|Touching moment: police officer Neil Perez of the Philippines gives a salute after winning the Mister International title. The salute is his gesture to honor the 44 Filipino police officers who were killed last January 25th.|
Neil Perez (real name Mariano Flormata, Jr.), a 29-year-old police officer and a trained bomb and explosives technician from Manila, Philippines, won the 2014/2015 Mister International title at the Hotel Inter-Burgo Grand Ballroom in Ansan, Korea on February 14. He received his sash and trophy from the 2013 winner, José Anmer Paredes of Venezuela. Perez's victory marks his country's first win of the coveted male beauty pageant. His court includes 1st runner-up Rabih El Zein of Lebanon, 2nd runner-up Tomáš Dumbrovský of the Czech Republic, 3rd runner-up Rafał Maślak of Poland, and 4th runner-up Mitja Nadizar of Slovenia.
Completing the top 10 were the delegates from Brazil, Mexico, Japan, Korea and Thailand. And completing the top 15 were the delegates from Colombia, Indonesia, Guam, Myanmar and Puerto Rico.
Perez dedicated his victory to his fellow 44 Filipino police officers who were slain on January 25 in Mindanao during a search for a Malaysian terrorist, Zulkifli Abdhir who was eventually killed.
The pageant sailed smoothly despite controversies that culminated in the withdrawal of fifteen countries that could not participate due to the fact that the date had been pushed out three times (October 2014, December 2014, February 2015), and that they were not reimbursed by the Korean organizing committee for the airfares that they had purchased for the original date. Read here for details on the controversy.