By Asia Hester
Ten male contestants amazed the crowd with their dance moves while performing on Hoff Theatre’s stage in the Taiwanese American Student Association’s (TASA) male beauty pageant charity April 14.
TASA put on its 7th annual male beauty pageant, Mr. Wiffleball, where all proceeds are donated to an Asian-American focused charity. Each year, contestants from different Asian student organizations on campus volunteer to be in the pageant and show off their best talents and looks in games, swimsuit and question and answer categories.
The contest is called Mr. Wiffleball because there’s a wiffle ball tournament held by the Asian Student Union the week after, according to Elton Tian, the external vice president for TASA and one of the event organizers.
“ASU holds a wiffle ball tournament every year, which is another charity event where other organizations compete to try and raise the most money and donate to a specific program. This year it is the Asian-American Donor Program,” Tian said. The donor program aims to find matching stem cell donors for people with life-threatening diseases.
This year’s theme for the pageant was romantic-comedy movies. About 70 students filled the theatre to see the contestants sing, dance, read poetry, perform Chinese Yo-yoing and see a contestant do an interesting ritual performance to Cheerios with music.
Deborah Wu, one of the senior event organizers, said, “The idea of a male pageant is a spin off of the female beauty pageant, but we wanted it to be a little more comedic, a little more fun, so that’s why we decided to put a twist to it.”
The money that’s fundraised goes to the ASU wiffle ball tournament in TASA’s name.
Wu said, “In order to fundraise more money for the tournament we come up with the pageant. The organization that fundraise the most money gets recognition.”
“I thought it was really entertaining, definitely props to the guys going up there and putting themselves out there,” said junior computer science major Brain Chung. “My favorite part was the three guys and choreographed dance with their own song.”
There are four winner categories for the contestants: Mr. Wiffleball, Mr. Runner Up, Mr. Congeniality and Mr. Win Your Heart. Each year, the winners receive a sash and trophy. The past winner serves as a judge for the pageant and passes the crown to the new Mr. Wiffleball.
This year’s Mr. Wiffleball was computer science and Japanese major Gerardo Esguerra.
“It’s for a good cause,” Esguerra said. “Usually, my organization, JASA [Japanese American Student Association], doesn’t send a candidate, so I wanted to be the one to step up.”
Last year, the organization raised over $1,000 for charity.
“I think this event is a testament to how valuable cultural clubs can be. From what I’m aware we [UMD] do put a lot of money in athletics and professional focus organizations,” Tian said. “I think we’ve lost sight a little bit about how important these communities are as well.”
Featured Photo Credit: Gerardo Esguerra, JASA’s representative, wins Mr. Wiffleball 2017. This was the first time a JASA representative has won in the seven years Mr. WIffleball has been occurring. (Heather Kim/Bloc Photographer)
Asia Hester is a senior multiplatform journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.