a little chit-chat with her.  I mentioned to her that all roads pointed to her son winning the whole thing, and she’s very pleased to hear that.  While watching Alyssa Muhlach*2 perform the song “Never Enough” from The Greatest Showman, I mentioned to her that I know the movie and soundtrack are phenomenally popular in her shores, and she totally agreed as the movie and the music has appeal to all ages.  And, while Stephen was paging for Frankie Cena, she asked me, “Who is Frankie Cena?”.  I explained to her that he’s a co-host and a former Mister World finalist.

*2 She competed at Miss World Philippines last year and was given the right to compete at Reina Hispanoamericana (unfortunately she didn’t place).  She used to be professionally known as Issa Alvarez, so it took me a while to realize she changed her professional name and made me wonder–was there some family drama involved for the name switch?  I’m not that attuned to local showbiz unlike my late brother.

For those who are asserting a cosy relationship between the Heslewoods and Morleys, a couple of points to consider:  why are they at the upper box seats when they could’ve been given VIP, patron, or even lower box seats?  Also, if they are close to Julia Morley, they might have at least been aware or heard of Frankie Cena since he’s kinda a constant presence in MWO circles for the past few years.

Though pageant fans and pundits didn’t seem to welcome Jack’s victory, at least the guys that mattered–his 71 peers– begged to differ, as soon after his victory was announced, he was warmly congratulated and even carried aloft.

Another part of the conspiracy theory involved the original Mister England, Jack Eyers, that he was “forced out” of taking part in this pageant.  But based on Eyer’s social media, he was supportive of Heslewood, and after the win, here is his congratulatory message on Instagram and explanation why he didn’t see action in Manila:

I know for most part of this decade, this contest doesn’t really crown the most breathtaking-looking guy and opted for attractive-enough guy-next-door types–only Rohit Khandelwal delivered on the glamour and charisma most fans expect in a male pageant winner.  Still, I’m at peace with the results, and kudos to a very successful edition of this pageant.

JUST ME!

JOSEPH

Mister World and the Continental Kings: AUSTRIA (Mister World – Europe), DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (Mister World – Caribbean), MEXICO (2nd runner-up and Mister World – Americas), ENGLAND (Mister World 2019), SOUTH AFRICA (1st runner-up and Mister World – Africa) and PHILIPPINES (Mister World – Asia & Oceania)

All images courtesy of Peter Pe for Critical Beauty unless otherwise indicated.

 

MISTER WORLD 2019: AT THE HOMESTRETCH — CONCLUSION

Now that all 72 contestants are accounted for, let me trot out my leaderbaord:

TOP CONTENDERS:  DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, ENGLAND, MEXICO, SOUTH AFRICA

SHOO-INS (NON-FAST-TRACK):  AUSTRIA, BRAZIL, CANADA, LEBANON, PHILIPPINES

SHOO-INS (FAST-TRACK):  IRELAND, NEPAL, TONGA

LIKELIEST:  ANGOLA, ARGENTINA, CAMEROON, CHILE, COLOMBIA, CZECH REPUBLIC, ECUADOR, EL SALVADOR, INDIA, INDONESIA, ITALY, KENYA, MAURITIUS, NETHERLANDS, NIGERIA, NORTHERN IRELAND, POLAND, PUERTO RICO, SPAIN,THAILAND, VENEZUELA.

UNIQUENESS FACTOR:  RUSSIA, UNITED STATES

EXCELLENT:  AUSTRALIA, BANGLADESH, BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA, EQUATORIAL GUINEA, GHANA, GREECE, GUADELOUPE, HONDURAS, JAPAN, KOREA, LATVIA, MALTA, MYANMAR, PARAGUAY, SAMOA, SRI LANKA

VERY STRONG: ARMENIA, CAMBODIA, COSTA RICA, FINLAND, KAZAKHSTAN, PERU, SERBIA, SOUTH SUDAN

STRONG: CHINA, CURACAO, ESTONIA, KYRGYZSTAN, LUXEMBOURG, MONTENEGRO, NICARAGUA, PANAMA, ST. MAARTEN

VERY GOOD:  BULGARIA, MALAYSIA, SINGAPORE

Now, here’s my “Fearful” Forecast:

TOP FIVE:  DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, ENGLAND, MEXICO, PHILIPPINES, SOUTH AFRICA

TOP 12:  AUSTRIA, BRAZIL, CANADA, IRELAND, LEBANON, NEPAL, TONGA

TOP 24:  ARGENTINA, CHILE, COLOMBIA, CZECH REPUBLIC, EL SALVADOR, INDONESIA, KENYA, MAURITIUS, NETHERLANDS, SPAIN, THAILAND, VENEZUELA

