It’s this year that I really got to watch and think about #MissUniverse. I only started really watching this 1-2 years ago when MUO has been dramatically changing the platform, and notions of what it means to be a “beauty queen” regardless of color, size, and creed – which was showed especially this week. Exciting times indeed for beaucons! Congrats to ALL women who performed, competed at this pageant and most importantly, showed real sisterhood!
Below are photos i took during the preliminaries and dress rehearsals. Thanks Ate Kim Galang of Valenzuela for the tickets! You made us happy!!
TRANS (“beyond”, “changing thoroughly”). But here in this country, it is a word so often associated with dishonesty, mistaken identity, and lots of stereotypes.
In the past 3 years, there were several developments in the LGBT community that raised the level of understanding about who transgender women really are beyond stigma and cliche’s of being “bakla”. We saw car enthusiast Angelina King reveal to her male-dominated followers her truth about being a transwoman with a non-traditional sexual orientation. We cheered for Geraldine Roman as the first transwoman in Congress, and Trixie Maristela and Kevin Balot as they won the crown in the most prestigious trans beauty pageant in the world, Miss International Queen, where judging is based on criteria set specifically for transgender beauty queens, beyond comedy or impersonations. There’s so much stories also about transgenders (men and women alike) and their lives, being featured in shows like Maalaala Mo Kaya, Pinoy Big Brother, etc.
Identity & Beyond
But the LGBT community here is still far from full acceptance and tolerance with rights and all, despite these stories in media. Several trans hate crimes were reported in the past months, with the continuing issues of discrimination at work and other public spaces. Of course, we cannot forget Jennifer Laude, a transpinay, killed by an American marine officer due to a “mistaken identity”.
The Metro Manila Film Festival 2016 features Die Beautiful, a film that’s said to be inspired by the struggles of trans women in the Philippines. According to director Jun Robles Lana, the story is inspired by Laude at the beginning: “Remember the murder of Jennifer Laude? That’s how this project started. When Jennifer Laude was murdered, what was really shocking na aside from the fact up to now di pa talaga nakukuha yung hustisya na buo para sa kanya, ay yung reaction ng mga tao nung nangyari iyon. Parang they were saying she deserved to die, buti na lang na pinatay iyan kasi transgender, kasi monster, yung mga ganun eh. Shocking na bakit ganito? “Yes, I agree na marami ng pelikula sa atin na tungkol sa gay experience. Pero yung transgender, yung context life, struggles ng transgender [people], I don’t think ganun karami. And iyon yung particular topic subject matter na I wanted to explore.” (Source: Rappler)
Trisha and Barbs supporting a guy in a basketball game. Source: Regal Entertainment Inc, Youtube trailer.
There are already lots of films, mostly comedy, that tackled gays and drag queens like Markova: The Comfort Gay, Ang Tatay Kong Nanay, etc. But did Die Beautiful really illustrate the life, identity and struggles of the Filipina transwoman today? Did it really transcend the stereotypes of a gender identity causing so much pain, inhumanity and even hate crimes in the trans community?
Transgender, Not Gay
Tricia Echevarria (Paolo Ballesteros), the protagonist, is clearly a transgender woman in the film. She is not “bakla” in a Pinoy sense despite all the cliche gay struggles the film illustrated while she was at her early age – cross-dressing and role-playing, wanting to be a beauty queen early on, being assaulted by a conservative father. While most of these are shared experiences in the LGBT community, the moment or jump towards Tricia’s life as a mother in the beginning, wherein she told her best friend (Barbs) and daughter (Shirley Mae) that she wants to be a mother, and that she is a mother regardless of her assigned sex at birth, it was clear that she identifies herself as a woman, with her gender roles established, regardless of all the gay cliches that come with it. She was aware of that.
Tricia explaining herself to her daughter. Source: Regal Entertainment Inc, Youtube trailer.
