Highlights from ‘Drag Den’ drag supreme Naia’s grand coronation

We talk gowns, inspiring speeches, and jaw-dropping performances

preenph drag den finale naia coronation

The culmination of “Drag Den’s” inaugural season was an emotional,  pangmalakasan, and super Pinoy payoff that left viewers with an even stronger appreciation for Filipino drag. The show’s top queens—Naia, Shewarma, and Maria Cristina—battled it out under four categories to prove that they have what it takes to be the first-ever drag supreme. In the end, it was self-proclaimed baby girl from Las Piñas Naia Black who took home the crown and those checks.

Missed the event? Here’s what went down during the herstoric night.

Gorgeous, gorgeous looks on the red carpet

Held at SM Aura’s Samsung Hall on Jan. 25, “Drag Den’s” Grand Coronation Night and Finale Concert kicked off with a red carpet hosted by Eva Ronda that also celebrated drag addicts who showed up and showed out. Among the looks that caught our attention was Gelo Arucan’s Schiaparelli-inspired “Black Panther” ensemble. Drag queens like Mrs. Tan and Jona Quinn came to stun. Miss Supranational Philippines 2022 Alison Black was all glammed up while supporting her sibling Naia. We also spotted celebs like Dani Barretto and “Drag Race Philippines” queens Viñas DeLuxe and Minty Fresh among the crowd.

Before the red carpet entrance of the cast, fans took the opportunity to take photos with the dragdagulan wrecking ball and drag lord throne as well as visit the “Drag Den” queens’ merch booths. But all eyes were on Manila when she entered in her yellow Francis Libiran gown with her husband Michael Jeremy. Other stars who walked the carpet were the concert’s host Markki Stroem in a white suit and hot pink platform boots, drag enforcer Nicole Cordoves in a neon green dress, Ria Atayde in a sparkling silver gown, and Lady Gagita in a fun Grab rider-inspired look.

The jaw-dropping final episode

As the audience took their seats, the final episode started airing onstage. Following the tradition of beauty pageants, the final battle had four categories: national costume, swimwear and lip sync, long gown, and Q&A. Backstage, Cordoves and drag runner Sassa Girl join the rest of the queens to give live commentary in the episode.

For her national costume, Maria Cristina had a signature theatric presentation for her colorful beaded gown inspired by the Philippine seas paired with an intricate lobster head accessory. Shewarma was quite literally explosive with a bomb-inspired look with her tall Dara-esque hair and black and red dress. Naia’s look was an ode to farmers, a pairing of a salakot and a dress with a Fernando Amorsolo print on it plus a bundle of palay on her hand.

We saw that the triptych collections worn by the queens in the finale followed individual themes. MC’s was a showcase of Filipino fauna in fiesta colorways. Meanwhile, Shewarma’s was a narrative of a phoenix rising in red and black connected to the wordplay on “shewarma rice.” Naia’s was a celebration of Filipino pastoral art and artists like her own designer, her boyfriend Miyamoto Shin.

The swimsuit competition was simultaneously a lip sync battle to Sarah Geronimo’s “Kilometro.” MC was in a sparkly swimsuit and had a star mask on. In the battle, she cleverly used a long yellow ribbon as a measuring tape. Shewarma wore a fiery red structured paisley bodysuit with a train. She commanded the stage with just her expression and sickening moves like those flip. Naia was also fierce in a printed bodysuit and her pair of weaved glasses on. She also surprised the judges by showering the stage with snow spray.

The long gown competition began with MC’s colorful rooster look with her big dramatic hair. Shewarma was a phoenix that’s risen in one of the most gorgeous (albeit constricting) gowns that graced the show. The long train coupled with her memorable phoenix wig made her look like she was on fire. Offering an interesting contrast is Naia in an ankle-length printed dress. She looked like a work of art with her frame necklace and her vintage style wig.

The Q&A was an emotional segment as the queens answered the question, “What is the one, and only one, quality that makes you the true drag supreme?”

Maria Cristina’s answer gave us a glimpse into her pageant roots and her history as a drag educator. Her answer? Selflessness. “I believe that everything that I have learned throughout my life are the exact main reasons why I’m standing here right now. And those challenges and those learnings that I have learned throughout my experience are the exact things that I am willing to share with the entire world. My passion, my art, and my journey. And I’m standing right in front of you as a symbol of resilience, of hope, of faith, and of dreaming that if you won’t stop keeping and dreaming and believing in yourself, you can achieve the impossible things life has to offer.”

