Policeman Neil Perez from Tondo, Manila was crowned Mister International 2014 in Ansan, South Korea on Saturday, the first time a Filipino won since the male pageant began in 2006.
Before participating in the Mister International Philippines 2014, Neil Perez, or Police Office 2 Mariano Perez Flormata Jr., was a bomb and explosives technician with the Aviations Security Group of the Philippine National Police. He said that he joined the local competition to promote health and fitness. The PNP announced its support of Perez’s participation in the pageant.
Perez competed wearing outfits designed by Filipino designers, Dinagyang-inspired national costume by Edwin Uy and formal wear by Olan Roque.
Perez, who became a viral sensation for being the “hot cop,” took the crown after beating 42 contestants during the finale. Aside from winning the title, Perez also won 2nd runner up in the best national costume category. He is the ninth Mister International and first Filipino to win the title.
Rabih El Zein of Lebanon was named first runner-up while Tomas Dumbrovsky was named second runner-up.
According to plan, he spoke Filipino and used an interpreter during the question and answer portion.
Before leaving for Korea, Perez dedicated his title quest to the 44 members of the PNP-Special Action Force who recently perished in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
Perez said “Nalungkot ako nung nabalitaan ko yun. Seven of them were my batchmates in the police academy so I will do my best to win the title. This is one way of serving my country and bring honor to our Filipino countrymen”.
“This is the first time I would join this kind of contest. I hope I would not fail the PNP which I somehow represent,” he said.
“Misters of the Philippines pageant can bring additional opportunities for me in terms of exposure which will eventually help me financially. Through this pageant, I can also show to other people that I can do more aside from being a police officer,” he added.