Broken heart got oldest Manhunt finalist, 56, started
Linus Li, 56, is oldest Manhunt S'pore contestant ever. Still single, he says older women hit on him
When Mr Linus Li wanted to propose to his then-girlfriend back in 1994 he got the kiss-of-death rejection.
She only saw him as the brother type and said she had the hots for someone else.
Then 36, he figured it was because he looked average.
Two years later, after giving up on marriage, he dived into his new passion - perfecting his looks. Twenty years later and he's still at it.
Now 56, the senior sales executive from a premium airline is the oldest contestant ever to join Manhunt Singapore since the pageant's first outing in 1987
Mr Li looks a good decade younger with his toned physique and easily gives the other younger contestants a run for their money.
This year, 16 finalists are competing in the junior category (below 30 years old) while Mr Li will go head to head against nine other hopefuls in the senior category.
This year's pageant finals will be held at local nightspot Neverland II on Sept 11.
Mr Li told The New Paper: "I haven't had a girlfriend (or gone on a date) in the last 20 years even though some women have been interested in me.
"To be honest, it's a burden having to take care of someone else. I told myself back in 1994 that if I didn't get married, I'll be content remaining single."
He added: "I remember I was going to propose to my girlfriend after dating her for a year and when I asked her about taking it to the next level, she told me she realised she only saw me as a brother and that I had got the wrong message (from her).
"So I thought, forget it. I'm not going to bother about marriage anymore.
"You see what I look like now, but the truth is that I didn't use to look like that. In fact, I didn't have money, I had nothing."
It was only after he decided to turn his life around in 1996 by adopting a healthy lifestyle that he scored his lucrative sales job a few years later.
Mr Li, who is 1.8m tall and used to weigh 83kg, now weighs 76kg thanks to his four-times-a-week workout which consists of a 1½ hour run and weight-training, focusing on his chest, shoulders and legs.
Even now, when he looks back on his past relationships, he can't help but feel guilt.
The irony was that Mr Li's first girlfriend, whom he dated when he was 21, was ready to take the plunge and walk down the aisle with him.
However, he wasn't in the frame of mind to get hitched then and he broke her heart by telling her the truth.
He said: "I didn't want to give her false hope. She was very hurt and disappeared on me. She changed her phone number and I couldn't find her. I hope to find her someday just to find out how she's doing."
Mr Li said women of all ages have hit on him. Some who are in their late 50s have even made indecent proposals, but he refused to elaborate when this reporter probed him.
One older woman, a friend of his, confessed her feelings for him after her husband died.
But Mr Li said he is a traditional man, who will not string any woman along because he knows that marriage is off the table for him.
"I have to be honest. Any woman who approaches me, I'll tell them not to waste their time."
Even though he has beefed up, he is insecure about his eye bags and is thinking about having his first aesthetic procedure to remove them.
He said he has not had any work done, be it invasive or non-invasive procedures.
He said: "Apprehension is what I'm feeling when I think about such procedures so I'm going to think about it some more.
"Frankly, I almost withdrew from the pageant twice because of my age, but the organisers encouraged me to go through it with dignity and be an example to the younger men.
"Now I position myself as the tortoise - slow, steady, focused, with the goal of completing a race.
"There's pressure because I have to work even harder to achieve what the younger ones can obtain in quick time."
He added: "I'm enjoying my ageing moments and I encourage everyone young or old to eat right, live well, exercise regularly so that if the worst really happens, at least you don't feel guilty for not being responsible (to yourselves).
"It has been really fun with the younger boys. Some called me bro, others, dad and so forth."
Read about the junior Manhunt Singapore 2014 contestants in tomorrow's TNP
HOW TO ROCK THE BIG 5-0
Five tips from Linus Li
1 I don't eat animal fats. My mum used to think that I was a freak because I was so fussy with my food. I removed all the fat at meals and I was the only one in my family who did that.
2 No drinking, no smoking, no tea, no coffee and no fizzy drinks. It's only water and fruit juice for me.
3 I have a lot of stress from work so I try to stay happy. One of the ways I do so is to travel and enjoy life.
4 Exercise produces good oxygen in the cells so do that whenever you can.
5 I have very sensitive skin that is prone to pigmentation so I use an effective lightening product like Fade Out and I put on SPF 50 sunblock every day.
Senior Manhunt finalist Andrew Ang: I joined to raise awareness of autism
FINALISTS: Top 10 Manhunt (senior category) contestants. TNP PHOTOS: CHOO CHWEE HUA
Two days ago, Manhunt Singapore 2014 (senior category) finalist Andrew Ang's heart swelled with joy when his eight-year-old son passed him his car keys.
This may seem run-of-the-mill to most parents, but for Mr Ang, it was a clear sign that his child Alex wanted to communicate with him.
Six years ago, the boy was diagnosed with severe autism.
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterised by impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and by restricted and repetitive behaviour.
Since then, Mr Ang, a 41-year-old businessman, has been worrying for his son.
He hopes his son, the middle child of his three children, can one day lead an independent life.
His oldest child, a daughter, 10, has had open heart surgery for congenital heart disease, which is a problem with the heart's structure and function that is present at birth.
Mr Ang, who is 1.73m tall and weighs 65kg, said he joined Manhunt this year to be an inspiration to his children.
His message to them: No matter how tough it gets, don't ever give up.
He told The New Paper: "When Alex was diagnosed, it was very difficult for us. We had no idea what was going on so we had to seek help.
"The one-to-one therapy, which has cost us $4,000 every month for the last six years, has helped a lot."
Mr Ang recalled that two days ago, he had left his house only to realise he had forgotten his car keys.
So he went back to get them and Alex, who was there when he opened the door, passed the keys to him.
Said Mr Ang: "I was stunned. I didn't know that he could communicate with me. To other parents, this is such a simple thing. But to me, this means he's actually seeing some light and knows what's going on.
"I hope my son can take of himself when I'm gone.
"I joined Manhunt also with the hope of raising awareness for autism so that Singaporeans will be more tolerant of people who have it."
This determination to overcome adversity comes from the fact that he grew up poor in a kampung in Jalan Ulu Sembawang where, at a young age, he had to help his parents protect their livestock from pests such as rats and snakes.
As a child he had to feed the ducks and pigs, as well as water 300 lime and durian trees. On some days, he had only soya sauce and plain porridge for meals.
His family moved out of the kampung years later and it fuelled his determination to succeed.
He juggled several jobs: as a newspaper delivery boy working at the break of dawn, a street and telesurveyor on weekdays and a drinks and tidbits vendor on weekends. This was done on top of his electrical engineering diploma studies at Singapore Polytechnic.
Said Mr Ang, who was a finalist in Manhunt Singapore 1993 but did not win: "Living in the kampung is about being open, caring and sharing. It's never about wealth or status. I'm a kampung boy."