The Yellow Team features the contestants from KENYA to PERU, a mixed bag featuring awesome standouts and a few “unconventional” reps. Let’s check them out…
KENYA – Robert Cula Budi. Yes, his predecessor Top Five finisher Kevin Owiti is handsomer but this guy has oodles of buffed appeal and possesses this blast of energy embodying the “Wakanda” spirit inspired by the movie/comic strip Black Panther. That buffness is definitely reflected on how he made the cut in Sports and Extreme Sports. His energy and gab may secure him a slot in the Top 24, with a play for the Top 12.
KOREA – Na Giwook. I have a feeling if this pageant is held in an English seaside town, he would probably be the winner of the Style/Top Model fast track, considering how they tend to choose the winner then based on wardrobe on some public appearances. But since it’s held here, and there is a grand full-fledged event where other factors were considered, he didn’t make the shortlist on the Top Model challenge event. So he’ll end his journey as a worthwhile also-ran.
KYRGYZSTAN – Daniel Begaliev. His pre-arrival modeling shots made a strong impression, but when he showed up in Manila, it turned out he’s rawer than his modeling photos suggest.
LATVIA – Edvīns Ločmelis. He has the longest pageant experience, as he competed at Mister International eight years ago. He garnered some finesse since then, but still overshadowed by the abundance of stellar standouts. At least he has a shortlist in Extreme Sports to crow about
LEBANON – Jean-Paul Bitar. During the first arrival photos, I pegged him as the one to beat. He exudes this ravishing charisma with a combination of his swarthy handsomeness and beefy physique alongside a thoughtful, heartfelt, emotional side that I find compelling. I think he’s the best representative from this country since Assaad Tarabay‘s first runner-up finish 16 years ago. But as ENGLAND, MEXICO, SOUTH AFRICA, and DOMINICAN REPUBLIC are making major headway, his prospects for exceeding Assaad Tarabay’s lofty showing seems to be slipping. Still, he’s a big favorite of mine, and a Top Five finish is still highly conceivable. He also has figuring in Extreme Sports and Top Model to be proud of. I would encourage you to check out his Mister World fitness video on Instagram, as he added more than just fitness tips but metaphors on life.
LUXEMBOURG – Owen Hawel. Many pageant fans and pundits would rate this guy as one of their cellar-dwellers. But lo and behold, he made Top Eight in Sports. Don’t let his plain looks, nonchalant casual style and less-defined physique fool you–there is skill and strength underneath all that.
There was a Mister Luxembourg 2018 who was selected was expected to compete here, the cutie Christophe Meisch. But it seems the director decided to let Christophe’s one-year reign complete and handpick a Mister World representative and grant him the title Mister Luxembourg 2019–perhaps the director Hervé Lancelin observed Owen’s athletic ability that he felt this guy is a better fit than the boyish cutie. Interestingly, Hervé might have been proven right.
MALAYSIA – Kian Yik Yong. He’s one of the tallest contestants in this batch, and declared to be a world traveler, but that’s basically it. His only notable event is that he’s the first reported injured during the Extreme Sports challenge.
MALTA – Daryl Azzopardi. He could easily pass as LEBANON’s brother with his similar mix of swarthy handsomeness and beefily buffed physique. But he tends to be low wattage that he easily gets overshadowed, so LEBANON hogs all the limelight that could’ve come his way. At least he has a reserve showing in Extreme Sports as a highlight.
MAURITIUS – Alexandre Curpanen. He possesses a swarthy appeal and a resemblance to longtime Old Spice spokesperson Isaiah Mustafa. and figured in the shortlists in Sports and Top Model. Making the Top 24 looks almost a lock for him.
MEXICO – Brian Faugier. For many people (including myself), this is the handsomest guy in this year’s pageant. Imagine Mister World 2012 Francisco Escobar with his angular features smoothed out and you have this fresh drink of water. It’s no surprise he garnered the Photogenic award and figured in the Top Five in Top Model. I have a feeling this guy won that fast track because he by far is the one who fits that title the best. He also has an Extreme Sports shortlist in his belt. Many are feeling he could be a possible winner, especially since the reigning Miss World, Vanessa Ponce de Leon, will be one of the judges. But I have some reservations as if you talk about interview skills, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC proved to be more impressive, but he will make for a charismatic winner if the title goes his way.
MONTENEGRO – Nemanja Kaluđerović. Some pageant fans and pundits noticed his scruffy handsomeness and felt he could be a contender. But his reticent vibe, along with a less-than-defined frame, dimmed his prospects somewhat. It looked like looking at the buffness of his competition affected him, as when he modeled shorts in the Top Model event, he opted to put on a black shirt while everyone else went shirtless. He shouldn’t have felt that self-conscious and should’ve been confident in his own skin, if you ask me. Ask NICARAGUA.
MYANMAR – Sai Kaung Min Htet. He’s another teenage Asian cutie. He may not be as polished as, say, INDONESIA or THAILAND, but with a little seasoning he could make a stronger impression.
NEPAL – Akshay Ramayajhi. His advocacy in his introduction video may have served him very well as he’s the winner of the Multimedia challenge, which secured him placement in the Top 12. I’m sure some pageant fans and pundits may resent this as this leave less room for other favorites to make it.
NETHERLANDS – Ashley Peternella. Yes, throughout the history of male pageants, there are murmurs on the sexuality of some contestants, but this guy would not have that issue as he’s the first out LGBTQ representative in this pageant, as back in 2013 representing his home island of Aruba, he made the Top Five in Mister Gay World. But in his stay here, he has smashed preconceived stereotypes as he rocks both Sports and Extreme Sports. But his major highlight is making the Top 3 in Talent with his scintillating Latin dance performance. I can see him having an inside track into the Top 12.
Ashley is also a replacement of an originally designated rep–for undisclosed reasons, Wahhab Hassoo, who happens to be of Iraqi descent, opted not to compete, Yes, Wahhab is more conventionally handsome, but I think Ashley proved to be a more compelling story than Wahhab, don’t you think?
NICARAGUA – Jose Perez. This guy is the epitme of body confidence as even if he has a thicker frame than his peers, he still is proud of it, even having a fitness video where he mentions he’s an MMA fighter. That thick frame may indeed have served him well as he made the shortlist in Extreme Sports. For me, he’s the “Lizzo” in this batch, and for me, good for him.
NIGERIA – Prince Nelson Emwerem. He’s a fierce African who looks like a Top 24 contender. He has a Sports shortlist and a Top FIve finish in Talent (with his interpretative dance performance) as his highlights.
NORTHERN IRELAND – Adam Wayne Steenson. His cute features gave him a ticket for the Top Model shortlist. Though he has not been prominent in other challenge events, there is a sense of favoritism towards British contestants as this is a British-run enterprise, anyway, but I won’t object to his inclusion.
PANAMA – Algis Gonzales. He registers as a bit rough and as such did not make any significant inroads. His only highlight is designated swimmer in Sports.
PARAGUAY – Alberto Magnus Silva. Here is a boyish Latino cutie who is overshadowed by the overabundance of gorgeous Latinos, but at least he has a Sports shortlist to celebrate.
PERU – Jano Carper. See COSTA RICA, but at least he has the consolation of having made reserve in Sports.
COMING UP: The BLUE TEAM
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