13TH MISTER INTERNATIONAL: AT THE HOMESTRETCH (PART 2)

Enjoying the sights of Ilocos Norte

KOREA – Daewoong Hwang. He may not be as handsome as the reigning Mister International Seunghwan Lee, but he has a physique so buffed, this alone may secure him a slot in the Top 16.

LEBANON – Mohamad Taha.  Like BELGIUM, his pre-arrival pictures were more impressive how he looked when he landed in these shores.  He still exudes oodles of charisma and is undeniably handsome, but there is one glaring factor that may hinder his country’s exemplary track record in this pageant–his physique is arguably the least buffed out of these year’s contestants.  Still with his national costume, he’s the front-runner for the Dino Nicolina award.

MALAYSIA – Sylevistian Jon. In real-world terms, his face can be classified as “cute” and he undeniably has a buffed bod, but he just doesn’t possess any form of charisma whatsoever.

MEXICO – Piero Renero.  There are some who would include him as a member of the Classic Latino contingent, and I know there are many who would classify him as “handsome”.  But for me, there is something about his features that I find a bit off-putting that I don’t really consider him handsome (even if for most Filipinos, they would go ga-ga over his features).  Otherwise there is nothing to fault about him so he is contention of making the Top 16.

NEPAL – Prashant Jung Shah. It took me a while to appreciate his features as at first glance I would’ve easily dismissed him as the weakest contestant of this batch.  For most folks he could be classified as homely, but for some odd reason, I started appreciating his unconventionally handsome features and he does have a good bod.  Still, his main disadvantage is that he’s the shortest contestant in this batch, and that could hamper his chances of making any significant inroads.

NETHERLANDS – Claudio Schoorstra. Like BELGIUM and LEBANON, he impressed more in his pre-arrival pics.  Anyway, like LEBANON he has handsomeness and charm in huge spades–it’s the buffness of his bod that is the main point of contention.  Sure back in Miss Universe 2016 Siera Bearchell got away with it so the question is, can he also play that card and get away with it?

NICARAGUA – Naykel Nino. Of the four black guys in this year’s pageant, this guy is the one making the biggest splash.  With his ready smile, his lean-but-buffed sinewy frame, and outgoing personality he is emerging as the black-man-most-likely, and he could conceivably not only sustain Elvis Murillo‘s breakthrough last year, but make a play for the Top Five.  I have a feeling he’s the front-runner to win Best National Costume, at least.  I’m rooting for this guy to go very far here.

NORWAY – Mathias Duma. With his previous stint at Mister Supranational last December, this guy is the “veteran” of the group.  He looks poised to duplicate his Top 10 finish at that pageant here.

PANAMA – Juan Angel Gavirira. He is actually a polished contender, but he has a plain face that sometimes register as brusque.  For me, he’s the weakest of the four black guys competing, but he still has a conceivable shot of making the cut.

PERU – Duilio Vallebuona. He is another unequivocal member of the Classic Latino contingent, and he is probably what we consider the boyish one of that contingent.  He actually registers best in action than in still photos, as videos reveal his utterly charming personality and for that he could be considered a Top Five contender.

PHILIPPINES – Mark Kevin Janda Baloaloa. He at least styled himself properly unlike the way he looks prior to this competition.  I’m still on the fence about his charisma, but perhaps he performed well enough to merit belonging in the Top 16 without playing the host country card–but then again the host country card is no guarantee of securing a semifinals slot, especially if we look at the cases of Thailand 2011 and Myanmar last year.

MrI18 OP PHI

POLAND – Tomek Zarzyscki. He decided to go the cleaner-shaven route, but somehow I kinda liked him scruffier.  Still, his handsomeness is undeniable so it should be a good basis for him to make the Top 16, right?  But then again remember Rafal Jonkisz (2015) and Jan Dratwicki (2016) were undeniably handsome and undeniably charismatic but they still didn’t make the cut.  Let’s see if the judges look upon him with favor.

PUERTO RICO – Julian Rivera. Here is a guy who benefited from a haircut–from sporting long locks he trimmed it enough that now he evokes the vibe of A Star is Born actor/director Bradley Cooper.  He seems a shoo-in for the Top 16 with a possible play for the Top 10 and beyond.

COMING UP:  RUSSIA to VIETNAM, plus the “FEARFUL” FORECAST

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.

