Gentleman Personified

RICK Kristoffer E. Palencia is the face of Mister Global Philippines 2015. He straightened up with his chest out and chin up, and faced the flashing cameras with an amiable smile during the press conference of Gentleman of the Philippines at Montebello Villa Hotel. You can tell he’s a man of few words, and that’s fine. Spotlight moments like that used to make the 23-year-old hunk shake in his boots. “If you were bullied, you tend to create a world of your own or stay quiet and study people,” said Rick, so he avoided having his photo taken as much as he could.

The BS Marine Transportation graduate is gaining popularity in male pageantry, and opportunities come knocking at his door. But he didn’t get here with just his looks alone; he had his fair share of trials and setbacks. Teased as “Rick the Stick,” he was the quiet boy at school who found interest in science. His parents are separated, and he had to quickly assume the father figure to two younger sisters after college since he is the only male in the family. Rick pushed himself to quit smoking and drinking and start living a healthy lifestyle. Hailing from Tacloban City and a first-hand witness to Typhoon Yolanda, Rick wanted to win the Mister Global Philippines title as his symbolical creed of rising up to the challenge.
There is much more to just being a face in the Gentlemen of the Philippines. Outside the spotlight, Rick is a doting parent to a one-year-and-six-month-old Doberman whom he named after a human muscle, Gluteus Maximus; a Christian who sees a merging of truth in science and religion; a “gentleman” who believes in a long committed relationship. (BHQ)

Can you tell us about your trip to Indonesia?

I was invited in Indonesia to judge and perform for Mr. Teen Indonesia, so it was fun. They showed me how the Surabayans are, how 90 percent of them are Muslims. And I had to not eat pork for a few days. But overall it was fun. There was spicy food that I love eating especially when it’s protein. And then the candidates, they are very smart for their age from 16 to 19 years old. After Mr. Teen Indonesia, they are going to represent Mr. Teen International. Every country will send a representative to compete in the competition.

How did you get picked to be the judge?

It came from the connections with Gentlemen of the Philippines. One of the organizers is the friend of Madam Preciousa Ann Medina, who is the founder of the organization. So they invited me. They wanted me to judge the pageant, and I said yes without hesitation.

You mentioned about not eating pork for days, why was that?

Most of them are Muslims, so they could not eat pork. [I did it] as a way of respecting their religion. Most of their restaurants don’t have pork on their menu; it’s just beef, chicken and fish.

But you are not vegetarian?

Dili man, mukaon ra ko bisag unsa.

How did you prepare physically during the competition last year?

Three months before the competition, my body was not really in good shape. Medyo naa koy activities sa balay and naa koy puppy nga gialagaan. It’s still young unya magkasakit usahay. So I have to stay at home sometimes and not go to the gym. Murag parent jud ba. Prior to that, nagpadako jud ko pero sobra ra pod jud ko nga dako, so nagkadugay nisugod kog tone down. Niabot ang final screening medyo dako ra gihapon ko mas chubby pa ang nawong, pero mga two months before the finals night, ni lean down jud ko. So more cardio and then lesser rice and carbs. Pero every week, dapat naa koy cheat meal to restart your metabolism.

But even before joining, you’re into the gym na jud?

Oo kay ever since elementary kay na-bully na ko, they call me “Rick the Stick,” kay niwang kaayo ko. After ato pag second year college na nako, niingon ko nga di nako ganahan ingon ani-on ko pirmi unya bisan kusog ko mukaon di gihapon ko mudako, my metabolism is high. So akong gihimo, work out na lang jud ko. After three months, nakita nako ang improvements then after six months ang uban na pod ang naka-realize so naa gihapon ingon ana. But after a while, stop na pod ko kay na busy sa school and then maka-disappoint kay hinay kaayo ang progress; and I was smoking and drinking, so I had to stop. So like around after a year, padayon ra ang improvements.

Joining the pageant last year, how did it feel?

nervous gihapon but ang naa sa akong huna-huna was nag-join ko not to win but to represent Tacloban City. I want to change their views about Tacloban City kay murag na-stereotype di lang kami apil ang tanang Bisaya, like criticisms. So ganahan nako i-show nga bisan nabiktima tas typhoon Yolanda, we are rising up also.

When you were on stage, what was your mindset?

In my mind, I already made a run-through sa akong himuon kung asa ko face. Way back before katong high school pa ko, I used to be a member of the performing arts, dancer sa folk and theater. So we traveled to Turkey to perform way back in 2006. I viewed as it was just like one of my performances. It’s like I was following a choreography nga I have to go to this part of the stage then three seconds to the other side, then look right, look left, look front. Pero at the same time, dapat di siya dapat mo-look like you are acting like a robot. You need to know how to let your personality come out.

For my face, the fierce look does not suit me usually, ang smiling lang. Naay mga way nga ma show nimo ang imong personality and that the judges can pick it up.

