In the Miss-dominated world of pageantry, men have a harder time finding a platform for their advocacies. With the outdated views surrounding male pageants, contestants work hard to overcome not just the competition, but also judgment from their peers.

This is what newly crowned Mister Model Worldwide-Philippines Gianluca Lanta had to endure in order to take home the title. A proud Pinoy, born and raised in Italy, Gianluca never thought of joining pageants for men, as such things are looked down upon in his community. But it was through pageantry that Gianluca found a platform to gain back his and the Filipino community’s voice in their continued fight for representation.

Belonging to a minority all his life, Gianluca knows about the pains of being an outcast living abroad. Often a target of discrimination, the Misters of Filipinas finalist was once called ‘Black Chinese’ because of his skin color. Isolation always accompanied Gianluca growing up, being the only Filipino in class, and always singled out because of his race.

The disparity is not superficial—Filipinos in Italy often are often stereotyped as servants, relegated to blue-collar work and denied opportunities otherwise available to locals. “It makes me really upset, seeing my community treated like that,” shares Gianluca.

Onstage for a purpose

The world of male pageantry was introduced to Gianluca in 2016, when he first joined Mr. Rome Pilipinas organized by the Filipino community in Italy. Though he didn’t win, Gianluca used this experienced to further his fight for Filipino representation in Italy.

His recent vacation in the Philippines turned out to be a good one, as Gianluca tried his luck for this year’s Misters of Filipinas pageant. The waiter-turned personal trainer nabbed not just the Mister Model Worldwide-Philippines title, but also the Men’s Club by AVON Choice Award during the competition.

With his new platform, Gianluca plans to take his community’s plight to the world stage, saying: “The chance to represent 50,000 Filipinos in Milan pushes me to join the competition. I want to show the world that we’re more than just our jobs, our color, or any stereotype that they may throw at us. I want to show that we can do so much more.”

His unique drive earned him recognition from Men’s Club by AVON, which acknowledges trailblazing men who redefine what it means to be a modern gentleman.

“Avon believes that besides being strong and suave, men can also be graceful and emotional—and still be considered manly,” says Tisha Rodriguez, Avon Philippines’ Marketing Director. “What matters is that your heart is in the right place, and that you work to improve your life and the life of those around you.”

It’s only fitting for Gianluca to receive such recognition, as he paints an image of a modern gentleman: resilient even in the face of inequality. For him, it all comes down to discipline. “If you’re disciplined on the little things, then you’ll achieve greater success—for yourself and your community.”

Gianluca will return to the stage in December to represent the Philippines in this year’s Mister Model Wordwide pageant. Check out @AvonPH on Instagram to follow his journey with Avon Men’s Club.

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