13TH MISTER INTERNATIONAL: AT THE HOMESTRETCH (PART 1)

At the press presentation / sashing ceremony

After more than three years, the Mister International pageant is back in Manila.  And with this, it promised to attract a record roster of contestants.  Well, after confirming 41 (beating the record set in 2010), two countries fell by the wayside–Iran’s representative, Max Mehrafsha encountered visa issues that prevented him from competing (even if he competed here the previous year on the Man of the World pageant) and Myanmar ran afoul of Mister International Organization head Alan Sim as its representative, Naing Naing, was repeatedly a no-show and the national director was deemed “deceitful”.  Anyway, the final tally of 39 was at least close to the record–in fact we can say this year was the second highest turnout in the history of this pageant.  To add to this, this time we have four representatives of color, and the caliber of these men is high–the question now would be, how many of them would make the cut?  Plus, depending on your criteria, we seem to be witnessing the revival of the Classic Latino, with three (or five) clean-shaven handsome guys from Latin America making major impact.

Now, what about the quality of the batch as a whole?  I have to note that for me the batch of 2015 remains a gold standard that subsequent editions seem to have come close but fall a tad short.  How did this batch size up?  Read on.

AUSTRALIA – Harrison Luna. Despite his Latin-sounding name he exudes the vibe of a Caucasian blond tanned surfer with his long locks and beach-ready buffed bod.  I still think Chris Nayna was their best representative thus far, but this guy has been garnering the heaviest buzz that day-by-day he is looking like a favorite to win it all.

BELGIUM – Mohamed Mahouk.  He has some great pre-arrival photos that made him seem like a contender, but on these shores, he’s basically a cutie who seems to need a bit more polishing to make maximum impact.

BOLIVIA – Lucio Prado. Other than his cute face, everything about him lacks charisma, finesse and polish.

BRAZIL – Danilson Furtado. He’s great looking, and for some, he is the first member of the Classic Latino contingent*1.  I find no fault with how he presented himself thus far, so he has an inside track for the Top 16–but he seems to have a subdued vibe and there are others making a splashier impression.  Still, his consistently strong presence could not be denied and he can still pull off a sleeper surprise.

*1 I have reservations applying this term to this guy because of his brown complexion, but then again, remember that Latinos come in a broad variety of skin tones and colors, and he’s clean-shaven and handsome to also fit this bill.

CHINA – Ruitao Li.  Interestingly he’s one of the weaker links in a formidable East Asian contingent.  His counterpart from a “disputed” territory is actually outshining him.

CZECH REPUBLIC – Jiri Kmonicek.  He has a passing resemblance to the reigning Mister Global, Dario Duque, and an even stronger resemblance to the 2015 winner of this pageant, Pedro Mendes, albeit with a beefier bodybuilder’s frame than with those guys.  His handsomeness and enviable buffness could not be denied–he is for me a Top Five contender, if not making a possible play for the title.  If he were a couple of inches (about five centimeters) taller, he could’ve been classified as a “Beefcake Behemoth”.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – Arturo Paredes. This guy is unequivocally a member of the Classic Latino contingent, as he has a classic clean-shaven handsomeness about him and strong charisma.  He looks like a lock for one of the Top 16 slots, with a possible play for the Top 10 and even Top Five.

GUAM – Christian Layao.  I find him very attractive with a vibrant, outgoing personality, but his frame is not as buffed and chiseled as other contenders out there and hence at most I can consider him a worthwhile contender.

HAITI – Ghael Jean-Louis.  He reminds me of Empire actor Jussie Smollett with a beard weave.  I know with the controversy embroiling the actor these days, the previous sentence may not be viewed as a compliment, but well, I do see he is a great-looking, buffed fellow.  Will there be room in the Top 16 for him?  I also have to note that for the competition for the Dino Nicolina award, it seems within the confines of this competition it is not being contested in the swimsuit competition but in another milieu–with the preponderance of tight white pants*2 in the national costume competition.  As such, he’s one of the nominees for that competition.  But if we’re talking about activities done prior to this competition…

*2 The guys in tight white pants in the national costume competition put Jimmy Fallon and Will Farrell to shame.  They are so tight those characters could not stand a chance.

HONG KONG – Waikin Kwan. It turns out this guy did a rather, um, revealing modeling layout prior to him competing here and based on that layout, it could be said he is hands-down winner of the Dino Nicolina award.  But I have to disqualify him from that “honor’ on the technicality that he did that shoot prior to the competition, not during.  Anyway, that layout aside, he has proven to be a very polished contender who could have an inside track to the Top 16–if the judges were willing or are unaware of the said modeling layout he did.  Unlike another guy who also has a risqué set of photos, he might be able to be given the benefit of the doubt as even if it is, um, revealing, no flesh was actually exposed.

INDIA – Balaji Murugadoss. I’m glad for the latter part of this decade this country is finally fielding reps that possess the charisma we associate with Bollywood actors.  He’s the last to arrive to this competition, and as such, he missed out of the Press Presentation.  Still, I’m bullish that he’ll go far in this competition–maybe he won’t win, but he looks like a lock for the Top 16 and beyond.

Swimsuit photoshoot image courtesy of Joy Arguil for Fab Philippines.

