I got six of the Top 10 correct. Three of them were in my “Bubbling Under” list and one performed surprisingly fared better than most expectations. Let’s begin with one of my “Bubbling Under” choices…
PANAMA – Juan Angel Gavirira. To be blunt, he’s the closest thing to a “headscratcher” in my reckoning, and for me he’s the homeliest of the four black contenders in this batch. But I think he has an asset which I noticed was hinted at when he sported a tight blue formal suit during the Press Presentation–let’s just say seeing the finals swimsuit photos, I can finally declare he’s officially the winner of this year’s Dino Nicolina award.
THAILAND – Nick Nolte. I’m aware he has a large fan following, but I had reservations with his very revealing “magazine” photos. But it looks like the people behind Mister International are a forgiving sort and let him sail through the Top 10. He is worthy of belonging in this group, but he has one big disadvantage–he is one of the shortest contestants in this batch, that going as far as he did is reward enough. He is indeed the “little-cutie-that-could” for this year.
PUERTO RICO –
Latino Bradley Cooper Julian Rivera. There is no question he is worthy of belonging in this hallowed group. I think what prevented him from advancing further is that the trend for hirsute types like him is actually on the way out, and the fact that there are a couple of compelling Asian choices out there.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – Arturo Paredes. As I previously mentioned, the clean-cut Classic Latino is back, and this guy parlayed that archetype to the fullest that there is nothing to fault about his performance. He fell short of a Top Five finish by probably a few slivers because of two compelling Asians, a slot allotted for the host contestant, and concededly one Classic Latino had more sparkle than he did.
NORWAY – Mathias Duma. As expected his Eurasian features are perfect catnip for this market and even if he is a subdued presence, he still turns a lot of heads his way. Like DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, there is nothing to fault about his performance, but well, one concession has to be made that he was shut out of the Top Five in the process.
I have no objections at all with four of the Top Five finalists, even if I only got three of them correct. One I didn’t include in the Top 15 because of a reservation that proved unwarranted. One guy who made it this far, I felt doesn’t really deserve to go this far and would’ve easily replaced him with, say, AUSTRALIA, in the Top 10…
PHILIPPINES – Mark Kevin Janda Baloaloa. Sure he has developed a more polished presence that proved he’s worthy of belonging in the Top 15. But to go all the way to the Top Five? As much as I’m a patriotic Filipino, I am also a very fair and just person and if I measure him strictly on merits, I think there are worthier choices out there instead of him, like, say AUSTRALIA or even PERU. But well, the all-Filipino panel of judges decided to play the patriotism card and made him advance as far as this. I think what prevented him from going all the way to the Final Three was the Question & Answer round, as he was asked about his stance on the Philippine congress’ proposal of lowering the age of criminality to age 9. He delivered his answer in Tagalog (which no doubt pleased one of the judges, Mister International 2014 Neil Perez) and took a simple but firm negative stance. He noted that yes, there are children that might need more guidance from parents but instead of marking them for life for one instance, they deserve a second chance. It’s actually a great answer, but I have a feeling the majority of the judging panel are kowtowing to the current administration, and to a certain extent, they “penalized” him for this stance.
CZECH REPUBLIC – Jiří Kmoníček. This guy is a classically handsome beefy hunk that he was always in contention for the title. He was asked the question if he believes jobs should be based on skills than university background. He kept it simple by saying yes and stating that everyone deserves equal opportunities. What fell short is that he could’ve elaborated on that thought a bit, but well, most guys competing in pageants like this are not that strong verbally so this is as far as we can get.
The Final Three were indeed the ones that garnered the biggest buzz (besides AUSTRALIA, who was sorely shut out of the Top 10). It’s not surprising that these guys were the ones chosen, even if one of them I only placed in my “Bubbling Under” list because of a certain reservation I had…
2ND RUNNER-UP: HONG KONG – Waikin Kwan. His charisma was undeniable and his strong modeling experience showed. I only placed him in my “Bubbling Under” list because of a provocative “magazine” shoot he did where something was blatantly bulging. Unlike THAILAND, which revealed certain body parts, the difference with this guy’s layout is that no flesh was actually exposed, only “outlined”. As such the gorganizers gave him a pass, and he proved such a standout that he went this far. For the Q&A he was asked bout the issue that male models are paid well less than female counterparts. He gave a simple answer about the fact that more women are “required” than men, which implies the law of supply and demand. It’s actually a weakly delivered answer and arguably PHILIPPINES and CZECH REPUBLIC delivered stronger answers, but well, the judges might have
1ST RUNNER-UP: VENEZUELA – Francesco Piscitelli. His fair complexion and classic handsomeness are perfect catnip for this market, which prizes those features. He is the true epitome of the Classic Latino look, and his charisma is too undeniable that he was one of the big front-runners from the get-go. He didn’t let up until the bitter end. For the final Q&A, he was asked if he thinks transgendered men should be allowed to compete in Mister International. He didn’t need a translator and answered in English thusly: “Well, I like your question, first, because it is something that I almost think every day. Right now the world is changing, and we have to change with this…with it. And I think, yes, I agree… It’s possible to allow this, what we call in Venezuela, cambio.” Arguably his answer is the best composed of the Top Five (which is not really saying much). I would’ve chosen him as the winner, if you ask me, but the judges felt another guy edged over him…
MISTER INTERNATIONAL 2018 – VIETNAM – Trịnh Bảo. There are people who are comparing him to singer/actor Christian Bautista, and I do see the resemblance and that could be key how he ultimately won over the all-Filipino panel. He was asked about his stance if a Mister International should be allowed to continue his reign if it was discovered that he’s married. He answered in Vietnamese in the affirmative, stating that a man’s love for a woman may even inspire and motivate him to perform the responsibilities required for such a title. It wasn’t delivered as eloquently as I had phrased it in the previous sentence, but that probably helped him edge out the formidable VENEZUELA for the title.
Based on the traditional huddle (and tossing of the winner) after the announcement of the results, the results were highly welcomed by all 39 contestants. True, it turns out there was indeed deep camaraderie developed among the 39 contestants. But a few days after the pageant, a few of them made pronouncements objecting over certain aspects of the pageant. hinting at unsavory deeds like sexual harassment by certain parties. It’s sad that there is that unpleasant aftermath that took place, but the most I can say at this point is that for all organizing parties concerned, hope that all such issues would be rectified in future editions.
I do understand this organization’s aspirations to be treated in the same high regard as the Miss Universe pageant. But aping the pageant format and following their lead has its limits. We do salute Alan Sim for keeping this pageant going despite obvious limitations and obstacles being faced but here’s hoping that in the future it would be able to figure out its own unique proposition that would make this entity sustainable for years to come.