A 19-year-old teenager whose story of courage and survival captured the hearts of many pageant fans will represent the Philippines in the Mister Grand International pageant in Myanmar on November 12.
Paolo Gallardo, of San Fernando, La Union said that he is offering his Myanmar stint to his mother and sibling who died in a fire on New Year’s Eve in 2010.
“Inaalay ko po ang pag-sali ka sa Mister Grand International sa aking ina at kapatid na nawala noong 2010. Para po ito sa aking pamilya. Ito rin ay para sa lahat ng tumutulong sa aking pageant journey,” said Gallardo during a press send off in Quezon City Wednesday night.
Gallardo said that his stepfather took care of him and his youngest sibling following the series of unfortunate events.
Weeks after the fire, Gallardo met his real father for the first time in 10 years. “He’s a musician abroad. Pero may sakit na rin po siya na cancer. Siguro dahil na rin sa pag-inom ng hard drinks at smoking.”
Gallardo said that these heartbreaking moments taught him to be strong and independent.
At 16, Gallardo broke the fashion scene when he won as Mister Boardwalk in 2016. Early this year, he was crowned Mister Ilocos 2019. His friends encouraged him to compete in Mister Grand International Philippines 2019 where he captured the title in September.
Gallardo is a senior at the La Union National High School. He wants to take up computer engineering in college.
Present at the send-off were Meg Perez, national director for Mister Grand Philippines pageant, and members of Gallardo’s glam team.
Gallardo, who stands 5’11 1/2, said that the international male competition promotes sports and healthy lifestyle.
For sports, Gallardo said that he wants to showcase the Philippine martial arts known as arnis.
The teen king also advocates “love for children” as a result of the tragic events in his life.
“I am a survivor at the age of 10. The unfortunate events in my life made me stronger. So let’s give children a place in our hearts,” Gallardo said.