ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF JOY ARGUIL
“I feel for these people who are still challenged not being accepted. And with all the efforts of Mr. Gay World, we could somehow eradicate stereotypes, patch our indifferences, and modernize the image of gay men in the Philippines. (And) somehow we could create a new image for us to be more confident, more creative and most especially, more accepted.”
Those were the words of Baguio City-based John Raspado that helped clinch him the title as Mr. Gay World Philippines 2016; and the chance to represent the country in a global beauty pageant that is said to eye inspiring and empowering gay men by giving them a venue “to demonstrate that both inward beauty and physical appearance are equally important as leadership and confidence.”
For the final interview, reigning Mr. Gay World Roger Gosalbez Pitaluga of Spain asked the finalists what, for them, is the most challenging thing about being gay in the Philippines.
And Raspado focused on acceptance; with his goal to help advance this.
Albeit Raspado was short on details on the concept of modernizing the LGBT image, and on how his title can do this, in hindsight, he was a shoo-in to win.
A beauty pageant veteran, Raspado – a 35-year-old businessman engaged in online selling of health supplements, and who completed his bachelor’s degree in marketing and acquired units for a post-graduate diploma in business administration at the Saint Louis University – won a much-publicized similar pageant by a TV network (I Am PoGay).
For this competition, Raspado reaped numerous minor awards, including Mr. Fairywhite, Mr. Hairegen, Mr. Chacott, Mr. New Placenta, Best in National Costume, Photographer’s Choice and Best in Talent.
During the casual interview portion of the pageant, Raspado was asked about his game plan for winning.
“My game plan for aiming the coveted title of Mr. Gay World Philippines 2016 is consistency. Because everything I do on stage… I want to be consistent. And I want to showcase all my skills, my talents, and especially my heart, in winning the title,” Raspado said.
Winning as Mr. Gay Popularity propelled him as a second fast-track semifinalist.
By winning, Raspado trounced 33 other hopefuls, including first runner-up John Bench Ortiz of Pangasinan, a 24-year-old licensed nutritionist and dietitian who graduated at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, now working as a fitness-cum-dance instructor in a popular American chain of wellness centers; and second runner-up Christian Khalil Vera Cruz of Zamboanga del Sur, a 33-year-old certified public accountant, who obtained his bachelor’s degree at the San Beda College.
Ortiz was Mr. PMAX, Best in Casual Wear and Best in Swimwear; while Veracruz was Best in Formal Wear.
Interestingly, “I (was) more pressured in joining this pageant than (in) ‘I Am PoGay’,” Raspado said to Outrage Magazine. So that even now that he already has the title, “I (still) have mixed emotions… (I am) humbled and speechless. Napnu daytoy pusok iti ayat ken ragsak (My heart is filled with love and happiness).”
Raspado is now faced with the challenge of duplicating or surpassing the feat of Christian Lacsamana, a 30-year-old public high school teacher from the City of San Fernando in Pampanga, who placed second runner-up in the eighth edition of Mr. Gay World in Malta last April. The venue and date of the international contest for 2017 are yet to be announced.
Mr. Gay World Philippines 2016’s top five included John Jeffrey Carlos of Cavite, awarded as Mr. City Spa and was the first candidate to advance in the semis after being named Mr. Gay World Social Media; and Leo Ponce of Batangas.
Those who were eliminated after the formal wear category were top 10 finalists Jesse Regin Nacilla of Cebu City, General Santos City’s Peter Leary Brown, Ronaldo Ramos of Palawan, Sultan Kudarat’s Raffy Gavina, and Godofredo dela Cruz Jr. of Valenzuela City. Rounding up the top 15 semifinalists w were Lawang Bato, Valenzuela’s Ronald Lamson; Ian Roy Paderanga of Misamis Occidental; Rizal’s Jerome Lacsa; Frankie Chiu of San Juan City; and Taguig City’s Jessie Quitevis. Absent in the semifinals was Rolando David Jr., voted as Mr. Congeniality by his co-candidates.
Mr. Gay World Philippines 2016’s board of judges was composed of actress Lorna Tolentino, TV host-comedian John Lapuz, film director Maryo J. delos Reyes, Mutya ng Pilipinas World 1977 Anna Melissa “Peachy” Veneracion, Miss World 1993 second princess Ruffa Gutierrez, Mister International 2014 Neil Perez, Miss Supranational 2015 semifinalist Rogelie Catacutan, Miss International 2015 semifinalist Janicel Lubina, Man of the Year 2016 Karan Singhdole, Manhunt Philippines 2015 Don McGyver Cochico, and Mr. Gay World chairman of the board Dieter Sapper who travelled all the way from Austria.
The author with (from left) second runner-up Christian Khalil Vera Cruz of Zamboanga del Sur, Mr. Gay World Philippines 2016 John Raspado of Baguio City and first runner-up John Bench Ortiz of Pangasinan