Jojo by day is a devoted and compassionate nurse who works in the operating theatre at a busy metropolitan hospital in Sydney. However, on weekends, this orthopaedic nurse transforms into a charming and dashing tuxedo-attired singer-entertainer and master of ceremonies. A veteran of the United States Military Forces, he could be seen regularly in concerts where he performs as a front act for various artists both locally and internationally. He is a main staple in the local and international pageant scene in the last 17 years.
Some of his credentials include being consecutively named the best pageant host at the Australian Golden Sash Awards for both 2019 and 2020. At the beginning of 2020, he was named the Most Influential Person of the Year and Musician of the Year by Ava’s World Magazine. In the same year, this former University Professor participated in the “Sydney Sings for Hope Concert” for the benefit of the frontliners who dealt with the devastating bush fire crisis that occurred in NSW. He also lent his voice in the “Heroes of the World” Album recording the song “Walang Mahirap sa Buhay” written and arranged by Oliver Gadista. Moreover, he released his debut Christmas album entitled: “Christmas Ain’t Christmas Without You” last 30th October 2020.
In July 2020, this former disc jockey of Brother Joe and Pinoy Love Crew represented Australia in the first virtual edition of the World Championship of Performing Arts (WCOPA 2020). Furthermore, he will be representing Australia once again in the 25th year of the World Championship of Performing Arts to be held in California USA this coming July 2021.
Recently, Jojo was nominated and awarded at the Inaugural Sydney’s Best Dressed due to his impeccable dress sense and striking personality. He has also received a nomination for Manila’s Best Dressed for 2020-2021 to represent Australia at the prestigious annual event.
Last year, Jojo decided to represent NSW in the 2021 Mr. Diamond International pageant. Last 17th April 2021, he ended up being crowned as the Mr. Diamond International 2021 grand winner. Not only did he win the title, but Jojo also bagged almost all of the special titles such as Mr. Diamond Designer King, Mr. Diamond Congeniality, Mr. Diamond Public’s Choice, Mr. Diamond Talent King, Mr. Diamond Social Media King, Mr. Diamond Runway King, Mr. Diamond Interview King, Mr. Diamond Pageant Planet Choice, and Mr. Diamond Publicity King.
Recently, Jojo was also announced as a 2021 Awardee for the International Asian Excellence Awards. His vision and purpose in this endeavor are to have a bigger platform to introduce and promote his advocacies. StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Jojo to discuss his journey in the pageant industry and here’s what went down:
What inspired you to join the Diamond pageant?
To be honest, I never imagined myself going back to pageantry as a candidate. I went through all that in my late teens. I was already satisfied and contented being the master of ceremonies for various pageants in the past 4 years. However, the calling to get back in the pageant scene was very adamant and strong, partnered with the encouragement of my friends in the community – so I eventually decided to join. One of the main reasons I actually joined was to provide my advocacy and charities with a much bigger platform so that we can raise more funds.
Who or what inspired you?
The inspiration came from my friends in the community who have challenged and encouraged me to get back to pageantry. They mentioned that it would be inspirational and motivational to past, present, and future candidates of the pageants if I am involved so they can see my journey as a candidate no matter what the final result is.
I do agree that going through the process has actually made me more aware and cognizant of what a person goes through once they become a candidate in a pageant.
Can you tell us about the background of the pageant?
The Miss and Mr. Diamond International pageant were established in 2016 by mother-daughter tandem – Charlie and Morgan Mancini from Brisbane, Australia. It is the most prestigious pageant in Australia which is participated by more than 50 candidates each year since its inception in 2016. The pageant focuses on more than just beauty. They are a community hero initiative, focusing on building a program for men and women of all ages to enable them to have a platform so they can fundraise and raise awareness for a cause close to their hearts. Unlike any other, MDI is fun, different and celebrates diversity and individuality.
Tell us about your experience during the competition.
The competition was both exciting and nerve-wracking. I actually felt like it was my first time joining a pageant. It transported me 20 years back when I first experienced pageantry. Overall, it was a great experience. I had massive expectations about my performance in the pageant since I have been hosting pageants for the past 4 years. The amazing thing is, my expectations were reached and even exceeded! Furthermore, the most important lesson I was reminded of was respecting each and everyone’s individuality besides learning new things about myself.
Tell us about your platform or cause you volunteer for.
In 2021, I aspired to broaden my horizon as an individual and concentrate on the advocacies I have been assisting in the past 10 years. My advocacies include the following: (1) children and (2) volunteerism. For the children, I want to continue to support various charitable institutions and fundraise for Sydney Children’s Hospital and Cerebral Palsy Foundation. I also provide scholarships for the less fortunate in the Philippines to enable some students to continue their college education.
One of the projects I really wanted to concentrate on in 2021 is community service by volunteerism. Volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity where an individual or group provides services for no financial gain. Volunteering is often intended to promote goodness or to improve the human quality of life. Volunteering may have positive benefits for the volunteer as well as for the person or community served. I highly believe that if our community comes together and volunteers even for just a couple of hours a month under any charitable institution and non-profit organization – it will make a positive difference on the personal and professional aspects of all individuals involved, especially oneself. I would like the community to understand that it’s a social responsibility of all its members to volunteer for the benefit of the marginalized and disadvantaged people out there.
Can you run through the pageant, what happens from the beginning to end?
I arrived in Brisbane two days prior to the competition so I could settle down and relax for a day. Day 1 of the competition consists of an ice breaker party which was aimed to get to know all the other candidates in person. It was a great experience as everyone was able to build rapport and comradery. What was included on day 1 was the interview round which was part of the judging segment.
Day 2 is the day of coronation. However, before the coronation night, we were judged on several categories: charity speech, fashion round, and evening wear.
What is the most rewarding thing about being a contestant?
The most rewarding part of my pageant is to provide my charities and advocacies a bigger platform. I would like to educate everyone about volunteerism and community service which affects everyone in the community.
What is your favourite part of the pageant?
My favourite part of the pageant was the interview round because it was during that round when I realized and grasped that I was indeed a part of a pageant and there was no turning back from there. It was also important for me to represent and present my true, unique, and distinct self during the interview round.
What has been your biggest achievement?
Well, winning the International title and the side awards which includes Mr. Diamond Designer King, Mr. Diamond Congeniality, Mr. Diamond Public’s Choice, Mr. Diamond Talent King, Mr. Diamond Social Media King, Mr. Diamond Runway King, Mr. Diamond Interview King, Mr. Diamond Pageant Planet Choice, and Mr. Diamond Publicity King. This just validates all the hard work and effort I have put in with the pageant.
Do you ever get nervous before going on stage?
Yes, actually always. No matter what I do, I get nervous. I believe nerves is a good thing because it provides you focus and it keeps you on your toes. I believe if one does not get nervous, he/she becomes complacent, thus, could result in unnecessary mistakes and errors.
What advice would you give other men wanting to start joining beauty pageants?
Go for it, it is never too late to represent yourself. However, they should have a purpose. It does not matter what purpose it may be. Purpose is important to provide oneself a drive and goal to achieve.