Sometimes going back to basics leads to a satisfying show and that was what happened to this year’s Manhunt International.  In a well-paced no-frills program set at the ballroom of the QT Resort & Spa in Gold Coast, Australia.  The 28 contestants strutted in national costume, swimsuit and tuxedos on the small threadbare carpeted stage with catwalk.  EvErything proceeded efficiently with brisk instrumental music and everything was completed in a span of less than two hours (unlike other editions when it stretched out because of bloated intermission segments).  With the exception of the music used in the tuxedo segment, it’s pretty modern EDM–more notes about the use of the Manhunt theme song for the tuxedo round towards the end of this essay.  What I liked best was in one of the intermission segments, we got to watch an edited version of the preliminary show with a better, closer angle than what was shown on Facebook Live originally.

I got 14 of the 16 semifinalists correct.  The two I missed were in my “Bubbling Under” list so their inclusion was not surprising.  I actually had a soft heart and was rooting for JAPAN (Yusuke Fujita) but was thinking they might be favoring some other folk so I reluctantly put him as a “Bubbling Under” choice.  Glad the judges looked in favor upon him.  SWEDEN (Mattias Coleman)‘s superbly buffed bod always makes him a contender so his inclusion was not surprising.

The two guys who JAPAN and SWEDEN took out most likely missed the cut by very little.  I thought with a commercial solo shot, GUAM (Joshua Soto) would be given preference over JAPAN, but perhaps despite the beefy physique the judges felt JAPAN had more charisma.  USA (Karl Reeser Muddu) meanwhile, was strong but was never a sure thing and hence it’s not that surprising his slot went to SWEDEN instead.  Anyway, I’ll award these two guys a tie for the Lucas Malvacini award.

Now admittedly I was way off with my Final Five prediction, as I only got two of the five correct.  I knew BELGIUM (Mohamed Mahouk) was fading in buzz and hence his slot was taken over by the worthier NETHERLANDS (Luca Derin).  Now, what happened to CHINA (Ryan Xi)?  I guess the judges were not as into him as I thought, so his special award for Karaoke King and Best National Costume would have to suffice.

What was most surprising for me was the exclusion of PUERTO RICO (Karlwiz Guttierrez) in the Final Five.  I presumed he would be battling tooth and claw with the eventual winner for the title, so for me him being out of the Top Five is the shocker.  I think an unguarded moment captured on video by a fellow contestant inadvertently  id him in.  POLAND (Patryk Tomaszewski) was posting a host of Instagram video stories of behind-the-scenes activities on his Instagram account, and one of them featured him in rehearsal and Karlwiz, probably letting off some steam, decided to do a very suggestive dance and mock-hump the guy in front of him, PHILIPPINES (Jeff Langan).  Of course POLAND noticed that and mock-scolded Karlwiz “Did you f— Philippines?”  In context it seems to be more in good-natured (albeit naughty) fun but I have a feeling Rosko Dickerson and his staff got hold of this and were appalled and penalized Karlwiz for this.

POLAND’s Instragram stories also revealed that PHILIPPINES seem reticent to the point of being aloof backstage, barely interacting with the other guys the way the outgoing likes of POLAND and PUERTO RICO were doing.  Well, it reminds me of America’s Next Top Model Season 6 contestant Jade Cole who infamously quipped about the contest is not about making friends, albeit Jeff is nowhere near as toxic as Jade.  Reportedly he was ill, so he’s most likely conserving his energies towards when it would truly count–a strategy I definitely respect and welcome, and this strategy worked for him here.

Now for most pageant fans and pundits, the choice of VIETNAM (Mai Tuan Anh) and AUSTRALIA (Dale Maher) in the Final Five were deemed headscratchers.  I personally don’t really object to their inclusion but still–them over PUERTO RICO?  Anyway, I think in the case of VIETNAM, they just probably were feeling him more than, say, CHINA.  In the case of AUSTRALIA, I speculate because he was rewarded for assuming the mantle to represent the host country as they probably were having major issues getting anyone willing to assume the mantle as host representative that is why it was so late before they confirmed on their Facebook page.  He’s also insurance in case for any reason the winner could not be present for next year’s Manhunt International.

The choice of SPAIN (Vicent Llorach) was highly welcome by all, as he has the handsomeness and buffness that is the hallmark of most Manhunt winners.  He was always one of the front-runners from the get-go.  Considering after the contest we see him posing with the Philippine franchise holder Jonas Gaffud, could we foresee him doing modeling gigs in our shores in the near future?  That would be a highly welcome prospect.

There are a lot of things this edition did right and I hope to see more of this moving forward–especially please continue with the livestream of the finals for us fans to follow.  Now, we got to do something about the Manhunt theme song–its cheesy, synthy early 1990s house sounds are glaringly dated that it needs a revamp/remix.  Listening to this song blaring out the speakers as it is now constantly makes me cringe.  I think there should be a budge available to generate a remix for this song so it can sound fresh–if Carousel Productions can do it when they freshen up their theme song, why not this contest?