Of Transitions & Transformations
The story-telling of Tricia’s different aspects of life as a transgender women was organised in non-chronological way. The transitions were as swift as her makeup transformations in the funeral: starting as a cross-dressing boy then the film shows her as a mother. She comes out then she becomes a beauty queen.
Makeup obviously served as a tool for a pre-op transwoman’s self-expression but it was more of a handy element in her career as an aspiring beauty queen. One can say that it’s also as if the movie itself is in “drag” because beneath the show, glitters and thick makeup, lies the different struggles, sadness and frustrations of being a transwoman.
But did the film really show these beyond glitter and glamour?
Transgender or Drag Queen (Transvestite)?
In the movie, Tricia is played by Paolo Ballesteros, a famous online makeup sensation and celebrity impersonator/drag queen. Truly, there was so much honesty, sophistication and sincerity despite the hit jokes, on-point looks and punchlines when it comes to characterising Tricia as a transgender beauty queen. It was also his transformative makeup skills that gave so much marketing and cinematic appeal to the film, but one can’t also deny the dangers that come in hand as Tricia in the film was not just imitating identities through makeup, she was trying to assert one.
While transgenders/transvestives fall under the same umbrella in Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE), which helps explain gender and where a person is in that spectrum , there was no direct mention of the word “transgender” in the movie or a clear dialogue about it.
“Sa ating kasi pag bakla, bakla para isang umbrella. So hindi naintindihan yung concept na gender identity, yung sexual orientation. Of course hindi naman lecture yung buong pelikula para malaman yung gender identity, sexual orientation but we made sure na maayos na tinalakay namin yung pinagdadaanan nung character niya [Paolo] si Tricia para maintindihan namin siya.” – Jun Robles Lana, director (source: Rappler)
The film may have differentiated transgenders versus “bakla” (effeminate male homosexual) in some ways like the former entering the female bathroom and identifying as woman, it failed in differentiating transgenders versus drag queens. For example, for most transgenders, breast augmentation or even transplants (Sex Reassignment Surgery) are not beauty surgeries. They match what’s inside a person’s feeling, which Tricia also believed when she told Barbs that she wouldn’t de-transition (remove her breasts and makeup) when she faces God if she dies because she believes she is a woman, but she also said something about it being a career upgrade in beauty pageants in the middle of the film.
Trisha and Barbs off-stage, in the streets, dressed as women. Source: Regal Entertainment Inc, Youtube trailer.
The Beauty Queen / Beauconera
Even up to now, I still see some online reviews and Instagram posts referring to Tricia as gay. I think that the confusion also comes from the kind of transgender character that was presented in the film and the fact that culturally there is just one kind of beauty pageant here (notice how the name of the contests that Tricia participate in have the word “gay” in them even though sometimes she’s competing in all trans pageant where impersonations and talent portions aren’t already parts/segments – see the scene with Kevin Balot in the trailer). In the Philippines, majority of both transgender and drag queens rely on these (and some drag performances in bars) and the beauty / parlor industry in general, as main sources of income, because it is where creativity, fun, and “being yourself” are celebrated, valued, and not looked down upon. The only difference is that transgender women live their everyday lives as a woman and would want to die as one, and not just when the stage lights are on.
But in the movie, the plot is driven by the Tricia’s ultimate goal: winning a beauty pageant. She already knows who she is and how and when she will be ready to leave the house and pursue her transition and dreams. The film started with initially, cross-dressing as a little boy, and ending it by earning the title as who she really is – by slaying a common pageant Q&A “If you were given the chance to live again, what would it be?” based on her experiences and self-assertion as a transwoman even until death. She then blacks out and dies while being announced winner leading to her burial where she’s transformed into 7 different female celebrity looks with the help of her friends, and sister, as she wished.
Beneath these fleeting moments, stories of her personal struggles were introduced in the film such as asserting herself in the family even until death, being a mother to her daughter, fighting life as a rape victim, being a true sister, lover and friend. While these were not deeply developed in the film and that more focus was given to Tricia being a contesera, we can see how the film beautifully illustrated some of these seemingly familiar gay cliche’s into unique humane trans ones – asserting true love, being honest and sincere about life, fighting for identity even until the end (though I would still prefer to see Tricia as Tricia even on her death bed)
Trisha as Beyonce at the last day of burial. Source: Regal Entertainment Inc, Youtube trailer.
