The Great Bodies are back

STARBYTES - Butch Francisco -

The beautiful bodies are back — these physical fitness enthusiasts who compete in the annual Great Bodies contest of Slimmers World International.

The contestants — all 21 of them — were presented at the press launch last Tuesday, Oct. 23, in one of the cinemas of SM Mall of Asia and also part of the event was the talent competition where this writer was among the judges, along with Slimmers World vice president Helen Camacho; entertainment columnist, TV-radio personality Jobert Sucaldito; Great Bodies 2003 winner Carlos Morales; Bernardette Cunanan of the Manila Bulletin; Pepito Olarte of the Philippine Daily Inquirer; and Danny Ocampo of Business World. Ricky Lo was also supposed to be in the panel of judges, but begged off at the day before since he had a segment to shoot for The Ricky Lo Exclusives and had to close this page.

As always Slimmers World put up a fabulous show and last Tuesday night’s program opened with an Egyptian-inspired dance number participated in by all the contestants.

But the big hit of the night was the production number of the managers from the various Slimmers World branches led by Helen Camacho. All looking beautiful and shapely, it was a delight watching these wonderful ladies because Slimmers World clients only get to see them looking very formal in their offices and suddenly they were there swinging to a fast beat from High School Musical. That production number may have taken the managers three weeks to practice, but it was worth it since it was wildly applauded.

Of course, the main event was still the presentation of the 21 contestants and the talent competition that accompanied it.

Since I was seated near Bernardette Cunanan, Jobert Sucaldito and Carlos Morales, we were able to compare our impressions. Oh, what insights Jobert had about the contestants, but most of these are unprintable. If only I could, you’ll all die laughing. You know Jobert. He can be so wickedly witty. Thanks to him, our group had the most fun that evening.

With Carlos I was able to exchange notes about the chances of each contestant. He noted, for instance, this male contestant who had the best body in the batch, but was lacking the so-called X factor.

At one point I asked if there was a celebrity contestant like in the past Great Bodies competitions. It turned out that there was one — Andrew Schimmer, a talent of GMA 7. Ironically, it was a kapamilya — Jobert Sucaldito — who had to point that out to me, a kapuso.

I guess I didn’t recognize Andrew because like all the other contestants, he darkened himself to make the cuts in his body more visible.

Now comes the question: Will Andrew Schimmer win because he is a celebrity? The answer to that is — not necessarily. Jacquilou Blanco and Carlos Morales may have won in the Great Bodies contest in the past, but there were other celebrity contestants who also joined the same contest, but were not successful: Ivy Violan, Jude Michael, Chinggay Estrada and last year, former actress and now Pagsanjan, Laguna First Lady Maita Sanchez.

In the case of commercial model Marc Dungo and GMA 7 news reporter Lala Roque, they became known only after winning the Great Bodies contest. The Slimmers World International event can actually launch careers and for those who are already in show business, they can reinvent themselves — like in the case of Jacquilou Blanco.

A celebrity joining the Great Bodies contest actually has an edge over the rest because he already has the confidence and is comfortable facing the audience. Andrew Schimmer actually has that advantage. Although he is still relatively new in show business, he knows how to project and make himself a crowd favorite.

But that is not all there is to win the Great Bodies competition. Standing at 5’9” and weighing 129 lbs., the 21-year-old actor still has a little baby fat and needs to tone his body a bit more.

In the female division, there is a contestant who has a beautiful face, but — just like Andrew Schimmer — has to tone her body a bit more. Jobert Sucaldito feels she should also try Binibining Pilipinas. But that’s still next year. She should keep working on how to win the Great Bodies contest for now because the competition in the female division is tough because most of the girls are in tip-top shape.

During the time of Carlos Morales, his victory was quite easy to predict because he had the confidence, the height and more importantly, the winning body. The same thing happened last year. During the introduction of candidates, Johannes Magbitang from Slimmers Pasig was already a shoo-in as the winner in the male division.

This year, it’s so difficult to do a forecast on the outcome of the Great Bodies contest of Slimmers World (slated Dec. 1 at the PICC) because each contestant has something distinctive to offer.

Will Andrew Schimmer win? Only if he starts spending day and night in Slimmers World toning and defining every part of his body. But you still cannot tell. Remember, this is not an artista search, but the Great Bodies contest.

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