NEPAL – Dhruba Budhatoki.  His thick mane of hair is key to him standing with the other buffed conttenders out there.  It is possible he can vindicate the unjust shut-out of his predecessor, Samim Khan.


NETHERLANDS – Luca Derim.  Like BELGIUM, he’s also a buffed boyish charmer who can make major inroads into the final, possibly even making a major play for the Top Five and taking BELGIUM’s slot.


PAKISTAN – Atif Nazir.  We normally don’t expect much from representatives from this country, but this cuties is putting up a better-than-expected fight.  I do slightly object with the slightly lighter tint of his hair–I think he would look way better if his hair color is jet black.


PHILIPPINES – Jeff Langan.  He possesses many of the winning features that made June Macasaet win Manhunt Internatonal 2012, so many are betting he can bring our second win.  But besides arriving a day late and missing out on several crucial photo ops, I also have reservations on his choice to let his hair down instead of combing his hair up, as he stands out if he didn’t let his hair cover his forehead.  I’m still holdng on to faith that he will deliver when it counts as he;s got what it takes to win it all.


POLAND – Patryk Tomaszewski.  I’m glad he decided o keep himself hirsute and unshaven as he looks great this way.  And I believe with his outgoing charm and charisma, he’s a shoo-in for the semifinals, with a possible play to make it to the Final Five.


PUERTO RICO – Karlwiz Gutierrez.  It’s surprising there are a dearth of Latinos this year.  This guy is holding up the Latino fort and is a great embodiment of that heritage.  He gott some solo moments like Mister Spain and seems to be making a great impression.  On his own he registers like a tall man even if he’s not as tall as, say, SPAIN…


SOUTH AFRICA – Mawande Qeqe.  Name note:  his surname has click sounds–the “q”  is the sound of someone popping a bottle cap–listen to the Miriam Makeba classic “The Click Song (Qongqothwane)” to understand how it sounds.  He totally missed out of the preliminary judging, arriving in Gold Coast after that event.  As such he’s the sole black and African person competing in this pageant.  Will the judges reward him with a semifinal slot for that detail alone?  I’m rooting for black guys to succeed in this realm but I’m not that bullish on his prospects.


SPAIN – Vicent Llorach.  This red-haired boyish cutie is the tallest of this year’s batch, and arguably the most rippled bod amongst them all.  In my reckoning it seems to be pointing towards a victory for this guy, but I will never discount the likes of CHINA, PUERTO RICO and the PHILIPPINES as they can easily wrest the title away from him.


SWEDEN – Mattias Coleman.  He has a beefy appeal and that long hair that he typically ties in a bun (except on the Ricky Abad swimwear shoot where while still pulling his hair back he let his long hair flow down.  If there will be room in the semifinals for a long-haired dude, this is the guy most likely to take that slot.


THAILAND – Rattanan Sukubol.  It’s unusual to see this country field a guy with long hair.  I don’t find his look appealing, but for hosse female judges who dig androgyny, he can garner some points and make inroads.  Anyway, I find his Western-looking costume intriguing–is he channeling the era of King Chulalongkorn when he implemented Western-style reforms to this kingdom?


U A E – Yoken Gurung.  I’m wonder what his ethnicity is, as clearly he’s not an Arab citizen but one of the numerous expat residents (because like many Gulf countries, expats outnumber natives)–I speculate either Indian or Indonesian.  He has a good beefy frame, but hindering him from making a major splash is that he registers as “mature”.


U K – Jack Heslewood.  He has a boyishly cute appeal and sparkle that he might have an inside track to making the semifinals.


U S A – Karl Muddu.  He seems to be of Indian descent.  I actually find his swarthy features highly appealing and I think he is another possibility to make the semifinals.  If it weren’t for SOUTH AFRICA’s late arrival, he and JAPAN would be the brownest contestants in this batch.


VIETNAM – Mai Tuấn Anh.  There are some aspects of his features that register as androgynous, to the point that in some photos he looks like Alan Sim, the Singaporean founder of Mister International.  Otherwise, he’s a solid follow-up to last year’s winner, Trương Ngọc Tình


Now that all 28 candidates are accounted for, let me trot outmy leaderboard:








Now, here is my “Fearful” Forecast, asssuming 12 semifinal spots are up for grabs (since the turnout is less 1han 30)::





It looks like this year’s Manhunt International is a four-way battle among CHINA (Ryan Xi), PHILIPPINES (Jeff Langan), PUERTO RICO ( Karlwiz Gutierrez) and SPAIN (Vicent Llorach).  I hope in a year or ttwo this long-time institution would rise back in presiige and prominence.  Best of luck to all the contestants!



