On Nov. 17, Ivan Yorobe, a junior nursing and Catholic studies major, represented the Filipino League at Seton Hall (FLASH) at the Mr. Philippines pageant, which was held at Columbia University in New York.
Mr. Philippines (PI) is an annual male pageant event competition that Columbia’s Liga Filipina and New York University’s International Filipino Association host. The event features one male member to represent his school from FIND Inc.’s District 3.
All 21 contestants had an opening dance to Backstreet Boys’ “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back),” Chris Brown’s “Wet the Bed” and D4L’s “Laffy Taffy.”
Yorobe participated in a barong walk, which featured the traditional formal Filipino male attire, a cultural segment and a talent portion.
Justin Ponce, a senior social and behavioral sciences major who was a part of Yorobe’s entourage, took part in the barong walk.
“The theme we were going for was boxing, so we did mitt work on the stage,” Ponce said.
For his cultural portion, Yorobe said he wanted to share his viewpoint on the capacity for love that Filipinos have.
“I connected it to the history of the Spaniards bringing the Catholic faith to the Philippines in the 15th century,” Yorobe said. “Because of that our faith being passed down through the generations, we learned to love in a way that is very selfless and very giving to other people.”
“I wanted to share that belief of mine that Filipinos are very loving,” he said. “I wanted to instill into their hearts if we love in such a powerful way, then we should keep loving because the world right now needs love.”
Lyla Bugarin, a sophomore public relations major who is also part of the entourage, also helped edit Yorobe’s monologue so the words would have a lasting impact.
As for his talent portion, Allyssa Villanueva, a junior nursing major part of the entourage, explained that Yorobe decided to sing and express through song the story of harana, or serenade.
“It’s basically courtship, and Ivan was the guy courting the girl,” Villanueva said. “My role for this portion was to play his wingman and hype up the crowd during the performance.”
Yorobe explained that the theme of the night was “Back to the Future,” and the practice of harana, or serenade, is something that a lot of people used to do in the Philippines back in the day. Liz Leonardo played the role of the girl in the performance.
After the event, Yorobe said he felt very tired but happy.
“I didn’t think it would be this fun,” he said. “It’s been a very long, tiring, stressful journey. But I think at the end, it was all worth it.”
As part of his entourage, Ponce ensured that the Mr. PI rep was hitting the deadlines with so much on his plate. He also traveled with Yorobe to the dance practices at NYU every Friday.
Villanueva planned and created the set to bring Yorobe’s vision for his talent to life as well as critiqued his stage presence. She said she is beyond proud of him, seeing how he has grown so much since the beginning of the journey.
“Seeing his performance, how much fun he was having throughout the whole thing and how he left his heart on stage made all the struggles we all had as an entourage worth it,” she said. “I really think that each piece that Ivan had for the categories was a true representation of how he is as a person, and that’s what’s Mr. PI is all about. Simply being yourself and sharing what you have with the rest of the community.”
Bugarin also noted the changes in herself as part of the entourage.
“I was pushed to think more creatively in my writing,” she said. “It was my first time doing interpretive dancing and even memorizing it within a short amount of time. I got to become closer with other people in FLASH. All in all, I’m really grateful for this experience.”
“When everything was wound up and done, not winning anything wasn’t even on our minds, it was more so that Ivan told me that despite everything, he’s absolutely proud that this happened,” Ponce said.
Yorobe said, “It was crazy to see how many people came to support me. To be on stage and knowing that there’s people that love me so much in the crowd… that kept me going.”
Kristel Domingo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.