Shewarma chose being hardworking among her qualities. “One year and eight months pa lang ako nagda-drag and sobrang proud ko sa sarili ko and ’yung famly ko sobrang proud sakin dahil nakapasok ako dito sa ‘Drage Den Philippines.’ Alam kong kaya ko pang galingan and may ibubuga pa ako. Hindi pa ako ito ’yun pero proud ako kung ano man ’yung meron ako ngayon. And as isang drag queen, marami na rin akong napagdaanang pagsubok sa buhay and nilabanan ko ito. Like a phoenix, Shewarma rise from the ashes. And sinubukan ako ng sitwasyon, pero nandito ako. Head up high at patuloy na lalaban.”

Naia is known as a well-spoken queen and she did not disappoint when she talked about why growth is her pick. “Coming into this competition, I didn’t go here with the biggest budget or the best gowns and the best wigs. I only came here with my love and passion for drag. When I joined, I knew that ‘Drag Den’ was for the underdogs. And I have that quality of growth that I exhibited ever since day one. I’ve stumbled and I’ve gone through so much hardship, especially in this competition. And Manila, you’ve opened my eyes to what drag could truly be. It is freedom of expression and I can’t be more happy to be here. I hope that my story inspires young queer artists who are afraid of putting themselves out there, because I was afraid. But thank you, Manila, for giving this platform ’cause I was able to prove that growth is what you need to become the next drag supreme.”

In a surprising twist, the queens find out that their drag sisters have a hand in who gets to be crowned. The scores from Manila and Cordoves garnered 20% each while the remaining 60% was from the rest of the queens’ votes. But before the results were announced, Manila invited the legendary Lola Divas—Mama Letlet, Mama Pie, and Mama Bobby—to walk the stage and give their blessing to the drag supreme. It was wonderful to see them get due respect for paving the way for other Pinoy queens.

The top three queens took the stage in Samsung Hall as Manila announced the winners onscreen. MC, who seemed to be wearing a Philippine folklore-inspired look, was called first as the second runner-up. Shewarma, in a white dress and corset, held hands with Naia, in glittery pink. The concert hall then exploded with cheers when Naia was crowned the first-ever drag supreme.

Naia received several prizes including a contract with Cornerstone Entertainment. In an impromptu speech, the shocked Naia says in part, “Honestly, the one message that I want to impart to everyone, especially to young queer artists like me, is never give up on yourself. We have much to do in this country—in a country that silences dissent. We have so much to do. And as drag queens, as queer icons, we could use our voice to empower others, and to lift our spirits up. And while Marcos is our f*cking president, we have so much f*cking work to do. Should I have said that? Bawal ba ‘yon? Wala tayong pake! Drag is political! Drag is comprehensible!”

The other queens also received awards, which were as follows:

The Panlasang Pinay Award a.k.a. Miss Photogenic – O-A

Aling Puring Award a.k.a. Best in Merch – Lady Gagita

The Miss Understood Award a.k.a. The Look Queen – Aries Night

The Miss Fortune Award a.k.a. Ranked Last But Still Served – Pura Luka Vega

The Grand Mother Award a.k.a. Dead Mother Dead All – Barbie-Q

Second Runner Up Award – Maria Cristina

Grand Ligwak Award a.k.a. First Runner Up – Shewarma 

Pasabog performances

Each queen wowed with amazing lip sync performances that made the night even more memorable.

Pura Luka Vega ended their dramatic lip sync to Ella Fitzgerald’s “Cry Me a River” by eating a rose. O-A, in a nine-tailed fox fit, made us howl with laughter when she performed “What Does The Fox Say?” with iconic lines from the show edited in. 

Aries Night performed a Filipino song looking so fierce in a Mugler-esque black and silver bodysuit. Lady Gagita brought the house down when she recreated Lady Gaga’s MTV VMAs “Applause” performance.

MC was powerful during her “I Have Nothing” lipsync that featured hate tweets she received as the “villain” of the season and the ending that was a play on the Maria Cristina Falls. Shewarma captured our hearts in her emotional lip sync to Katy Perry’s “Rise.” Naia, on the other hand, was electric in her fun Itzy performance.

Sassa Gurl was so on brand with her live “Sulutera” cover. Manila Luzon also sang live when she performed the show’s titular song “Drag Den.” 

It was a jam-packed night that assured us how the future of Filipino drag is in good hands. Director Rodina Singh, who looked beautiful and statuesque in her gold Jan Garcia gown, said in her parting message, “I hope—well, let’s manifest this and I’m claiming it—that this won’t be the last.” Fingers crossed!

 

Art by Ella Lambio

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