Skip to main content »

Erik Salvador: The First Igorot to win Mr. Philippines

Erik Salvador, the first Igorot to win Mr. Philippines, faced discrimination from his fellow contestants because of his ethnicity.

 |  5 min read

Erik Salvador, the first Igorot to win the Mr. Philippines pageant, faced discrimination from his fellow contestants. But he refused to let the discrimination get to him.

In 1999, Erik Salvador made history when he became the first Igorot to win the Mr. Philippines pageant. The Kankana-ey native from Kapangan, Benguet, defied stereotypes and prejudices about his ethnicity to emerge victorious in the competition.

Salvador's journey to the Mr. Philippines title was not easy. He faced discrimination from his fellow contestants, who doubted his ability to win because of his Igorot heritage. Some even made fun of him for his height, his straight hair, and his nose, which was not flat.

But Salvador refused to let the discrimination get to him. He knew that he had the talent, the intelligence, and the charisma to win the pageant. And he was determined to prove to the world that an Igorot could be just as successful as anyone else.

On the night of the pageant, Salvador delivered a strong performance. He dazzled the judges with his good looks, his charm, and his intelligence. He also gave a moving speech about his Igorot heritage and his desire to use his platform to promote cultural understanding.

In the end, Salvador's hard work and determination paid off. He was crowned Mr. Philippines 1999, becoming the first Igorot to win the title. His victory was a triumph for his community and for all Filipinos.

Salvador's win was a watershed moment for the Igorot people. It showed the world that Igorots are just as capable and talented as anyone else. It also inspired a new generation of Igorots to pursue their dreams and break down barriers.

After his victory, Salvador went on to represent the Philippines in the Mr. World pageant in 2001. He placed in the top 15, which was a remarkable achievement for a first-time contestant.

Since then, Salvador has continued to use his platform to promote cultural understanding and to advocate for the rights of the Igorot people. He is a role model for young people everywhere, and he is an inspiration to all who know him.

One of Salvador's most memorable moments came when he was asked by a reporter in Cebu if it was true that Igorots have tails. The reporter's question was meant to be a joke, but Salvador took it in stride. He smiled and said, "Oh yes we have a tail, but it is in the front, and it is big."

The crowd roared with laughter, but Salvador's response was more than just a joke. It was a powerful statement about the resilience and determination of the Igorot people. It showed that even when faced with discrimination, Igorots will never back down.

Erik Salvador is a true champion. He is a man of great talent, intelligence, and determination. He is also a proud Igorot who has broken down barriers and paved the way for future generations.

In his own words:

"It was 1999. I was backstage brimming with confidence. It was my fourth pageant but this time I was so proud and thrilled that I will be representing Baguio City and Benguet in the Mr. Philippines-World national competition. I overheard a conversation among my fellow contestants that they were curious about the Igorot who joined. They wanted to know how he looked. Someone joked that if you see the ugliest contestant that would be him. When they finally saw me, they could not believe their eyes. Some remarked that I was a fake. According to them I could not be an Igorot because I was tall, had straight hair and my nose was not flat. That was just one of the many discrimination I personally heard. It was a hurtful experience. My fellow competitors were no push over, they were taller, good-looking, while some were celebrities and professional models. But I was not to be discouraged.

To represent the Igorots was the source of my inner strength. I had to bring out the best in me. I have to prove them wrong. They announced the top ten and I was in. Then I was in the final five. When asked during the question and answer portion, 'As Mr. Philippines 1999, what would be your mission?', I answered unequivocally in proper English, 'To create programs to save the street children - they need our help most because they are very vulnerable so we must take good care of them'. I was announced Mr. Photogenic and finally, I was declared Mr. Philippines-World 1999 besting 25 contestants. I have the right to represent the Philippines in the Mr. World competition to be held in Edinburgh, Scotland, I, the Igorot many thought was ugly. I was Mr. Philippines from 1999-2001 because the Mr. World organization required at least 40 countries for a Mr. World pageant to push through, it was only in 2001 when the number was met. I was in the top 15 in the Mr. World 2001. My experience with discrimination didn't end during the Mr. Philippines pageant.

As the reigning Mr. Philippines part of my duties was to become an ambassador of goodwill under the Binibining Pilipinas Charities by going around important cities in the country. When we were in Cebu, a reporter asked me in jest, 'So is it true that you Igorots have tails?' There was a big crowd during that time and they roared in laughter. But I was not to be intimidated. I told the reporter, 'Oh yes we have a tail, but it is in the front, and it is big'."

Salvador's story is an inspiration to all of us. It shows that we should never let discrimination hold us back from achieving our dreams. If we have the talent, the intelligence, and the determination, we can achieve anything we set our minds to.

Sharing is caring, kailian!

We do hope you find something great in this story. If you find this helpful, please do share it with the people you care about.

Igorotage is a platform for people to share their thoughts and ideas. The views expressed on Igorotage are the opinions of the individual users, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Igorotage.


Sign in to share your thoughts. No account yet?

What to learn next?

You might also like to read more related articles filed under Pageantry — or jump to a random article!

Pageantry Surprise me

The 2nd Tour of Besao: MTB Challenge Winners and Results

Here are the winners of the Tour of Besao MTB Challenge, a thrilling cycling event in the scenic Mountain Province.

Mar 3 · 4 min read

Igorot Actor Roxie Smith Nominated Promising Female Star | 5th VP Choice Awards

Igorot actor and Miss Earth 2020 first runner-up, Roxie Smith, nominated for Promising Female Star of the Year at the 5th Village Pipol Choice Award.

Jan 24 · 3 min read

Januario Galut: The Alleged Tingguian-Igorot Traitor of Tirad Pass

Who is Januario Galut? A Tingguian-Igorot figure, regarded as a traitor during the Battle of Tirad Pass among Filipinos.

Jan 9 · 15 min read

Cordillera Population: 10 Surprising Facts You Didn't Know

Discover 10 surprising facts about the Cordillera Administrative Region's population revealed by the 2020 Census.

Dec 13, 2023 · 4 min read

Man Steals Women's Underwear Every Time He Gets Drunk

Man arrested for stealing underwear while drunk. Sacks of women's panties found at his place.

Nov 28, 2023 · 2 min read

Newly crowned Miss Ivadoi 2023 is an igorota microbiology student

With their innate elegance, grace, and cultural pride, Ibaloi women have consistently made their mark in local and international beauty competitions

Oct 29, 2023 · 2 min read

Liver Lover Boy: Fugitive Who Ate Victims' Liver Captured after 9 years

Justice is served as Liver Lover Boy, a fugitive with a history of consuming his victims' liver as "pulutan," is finally caught by authorities.

Oct 28, 2023 · 2 min read

Igorot hunk Kurt Justin Santiago crowned Mister Earth Philippines 2023

Kurt Justin Santiago, a proud Igorot from Sagada and Bontoc, Mountain Province, has been crowned Mister Earth Philippines 2023.

Jul 19, 2023 · 2 min read

Cordilleran is Grand Winner of Mister of Filipinas FIL-COM KSA 2023

Ramm Marco Paduit made history as the first Cordilleran to win the Mister of Filipinas Filipino Community Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 2023 pageant.

Jul 15, 2023 · 2 min read

The Out of Taiwan Theory: How the Igorot People Are Linked to Ancient Austronesians

The Out of Taiwan theory links the Igorot people to ancient Austronesians. Learn more about this theory and its implications for the Igorot people.

Jul 14, 2023 · 4 min read