Misters of Filipinas candidate breaks barriers for LGBTQIA+ representation
MANILA, Philippines—Mark Joseph Cruz is the first openly bisexual man who made it to the official roster of candidates for the Misters of Filipinas pageant, and he sees this as a sign that Philippine pageantry is adapting to the ever-changing global landscape.
“I think it is just being open and also to accept the reality that we are living in a world where the pageant industry has become really diverse and open to accept different gender identities,” he told the Inquirer at the sidelines of the preliminary competition held at the grand ballroom of Winford Manila Hotel and Casino on Oct. 13.
“For me, as long as you know that you are really qualified to join a competition, nothing can stop you but yourself to join a competition like this,” Cruz continued.
In 2021, the second edition of the Miss Universe Philippines pageant crowned its first openly gay winner, Beatrice Luigi Gomez, who finished in the Top 5 of her global competition in Israel in December last year.
Cruz also noted how there may be detractors who believe that as a bisexual man, or someone who gets romantically attracted to both men and women, he should not join male pageants that highlight masculinity. “Well, first thing’s first, I don’t have anything to explain to them. I don’t even need to defend myself from them,” he said.
The Misters of Filipinas pageant’s slogan is “masculinity with responsibility,” and has championed Filipino contestants on the international stage. Since its inception in 2012, the national male competition has produced several global titleholders who were also the first winners from the Philippines in their respective tilts—2014 Mister International Neil Perez, 2016 Man of the Year Karan Singhdole, 2018 Mister Tourism Universe Ion Perez, 2018 Mister Model Universe Carlo Pasion, 2019 Mister Tourism and Culture Universe Yves Campos, and reigning Runway Model Universe winner Junichi Yabushita.
Cruz hopes to follow their footsteps and give honor to the country on the international pageant stage. “For as long as I know that I am not doing anything wrong in this pageant, no one can stop me from joining this competition. And it’s just a way for me prove to them that everyone is open nowadays,” he explained.
The Inquirer also asked Cruz’s thoughts on reigning Mister Supranational Argentina Angel Olaya’s move to show the public his boyfriend. The Filipino contestant said “it’s really good to see that we have our friends in the LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, and others) community that became really open to the public. We don’t need to judge each one, whether you are bisexual, gay, or anything.”
Cruz continued: “We are living in a community where everyone has an equal opportunity to accept one another.”
He also encouraged other members of the LGBTQIA+ community who are having qualms about joining cisgender-dominated fields such as pageantry. “There’s nothing wrong about joining a competition, just have a strong determination, and that is the key for you to succeed in life no matter what,” Cruz declared.
He is competing against 34 other aspirants from all over the country and the Filipino communities in the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for five national titles—Misters of Filipinas Man of the World, Misters of Filipinas Model Worldwide, Misters of Filipinas Man Hot Star International, Misters of Filipinas Fitness Model World, and Misters of Filipinas Super Globe.
Prime Event Productions Philippines (PEPPS) Foundation Inc. organizes the annual search. For the ninth edition this year, it has partnered with Ormoc City-based household and personal products marketing company WELLife.
The 2022 Misters of Filipinas grand coronation night will be staged at the Newport Performing Arts Theater of Newport World Resorts in Pasay City on Oct. 16. /ra
Manhunt International president says contest ‘not a pageant’
Misters of Filipinas pageant elevates national costume competition
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.