Chantong, Tay win Mr. and Ms. Chinatown titles

Jonathan Chantong and Nina Tay Lee. (Larry Leong/MMC)

More than just a regular pageant, Mr. and Ms. Chinatown is a community and platform for dialogue that has become an avenue for Chinoys to showcase their unique culture and talents and to come together, embrace diversity and create meaningful changes to the society.

Apart from looking for new faces, the pageant is also looking for new voices of the Chinoy community. Its theme started with “Unity in Diversity” (2016), “New Dynasty” (2017), “Beauty in DiverCHIty – Different Individuals Valuing Each other Regardless of Culture, Heart, Intellect, Traditions and Youthfulness” (2018) and “Building Bridges (2019).

In his message, President Rodrigo Duterte commended Chinoy TV and its partners for supporting the annual pageant that celebrates the strong ties between two vibrant cultures that compliment each other.

“Over the years, the Filipino-Chinese community has become an important contributor in enriching our multifaceted national identity. Through the participation of this year’s promising young Chinoy candidates, I am confident that you will provide another opportunity for the youth to build bridges that will promote our dynamic heritage to the world,” said Duterte.

After months of preparation and anticipation 12 females and 13 males out of thousands of auditionees competed during the finals held at the SM MOA Arena, Pasay amidst rainy Sunday evening last 8 September. The coronation night was the grandest night of the Chinatown pageant with Robi Domingo, Gretchen Ho, Janeena Chan and Willord Chua as hosts.

At the end of the night, 23-year-old Jonathan Chantong from De La Salle University and 25-year-old Nina Tay Lee from University of Santo Tomas became the winner of the seventh edition of Mr. and Ms. Chinatown.

The early favorite Chantong wants to build bridges through anti-bullying.

“There is no simple solution to end bullying, but it is important to me to help other victims find their voices and to remind them they are not alone. I aim it to make it a “safe zone” for people to seek support and learn healthy ways to cope bullying.”

In the case of Lee, she wants to build bridges through growing passion.

“Through this competition, I hope I will be able to help young adults cultivate their hobbies and interests that will support passion-driven careers and professions,” she said.

Apart from winning the title, Chantong won six special awards: Best in Swimwear, Best in Formal Attire, Mr. Photogenic, Mr. Bluewater Day Spa, Mr. Tak Chun and Mr. Solaire.

Meanwhile, Lee won Best in Swimwear, Best in Formal Attire and Ms. Congeniality.

The 21-year-old Philene Yeung from De La Salle University who advocates financial security and 21-year old Jeremiah Tomas, an advocate of likhang bayan emerged as first runner-up. Both Yeung and Tomas were named as Asia United Amabassadors and also Ms. Gibi Shoes for Yeung.

The 19-year-old performing arts advocate Maria Lorraine Cho from Bulacan University and 23-year-old sports advocate Stephen Lim from De La Salle University were named as second runner-up. Cho won Ms. Bluewater Day Spa and Ms. Solaire with Chantong.

The candidates and the reigning title holders Moises Limyuen (Mr. Chinatown 2018) and Marie Que (Ms. Chinatown 2018) opened the night with a dance presentation wearing gold cheongsams and black armor ensemble by Joel Acebuche and Guy Singsozon.

All male candidates graced the arena wearing formal attire by Edwin Tan and Jamie Go for female candidates. And they sizzled in pink and gold swimwear by Ricky Abad.

From 25, the number of candidates was trimmed down to 14 finalists. The seven males were Tomas, Chantong, Lim, Ho (Mr. Congeniality), Tee (Mr. Ogawa), Michael Jy Chua and Dave Dy (Tak Chun Group People’s Choice Award).

The other females candidates were Paula Tan (Ms. West Avenue Suites), Amara Ui (Ms. Photogenic, Ms. Ogawa and Mr. Tak Chun), Raissa Tan and Claudine Chua (Tak Chun Group People’s Choice Award).

Other candidates who won special awards were Gerrickson Malto (Mr. West Avenue Suites) and Jidelle Chan Tan (Ms. Congeniality).

The final hurdle of the finalists was the timed question and answer segment from the judges.

The national competition (Chinatown Day) was held last 18 August at the Grand Atrium, Shangri-La Plaza in Mandaluyong where Tomas and Tan won Best in Cultural Costume.

The talent competition was held last 25 August at the Atrium, Lucky Chinatown Mall in Binondo where Gerrickson Malto and Cho winning Best in Talent.

Lee got to wear the new Phoenix Crown made by the master crafters of Hoseki Jewelry Art, each intricacy in the crown was crafted with great attention and effort.

As the symbol of the pageant, the Phoenix Crown serves as a reminder to its future wearer of the virtues and responsibilities she must adhere to. She will be the representative of Chinoys and within her reign she will be a role model in bringing the cultures and relationships tied with Chinoy identity.

The official candidates of Mr. and Ms. Chinatown 2019 were Joshua Benzi Yang, Giles Ashby de Jesus, Waldron Lee, Dave Audric Dy, Carlo Fernan Tan, Jason Salcedo, Michael Jung Yang Chua and Gerrickson Malto.

The official female candidates were Raissa Yentyl Tan, Zofie Zeng, Claudine Marie Chua, Kyra Wong, Jidelle Chan-Tan, Joanna Paula Tan, Cho, Ui, Razeline Chua, Lee, Chelsea Phoebe Ong and Yeung.

To relive the moments from the coronation night, everyone can still catch the telecast on 15 September on ABS-CBN’s Sunday’s Best after Gandang Gabi Vice.

p: wjg