After years of clamoring, the drag goddess herself, RuPaul, has listened to our collective prayers and brought Drag Race to our shores. Drag Race Philippines had its double premiere on August 17 and the reception was tremendous. Let’s just say the entire LGBTQ+ community was beyond ecstatic because finally, some of our best local queens are going to be showcased under the international pink spotlight, something they rightfully deserve.
Every week, we shall be RuCapping the show, so *warning* major spoilers ahead to those who haven’t seen the episode.
The first one off the glittery gate is Corazon, a certified pageant queen who hails from Bolinao, Pangasinan. Trilling then screeching a high-pitched “Happy fiesta!” followed by a kasabihan, Corazon then proceeds to enumerate the numerous titles that she had won. She seems almost too happy to be in the Werk Room but then again, who wouldn’t be?
Eva Le Queen
Next up is Marikina’s Eva Le Queen, a self-proclaimed drag tita. Oozing glamorous Disney villain energy while half whispering, “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the baddest b*tch of them all?”, Eva speaks almost completely in English and seems very eloquent, which is smart considering it’s not just Filipinos who will be watching the show. Hello, overseas bookings!
Cainta’s Turing sashays in next and says “Let’s do this” with a confident smirk. Another clearly well-spoken queen, Turing has no difficulty filling up the room (no, not literally, you shady hoes). Although she is plus-size, Turing makes it clear that she can dance circles around the other girls and her big boisterous personality is immediately endearing. I am definitely rooting for Turing.
Marina Summers from Makati struts in next, looking like a tropical vision with tanned skin and vibrant colors. Her catchphrase is “Just like summer, this is my season”. Looks like Jinkx Monsoon has finally found a rival in the meteorological queen category.
Davao City’s Lady Morgana, wearing nothing but black, cheerfully exclaims “Madayaw mga kaigsuonan, or I should say, hello mga kaibigan with feelings!” She’s hilarious, reminiscent of comedy bar queens of old with deliberately schlocky makeup that screams pure, camp fun. She’s also setting herself up to be the most quotable queen this season and a serious contender for Miss Congeniality.
Precious Paula Nicole
Camarines Norte’s Precious Paula Nicole fakes a fall then cheekily quips “Echos!“. Speaking of fake, Precious is Tiktok famous for impersonating lots of female celebrities, most notably Regine Velasquez, who is revealed to be one of this season’s guest judges. We can’t wait for their inevitably precious interaction. See what we did there?
A stunningly statuesque Minty Fresh glitters her way in and says in an equally sultry voice, “Pilipinas, fresh ka pa ba?” Soft-spoken almost to a fault, Minty might need to fight to make herself be heard in this cast of loud, energetic queens, but visually she has no problems standing out. She literally looks like she just stepped out of Rodeo Drive (or Greenbelt).
The hysterically named Gigi Era comes in next, hailing all the way from Melbourne. Speaking with a thick Aussie accent, her entrance line goes “Miss ma’am, I’m home, and I’m ready to sit on that throne.” She has a cute interaction with Precious in which they called each other “bro” while trading hugs and fist bumps. Is it just me or was this scene dripping with sexual tension? I could be wrong.
Definitely, the loudest among this already rowdy bunch is Bulacan’s Viñas DeLuxe. She calls herself “Ang Pambansang Bunganga” during the Meet the Queens promo and she means it. Singing at the top of her lungs as she enters the Werk Room then promptly yelling “Andito pala kayo!” while wearing nothing but a towel (complete with wet hair!), Vinas is, sorry for sounding biased, instantly iconic, a feat not easy to pull off. She seems poised to annihilate this competition with her huge presence and overwhelming effervescence. Plus, that mouth alone deserves a crown.
Prince walks in a spectacular sci-fi look and bellows in a baritone voice “Dude, pare, tsong!”. It seems as if he’s anointing himself as the trade of the season. And he does look real cute out of drag in his confessionals. Beyond the superb drag aesthetic, Prince seemed a bit unsure of himself.
Brigiding walks in next, garbed in a cute yellow number with bright orange polka-dots. The other contestants are gagged to see her, especially Minty, who acknowledges that Brigiding is a jack-of-all-trades (in a good way) and is a big threat to the crown. Being Drag Race experts ourselves, this editing choice usually foreshadows some sort of rivalry. Let’s see where it goes.
