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Drag Race Philippines RuCap Episode 3: Pop Off Ate!

Drag Race Philippines RuCap Episode 3: Pop Off Ate!

I distinctly remember in the teaser for Drag Race Philippines Turing saying that drag here in our country is “world-class”. Bold words and I couldn’t agree more, not just because I am a part of the local drag community but because I have witnessed firsthand how brilliant, passionate, and one-of-a-kind these queens are.

I also remember fondly my first exposure to the world of drag via Zigudu Resto Bar in Davao (where Lady Morgana used to perform) and how the sheer insanity of the comedy performances there contrasted beautifully with the theatricality and glamour offered by Obar and Nectar.

Drag here in the Philippines is, indeed, diverse, rich, and chock full of talent, but I was worried it wouldn’t translate well on the show. I couldn’t be more wrong. Despite just being the third episode, “Pop Off Ate!” solidified DRPH as peak Drag Race, on par with US S6, All Stars 2, DR España S1, and UK S2.

It was electrifying and made me fall in love with the art of drag even more. I don’t care if the camera work is wonky in places or if it’s often dimly lit. It’s honest-to-goodness great and exactly what fans of the show have been hoping for.

But before I forget that this is actually a recap and not a feature article, let’s get down to business. Or as Turing would say, let’s do this.

The episode opens as usual with the girls reading the eliminated queen’s (Corazon) lipstick message, Turing reiterating that just because you know how to sew doesn’t guarantee you’ll win a design challenge, and everyone congratulating Viñas on her victory. There’s a callback to the explosive fight between Minty and Brigiding in last week’s Untucked. Evidently, these girls are not holding back in terms of drama.

RuLections 2022

The next day’s mini challenge takes place and it’s a great way to stir the pot and set up future storylines. The Vote is Sickening sees each queen rank their fellow competitor from weakest to strongest, Halalan 2022 style. At the bottom of the pack are Brigiding and Viñas (no ma’am) while Turing and Precious ranked the highest (sounds about right).

Brigiding is visibly shaken about her placement, but it lights a fire under her padded ass. Thankfully, being at the bottom has its perk: Both Brigiding and Precious get to choose their teammates for this week’s maxi challenge: An all-out girl group number where they must write their own lyrics, record their verse with Her Excellency, President Nadine Lustre, and choreograph the dance themselves.

Precious chooses Viñas, Minty, Gigi, and Xilhouete for team Pink Pussy Energy (PPE), while Brigiding picks Marina, Turing, Morgana, and Eva for team Flexbomb Girls (after gay legends the Sexbomb Dancers).

Eva, the last girl to be chosen, isn’t the least bit surprised about it. She explains in her confessional that people often diss her for having two left feet (something she later utilizes to great effect in her verse). She even gets tearful as she writes her lyrics, stating how the constant shade about her dancing has taken a serious toll on her confidence. Turing reassures her to just take it all in stride and make her own standards.

The Recording

During the recording and rehearsal, everything seems to go smoothly, with team Pink Pussy Energy feeling mighty confident. If these girls are well versed in all things Drag Race, they should know that being overconfident could come to bite them in the ass. The next day they start prepping for their performances and Turing gets candid about her body dysmorphia.

While she says that she generally loves her body, she admits that sometimes she looks at herself in the mirror and just sees her flaws. Then she remembers that she loves to eat and shrugs it all off. Honestly, queen behavior. Turing is the body positivity icon we all need right now.

Pop Off Ate

It’s time for the main stage and first up is Pink Pussy Energy. The girls did a good job with strong lyrics and dance moves across the board, although Gigi’s hair looked a mess after all the head banging and Minty seriously lacked energy. The Flex bomb Girls perform next, and they popped off and slayed no holds barred, especially Turing with her incredible dance skills and charisma. We’ve already seen what she can do in episode 1’s talent show and her lip sync against Corazon, but her verse was also extremely well written. Furthermore, the whole song “Pop Off Ate” itself gives Read U Wrote U and UK Hun? a run for their money as the best bop in the franchise.

Shake, Rattle, and Rampa

The runway category is Shake, Rattle, and Rampa and the queens serve spooky and spectacular lewks inspired by Filipino folklore creatures. Almost everyone devoured this category: Precious gives birth onstage to three adorable tiyanaks, Viñas’s reveals her butt in a camptastic manananggal outfit, and Xilhoute’s served glamour in a blood-red bejeweled bampira ensemble.

The Critiques, the Winner, and the Bottom 2

In the judges’ critiques, Paolo declares Turing the winner and the rest of the Flexbomb Girls safe while the entire Pink Pussy Energy ends up at the bottom. It’s a full circle moment for Eva after doubting herself earlier and Mama Pao also commends Brigiding for steering her team in the right direction, despite the results of the Rulections.

When it came to the losing team, the judges did not mince words. They read Gigi to filth, saying that she sealed her fate when she came out in a literal tiyanak costume. While her outfit was appropriately terrifying, it gave zero drag and seemed to come straight out of a haunted house attraction. Precious, the leader of the PPEs, also gets negative critiques for fading into the background. She then gets emotional as she shares that she was in her head the whole time because she couldn’t see her mother before her passing since she had to work.

Xilhouete, too, gets negative feedback and talked about her lola, who in the last days of her life succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease and tragically couldn’t remember her.

As expected, it’s Gigi and Xilhouete who had to lip sync for their lives, and it’s the latter who serves a better, tighter performance to RuPaul’s “Glamazon”. So, the Filipina queen from Down Under sashays away and we’re down to 9 girls.

Final Thoughts

I want to briefly touch on Xilhouete’s mental breakdown in Untucked. While I understand that drama is a staple in any reality TV competition, especially one that involves a bunch of men wearing wigs, flashing Xilhouete’s late grandmother on the TV screen was too much. There’s delicious drama, and then there’s downright cruelty. I hope this would serve as a lesson and the production sees the queens as actual humans. See you all next week for episode 4’s recap and in the meantime, everybody say “eme”!

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