IN PHOTOS: John Raspado arrives in PH after winning Mr Gay World 2017
MANILA, Philippines – Mr Gay World 2017 John Raspado is back in the Philippines, days after winning the title in Spain.
John was met by the media and fans at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) terminal 1 on Saturday, May 13. (READ: 5 things to know about Mr Gay World Philippines 2016 John Raspado)
John is the first Filipino and the first Asian to win the Mr Gay World title. "It's very fulfilling because all the hard work paid off. Very overwhelming po talaga (it's really so overwhelming)," said the 36 year old entrepreneur from Baguio, on winning.
For the pageant, the candidates went through a series of challenges leading up to coronation night.
For John, one of the most difficult tasks was the sports challenge: "Kailangan physically fit ka. Iyon yung pinaka first challenge and I took my time [kasi] ayoko ma-injure because kung ma-injure ako, hindi na ako makakaperform nang maigi," he said.
(You really need to be physically fit. That was the first challenge and I really took my time, because I did not want to get injured. If I get injured, I won't be able to perform well.)
He also admitted that he got emotional during the closed door interviews: "Sa mismong interview, na luha ako kasi I talked yung sa discrimination, lalo na sa kuya ko na na-stroke nga po siya, and nung time na iyon, as in na homesick ako, as in bigla na lang tumulo yung luha ko. Doon po sila siguro na antig na this is a person who could be an inspiration to others."
(During the actual interview, I got teary-eyed because I talked about discrimination, especially about my older brother, who suffered a stroke. At the time, I got homesick, and suddenly my tears fell. I guess that touched them, that this person could be an inspiration to others.)
For now, part of John's tasks include looking for delegates for the next Mr Gay World Philippines and participating in World Pride Madrid 2017, a world LGBT pride festival, which will take place in June.
Since HIV/AIDS awareness is one of the main advocacies of the Mr Gay World pageant, John said he will make sure to use his new position to promote the cause.
He added that his win will bring more visibility to the LGBT community in the Philippines, and in turn, acceptance.
"Well of course, kailangan ng visibility in the community. If we're not visible in the community, hindi tayo marerecognize as LGBT community in the Philippines. Iyon yung first step. Kailangan natin maging visible para ma-recognize tayo and ma-accept tayo ng community natin dito sa Pilipinas," he said.
(Well of course, there should be visibility in the community. If we're not visibile in the community, we won't be recognized as an LGBT community in the Philippines. That's the first step. We need to be more visible to be recognized and be accepted by the coummunity in the Philippines.)
Before winning Mr Gay World, John was an entrepreneur and was involved in online marketing. He also joined and won It's Showtime's "I'm Pogay" segment in 2014. – Rappler.com