Did you get this from your theatrical background?

I guess so. You practice in front of the mirror, so you can see your face always and evaluate your stance in the mirror. I guess America’s Next Top Model advice was right that you should practice in front of a mirror, to know your facial expressions and which is your best asset. But my problem was, I was not photogenic. Maybe because I was bullied way before that I don’t want to get myself pictured and was never comfortable with the camera. But I pushed myself to do so because it was needed for the kind of industry that I was in, to get comfortable with the camera. Back when we were still candidates, tago-tago pa ko but I realized that I need to get up and show the organizers that I really want to win.

Can you say that joining the pageant somehow built your confidence?

Yes. Actually I was part of Judah Cohen’s batch of the pageant, but I never showed up because I went onboard a ship first since I’m a graduate of marine transportation to earn for the family. And after a year, I decided to join the next batch in 2015.

Who do you look up to?

There are a lot of different personalities, sometimes super heroes, sometimes fitness founders because usually when you are at the gym and dead tired with joints hurting, you only need to read about them why they wanted to do that despite the suffering and the body’s in pain. So that was my motivation and also for myself that I should not show nga gikawawa ko nila, dili sad mag revenge but do something positive like if somebody talks about you, you will also react in the same way. You need to be proactive other than reactive, need to do something positive about it though they are doing it negatively. Just think before you respond.

Tell us about your typhoon Yolanda experience.

I learned along the way is how to find peace in darkness, not darkness literally. But ngitngit siya but peaceful nga walay electronics that time, walay karaoke way saba tapos ang mga tawo nagtinabangay. Sa among baranggay, I volunteered as a night watch where we go around to prevent any burglary because it was not only the malls that were victimized of looting but as well as the houses. And mag-enjoy mi if naay moon pero usahay kung wala, maglisod mi because we have to use flashlights and sometimes we accidentally stepped on some nails. But it was fun knowing that we were able to help during nighttime. During our walks at night, I found peace like it was going back to being primitive.

Do you consider yourself a people person? I mean how do you reconcile being a candidate as an image in pageantry, and you are also inclined to be by yourself?

I guess going back to getting bullied, murag dili ka accepted sa imong classmates mangita ka or maghimo kag imohag sariling world and then you tend to make songs or characters or stories to yourself. Or analyze people why they are like that, or sometimes you connect things that it seems like you have a world of your own. But still I find intelligent discussions good and engaging especially if its hypothetical and talks about the possibilities of what will happen in the future, youth and fitness even about muscles or hormones or metabolisms in our bodies, maka-interest ra gihapon sa ako. To clarify lang, I’m not a nurse but just like the topic.

How supportive are your parents?

Honestly my mom wants me to go back to the ship. Pero for me, dili man gihapon mupugos akong mom kung unsa man ang akong himuon kay kahibaw man siya nga I need to set my own plans for myself. Overtime, nakabasa na siya sa ako nga kung unsa man ang dili nako ganahan maglisod kog accomplish. Kay ika-third nako school ang maritime because before I initially took software development and information technology. Though nakapasar ko, dili ko ganahan taposon nako siya ba kay ganahan kog marine transportation, so I finished it. That’s when I joined the contest. For me, I have the responsibility to the organization nga unahon nako reigning contract. You need to finish something first before jumping to another, one at a time.

How about your dad?

I don’t know about my dad. They were separated since I was 23.

Let’s go to love department.

I have a girlfriend but no specific plans yet. We have been classmates since first year high school way back in 2005. Tapos naging kami adtong 2014, so it’s like 10 years before nagka-kami. But I had a girlfriend before but never did it happened that nagbinuang ko because most of my relationships were serious. But naa toy time nga wala koy girlfriend nga I initiated the break-up kay it was one of the times nga murag na lovesick lang ko so I looked for love to that person, pero wa ko ganahi so ended it, at least I was honest.

What is the name of your puppy?

It’s actually weird because it’s a body part, a muscle. It’s Gluteus Maximus. He’s a one-year-old Doberman. I also have two other dogs, Dachshund and Japanese Spitz, but I gave them to my girlfriend since they were small.

Are you the only boy in the family?

Yes, I am the only boy in the family. I have two older sisters, two younger siblings. I stand as the father figure since I am the only man in the family.

What’s next for you? How do you see yourself in five years?

Five years from now, I see two paths, or maybe more. I could find a work back home and that would be good as I can be near to my family and spend time with them. Or I could go back to the ship and earn more for my family or I could be with the Gentlemen to proceed with my plans to give it a try to showbizness, lisod pod siya because you have to have many contacts, mag-agwanta kas times that you will receive low pay or none at all. Those were the plans, or maybe … hmm … secret. (laughs)

TAGS: bullying, Montebello Villa Hotel, Tacloban City
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