Transcending Beauty & Gender?
When it comes to studying and understanding LGBT identities, one is trained to look at the labels – to identify who’s transgender, lesbian, gay, even up to being pansexual – but one is also encouraged to see beyond the LGBT (thus the Q+ sign after it). The film may have failed in defining who a transgender is and how she lives her life beyond the spectacle and makeup – which is crucial with today’s representation of the trans woman hopefully leading to non-violence, and respect even on one’s death bed.
But it was very close in a way that it beautifully challenged and changed some of the typical gay cliche’s about love, family, beauty pageants, and identity which leads to the understanding of trans as woman, a different type of woman, as a different kind of beauty, but just like everybody else: a human living life and all its difficulties.
Last #WorldAidsDay, we learned that 1 Viva Glam lipstick can:
Purchase 254 condoms to prevent the transmission of HIV
Provides client and nutrition services for 13 people living with HIV/AIDS
Provide fresh fruit, vegetables, and grocery essentials to a mother and child affected by HIV for a full week.
Purchase 200 new syringes, which are given to injection drug users in exchange for used needles to prevent HIV transmission Purchase 151 safer injection kits (cooker, cotton, tourniquet)
Provide 32 Safer Sex Kits which include condoms, lubricant and instructions
Provide a clean, safe place to sleep for two nights for one resident living with HIV/AIDS
Provide 45 minutes of lifesaving HIV prevention skills to a group of 75 women and girls
Buy 10 individually tailored, nutritious meals for a person affected by HIV/AIDS
Purchase one rapid oral HIV test Provide crisis counseling to a person living with AIDS who is also struggling with drug addiction, mental illness and homelessness
Provide a new job interview shirt and tie for one resident at an HIV/AIDS housing organization Provide 30 minutes of training for 20 medical providers on integrating HIV prevention and reproductive health
Provide a move-in kit for a client moving into new housing, including cleaning materials, toilet paper, laundry soap, dishes for one person, lightbulbs, etc.
Buy 24 female condoms to prevent HIV, sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy Buy a pair of school shoes for a child orphaned by AIDS Test 14 pregnant mothers for HIV
Provide medicine for 5 newborn babies to prevent transmission of HIV from their mothers
Let’s continue to support this good lipstick especially this December (review here). More photos of the launch below. #Everydayisworldaidsday
“The M·A·C AIDS Fund is supported exclusively by a consumer based model that directs 100 percent of the purchase price (minus VAT where applicable) of VIVA GLAM Lipstick and Lipglass to the Fund. M·A·C Cosmetics underwrites all of the production costs of the VIVA GLAM line, donating the full sale price to the Fund, including would-be profits for retail partners.” (press release)
Since 1994, M·A·C Cosmetics has launched permanent lipstick variants, and limited edition ones featuring celebrities and artists who champion the cause: RuPaul, k.d. Lang, Lil‟ Kim, Sir Elton John, Mary J. Blige, Shirley Manson, Linda Evangelista, Boy George, Christina Aguilera, Missy Elliott, Pamela Anderson, Lisa Marie Presley, Debbie Harry, Eve, Dita Von Teese, Fergie, Cyndi Lauper, Lady Gaga, Ricky Martin, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, and recently, Arianna Grande. I’ve been following these launches for years because they’re also just so pretty!
With the model, truly, one can easily contribute to the fund, which helps people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. But what more if we add our sales and marketing support! Last week, actress Antoinette Taus led a store takeover that will encourage ladies to check out or buy Viva Glam lippies. She invited me to participate in this challenge, together with her friends, Tom Taus, Julienne and Joaquin who were all so nice and game for this. Up to now, I still can’t believe that I met Tony (Antoinette’s nickname) given that I’ve been watching her on TV growing up. She’s just one of the most authentic, inspiring and passionate person I’ve met this year and I’m very grateful that we’re collaborating next year for some a humanitarian project.
