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Mr. Asia 2024 pageant showcases diverse student talent

Sazida Marzia

Baruch College’s Filipinos Uniting Students in Other Nations club held its annual Mr. Asia cultural pageant on April 3. It followed the theme “Beneath the Mask”. The event showcased eight male students and the city or country they represented along with their talents.

The eight contestants were Allen Paulino, Taiyo Kuwamura, Sahil Faran, James Wong, Aqib Patwary, Nathan Qiu, Jay Angelo Bie and Nguyen Hai Anh Kiet. They represented Quezon City, Japan, Pakistan, Nueva Ecija, Bangladesh, China, Pampanga and Vietnam respectively. 

The hosts of the event were alum Samantha Ramirez and Undergraduate Student Government Chair of Appeals Asher Gonzalez. The judges were Jillian Ledesma, Amrutha Thirumalesh and Adam Thomas. Ledesma was the former president of FUSION from 2021-2022, Thirumalesh is the current USG chair of Clubs & Organizations and Thomas was the winner of Mr. Asia 2023.

The event started with an introduction and cultural walk of each contestant. Individually or with friends, each contestant made their grand entrance into the room with an opening speech and quick talent. 

Paulino, also referred to as Mr. Quezon City, entered first by singing and playing a traditional Filipino love song on his guitar. Other contestants such as Mr. Nueva Ecija, Mr. Bangladesh, Mr. Pakistan and Mr. Pampanga entered with dances and music. 

Bie, or Mr. Pampanga, based his performance on “laban”, the Tagalog word for “fight.” To Bie, the word encapsulates more than one definition. 

“Laban is a testament to the strength of Filipinos,” he said. “Our freedom, independence and justice against colonial rule.” He added that the word also represents his fight for gender expression and a brighter future.

Other contestants took a different approach. Mr. Japan made sushi in front of the audience and Mr. China cooked fried rice with a comedic twist at the end. Mr. Vietnam showed off his complex yo-yo tricks where he twisted the string into shapes resembling the Eiffel Tower and maneuvered the yo-yo ball to spin like a UFO.

 “It’s truly an honor to represent my heritage, my county, my people, Vietnam,” Kiet said in an interview with The Ticker. “I’m very happy to be here onstage at Baruch.”

After a raffle, the main talent competition began, where the contestants were given more time to showcase their talents. Some contestants continued off of their entrance performance while others did something completely different. 

Mr. Nueva Ecija played Kanye West’s “Runaway” on his electric guitar and Mr. Japan sang and played “First Love” by Hikaru Utada. Mr. Vietnam sang “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys while the audience sang along. Mr. Pakistan and his friends performed a short play which then became a rap and dance.

Mr. Bangladesh performed magic card tricks with each judge. Mr. China showed his skills on the diabolo, an hourglass-shaped prop controlled by two wands, also known as the Chinese yo-yo.

Afterward, the audience had a complimentary dinner from Sisig Ng Bayan. The evening walk and top five followed.

The judges then announced the winner of Mr. Asia 2024. Bie, Mr. Pampanga, was crowned Mr. Asia 2024. 

Editor’s Note: Adam Thomas, The Ticker’s Business Manager, was a judge for Mr. Asia 2024. He was not involved in the editorial process for this article.

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