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Date Posted: Friday, September 08, 04:07:43am

From the journal of Nomer Yuzon
Mr. Hawaii 2006


After three days of fun in Shanghai, I am now taking another plane ride to Jinjiang. This time I am really nervous, and the flight being delayed does not help at all. The plane taxies and now seating in the runway for almost two hours and my heart is beating like @#$%!. Few hours later which seems like forever, I am exiting Jinjiang Airport. It's a small domestic airport which reminds me of those in the Philippines. Someone from the contest is meeting me here to drive me to the hotel. As we are on the road, I see lots of billboards - all about Manhunt International, some in English, most in Chinese. "This is it!" I tell myself, "Manhunt, here I come!"

I am walking into my room at at the hotel with no idea who am I gonna be sharing it with. I hope for someone who doesn't snore, or smokes in the room, or stinks. I open the door thinking I am the first one there but the first thing I see is this butt naked guy inside getting dressed. Ooops! I apologize and he says, "No worries, mate!" I then realize by his accent the he's Mr. Australia.

After getting settled in the room and few chitchats with my new "mate", we go downstairs to meet the other guys. A busload of them is just getting in. I recognize Mr. Sweden, Mr. Panama, Mr. Ukraine, etc. I recognize almost all them from their photos in the website. I then see Mr. Philippines. I come up to him and say, "Kumusta?" It amazes him to see another Filipino. "May isa pang Pinoy, darating mamaya." I am referring to Mr. USA West who just missed his flight from Beijing. It is an afternoon of Alohas and Hellos, handshakes, and self intoductions. I pretty much meet almost everyone but I don't remember most of their names, just the countries they represent.

A welcome dinner comes next. There are lots of food - Chinese food of course. But this is the real Chinese food, none of those greasy egg roll or beef brocolli I usually buy in the states. I am sitting in between Mr. Philippines and Mr. Latvia. The mayor of Jinjiang is giving a welcome speech up on stage - in Mandarin - while someone translates it in English. Ocassionally, we stand up and applause and I realize how tall Mr. Latvia is. He's about 6'7". He totally makes me look like a midget. "Damn, why the hell did I sit next to him!"

I thought we will then go to our respective rooms and rest after dinner. Wrong! A meeting/briefing comes next then our first photoshoot follows. The shoot will be for the souvineer program of the contest. How odd it is to do a shoot after traveling from different parts of the world? Some guys spent up to four days of travel to get to Jinjiang and some haven't slept for days. Oh well, I guess that's what a model's job is - you have too look good anytime, all the time.


Rise and shine, it's 6 AM! How I wish I can sleep in 'til noon. But no, we have to start our day early. Me and my roommate Rami (I started calling him "Rami my roommie") get ready and head downstairs for breakfast at 7:30. Most of the guys are there already, some skip breakfast to workout at the hotel gym. After the meal, we assemble at the lobby. We are going to an outdoor photo and video shoots today. They have provided us the clothes we will be wearing for the whole week the night before. If I only knew, I wouldn't have packed all the clothes I brought from home. Oh well, too late!

It's sprinkling a little bit and the temperature is almost close to freezing. One thing I forgot to pack with me was a jacket. It is really cold and I feel like all parts of my body are shrinking. I hope it's not this cold during the Swimwear Competition, he he he. Thank heaven for Mr. Puerto Rico has an extra sweater and he lets me borrow it. What a nice guy!

We visit temples, an ancient bridge, etc. Camera flashes here and there, TV crews and other media people follow us where ever we go. Locals ask us for authographs and take photos as well. I"m having a great time. But the best part of this trip is the bus ride. It reminds me of our field trips in high school. We sing, exchange jokes, and laugh for the most part. Everyone is having fun in the bus, well, except for Mr. Peru who is horrified of the way they drive in China.

We head back to the hotel for lunch and some serious fitting follows. They divide us into groups and each group spends at least two to three hours in a room. Inside are the designers of the clothes plus their whole entourage. They are all speaking in Chinese and seems to be so busy and stressed out. We, on the other hand, are laughing, joking, and making fun of each other. Mr. Estonia's speedo is too small and can barely fit everything. I can't fit into any shoes, they're all too big while they're all too small for Mr. Germany. It's almost 2 AM when we finally finish.


Visits to the sponsors and another outdoor shoot are the firsts in our schedule today. This time it's raining. "Do we have to do this?", that is what everyone is whining about. They cancel some of the locations due to rain. Instead, we drive to the beach where the rain is not as bad as it is in downtown Jinjiang. Everyone is tired from the previous day's activities. The laughters and the jokes are now a lot less compared to yesterday for almost everyone falls asleep during the bus ride. The beaches are beautiful, but quiet and empty - a total opposiite of those in Honolulu or those in San Francisco and L.A. that are always packed with people in tight bikinis, six pack abs, and fake breasts.

In the afternoon, there are rehearsals for the National Costume Competition and Talent Night which happen on the same night. I have not practiced my song at all and I feel like I am losing my voice due to lack of sleep. I really wish I can have at least an hour or two of rest just to doze off a bit. Wishful thinking! Our daily schedule is filled with 16 to 17 hours of activities that we barely sleep. If we want to use the gym or other hotel facilities, we have to spare an hour or so from our rest or skip a meal just like what most do.

I must have lost a few pounds or a couple of inches on my waist because my costume (I wear a grass skirt and leis) keeps on sliding down showing at least a quarter of my crack. I am so afraid that it will fall off while I'm on centerstage. Hmmm.. maybe that's a great way to get noticed, huh? No thanks! I am glad no indecent exposures happens. The Talent Competition comes next right away. I have to run upstairs to change outfit, run back down, do my talent (I sing "This Is The Moment"), run again upstairs, change back to my national costume, and run back down. Whew! Now it's time to announce the special awards.