It was such a great day and night with these people, and MAC Cosmetics (thanks also to Vani and Marco!). I swatched and did “sales talk”of Viva Glam which we all know will be given to the Aids Fund, and it’s something I don’t get to do everyday (well, we can still buy and recommend the permanent lippies forever!). So thank You, and MAC, for this experience!
While at the store, I checked out some new highlighters (below) and eyeshadows (last) that are just blinding in beauty! OMG!!
Tonight’s editorial is for my apparent love of pinks lately, not just because it’s very trendy this 2016. It just makes everything soft & blooming but I wanted to make a strong statement. So I got my peachy-pink wig matched with a black swimsuit, an intense smokey rose-gold eyes, and pink heart & attitude (also because, trans awareness month!) that now require even more fighting in the US and all over the world. Enjoy and keep wild calm, and wear pink!
It’s trans awareness month! The truth is, a lot of us transgender women are misgendered in media or boxed into stereotypes of being just about bodies or surgeries or comedy. I hope that this Cosmopolitan interview (that’s now featured in series!) about discrimination, bullying, identity, etc will enlighten that we’re just normal humans living our lives and creating our own stories.
As my friend said, speak your truth even if you’re voice shakes. It was nerve-wracking speaking about this in front of the #funfearlessfemales, but I know that cisgender women could understand us easier than others. Thank you Ysa of Cosmopolitan for allowing us to articulate who we are! Personally, I appreciate how they have helping us spread gender sensitivity in this country.
Watch the series of videos they’ve released, featuring 4 other transissies, Janlee and Lui (my talented Dollhouse sisters and former office mates), and 2 others that I’ve just met but used to idolize because of their smarts and bravery in spaces like the corporate and computing world where we wouldn’t usually see trans people, Heart Dino and Em Millan. =)
I thought I’d never wear a cool-toned pink until this Arianna Grande 2 came out. It is so beautiful.
When I first saw the second Viva Glam in collaboration with Arianna Grande for F/W this year, I thought that it was not the kind of hue that I would wear because I always believe that warm colors suited me more but wearing this for photos below (and in La Union), it was a pretty and wearable pink for me.
Swatches of MAC Viva Glam 2 Arianna Grande and Lip Glass with flash
Under warm sunlight, you can see below that the shade is kinda warm which is prolly why this also suited me, aside from realizing also that my bases and hues are usually warm so this is a good kind of contrast.
PS. The neutral mauve lip glass is pretty!
What’s good also is that every cent of the selling price of M·A·C VIVA GLAM Lipstick and Lipglass is donated to the M·A·C AIDS Fund. To date, the M∙A∙C AIDS Fund has raised $425 million. Locally, you can see the statistics shared the MAC Cosmetics Philippines when it comes to their genuine efforts to help those affected or living with HIV/AIDS.
As usual, the consistency, texture and formulation of this product is the same with their other matte’s but this is just truly opaque and matte.
Overall, this Orchid pink shade truly makes my warm makeup look fresh (younger!!) and charming. I would definitely recommend and use these more often despite that the holiday season is calling for more dark vampy shades. I think I’m entering my pink phase 😉
Last Thursday at The Palace Pool Club, I got to watch Macklemore & Ryan Lewis again but this time for the end of their “This Unruly Mess I’ve made” Tour. Ive been a fan ever since the first album for its messages of love, gender and justice, and even more with this, especially the song Growing Up feat. Ed Sheeran.
It was such an inspiring night seeing them wave the LGBT flag in front of ravers and party goers in Manila. Truly a celebration and a discourse through rap and music, their honest art form.
More photos below, some from resident photographers and friends at The Palace Pool Club, Regina Echavez and Raffy Dela Pena. Thank you Pam Sollilapsi of The Palace Pool Club for the tickets!