Final Four
The winner is likely among these four guys: PHILIPPINES (Jeff Langan), CHINA (Ryan Xi), PUERTO RICO (Karlwiz Gutierrez) or SPAIN (Vicent Llorach)



With the passing of founder Alex Liu last January, the normally auspicious occasion of a 25th anniversary turned into more of a moment of rebuilding, with Australian Rosko Dickerson solely at the helm.  Part of the rebuilding is to commemorate the anniversary at the venue where it all began, in Gold Coast, Australia.  Also, only 28* candidates are present in this edition, the lowest turnout since the inaugural editions of 1993 and 1994 (which attracted 24).  Despite concerns about the low contestant turnout, at the very least the organizers packed the already abbreviated one-week schedule with a whole lot of thrilling activities that seems to make a genuinely fun experience for the candidates.

* The preliminary judging round only featured 27 contestants.  SOUTH AFRICA was a late arrival and missed that crucial round.

Now, as much as I understand the need to keep control of the coverage hence the limited amount of photos, you wish they have properly identified solo portraits available earlier instead of the eve of the final competition (where they posted the national costume pics on their Instagram account).  Group shots are too unwieldy to keep track of how wech candidate is doing.  Now, sure we have a dearth in quantity this year, so how do they stack up?  Well definitely not in the smae level of 2010 and 2012, but lots of worthwhile guys to know (albeit frustrating because of limited coverage).  Without further ado, let’s start with…

AUSTRALIA – Dale Maher.  He’s not classically handsome, but as the host candidate he will likely have an advantage and may secure a semifinal slot (most likely a Top 12 slot though I have not heard any confirmation of how the cuts will be made).  He hinted he has Aboriginal heritage, and albeit he’s of mixed race he’s proving to be a great ambassador for these people.


BELGIUM – Mohamed Mahouk.  He has that come-hither boyish handsomeness that made him one of the early front-runners, but buzz is fading a tad bit as he set foot in Australia.  Still, I foresee him still making a play for the Final Five.


BRAZIL – Jonatas Zanette.  Like BELGIUM, he possessed boyish appeal, too.  He has an inside rack to the semifinals, but I don’t foresee him in the higher echelons and make a play for the Final Five.


CHINA – Chong-Geng “Ryan” Xi.  I discovered he’s an engineering student at the University of Cambridge in the UK, and it seems thorughout his stay he exuded a lot of personality and made an impression with his tall height and overall charisma.  He could be a possible front-runner for the title, but there are at least three handsome-and-buffed contenders also closing in towards that goal…


DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – Roosevelt Casado.  You never know how the insiders feel abou representatives from this country.  I tend to not really put reps from this country in high regard but like in the case of 2011 and last year, they would somehow fare well.  But to be honest, I think as much as they do like bodybuilder types sometimes, there are worthier choices than this guy this year.


FRANCE – Jan Peleman.  This pale and slim guy is notable for his blond pompadour.  In my opinion he’s a cellar dweller but sometimes the people judging this pageant might be in a quirky and may favor him because he looks so…different.


GUAM – Joshua Soto.  He might be one of the shorter contestants, but his enviably beefy physique and fiercely native Filipino-Chamorro features gave him a solo shot promoting one of the sponsor’s products, Skin O2 sunscreen.  I have a feeling he’s one of the shoo-ins to the semifinals.


HONG KONG – Chengze Li.  If this were held in China, he would’ve had a stronger change of advancing.  But as it is, though he has a height advantage, otherwise his charisma was overshadowed by CHINA.


INDONESIA – Ahsan Hariri.  Many pageant fans and pundits would not find him classically handsome, but I do find his very masculine features highly appealing and he also possesses an enviably buffed physique.  I see him as a shoo-in.  I also have to note during the National Costume preliminary judging he caused significant delays as the size of his costume required to be mounted by two additional individuals before he got ready to strut his costume around.  Would this result in a back-to-back win for the National Costume award?


JAPAN – Yusuke Fujita.  First, I’m so glad he reverted back to his natural hair color, and it compliments his dusky complexion (I wonder if he’s from Okinawa or other parts of the Ryukyu islands as this is typical of people from that part of Japan, I’ve heard).  Like INDONESIA, I find his masculine features and lean, sinewy physique highly appealing.  It’s conceivable he can duplicate his Mister Global 2016 feat, where he made Top 16.  Without the late arrival of SOUTH AFRICA, it could be argued he could’ve been the darkest complexioned contestant in this batch–a quality you rarely associate with the Japanese.


KOREA – Yoojun Jong.  If the judges are full of swooning K-pop and J-pop fangirls, he might make serious inroads into the finals.  Otherwise, he doesn’t seem that appealing.


LEBANON – Patrick Dahrieh.  There are pageant fans and pundits who would rate him as a possible front-runner, but I was disappointed with his performance in the preliminary judging–he registers as a tad shorter than his peers and albeit he has good physique, it’s not as tight as the others.  He could be a possible contender for the Lucas Malvacini award, but I’m still rooting for him to make the cut–his handsomeness is just too undeniable to ignore.


MONGOLIA – Zanabazar Dagvanamdat.  Yes, he’s fit and buffed, but his facial features are just too plain.  Just enjoying what Gold Coast has to offer is his best strategy to make the most of his stay.


MYANMAR – Wanna Aye Kyaw.  I think he is a possibility for the semifinals, as he does make a very positive impression and has a good balance of looks and physique.