A parade of toned flesh. Before the final round, the winning male and female contestants for Personality, Swimwear, Photogenic, Great Skin, and Creative Posing were chosen. MG Gamboa, number 15, was recognized as The Internet's Most Popular for the insane number of votes he got on Facebook.
Rizza Singson just scratched another goal off her bucket list.
On December 2, the former model and mother of three became Ms Great Body 2014.
Her counterpart, Seth Isay, a 21-year-old commercial model and fitness enthusiast, triumphed as Mr Great Body 2014.
The pair will be endorsing Slimmers World events next year until their respective titles are won by another couple.
After a preliminary judging round at Edsa Shangri-la on November 24, the finals for the 19th Slimmers World Mr and Ms Great Bodies 2014 took place at the UP Theater in Diliman, where a grandiose four-hour stage production was held to showcase the competitors' sculpted physiques.
Muscle-bound male and female contestants prove themselves with a musical aerobic performance, a swimsuit competition, and creative posing to please the exacting panel of judges.
A randomized Q&A segment ultimately decides the winners.
To keep the program fresh, a very earnest Hunger Games: Mockingjay theme was embraced. The program kicked off with a frenzied interpretative dance between a professional troupe and the contestants—24 men and women of varying ages referred to as Tributes.
In it, medieval weapons and assault rifles figured as props to reinforce the idea of competition as performance art.
But there was more than just high camp to Great Bodies. There was a lot of heart in it too.
They say success is 90% perspiration. Second runners-up Maribel Corpus and Gremond Agpoon are feted before Mr and Ms Great Body were chosen.
Hail the Amateurs
Great Bodies was first launched in 1993 by Slimmers World as an equal opportunity fitness competition. Almost 20 years later, it's one of the largest events of its kind.
According to Slimmers World vice president Helen Manansala-Camacho, Great Bodies is strictly open to all for a reason.
“Age is not a factor when you talk of fitness,” she says. “The Japanese believe it's flexibility that matters. Hence, biology is not a factor. Anybody can be fit at any age and any level.”
This rings for Maribel Corpus, a 60-year-old patron of Slimmers World SM Megamall who only got into fitness to heal a slipped disc.
“It was an accident from carrying 70-pounds of luggage,” says the second runner-up who performed a cabaret routine for her creative posing segment.
“My doctor said, 'When you go back to the Philippines, no surgery, just hit the gym,'” recalls the former professor, who regularly does perfect splits on stage.
“I did. Now I want to inspire all the senior citizens,” Corpus says.
During the critical Q&A segment where the contestants posed in their almost naked and oiled glory, Corpus had the gumption to tell the judges, “I can do anything a 20-year old can!”
Photogenic to a fault. From left, Slimmers World vice president Helen Manansala-Camacho, Ms Great Body Rizza Singson, Slimmers World president/CEO Ronald Joseph Moy, and Mr Great Body Seth Isay
No sacrifice, no victory
For Anna Bantayan, becoming a female bodybuilder used to be out of the question. A self-confessed geek and introvert, Bantayan is a demure online English tutor who used to weigh 195 lbs.
Then she took a leap of faith. With the help of her trainer she slimmed down to 105 lbs, learned to pose, and dyed her hair cherry red to match her teeny-weeny bikini.
(The guys make do with even smaller bikini trunks.)
At the Great Bodies 2014 finals, Bantayan finished as the female first runner-up.
Her experience isn't unique. Great Bodies is full of contestants new to the physical art form. More than grueling workouts, getting in shape to compete as a bodybuilder is pure strategy.
Thomas Aguirre, who has a torso akin to a Greek marble statue, only started preparing last year.
“It's [about] good carbs, protein, drinking water, and counting calories,” says the male winner for Best in Swimwear.
“Calculate everything and be efficient,” Aguirre insists.
This year's Ms Great Body, Rizza Singson, who gave birth to a baby girl eight months ago, felt that joining a bodybuilding tilt was about not having any regrets.
“Win or lose, I did it,” she says.
And she did. To prepare herself, the former beauty pageant contestant cut down on sugar and began hydrating every waking hour. By her estimate, Singson spent three months working out five to six days a week.
Victorious at last, she's now dedicated to raising her three daughters full-time.
“I'll be there for them 200%,” she says about her brood.