June 23, 2024

The Philippines perhaps has the biggest beauty pageant fandom in the universe. Beauty culture has empowered all kinds of people from all places and race and in far more liberating ways. There is no more liberating than for me to witness the rise of one of La Trinidad’s respected trans queen.
I am a fan of my trans-friend who won almost 10 titles in different local and regional gay pageants in just two years. She also become a handler of beauty stunners, organized the grandest pageant, and then become a beauty salon owner.
My trans-friend first came to La Trinidad, oppressed by a brewing modernity. It looks very unfamiliar from the poor province she came from. The ladies are showing bare calves, noisy workers hauling vegetables, and the traffic. There were laborers drilling holes in the pavement, cutting trees to have room for buildings, crashing the poor man’s store to widen the roads, knocking down buildings to provide space for malls. The procession of shops, food courts, garbage, salons, and cheap bars line up in a parade of worldly wealth. She never thought that one day, she will have a piece of strawberry in this country’s salad bowl.
My trans-friend tried to enroll in a university but was drained by ceaseless years of studying, and endless requirements that sapped her creativity. She was consumed by working from part-time to full time just to feed herself and pay her rent. She first worked as an assistant make-up artist. But she was caught up in the glamorous life, easy cash, and dramas of trans-queens that she shifted her dreams and tried her luck in the beauty pageants instead. It was destiny falling like gold confetti from the ceiling, she had her first crown in a local beauty pageant, the crown was studded with pretentious jewels, but this beauty diadem remarked her almost like a bachelor’s diploma.
Since then, her success came unprecedented, the sash, flowers, tiaras, crowns, and cash. And as if those weren’t enough, she opened a beauty salon. It is a legacy – the insignia won in her life time battle. It would take many years, even decades of working as an assistant make-up artist, or even painstaking work of some hair dresser before someone could make a name in this beauty industry. This is the dream of many of her kind. Her arrival shook the gays of La Trinidad from its stupor but nonetheless become an inspiration to many.
Ten years ago, she lived an impoverished life. Now, even at a young age, my friend has achieved success. But the stardom of most trans-queens or gay pageant titlists is short-lived. To some, this spectacle could just be an icing on a cake, a dump of garbage in front of salons in La Trinidad; but to my friend, pageants are their life. It is a miracle not all who dared to pursue their passion are destined to achieve.