The Philippines wins another major international competition. Benigno ‘Iion’ Perez bested contestants from 19 other delegates to bag the Mr. Universe Tourism 2018 title in glittering finals at Tanghalang Pasigueño, Pasig City.
Perez bested Brata Manggala Putra Kartasasmita of Indonesia who finished first-runner up and and Avjeet Singh Ramdhawa of India second runner up in the final round.
2017 winner Richard Ricardo Carter of Thailand passed on his title to Perez, a 27-year-old native of Capaz, Tarlac.
Perez was asked during the final Q&A round “If you could trade places with somebody, who would it be and why?”
Perez replied that he would like to trade places with the country’s president as he believed he could do a lot as the land’s chief executive to provide jobs and help boost the Tourism industry.
The freshman at Tarlac State University chose to speak in his native tongue using an interpreter.
The 12th among 14 siblings, Perez dedicated his win to his mother who sells sweetened desserts to support them and to his father who had passed away. A budding print-ads model, Perez was featured as one of Cosmopolitan magazine’s 69 hottest bachelors in 2017.
In the special awards category, Perez won Best in Swimwear. Kartasasmita won Best in Festival (National) Costume. Jacob Thien of Sabah won Mr. Photogenic and Best in Formal Wear while Kyaw Ye Htet of Myanmar took the Best in Tourism Advocacy Video.