BUBBLING UNDER:  ANGOLA, CAMEROON, ECUADOR, INDIA, ITALY, NIGERIA, NORTHERN IRELAND, POLAND, PUERTO RICO

STRIKING DISTANCE:  AUSTRALIA, BANGLADESH, BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA, EQUATORIAL GUINEA, GHANA, GREECE, GUADELOUPE, HONDURAS, JAPAN, KOREA, LATVIA, MALTA, MYANMAR, PARAGUAY, RUSSIA, SAMOA, SRI LANKA, UNITED STATES

It looks like it’s a battle between ENGLAND (Jack Heslewood) and MEXICO (Brian Faugier) for the title, but DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (Alejandro Martinez) and SOUTH AFRICA (Mkhize Fezile) could still pull off an upset.  But at this point, all I now care for is that tonight’s show delivers a quality that is worthy of the magnificence of these men.

JUST ME!

JOSEPH

Could these be the Top Two? MEXICO (Brian Faugier) and ENGLAND (Jack Haslewood).

 

MISTER WORLD 2019: AT THE HOMESTRETCH — BLUE TEAM

The Blue Team in previous editions is treated as the “Powerhouse” team.  Now that it’s organized in strict alphabetical order from PHILIPPINES to VENEZUELA, does this perception hold true?

PHILIPPINES – Jody “JB” Saliba.  He is an awesome host contestant and to his credit he channeling charisma that we barely noticed during the Mister World Philippines contest.  Many may presume the Supranational rep Marco Poli is our equivalent of Henry Golding (the embodiment of the cosmopolitan Asian man), but it is emerging this guy is more effective in channeling Henry’s persona.  I think that vibe helped him clinch a Top Five finish in Top Model, and prospects are bright he’ll finish in the Top 12.

On a personal note, there are some angles in some photos that I suddenly become a bit emotional, as he reminded me of Someone Very Important (SVI).  For those who read my non-pageant pieces on my blog, two words:  Aretha Franklin.  But I also have to note, SVI is two inches taller than JB.

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Henry Golding (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP/Shutterstock)

POLAND – Robert Kapica.  His handsomeness made it a cinch that he made the cut in Top Model but he also has a shortlist in Extreme Sports under his belt.  Will this be enough for him to finish in Top 24?

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PUERTO RICO – Jose Cotto.  He got early buzz as a near Top 12 shoo-in but buzz has been fading as the days wore on, especially since he’s a surprise shut-out in Top Model.  At least he has a shortlist in Extreme Sports in his belt.  Still, I’m mystified at the fading buzz as I thought he deserves better.  He looks like a prime candidate for the Spainhour-Ajdani Prize (so-named after our two gorgeous reps who missed the cut) as some are buzzing he might even miss Top 24.

RUSSIA – Denis Khadyko.  He’s a behemoth at 6’6″, but too rough looking to be considered for one of my favorite designations, the Beefcake Behemoth.  To his credit, he is projecting like a huge teddy bear as by most accounts he’s on his best behavior and is likeable once you see past his intimidating exterior.  His size and bulk served him well in Extreme Sports.

ST. MAARTEN – Learie Hall.  Most pageant fans and pundits may think little of him, but he seems a bundle of energy and personality, to the point of fabulousness (yes, he seems more “fabulous” than NETHERLANDS at times).  He surprisingly earned a shortlist in Sports.

SAMOA – Makalio Junior Alai.  He’s your quintessential Pacific Islander, and he proved to have extraordinary strength as he made the shortlist in Extreme Sports.  Like ITALY, he has long hair, but while ITALY lets his locks hang loose, he mostly ties them up into braids.

SERBIA – Nikola Boćanin.  There are some who would regard him as handsome, but in a milquetoast ordinary way.  As such, he has not made a standout impression.

SIERRA LEONE – MohammedKamanoh.  He’s one of the latecomers, but he made a splash as soon as he set foot, figuring in Extreme Sports and Top Model.  A Top 24 slot for him is a possibility.

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SINGAPORE – Hugo Ong.  See MALAYSIA, but even plainer.  It’s strange that this time this country did not field someone buffed, just tall.

SOUTH AFRICA – Fezile Mkhize.  He made a big initial splash as he secured his Top 12 slot by winning the Sports challenge.  He didn’t let up as he also figured in Extreme Sports and Top Model.  Bolstering his cause is that he’s a doctor, and he has movie/rock star appeal–at first glance he reminds me a bit of Cuba Gooding, Jr., and there’s a side of me that wanted to see him bellow one of the immortal lines in Jerry Maguire“Show me the money!!!”  Then at another glance, that broad smile reminds me of one-half of the duo Outkast, the quirky artiste Andre 3000.

