The Mister Philippines Australia 2015 Awards Night last 24 October at the Moonlight Reception in Fitzroy North was marred by controversy due to a vote tabulation blunder and counting the scores. Unsatisfied parents and supporters expressed disappointment at the result. Some took to social media to express dissatisfaction on how the pageant was judged.
The mother of Paul John (PJ) Evenden, declared Fourth Runner-up, requested for the tally result and had her accountant re-compute the final scores and found incorrect computations. The organisers, in turn, recomputed the scores and discovered tabulation blunder. PJ Evenden did not come last (Fourth Runner-up) but should be Third Runner-up. Unfortunately, Evenden should not have been awarded Best in Formal Wear and Best in Question and Answer. As per correct tabulation, Mark Davis Espanola should have been declared Best in Formal Wear while Jeremiah Nicolas topped the other candidates in the Question and Answer portion. There’s no trophy awarded in the Q and A category but the scores are included in the total score. Meanwhile, Ben David Hitchcock should have been awarded Second Runner-up and not Third Runner-up. Espanola’s final score should have placed him as Fourth Runner-up not Second Runner-up.
A visibly upset Liza Di Blasio, Director of Mister Philippines Australia, explained last Tuesday to The Philippine Times what happened. She said that due to human error, Mister Philippines Australia 2015 would like to announce the new result. The winner, Jam Acero and First Runner-up, Jeremiah Nicolas still retain their spots. The other winners are: Second Runner-up- Ben Hitchcock; Third Runner-up- Paul John Evenden, and Fourth Runner-up- Dave Espanola.
“My humble apology to the candidates, parents and sponsors for the incorrect tabulation of scores. To conceal the situation would have been a lot worse than to admit the error. I would like to continue serving the Philippine community and help young male Filipinos to develop their talents and enhance their abilities and gain confidence through male pageants,” she said.
Mister Philippines Australia 2015 Jam Asero was also declared Best in Swimwear and Best in National Costume award. Jeremiah Nicolas was also named Mister Western Union, Mister Friendship and Mister Popular Presentation Night.
Ben David Hitchcock received Mister Philippine Tours, Mister Photogenic and Mister Popular Awards Night. He also should have been awarded Best in Presentation Night. PJ Evenden was named Mister JY Accounting Services, and Mark Davis Espanola, Best in Formal Wear.
Mister Philippine Australia’s Co-Director removed
Di Blasio sadly announced that due to the tabulation blunders and other issues which she did not want to elaborate, she had to remove Lalaine Diez as Co-Director of Mister Philippines Australia. “I deeply regret that due to irreconcilable differences in management, Lalaine Diez is no longer part of my committee. Mister Philippines Australia Production will cease its operation but the Male Pageant Production will continue to run as a different entity solely under my leadership,” she said. Meanwhile, Diez has yet to respond to questions sent by Philippine Times.
One Facebook user posted: “A lot went wrong on Saturday night and people were not impressed with the event, venue, service, food and the whole program and results.” Di Blasio and her team also had to take a lot of flak for choosing the judges. They say that a judge, for example, who comes from the fashion industry or beauty pageant would have an eye for a proper candidate to represent Australia. In the heat of criticisms, Gina Tolentino, Chairperson of Mister Philippines, had to lash back at someone on Facebook by asking, “Have I ever treated any candidate badly?” She then hurled angry words at the same person. The post has since been removed from FB and she later posted a lighter message saying she regret expressing her anger on FB.
Di Blasio said the criticisms they received this year are really hurtful and demoralizing but they will try to assess opportunities to improve next year. “Rest assured that I will run the pageant with all honesty and utmost integrity and continue to send candidates to compete internationally,” she noted.
Giving awards to rightful winners
Di Blasio said they will organise a special program to award the rightful winners. “We want to do things correctly so we will give them the correct trophies and sashes,” she said.
True Filipino gentlemen
The annual male pageant upholds the mission of promoting Filipino culture through the exemplary image of a true Filipino gentlemen in Australia. The best of these top male contingents will further the cultural mission by representing the Filipino-Australian in the world stage.
During the Awards Night, Philippine Honorary Consul to Victoria Felix Pintado commended the Mr Philippines Australia Committee for fostering true friendships among the candidates, their supporters, the Filipino community in Australia, and most especially, for its work in sustaining ties between Filipinos in Australia and the homeland. Appreciation was also given the committee’s charity projects like the recently completed 200-day feeding program in typhoon-stricken Nueva Ecija in the Philippines and the upcoming noche buena or Christmas eve meal pack project the committee will distribute to the survivors this December. Consul Pintado said that Mr Philippines Australia has succeeded in strengthening the spirit of bayanihan, or community work done in true Filipino fashion.
(Photos by Ben Magkase and Dong Nicolas)