Freeman Cebu Entertainment

Cebu City's Nathaniel Tiu joins Mister International PH for late mom

Januar Junior Aguja - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  The last time Nathaniel Tiu participated in a pageant was in 2013 when he was named first-runner up of Mr. Olive-C Campus Model Philippines. Despite his good looks and charisma, he was not so interested in modeling, opting for a career in the academe instead.

After working in a mining company for three years, he became a teacher at St. Paul University in Surigao where he also now serves as chairperson of the Mining Engineering department. He is also pursuing a Masters degree in Environmental Studies, specializing in Industrial Ecology, at the University of the Philippines-Cebu.

Tiu has been repeatedly pestered by Cebuano designer Lemuel Rosos to join pageants, but he was firm in his decision to put those days behind him. This changed when his mother passed away last year on his birthday, August 25.

“It was her dream for me to join a pageant again. Every year, she would tell me ‘Dong, apil ug pageant kay sayang, ang mga tao sa Pilipinas dili makakita sa imong ka-gwapo ug ka-bright.’ I told her that I am old for that, and I have a career and earning well,” the 28-year-old licensed engineer told The FREEMAN.

“Last few weeks of February and first week of March, I kept on crying because part of me felt bad that I couldn’t fulfill my mom’s wish and my heart felt heavy every night. So I told myself that I am ready and I finally said yes to Sir Lemuel.”

He considers signing up for Mister International Philippines 2023 as Cebu City’s representative as an advance birthday gift for himself and an anniversary gift to his mom. “After I decided to join, I felt like a huge burden was lifted from my heart. I fulfilled a dream of my mom and it became a shared dream for us,” he said.

After a long absence from pageants, Tiu points out some differences in the scene. “When I was in college, my perspective about certain issues wasn’t as wide. Now, a candidate must have substance, you must have something to contribute to society…unlike before where pa-cute cute lang. A lot of candidates now are professionals or soon-to-be-professionals. They could be future leaders, innovators, ambassadors with substance.”

Being a familiar name, the six-footer was instantly among the frontrunners when his candidacy was announced.

“The advantage is that I don’t need to promote myself as much. The disadvantage is, there are high expectations. That’s why I am working hard in training, especially Q&A. In pageants, you have to be quick, specific and concise – which I am struggling with because I tend to overshare as an educator,” he said.

-Responsible mining advocate-

Tiu was nervous about how his students would react, especially during the pageant’s swimwear segment.

“I told my students that I will be in Manila for the competition. But I did I expect that during the press conference, mag swimwear na. At the back of my head, I said ‘Shucks! My students will see me in my briefs.’”

He added, “It was awkward because my students would take a picture or screenshot and send it in the class group chat. But when I went back, my students were supportive which made me happy. Even the administration, the owners and the nuns are supportive.”

When talk came to his profession, Tiu shared his disillusionment on the rampant illegal mining in the country. This has prompted him to advocate for responsible mining as a teacher and as a Mister International Philippines finalist.

“We cannot deny the fact that we are enjoying the benefits of mining. From our phones to the electricity we use, they all came from mining. But it doesn’t mean I am tolerating irresponsible and illegal mining. Responsible mining is doing activities that will protect and conserve the environment. An example would be planting seedlings in areas that were mined.”

On why he’s deserving to win the title, Tiu said, “Growing up, my mom always instilled in me the importance of having faith and remaining grounded. This has been my core value and it changed the way I perceived the world around me.”

“That’s why I always consider myself as a man of faith because a man of faith is a man of action, and a man of action can be be distinctly handsome.”

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