What an honour it was. Met a friend at a Corporate Hari Raya luncheon the other day and after the usual greetings, he asked me if I could be one of the judges for the annual search for 'BUVAZOI TAVANTANG 2014' or 'The Dashing Young Men' popularly known as 'Mr Kaamatan 2014" (MRK2014) to be held at a hotel in KK on the 31st August 2014. I was taken aback a little but flattered as I had never judged a 'Male Contest' before though I have witnessed this annual competition a few times, maybe this the 4th time.
Judging beauty contest is of course not something new to me having been invited to several beauty contests before but a Male Hunk Contest? Gosh, what do I know about judging Men Hunk? It was an honour even to be considered of course, and after a slight hesitation and asking whether it involved having to see half naked men in their trunks and he said no. .and it was not a contest where they will show muscles or something in their skimpy trunks.....pheww.. that would have been awkward. Not that I do not appreciate 'beauty' in men but I have this tendency to giggle and not able to look at them with a straight face. That is NOT what a judge should do. Being objective, professional and be ethical is. So that being cleared, it finalised my resolute to say ok. I was told that they would ONLY be judged in their traditional costume.
Actually it wasn't much different from having to judge ladies' beauty contest. Or was it? There were 21 contestants. They were made to appear on stage in 5's and each had to introduce themselves in any Kadazan local language of their choice and do a catwalk along the walkway with their own individual pose. They were judged on Looks, Confidence/Personality, Costume and Posture/Catwalk (or something like that). They came out fully attired in their most elegant and resplendent Male Traditional Costume, each representing a district in Sabah.
Gosh, it was harder than I thought.. Still as usual, I couldn't keep my face straight. They did their pose, strutted their best walk, engaged each judge with their best smiles and flirty eyes and more poses. All did very well and it was obvious that they were prepared for the competition and had practiced a lot. I could hear the audience cheering, whistling, clapping. It however, didn't stop my funny bones from reacting. It wasn't funny like a funny haha ..and they actually looked quite elegant so I do not understand why it tickled my funny bones to the core. It was so difficult to keep myself in check. I had the deep urge to laugh out loud. I didn't want to appear rude and but it was compounded when I saw some of the audience laughing.
I know it was inappropriate to laugh and I felt very bad but the more I tried to control, the harder it became. I tried to look away, pinched myself, bite my inner cheek, I tried holding my breath, then hearing my fellow judges giggling, it just squeezed my laughter out even louder until I cried.. and I thought my gosh, my mascara must be running now and me looking like a panda and the thought made me laughed even more!
Oh guys, I am so very sorry for laughing.. I know it was not a laughing matter but I just couldn't help it. It however, did not affect our judgement and those top 7 finalists chosen were the best of the lot! To the guys who didn't win, it wasn't that you were not good, just that your luck was not there that night and well, there's always next year.
All in all, it was a fantastic experience and I did have fun and wouldn't mind being invited to more Man Hunk Competition, as long as no swimming trunk please.
Esther Appolonius, a very talented lady, one of the entertainers that night. She's hot! Sabah's answer to the legendary Anita Sarawak..
Sorry, I laughed..
P/s: Pictures are courtesy of Nikko San and Nelson Michael Photography