It’s not that unimaginable for a modern cosmetics brand that launched Viva Glam with various LGBT personalities, to create a unisex makeup in collaboration with the Brant Brothers that I’ve been following on IG because of their parties and modern style.
Sons of model Stephanie Seymour, the dapper boys-about-town Harry and Peter Brant collaborate on a collection of modern-day grooming and sculpting products for men and women. Neutral hues for eyes, understated, long-wearing lipstains, brow products and new Pro Sculpting Cream Duo add effortless definition to the face. Special packaging featuring their signatures in matte black on glossy black. Exclusively online, skincare products with universal appeal include Mineralize Volcanic Ash Exfoliator, Mineralize Charged Water Moisture Gel and Mineralize Charged Water Moisture Eye Cream.
I really like the modern matte black on glossy BG packaging of this collection. I’m really eyeing on those contour brushes and kit! for guys, i think you should see the clear eyebrow set! Anyway, had fun watching how they prepared for a party in this video!
Available also this August among the 3 other color collections in Manila: Goodluck Trolls! OMG I collected these when I was a kid. Growing up in the 90’s, I had played the dolls for a long time. Now MAC has a lucky charm with crazy colors and products with packaging so glamorous and cool!
OK, I like that 187 face brush (P3250), all the reflects glitters (P1300), the Play it Proper soft pink with sparkles beauty powders (P1870) and that Midnight troll rich blue (matte) lippie (P1150). UGHHH
Miley’s VG collection last year was phenom especially because I love her hippie style and that beautiful red-orange shade. This 2016, MAC chose Ariana Grande as its newest spokesperson for Viva Glam, a limited collection that’s launched annually/semi-annually to help the MAC Aids Fund.
MAC Lip liner and Lip conditioner to boost performance of the lipstick
When I think of Ariana, I would think of pink colors but hey, they thought of a beautiful black plum shade – which is like Ariana’s other mood: the bad girl. I shared this via Facebook late last year when I got addicted to dark-black shades and I’ve been wanting this ever since.
Few months ago, I went to the launch of the lipstick and checked it out for myself.
MAC Lip pencil in Nightmoth, a burgundy plum, that works well with the lipstick
MAC Viva Glam Ariana Grande vs Instigator on warm sunlight
When I got a sample and went home (let’s fast forward lang), I immediately swatched it vs my only deep plum shade I bought last year, Instigator, and realized how the former is more red/burgundy than plum, which I like. It’s more vampy than berry.
I agree that it is more cool than warm, but definitely warmer than Instigator, which I again like. I tried Instigator several times and it certainly has a makeup look that it supports on me.
In intensity, I agree that it is truly a blackened version of her favorite color which I think is purple. Ariana described below the inspiration which was the 2 moods of a girl. She first launched a plum shade for that Dangerous Woman mood (check out the last post for the other one)
In terms of texture, it’s more satin than matte to me, but eventually becomes the latter when lips become dry.
Processed with VSCO with c8 preset
Since I used lipliner, I achieved a full consistency on the upper lip than the lower lip. It might be a little difficult to apply it but Temptalia described it very well when she said: “streaked but also applied with a jagged edge.”. There are parts where it got very good opaque color, so it’s best to use with a lip brush and lip primer.
But what I really liked about it is the color as I mentioned above. It is also not as drying as other matte and retro-matte lippies, and it gives a deep black opaque color as you can see being worn by the DJ when it was launched in MAC Glorietta.
Overall, this is a shade that goes to my lip collection aside from of course, 100% of the cost of every MAC Viva Glam product is donated to the MAC AIDS Fund, which has currently raised $425 million. So get this one while they still carry it.
Lastly, Arianna talked about 2 moods of a girl in the video and the new color above is definitely her signature. I like that it’s a matte mauve and slightly cool pink shade, which I think we all can pull off. Such a nice choice! This will officially launch this October, retailing at P1050 at MAC stores nationwide.