New training camp enters growing male pageant industry
MANILA, Philippines—The local pageant landscape in the country continues to expand as new national competitions emerge, including contests for men. One training camp was established to address the growing demand for customized preparations for men in a field dominated by teams specializing in mentorship for female candidates.
Camp Hiraya debuts on the Philippine pageant scene with EJ Malik, representing the province of Lanao del Norte in the inaugural Great Man of the Universe Philippines pageant this year. He sat with a few members of local media recently to discuss his participation in the new national competition as the camp’s first ward.
“It’s just me for now, because the camp really wants to focus all its efforts and resources on just one candidate, to make sure that everything will be covered,” he said.
Malik is a pageant veteran who came out of retirement to once again try to snag a pageant title. He said reigning Miss Global Shane Tormes, his 2016 Mister and Miss Rizal co-titleholder, inspired him to give pageantry another shot.
“She told me to give it a go, to continue to pursue my dream, my passion for pageantry,” Malik shared. He said Tormes initially wanted to become the Philippines’ first Miss Grand International winner, but was “redirected” to the Miss Global pageant instead and became the first Filipino to bring home the crown. This turn of events inspired his recent pageant-related personal decisions. He initially signed up for the Mister Grand Philippines contest, but shifted to the Great Man of the Universe competition, he related.
The 31-year-old licensed teacher did not pursue education as a profession and instead ventured into the tourism industry. He is currently a consultant at the Nunungan municipal office, which paved the way for his representation of Lanao del Norte. He is the first man to carry the province’s name in a national male pageant.
Malik said his last foray into the world of pageantry was about five years ago, and he appreciates receiving guidance, mentorship and preparations from Camp Hiraya under creative director Johndel Tacata.
The 2022 Great Man of the Universe Philippines final competition will be staged at the Novotel Manila Araneta City in Quezon City on Nov. 13. Forty candidates are vying for the title. /ra
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