13TH MISTER INTERNATIONAL: AIMING FOR THE UNIVERSE (CONCLUSION)

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.

JUST ME!

JOSEPH

 

 

 

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.

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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

13TH MISTER INTERNATIONAL: AT THE HOMESTRETCH (CONCLUSION)

At a swimsuit shoot in Pagudpod, Ilocos Norte.

RUSSIA – Igor Buyantuev. It’s easy to forget that most of Russia’s land area falls in Asia, and this guy’s Asian features reminds us of that.  And looking at his costume, it would’ve been easy for a casual observer to confuse him as representing CHINA.

SINGAPORE – Famy Ashary.  As usual, this country fielded a representative with an unquestionably buffed bod.  But he has the plainest, most ordinary face of this batch.

SLOVENIA – Matiaz Mavri-Boncelj. He is one of the classically handsome Europeans in this batch and he looks like he has an inside track to make the Top 16.  Still, although his frame has definition, there are some angles where it doesn’t register as buffed as other contenders out there and that could hinder him in the end.

SOUTH AFRICA – Lebogang Rameetse.  Here is another strong black contender in this year’s batch.  I could find no fault in his performance, and so the question is if there would be room for him to join NICARAGUA in the Top 16.

SPAIN – Jesus Collado. He’s handsomely scruffy, yet polished.  He exudes the vibe of the half-Filipino 2015 rep, Daniel Barreres, albeit Daniel for me exuded a lot more charisma than this guy.  He seems to have an inside track to the Top 16, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he would finish in the same spot as Daniel three years ago.

SRI LANKA – Amandha Amarasekara.  His Mister Suprnational counterpart, Tymeron Carvalho, declared that he is an LGBTQ activist and even in homophobic Poland he somehow managed to make a breakthrough and finished in 8th place.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this guy also declares he’s an activist as Tymeron, but the difference is while Tymeron still moves in a masculine manner, this guy’s mannerisms are clearly effete.   For that I’ll give him the Sy Lee diversity award. Now in this pageant, would he be able to get away with it and make the final cut?  Or would that factor be taken against him and he would miss it?  He ticks all the boxes otherwise, as he’s handsome with a buffed bod.

SWEDEN – Kevin Graf. Well, unlike some recent predecessors he’s rather white and pasty so he is definitely out of contention for a Top 16 slot.  His redeeming factor is that some people may find his face utterly cute.

SWITZERLAND – Maikel Ferreira.  He’s generally solid, but his charisma is a tad muted that he can only be considered a worthwhile contender.

TAIWAN – Kevin Chang.  Unlike his mainland counterpart, he has buffness and polish, and even a little more charisma that he is making a great impression.  It might even be possible that he can make the cut.

THAILAND – Nick Nolte.  He should not be confused with the famous Hollywood actor.  He got his name as his father is German.  There were some who deemed him a possible front-runner prior to his arrival but then when you size him up with the rest, he’s one of the shortest in the batch–only NEPAL is shorter than him.  Still, that wouldn’t be a hindrance as there is typically room for the “little-cutie-that-could”, and he could easily fit that bill.  But then it was revealed that like HONG KONG, he has a very provocative modeling layout published–this time he actually revealed more flesh than what HONG KONG did.  If I’m not mistaken as I’m not familiar with Thai laws, it seems his layout is not considered “obscene” or “pornographic” there, albeit in many other countries, it could be viewed as such.  So one might wonder, would this be taken against him?  Much remains to be seen.

U S A – Nicolas Santos. If you hear him open his mouth, you would observe he speaks with an accent, as if English is not really his first language.  His accent is the sort that would make some white supremacist scream at him for (imitating a redneck accent) “not speaking American”.  But you must remember–this country does not have an official language, even if it is assumed to be English, so he has the right to speak English in whatever accent he is accustomed to.  I find him handsome and thought he could be a front-running contender, but then I realize his frame is a bit on the thick side and albeit his physique has more definition than LEBANON and NETHERLANDS, he is in the same boat as those two and would need to play the Siera Bearchell card to pull off making the Top 16.

VENEZUELA – Francesco Piscitelli.  Now, he’s the quintessential Classic Latino and as the days wore on buzz has been rising that he’s the one most likely to win this competition.  Added bonus is that he is one of the Dino Nicolina award contenders with his national costume.

VIETNAM – Trịnh Bảo.  There is something about hsi features that seems Eurasian.  Anyway, he exudes so much charisma that he can be considered the Top Asian in this batch.  It is even conceivable that he can win it all and be the second Vietnamese after Ngo Tien Doan over 10 years ago.  Let’s see how well he plays his cards during finals night.

With all 39 contestants accounted for, let me trot out my leaderboard:

TOP CONTENDERS:  AUSTRALIA, CZECH REPUBLIC, PERU, VENEZUELA, VIETNAM

SHOO-INS:  DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, INDIA, JAPAN, KOREA, NICARAGUA, NORWAY, PUERTO RICO,

LIKELIEST:  BRAZIL, HAITI, HONG KONG, INDONESIA, MEXICO, PANAMA, PHILIPPINES, POLAND, SLOVENIA, SOUTH AFRICA, SPAIN, SRI LANKA, TAIWAN, THAILAND,

SIERA BEARCHELL FACTOR:  LEBANON, NETHERLANDS, U S A

EXCELLENT:  BELGIUM, GUAM, SWITZERLAND

VERY STRONG:  CHINA, RUSSIA

STRONG:  BOLIVIA, MALAYSIA, NEPAL, SINGAPORE, SWEDEN

Now, here is my “Fearful” Forecast:

TOP THREE:  AUSTRALIA, VENEZUELA, VIETNAM

TOP FIVE:  CZECH REPUBLIC, PERU

TOP 10:  DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, INDIA, NICARAGUA, NORWAY, PUERTO RICO

TOP 16:  BRAZIL, INDONESIA, JAPAN, KOREA, PHILIPPINES, SPAIN

BUBBLING UNDER:  HAITI, HONG KONG, MEXICO, PANAMA, POLAND, SLOVENIA, SOUTH AFRICA,  SRI LANKA, TAIWAN, THAILAND

STRIKING DISTANCE:  BELGIUM, GUAM, LEBANON, NETHERLANDS, SWITZERLAND, U S A.

I think it seems to be a battle between the Surfer Dude (AUSTRALIA) and the Quintessential Classic Latino (VENEZUELA), but don’t discount the likes of VIETNAM, CZECH REPUBLIC and PERU to make a play for the title, and INDIA and NICARAGUA maybe pulling off an upset.  It’s not as easy to call this year, so I’m waiting with bated breath to see how this all unfolds.

JUST ME!

JOSEPH

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Could the title go to these two? AUSTRALIA (Harrison Luna) or VENEZUELA (Francesco Piscitelli) (Image courtesy of Joy Arguil for Fab Philippines)
MrI18 CZE PER VEN
Or could it go to these? CZECH REPUBLIC (Jiří Kmoníček), PERU (Duilio Vallebuona), or VIETNAM (Trịnh Bảo) (Images courtesy of Joy Arguil for Fab Philippines)

All national costume preliminary competition photos courtesy of Aski for Events2Images; All official swimsuit portraits courtesy of Erik Esparat; All official formal wear photos courtesy of Alieks Fusilero; and all other photos courtesy of Drew Francisco for Missosology unless otherwise indicated.