Forget the notion that most gays in the country fantasize about becoming the next Angelia Ong, Megan Young and Pia Wurtzbach. Because there are also a handful of them who visualize winning in the style of “guwapulis” Neil Perez; though in a global pageant for “straight-acting”, if not “straight-looking” gay men like Mr. Gay World. And the only way for these gay hunks to realize that dream is join the annual Mr. Gay World Philippines pageant.
Twenty-eight good-looking candidates competing for the ninth edition of Mr. Gay World Philippines contest were presented to the members of media at the Club One 690 in Quezon City. The official delegates, representing different cities and provinces all over the archipelago, bested hundreds who auditioned and went through screenings.
And they are all hoping to become the successor of Christian Reyes Lacsamana. The 30-year-old public high school teacher who hails from San Fernando City, Pampanga, who placed second runner-up to Roger Gosalbez Pitaluga of Spain in the Mr. Gay World tilt staged in Malta last April. He now holds the record of being the first-ever Filipino to enter the final round of the international contest established by Australia-based Eric Butter. Lacsamana also topped the online voting, named Mister Social Media, and won the Best in National Costume award.
“Eric actually asked if we could host his contest here [in the Philippines] for the second time [just like in 2011], but I refused,” revealed Mr. Gay World Philippines 2009-turned-national director Wilbert Tolentino, in an interview with Outrage Magazine. “I wanted to see a Filipino winning the Mr. Gay World crown first—so that he could have his farewell walk here in Manila [afterwards].”
Tolentino also followed the format of the Miss Universe pageant. “There will be 15 semifinalists this time. Those who will make the cut will compete in the swimsuit competition [first], 10 of whom will go on to the formal wear competition. The final five will battle it out for the question-and-answer portion, after which the runners-up and the winner will be announced. So they [the semifinalists] must give their best in every category to qualify for the next round.”
Mr. Gay World Philippines 2016’s lineup includes: Richard Castones, contact center agent from Agusan del Sur; Angeles City, Pampanga’s Plaveo Pineda, marketing professional for a car company; Rolando Teves Jr., fashion designer from Bacolod City; Baguio City’s John Raspado, an online entrepreneur; Leo Andrew Ponce, make-up artist from Batangas; Kyle Go Tecson, licensed teacher from Cagayan; Cavite’s John Jeffrey Carlos, also an online entrepreneur and property consultant in a real estate firm; Jesse Regin Nacilla of Cebu City, physiotherapist; Davao City’s Jerome Mantilla, singer; Dumaguete City’s Madrid Layan; and Peter Leary Brown, a half-Spanish from General Santos City.
Other candidates include: Ilocos Sur’s Erick Jay Dario, event lens man and videographer; Greg Obcena, salon junior stylist from Laguna; Lanao del Sur’s Omar Naga, knowledge network trainer; Ronald Lamson, computer operator analyst from Lawang Bato, Valenzuela; Mandaluyong City’s Mark Errol Casilihan, division manager for a real estate company; Gian Liangco, a Chinese-Filipino and youngest contender in the roster from Manila; Misamis Occidental’s Ian Roy Paderanga, manager and engagement activities head for a business process outsourcing firm; Erwin Javier Ostos, also an online entrepreneur from North Bay, Navotas; and Palawan’s Ronaldo Ramos, gender equality advocate.
Also participating are: John Bench Ortiz, licensed nutritionist, dietitian, fitness and dance instructor from Pangasinan; Roxas City’s Joemar Francisco, migrant worker from the Middle East; Rolando David Jr., graduate of nursing and pro-life advocate from San Fernando City, Pampanga; San Juan City’s Frankie Chiu, registered nurse-turned-e commerce company senior manager; Raffy Gavina, math geek and part-time real estate agent from Sultan Kudarat; Surigao del Sur’s Saveno Santillan, entrepreneur; Jessie Quitevis, policeman from Taguig City; and Valenzuela City’s Godofredo dela Cruz, resort manager.
During the presentation of the candidates, Raspado — incidentally the first grand winner of “I am PoGay,” a contest in ABS-CBN’s weekday noontime variety show It’s Showtime — was named “Darling of the Press.” Trailing him were first runner-up Quitevis, as well as second runners-up Ortiz, and Carlos.
The grand finale of Mr. Gay World Philippines 2016 will have Paolo Bediones, Miss Earth 2008 Karla Paula Henry and Mutya ng Pilipinas 2002 Kristine Caballero as presenters, with the special participation of actress and Miss World 1993 second runner-up Ruffa Gutierrez. It will be staged at the University of the Philippines Theater in Diliman on October 2, Sunday, 8 p.m. and will have a delayed telecast on October 8, 10:30 p.m. over TV-5.
ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF JOY ARGUIL
Wilbert Tolentino and Christian Lacsamana