One-third of the 75 Mr. World 2019 candidates, front row, from left: Greece, Malaysia, Spain, Dominican Republic, Canada, Peru, Thailand, Lebanon, Philippines and Czech Republic; and, back row, also from left: Samoa, Northern Ireland, Malta, Myanmar, Cambodia, South Africa, Kenya, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, England and Poland.
Autistic is among 75 Mr. World 2019 bets
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - August 16, 2019 - 12:00am

The others are civil engineer, model, actor, cardiologist, scientist, IT expert

It will rain men next Friday night, Aug. 23, when 75 hunks from the same number of countries strut their stuff in an effort to bag the 2019 Mr. World crown. Among the hopefuls are a doctor, a civil engineer, a model, an actor, a cardiologist, a scientist and a child psychologist.

Twenty-four of them sat down for individual interviews with The STAR at the Novotel, a stone’s throw from the Araneta Coliseum where the pageant will be held. I should say that all of them are winnable but sadly only one will wear the crown currently held by India’s Rohit Khandelwal. The Philippines has yet to win and the highest honor a Filipino got was first runner-up (Andrew Wolfe).

At 21 among the youngest in the bunch, Mr. Canada (contestants are known by the countries they are representing) is not shy about his being autistic and he, in fact, openly talked about it.

“At my age,” he began, “I have gone through a lot, I have done a lot. I have excelled in sports and in various events. I was 12 when I learned that I am autistic. Before that, I was bullied in school and I didn’t know why; I didn’t know that people looked at me as ‘different.’ I refused to let the bullies bring me down. It’s important to have family and other people around you who help strengthen you instead of break you.

“I am a professional model so I have learned how to project the best side of myself in front of the camera. I don’t consider my being autistic a hindrance in achieving my goals in life. It’s not easy to deal with autism but I can teach others in the same condition how to deal with it. I can help educate parents how to see the light at the end of the tunnel. That’s how some people look at the autistic. They may not understand how an autistic is but an autistic knows where he is going. I should know. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

(Left) Mr. Canada: Learned that he’s autistic at age 12. ‘I am a well rounded person,’ he says. ‘I’ve done a lot in my life... I’ve been through a lot.’ (Right) Mr. Dominican Republic: A child psychologist who works with autistics. His little sister is autistic.

Mr. Canada’s advocacy suits well with that of Mr. Dominican Republic who is a child psychologist.

“I know what it is to be an autistic,” said the Dominican hunk, “because I have a little sister who is autistic. She has survived an open-heart surgery. My advocacy is to build bridges around people, particularly kids. I love kids, especially those with autism. That’s why I decided to study child psychology.”

Aside from Mr. Canada and Mr. Dominican Republic who belonged to Group 1 of the interviewees (contestants were divided into three groups among media guys), the 23 other candidates who beautifully fielded two questions (What do you think is your edge over the other guys? and What is your profession?) were those from the Philippines, Malaysia, Cambodia, Myanmar, Brazil, Greece, Poland, Northern Ireland, Kenya, Lebanon, Spain, Argentina, Malta, Czech Republic, Samoa (the kababayan of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), England, Thailand, South Africa, Venezuela, Peru and Mexico (who very kindly volunteered to be the interpreter for the non-English-speaking guys).

The rest of the contestants are from: Austria, Bosnia, Chile, China, Korea, Colombia, USA, Costa Rica, Finland, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Nigeria, Honduras, Australia, Tonga, Puerto Rico, Serbia, Russia, Singapore, South Sudan, Ghana, Latvia, Panama, Angola, Armenia, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Cameron, Curacao, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Guadaloupe, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, Mauritius, Montenegro, Nicaragua, Paraguay, St. Martin, Sierra Leone and Sri Lanka.

(E-mail reactions at For more updates, photos and videos, visit or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

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