INDONESIA – Rezza Praditya.  Facewise, yes, he’s not much, but he has an undeniably buffed bod and he has great interview skills and an outgoing personality, qualities that could secure him a slot in the Top 16.

JAPAN – Tsuyoshi Takimura.  He is taking notes from the Masaya Yamagishi (Mister International 2016 1st runner-up) playbook.  Skimpy fundoshi national costume?  Check.  Buffed bod?  Check.  He may not match Masaya’s stellar charisma, but he can sustain his country’s strong streak in this competition.

COMING UP:  KOREA to PUERTO RICO

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.

RESULTS REACTION: 12TH MISTER INTERNATIONAL

I’m pleased with the results of this year’s Mister International.  I got 13 of the Top 16 correct, with two of them in my “Bubbling Under” list, plus six of the Top 10 and three of the Top Five.  I didn’t make a Top Three forecast, but I would’ve gotten two of the three correct.  Even if I pat myself in the back for a generally good record, there were a few surprises…

First, out of my radar was Netherlands (Jeremy Lensink), as he has a plain face and one of the least defined physiques in this batch.  But reportedly his outgoing personality (he happened to win Mister Congeniality) and strong interview helped him secure a slot over arguably hansomer choices…

 

Headscratcher: Netherlands’ Jeremy Lensink

As the host Michael Bristol was getting the crowd pumped up as he announced the Top 16, the host contestant from Myanmar (John Ko Ko) presumed his country was already announced when Michael was simply addressing the audience as the country. It was the only major gaffe of the night. Though I thought there would be a token slot set out for him, I’m actually glad merit prevailed and he didn’t make it.

Merit prevailed: Non-finalist Myanmar (John Ko Ko)

There is one clear winner of the Lucas Malvacini award, and it’s gone to the country where Lucas is from, Brazil (Leonardo Nobre).  There are people who felt he lacked spark that is why he missed the cut.  At least he got the consolation of winning Mister Photogenic.

Lucas Malvacini Award: Brazil (Leonardo Nobre)

I was expecting the “Little-Cutie-That-Could” honor would go to Singapore (Marvin Soh), but instead, they went a bit on the scruffier route, and it’s actually a great choice–the honer went to Nicaragua (Elvis Murillo) instead, whose scruffy handsomeness and rippled body are too undeniable.  Elvis delivered an auspicious debut for his country in this pageant as he made as far as Top 10.

Little-Cutie-That-Could: Nicaragua (Elvis Murillo)

I was expecting Lebanon (Michael Khoury) and Spain (Ruben Castilleros) to make a play for the Top Five, but they failed to advance to the Top Ten.  I did notice Lebanon tends to be subdued and reticent and I have a feeling those prominent limb tattoos on Spain proved to be not to the judges’ liking.

From front-runners to mere Top 16 finishers: Lebanon (Michael Khoury) and Spain (Ruben Castilleros)

Exceeding most forecasts is Japan (Taizan Matsuura)–I pegged him as a “Bubbling Under” choice but he went far into the Top 10.  I admittedly found him plain at first, but I’m starting to appreciate his vaguely Eurasian features and he does have flattering handsome angles.

Exceeding expectations: Japan (Taizan Matsuura)

With Lebanon and Spain blocked from advancing to the Top Ten, this made room for Philippines (Raven Renz Lansangan) and Puerto Rico (Joseph Didier) to advance.  I’m mighty pleased with both their showings.

Welcome Top 10 fi9nishers: Philippines (Raven Renz Lansangan) and Puerto Rico (Joseph Didier)

I’m slightly shocked that the judges shut out Venezuela (Ignacio Milles) out of the Top Five to make way for Vietnam (Minh Trung)–wonder if the white jacket he sported was the cause?  It also seems Venezuela’s loss is Colombia (Manuel Molano)‘s gain as Colombia provided a perfect consolation over the Venezuelan shut-out.  Admittedly I underrated Colombia a bit–I was on the fence on whether I should include him as a front-runner or not as his charisma and spark were undeniable throughout his stay in Myanmar–I should’ve included him as a front-runner instead of Lebanon in hindsight.  Anyway, I’m very glad at Colombia’s high placement, and pleased despite a weak translation the judges get that he delivered an eloquent answer to the question given.

Front-runner swap: Venezuela (Ignacio Milles) and Colombia (Manuel Murillo)

Though there were many observers who noted Korea (Seunghwon Lee) seems relatively subdued, his charisma is so undeniable, and the topical North-South Korea peace talks helped bolster his profile and led to a satisfying and well-deserved win.  Congratulations!

JUST ME!

JOSEPH

Mister International 2018: Korea (Seunghwon Lee)

All images courtesy of Drew Francisco for Missosology