Modesty aside, I am confident that I did well on my talent that I will at least place second, or first. However, I am still so nervous when they start announcing the winners. I can't hide my happiness when they call my name as the 2nd Place winner for the Talent Competition. About the National Costume? Well, I am not expecting from this one. It is too obvious that the other contestants deserve this award better.

DAYS 4 & 5

We devote these two days for some intense rehearsals for the final night. It is our first time to see the venue and I am really impressed about the size of the auditorium and the stage as well (the stage has six elevators). It is not like Araneta but somewhat close.

My hat's off to Allan, our choreographer. I salute him for being so patient with all of us. Not everyone unterstands or speaks English so only few gets his instructions. But Allan manages to remain calm the whole time. The most fun part of our rehearsals is everytime Mr. Kosovo forgets his cues. This happens over and over until he becomes the center of all jokes. "Kosovo! Where is Kosovo?" becomes a famous punch line. He does not take it offensive in anyway but instead, he plays and laughs along with the rest.

The pre-judjing happens on the 5th day and it is indeed nerve-wracking. We have to come in group into a room in our tuxedos and then in swimwears in front of the panel of judges. I have everything with me plus two extra swimwears in case of an emergency... and whomp! there it is! Two other contestants forget their swimwears at the hotel. Here comes Mr. Hawaii to the rescue! I lend my two extra speedos to Mr. Korea and Mr. Spain, the same kindness Mr. Puerto Rico bestowed upon me a couple of days ago. The speedo I gave Mr. Spain is white and kinda tight. No, it was really tight, so tight you can tell what his religion is. He decides to come out in his underwear instead. I guess it works on his advantage - he places 4th Runner-Up in the Finals. Hmmm... why didn't I think of that first? :-)


As much as I want to feel nervous and excited about the finals, I just want this to get over with - and I'm sure I am not alone feeling this. I somehow feel so exhausted, sleep deprived, and sick of the same Chinese food they're feeding us. I can't wait to go home, sleep in my own bed, hang out at the beach with my friends, etc. etc. We spend the whole day rehearsing and finally, for the first time in six days, they give us a two hour break. However, they want us to stay in the auditorium just in case they need us. I decide to sneak out and go back to the hotel. I need a shower badly and I have not shaved in two days and I feel like I have my five o'clock shadows everywhere. There is no public transportation so I hitch a ride from a Chinese man in a scooter. How we communicate with each other is a totally different story. I get back to the hotel and to my surprise, I bump into Mr. Panama, then Mr. USA West, Mr. Japan, Mr. Ukraine, Mr. Gibraltar, and few more guys. I wonder if they notice back in the auditorium that a bunch of the contestants are missing.

It is starting to get dark and people are crowding up outside. There are tons of policemen, TV crews, photographers, etc. everywhere. Everyone seems so busy including us - smiling and posing for photos and signing autographs. I feel so celebrity-like and to be honest, I am kinda enjoying it.

The program starts at exactly 8 PM. It has a live telecast in all China and other countries as well. It is also broadcasted live on the web where most of my family and friends in the states and in the Philippines are watching. I'm pretty sure they will recognize me right away, for I'm the only one with shaved head, and I am always in the front during our production numbers. My advantage of being one of the shortest guys.

The program runs smoothly and fast and I believe everyone does so well. I really like the some of the clothes I am wearing. How I wish we get to keep them. I once saw on the "Tyra Banks Show" how models usually steal the clothes they wear. I wonder how many of these guys are doing so.

They give up some special awards and I'm really happy when Chris (Mr. USA West) wins Mr. Personality. He really deserves it. Chris is a good friend and he's also Filipino (We both won Ginoong Pilipinas-USA, him in 2006, me in 2003). Then they announce the top 15 in alphabetical order. Ooppps, they skipped me! It's OK, I do not feel bad at all. They call Mr. Philippines and I am really happy about that.

After they announce the winners, all of us exchange handshakes and hugs, and start to say our goodbyes. It is then I realize that this time, it's really over. I mentioned earlier how I wanted to go back home and stuff, but during this moment, I do not want it to end. This may be a really tiring week but still, this is an awesome experience.

We go back to the hotel, eat late dinner, then the party comes next. There are food, booze, and more awards. Most guys are busy collecting e-mail addresses. I have to leave the party early for I am taking the early morning flight. I really regret booking this flight back, I wish I can spend another day in Jinjiang. I leave for the airport at 4 AM while others are still partying. I am awake for almost 24 hours now but I do not feel tired or sleepy at all. My plane takes off and I look outside the window and quietly whisper to myself, "Goodbye everyone, goodbye Jinjiang... and thank you very much."


Now I'm back to my normal life, to my normal everyday life - work, sleep, work, pay bills, work! I have recieved e-mails from some of the guys. I really miss them, my new friends. I really hope to see them all once again.


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[> Subject: Manhunt '06 experience

Fillmoore Vynne C. Gadon II (happy)
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Date Posted: Friday, September 08, 09:24:51am

the experience is quite touching....yet being a Filipino even with mixture of foreign blood and/or environment and always proud of being a filipino makes a lot of difference. I am so proud of you! instead of putting stress to representing hawaii the story is saying he's every bit a Filipino! Even you didn't make it on top, mabuhay ka! you're the real manhunt!

[> Subject: Nice story. Very rare to hear about men's pageants from a contestant's perspective. One thing though, why do some pageants announce finalists in alphabetical order? Talk about a lack of drama!

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Date Posted: Friday, September 08, 10:26:00pm

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