Proud Sarawakian Wins Mr Heritage International 2023 In Manila
Sarawakian John Watson Tamin has won the Mr Heritage International 2023 title for Malaysia at the pageant's finale in Manila, the Philippines
According to The Borneo Post, the 31-year-old from Ulu Layar, Betong beat 30 other contestants to win the crown and USD5,000 (approximately RM22,000) at the event held on 28 April.
"I feel really happy and honoured to represent my beloved, unique country Malaysia and also felt humble to have showcased my culture to the world," he told the English daily.
After the win, the proud Iban also wrote in an Instagram post, "I will show the whole world what my traditional costume looks like.
"I may not be the first to show it to the world, but I will continue the legacy to show the world what is the Ngepan Iban. My culture has made me who I am today."
Besides the crown, John also won the subsidiary titles of best spokesperson, best personality, and best grand arrival
Surprisingly, it was reported that this was only his second time representing Malaysia at an international pageant.
The personal trainer, who is also an independent singer, song composer, producer, model, motivational speaker, and actor, told New Sarawak Tribune that before his journey in pageantry, he had never considered participating in one before.
However, after quickly rising through the ranks as a newcomer in the local pageant scene a few years ago — he was crowned Mr Elegant Sarawak 2019 and also won the Keling Raban Ngepan Iban culture-based pageant in the same year — he decided to give an international competition a try.
The 31-year-old eventually won the national Mister Glam Borneo title in 2022, and his first opportunity to represent Malaysia in its international finale
The pageant was also held in Manila in November last year, where he placed fourth runner-up.
John said he felt a great deal of pride in representing his people and culture.
Unfortunately, he felt there could have been more support as a figure representing the country and Sarawak.
"[Regretfully] to say, I had to fork out from my own pocket to fund the trip to the Philippines, accommodation, and so on.
"I hope future competitors would get the financial assistance that they deserve as a way to show moral support to fellow Sarawakians or Malaysians," he said.
This mother from Ipoh also won an award at the Mrs Tourism Queen International pageant with her outfit inspired by the Ngepan Iban: