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Saturday, June 27, 2009


Every last Saturday of June, Malate celebrates Gay Pride with a White Party. It used to be that a parade/march commences in the late afternoon before festivities in the evening. Concerts, Fashion Shows, Street Parties, and other gay frivolities abound in Nakpil Street and the peripherals notably Ma. Orosa's famous loop of bars. Sadly, organizational setbacks, personality clashes, and conflict of business interests have mired the organizers' efforts to sustain the activity. Denizens of Malate however carry on the tradition albeit on a smaller scale. Why? Because it's fun to go in drag. Even if just once a year.

It all starts with the shoes. I was in Kinder when I first tried on my mom's shoes. They were maroon stilettos in a velvety material. I remember how wonderfully tall I felt strutting in them even if my feet were only 3/4 the size of the shoe. From there it was my eldest sister's platforms with cork heels and leather uppers. I almost fell off the stairs on those.

As I grew older, I had moved on to wearing my mom's dresses. Only the formal ones. Or party dresses. I'd put on a scarf. Or pin a brooch. Wear a necklace. And how I'd twirl and twirl till I was dizzy from both the giddy delight of dressing up like a woman and from the swirling colors and patterns of the balloon skirt as I, er, twirled and twirled. All these done of course when I was left alone at home and I'd lock myself in my mom's room.

I progressed to putting on make-up. Due in part to my sisters' Seventeen Magazines where there would be illustrated articles on how to put on make-up. First I would memorize my mother's vanity, making sure I'd be able to put back in place everything I would touch in their exact position lest she catches on my weekend dragfests. Then I would open the page of the magazine and step-by-step put on make-up. Then I would dress up head to toe and check myself out in the full-length mirror.

I stopped doing my illicit drag weekends when I was in High School. Not only did I not fit into her clothes anymore, but I no longer wanted to look like Mommy. I had discovered boys. And the boys in my class wanted girly-girls not mature, sophisticated women who looked like their mothers. I became a tomboy. Playing sports with boys, drinking and smoking with them and the ultimate mark of manhood -- POKER! From one solo illicit act to illegal group activity. We stopped playing poker when a classmate had blown 2,000 pesos in one game -- this was a big amount of money in the early 80s.

Going back, I now do drag once a year. Either on June Gay Pride or Halloween. Again, it all starts with the shoes. Finding the pair that fits me will determine what dress I will wear with it. I scrounge the thrift shops for hip, retro dresses or ultra-luxe, stylish gowns. Of course, I WOULD NEVER BE CAUGHT DEAD WEARING THE SAME OUTFIT TWICE! A true drag queen never repeats her outfits. After the shoes and dress have been procured, the wig comes next. Is it Audrey Hepburn pixie cut this year? Or shall I do a Penelope Cruz long mane 'do? The drawback with wigs is that they're terribly hot for humid Manila. But why bother going in drag when you'll be confined to an airconditioned bar, no way, it's out in the streets for us Queens. The better for the commoners to see their 'royals'. I once went as Coco Chanel -- little black dress, pearls, her trademark glasses -- and they thought I went as Edna, the Costume Designer in The Incredibles! Damn this generation gap!

Being in drag turns the table around. Now, it is I being ogled at. There were times men would actually open doors for me. Or buy me drinks (Yipee! I already spent a fortune on my outfit and my nails okay!) It is nice to feel pretty, feminine and poised. Hats off to all the women who do it everyday and never tire. I think dressing up once a year is fine for me.

See you all in Malate tonight!

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