Aaron Garcia (sarap talaga!)
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Date Posted: Tuesday, September 02, 06:23:44am
Finding Private Ryan
By Joaquin Lorenzo III
Saturday, August 30, 2008
THE PHILIPPINE STAR
At the press presentation of the first-ever Mister International Philippines pageant, The Philippine Star stumbled upon a truly interesting subject. Included in the line-up of hopefuls vying for the chance to represent the Philippines in the Mister International pageant in Taiwan is a Filipino-American candidate named Ryan Roberts, who, for four years, served with the US Army in Iraq.
Ryan was born in the Philippines 24 years ago, the product of an inter-racial romance that blossomed inside the Clark Air Base. “I am very much a Filipino as I am an American,” he begins, “and although I grew up practically in the States, I have long been wanting to come back and reconnect with my roots.”
Life in the war-ravaged cities of Iraq is something Ryan won’t ever forget. “Even if I have been there for four years and have seen with my own eyes the ugly side of life, I feel that war isn’t something that can be justified. Death is something that comes like a tornado without a warning and young lives continue to be wasted because of war and conflict of nations.”
It was difficult for Ryan to see his comrades and friends at the US Army 101st Airborne Division become casualties of war. He tells us that the scenes are still vividly clear in his mind and most of those who served in the US Army in the US-Iraq war had to undergo a psychological process to detached themselves from the experience.
The reason perhaps why a trip to the Philippines came at a perfect time for Ryan. “Everyone seems to be happy here, and even if life is not always easy, Filipinos somehow manage to smile and exhale their woes.” Without verbalizing it, it seems that this extended trip wasn’t only meant to visit relatives but also to embrace a new environment, to recharge, to heal.
When the opportunity for Ryan to join the Mister International Philippines search came, he had hesitations in the beginning. “Honestly, I never thought I am cut out for this. But when it was explained to me that it is a legitimate male pageant and I can represent the Philippines abroad, I said yes, “ he recounts.
The high school graduate of Fort Walton High School is in the thick of preparations for the finals night on Sept. 1, to be held at the very new A- Venue Mall in Makati City. “We were briefed that this is not just about who has the best physique and who has the most charming smile. It is as much about personality, camaraderie, credibility and the ability to best represent the country.” Ryan will battle it out with 14 other hopefuls on Monday night to determine who will wear the Mister Philippines sash in Kaoshiung, Taiwan this November.
At 6‘-tall, Private Ryan says he likes surfing and he might find time to visit La Union and Siargao when he can after the pageant. He is also involved in mixed martial arts, but clarifies that the new sport doesn’t promote violence but discipline, respect and focus. He was a heavy equipment operator before he decided to come to the Philippines.
We noticed a tattoo on his left chest bearing the name Alena. Ryan was quick to explain, “It’s a big mistake,” and breaks into a regretful smile. When probed, the true gentleman that he is didn’t choose to go into details, only saying, “Don’t we all fall madly in love with the wrong person at least once in our life?”
This early, Ryan is touted as a strong contender, but he just brushes this aside. “Oh yes, I need to be confident, but all I really need to work on is how I can be the best candidate on finals night and hopefully, the judges will see that and give me good scores.”
The STAR learned that the fate of Ryan will lie in the hands of the following personalities who will make up the board of judges: Bohol socialite Lani Schoof, fashion designers Paul Cabral and Barge Ramos, jeweler Judy So, Manila Times entertainment editor Ricky Gallardo, scent expert Joel Cruz and Salon Prive’s Geoff Simpson.
Admittedly, being thrown into a male pageant is a totally different experience for Ryan. But like Iraq, there’s no turning back on this one.
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