Last but definitely not least is Xilhouete, donned in an opulent feathered ensemble, looking like a cross between Morticia Addams and Snow White’s Queen Ravenna. She’s a creative director and co-owner at Nectar and exudes an effortlessly regal air. Dramatic music plays and Eva le Queen chokes, but Xilhouete’s clear target is Marina, her former drag daughter, who she admits she has some unfinished business with.
RuPaul herself introduces DRPH’s host via RuMail (pandemonium ensues) and she’s none other than actor, comedian, designer, TV host, and the Queen of Transformations herself Paolo Ballesteros.
Mama Pao promises the children that this season will be a fierce showcase of Filipino drag talent and introduces the first mini-challenge, a photoshoot ala-Darna with celebrity photographer BJ Pascual (looking like a complete snacc). It’s a fun little segue and the obvious winner is Marina Summers, doing effortless air acrobatics as Black Darna. Sadly, Prince’s confidence just isn’t up there with the rest of her sisters as she tries in vain to pose while wearing an unforgivably shoddy costume (tag yourselves: I’m the one boob star that fell off).
The maxi challenge is the Totally Impressive Talent Extravaganza (T.I.T.E. for short) with KaladKaren, Jiggly Caliente, and Pops Fernandez completing the episode’s judging panel. Unfortunately, the one minute allotted for each queen just wasn’t enough to make the performances truly pop, but they were fun nonetheless. The clear standouts were Turing, who gave a powerful contemporary dance number dedicated to COVID victims, Viñas DeLuxe, whose comedy act was both clever and sidesplittingly funny, Marina Summers, whose incredible dance moves will prove irresistible to Drag Race fans all over the world, and Minty Fresh, who gave an entire production with a visually resplendent laser light show in the tune of her own song.
Sadly, those who fell in the bottom three were Prince, Lady Morgana, and Xilhouete, and it felt correct.
Prince’s burlesque number was cute but just didn’t build up properly (blame the time constraint and there was also an odd lack of stripping), Lady Morgana’s newscasting skit was alarmingly unfunny for a comedy queen, and Xilhouete’s tribute performance to her lola was poignant but had a clear disconnect between costuming and the message being conveyed.
After deliberation, Minty Fresh is declared the winner. Although everything about her performance was on point and she looked like a star (that terno gown deserves to be seen in New York Fashion Week), the song sounded a wee bit autotuned. I personally would have given the win to Turing. She had an important message to tell and was fiery, passionate, and absolutely incredible – if only her outfit wasn’t inexcusably bad. The concept was there, but the execution was sadly lacking. KaladKaren’s scathing remark that her butterfly sleeve looked like it was made of cardboard paper felt like a punch but was completely valid. Also not exempted from harsh sartorial critiques was Prince, whose ill-fitting tights and wrong shoes were endlessly ridiculed by Paolo. At least she took it all with a smile.
Ultimately, Lady Morgana and Prince had to lip sync to Sarah Geronimo’s Tala. I was initially concerned that the Davao City queen wouldn’t be able to perform the upbeat song since she was wearing a floor-length gown.
But in the end, Morgana served serious emotions and plenty of Ruveals and sends Prince packing. She may be the first one out, but we all know that just being cast in Drag Race already opens up a lot of doors and can even be a blessing. Case in point: Miss Vanjie and Shangela.
Drag Race Philippines Season 1 has effectively set all its key players in place.
It feels fresh and organic with none of the producer-induced drama that plagued the recent US seasons. It doesn’t need it because the queens themselves are already supplying eye rolls and shady comments in exceeding abundance. There are clearly so many unresolved issues. Of course, we’re all waiting with bated breath to see how things will turn out. I’ve had my misgivings considering a full trailer wasn’t released. But girl, this is clearly shaping up into one of the best franchises ever. The cast is electrifying and they all ATE, buffet-style complete with lechon, kakanin, and chicharong bulaklak care of Jiggly. Tune in next time for Episode 2’s RuCap.
Timothy is a graduate of Bachelor in Secondary Education, major in English. He used to teach in Ateneo de Davao University and was also a trainer in a callcenter company. Right now, he works full-time as a content writer. He is such a huge fan of RuPaul's Drag Race that he moonlights as a queen named Santana.