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Flexing his way to a Sports challenge win

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Cuba Gooding, Jr. (image sourced from IMDb).
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Andre 3000 (image sourced from Fact Magazine)

SOUTH SUDAN – Deng Aguer,  When you talk about “ebony complexion”, people from this country embodied this, which make it a bit difficult to light them properly.  He’s one of the late arrivals and unlike SIERRA LEONE, didn’t quite make that much of an impact even if he’s a worthwhile contender.

SPAIN – Daniel Torres.  His swarthy looks and perfectly buffed physique never fails to give me tingles during his Mister International 2016/17 stint, so I was thrilled when I learned he’ll be representing his country in this contest.  But I was also concerned that as much as he does have an outgoing personality, I don’t know if it’s outgoing enough for this pageant.  Being hampered by his limited facility with English doesn’t help matters, but me, along with a multitude of pageant fans and pundits, will always have a soft spot for him.  He is my prime choice for winning the inaugural Spainhour-Ajdani prize, but since there was talk of calling out a Top 24, I have a feeling he’ll at least have a moment in the sun by making that far, at least.  I was hoping for vindication for his lower-than-deserved finish at Mister International, but even if it’s unlikely that will be realized, I’m just so glad he’s here and he made a splash in Sports and Top Model.

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A piquant note–I discovered when he shaves, he looks like Superman star (and rumored James Bond successor) Henry Cavill.

Top: SPAIN (Daniel Tores) at the Extreme Sports challenge; Bottom: Henry Cavill as Superman (image cdourtesy of Warner Brothers).

SRI LANKA – Manoj De Silva.  He actually most evokes the vibe of the reigning Mister World Rohit Khandelwal.  But other than a reserve slot in Sports, he has not made much of a splash.

THAILAND – Anakin Nontiprasit.  Our local pageant press took a major liking towards him, as indeed he’s a standout boyish Asian cutie.  Most are impressed with his facility with English as it turns out he stayed and studied in Canada for six years.  He looks like he can make a play for the Top 12.

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TONGA – Mikaele Henry Ahomana.  He is Top Eigh in Sports, but he secured his spot in the Top 12 by winning Talent–as usual Julia Morley & company rewards singers, and to his credit he has sweet soulful chops and he did a great R&B rendition of the Country/Christian music modern classic, “Bless the Broken Road“, originally by the Nitty Gritty Dirty Band in 1994 but made most famous by Rascal Flatts 10 years later.  I wonder if he’s related to the Wolfgramms*1?

*1 I’m particularly referring to the 1980s group The Jets composed of family members surnamed Wolfgramm.

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(back turned) in a wrestling match with AUSTRIA (Alberto Nodale)
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Singing “Bless the Broken Road” for the Talent win.

UNITED STATES – Andresito Germosen de la Cruz.  It feels like a political statement that this guy is the one representing the United States as he’s of non-white ethnicity.  Unlike the current white-supremacist-leaning government in power right now, this at least is a worthy statement as America also belongs to people of other colors too.  He was around back in Miss World 2016 when eventual Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray competed and you can see a selfie with her on his Instagram account.  At least he has a reserve showing in Sports as a highlight of his stint, along with his appearance in Eat Bulaga where he won a slippery climbing game.

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With eventual Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray at Miss World 2016

There is something about his smile that makes me think of US Olympic track legend Carl Lewis, if he was Latino and lighter skinned.

Carl Lewis after winnign four gold medals in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics (image sourced from Imasportsphile.com)

There was an original designated rep for this country, Keaton Parker West, a cute white teenager whom many pageant fans and pundits would’ve preferred over this guy, but he chose to decline due to studies and other modeling opportunities.

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Original US rep Keaton Parker West

VENEZUELA – Jorge Núñez.  You can’t miss him as he’s the guy with the Jheri curls–yes that “Soul Glo” sequence in the Eddie Murphy 1989 film Coming to America comes to mind.  He proved his mettle making the shortlist in Sports and Extreme Sports and making Top Five in Top Model.  He looks like a Top 24 shoo-in who could make a play for the Top 12.

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Running as fast as he can at the Extreme Sports challenge

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COMING UP:  The “FEARFUL” FORECAST

Official swimsuit portraits courtesy of Alain Lababit; Press presentation photos courtesy of Joy Arguil for Fab Philippines; Barong and summer wear photos courtesy of Miss World Organization; and Top Model Bench underwear photos courtesy of Drew Francisco for Missosology