This year has been groundbreaking for Filipino queer artists. It marked the debut of two local drag TV shows that brought to life thriving watch parties and plenty of stages for our queens. The easing of lockdown restrictions also heralded the return of gigs and opportunities for many artists. And perhaps most importantly, the SOGIESC Equality Bill garnered a meaningful win.
From our #PrideIsResistance campaign in June to the fourth quarter profiles that captured the voices of some of the most compelling artists today, we list down—in no particular order—the Filipino queer icons who shaped Preen’s 2022.
If you’re Precious Paula Nicole, loving and caring can be a drag queen brand
She’s a winnah, baby! Before Precious Paula Nicole won “Drag Race Philippines’” first-ever crown, we already dubbed her the Queen of Hearts. Her campy yet glam runway looks and powerful lip syncs made their mark. But her giving heart and fierce love for herself and her family also won us over.
“[’Yung] first word na Precious, di ko naman talaga siyang tinuring as name. It means precious because I feel precious being myself,” the proudly bisexual Bicolana said. “Ngayon na mas kilala ko na si Precious, kinikilala ko naman si Rodolfo as Precious. Nagbabatuhan lang sila ng energy at personality. Gusto kong maging pantay ’yung pagtingin ko [kay] Precious and Rodolfo.”
She’s serving face, body, vocals, dance moves, gorgeous looks, and biting political commentary. Marina Summers is a bombshell in every sense. The well-spoken “Drag Race PH” first runner-up is unafraid of showing some skin and spelling out why drag is political with finesse. She’s also the biggest supporter of our local drag scene.
“We have some of the most talented, most hardworking drag queens here in the Philippines. It’s high time they get to be exposed to a larger audience because it’s what they deserve,” said the producer-turned-drag star. “Hindi lang pang-intermission ’yung drag. Hindi na lang palamuti, hindi na lang siya fanfare sa shows. Now we’re really seeing that drag is the focal point of most shows.”
As the brainchild of Filipino producers, “Drag Den’” is boldly showing how brash and politicized our LGBTQIA+ community can be. It captures not only the good but also the dark narratives in our history. And so, it serves as the perfect playground for Naia Black’s wit and nerve.
“Being queer is allowing yourself to be yourself and express yourself in however way you want! That is why as Naia, I wear the shortest dresses. Gusto ko nakikita panty ko,” she said about her drag persona. “She is not without her political beliefs. It’s part of his—and her—fiber. It’s not a façade. It’s something deeply embedded into my system na hindi ko matanggal.”
As a proud baklang kanal and trans woman, Sassa Gurl is an unapologetic creative and the story that she carries is the story of so many Filipino LGBTQIA+. In a way, she’s a bit like a new generation’s Vice Ganda. This year, she released her song “Lagot,” starred in the “Gabi ng Lagim” special of “Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho,” and showed us a bit of her hosting chops as “Drag Den’s” drag runner.
“Ginagawa ko lang ’yung gusto kong gawin eh. Ni-re-represent ko lang naman ’yung pinaniniwalaan kong ako. Sa pagiging trans,” said the mima ng lahat. “Parang feeling ko hindi naman siya super big deal or ‘breaking the norm.’ Siguro ‘breaking the norm’ pa kasi hindi masyado nakikita ng tao. Pero kung lumabas ka sa kalye-kalye… hindi lang naman ako na unique na ganito. Alam mo ’yon?”
Reyna Valmores-Salinas knows there is power in words
In the face of transphobia and red-tagging, Bahaghari chairwoman Reyna Valmores-Salinas remains resolute in fighting for the comprehensive rights of Filipino LGBTQIA+.
“Mabigat siya. Pero ang makita talaga na lumalaban ang mga tao at mahal ka ng mga tao na pinaglalaban mo, or rather, lumalaban ka alongside them, it makes it really worth it. It inspires me to look forward to more,” the trans activist said. “Kami, bilang LGBT, ipaglalaban namin ang kagalingan ng LGBT, whether that’s in the realm of anti-discrimination, in the realm of driving down prices of oil, in the realm of providing equal access to social services, etc.”
The political and the spiritual are one in Alyana Cabral’s queer world
Musician and activist Alyana Cabral is reaching out to a dimension where queerness is in its ultimate form by incorporating pure love energy into her work—whether it’s DJing as Teegee, playing with her bands Oriang and Ourselves the Elves, or her many other endeavors. It is perhaps this goal that allows her to be unburdened by what other people think.
“Hindi naman masamang sabihin na political ’yung music or art. It’s actually just… it’s really what it is. Ganun talaga siya umiiral. And when you accept that, the question now is, what’s the next move? How do you move forward after accepting that art is political?” Cabral said.
Hix Murakami pushes for Filipino queer cinema’s radical growth
Filipino queer cinema is alive and kicking, thanks in part to the efforts of filmmakers like Hix Murakami who are addressing the industry’s gap in representation. Along with fellow queer women and nonbinary creatives, Murakami built Street Woman Productions.
“What I want is to make it a bit easier for queer filmmakers like me. If I were someone of prominence, I’d probably host grants for queer filmmakers only,” said Murakami. “I want queer narratives to come from the right people.”
It’s the Mugler baby! You may have seen Lukresia working the Mugler Wolford Collection among chickens in their own backyard in Cebu. Audacious and evocative of a radically Filipino style, Lukresia is a supermodel and designer in the making.
“I am fashion. The world needs to see me. I will go global with our backyard with me. It is the only way and it’s on its way. It’s what we deserve,” the artist also known by their online moniker @thirdworldbb said. “Fashion and queerness are symbiotic. We run fashion. Without us, fashion would be bland.
At Bekenemen’s ‘Drag Race’ viewing parties, local drag queens are honored
Bekenemen has become a household name among local drag fans. In the safe space “Bekenemen” podcast partners Baus Rufo and Myx Chanel created at Draper Startup House Manila, our local drag performers—yes, even baby queens and kings—are revered. It’s a viewing party. It’s a drag show. It’s, as Rufo said, a place to let your hair down even though you’re wearing a wig.
“How is [drag] not a protest of gender, gender expectations, and social norms? Drag queens really push the boundaries in different aspects—in our performances, the stories we tell. We just don’t give a f*ck about society rules,” said Myx Chanel. Rufo added, “We want to keep holding the space for aspiring queer performers”
Stef Aranas is the trans Pinay pop superstar of our dreams
It’s about time for the Philippines to get its very own trans Pinay popstar. Stef Aranas is the sassy songstress with the radio-ready, danceable tracks for the job. She has zero reservations when she prefaces something with, “I’m trans. These are my pronouns and you’re not gonna misgender me.” It’s the energy we want to see.
“Advocacy is very alive in me and I think there’s always room for improvement. It’s also a part of me manifesting being a trans Pinay pop superstar. Definitely, it bleeds into my work,” Aranas said.