By Roel Hoang Manipon and Andrea Andres

Àfter about a year of anticipation and speculations, Drag Race Philippines has debuted on 17 August with two episodes, that did not disappoint.

To usher in the much-talked about Philippine version of the phenomenal American drag competition and RuPaul’s Drag Race, one of the streaming service companies that show the reality television series, Discovery Plus, held an exclusive viewing party a day before the premiere at the Xylo bar at The Palace in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City, where the contestants were formally introduced.

Turing doing poses.

A rainbow lane was painted on the side street and stairs at posh Uptown Parade up to the entrance of the bar. One by one, competing queens Brigiding, Corazon, Eva Le Queen, Gigi Era, Lady Morgana, Marina Summers, Minty Fresh, Precious Paula Nicole, Prince, Turing, Viñas DeLuxe and Xilhouete arrived and walked on the rainbow in their Philippine culture-inspired couture. They were also introduced one by one during the program hosted by Tim Yap and Gitri San Diego, entering lip-synching and dancing to songs by RuPaul and those associated with RPDR.

Precious Paolo Nicole

The stage was inspired by the Philippine street icon, the jeepney, like the promo looks of the queens. Destination signs were recreated in neon lights, decorating the wings.

Aside from screening the first episode with the elimination portion cut out, the party also showed a trailer that featured snippets from future episodes, giving us glimpses of guests judges which include Pia Wurtzbach, Nadine Lustre, Regine Velasquez-Alcasid, Pokwang, Boy Abunda and Patrick Star.

The event was attended by celebrities including Kylie Verzosa, MJ Lastimosa, Maine Mendoza, Arjo Atayde, Tessa Prieto-Valdes, Paolo Valenciano, Mela Franco Habijan, Maja Salvador, Eula Valdez and Pops Fernandez, who is the guest judge in the first episode.

Eva Le Queen

Also present were judges alum Jiggly Caliente, KaladKaren, Rajo Laurel and BJ Pascual as well as host and guest judge Paolo Ballesteros.

This is the time, this is the moment that we take up space, the whole drag community, the whole LGBTQ community not only in the Philippines but the entire world.

“The Filipino queens are always gonna set the standards,” Caliente, who became emotional, said. “I’m so proud of them, and the fact that also with this franchise is the first of many, we are also the first franchise to have two trans women on the judges table.”

Prince in dragonfly-inspired gown.

“It could have happened to any franchise and I’m so glad that World of Wonders decided to put their eyes on the Philippines and showcase the amazing Filipino drag that is really world-class,” she added.

“It’s such an honor for me to be sitting in the judges panel, to be seen all of you being yourself, enjoying yourself, showcasing your talent to all over the world. You all deserve to be seen on the world stage,” Jervi Li, popularly known as Kaladkaren, said.

Judges KaladKaren and Jiggly Caliente.

She added: “This is the time, this is the moment that we take up space, the whole drag community, the whole LGBTQ community not only in the Philippines but the entire world.”

“Blood, sweat, and tears, and a lot of drama so that’s what you’re gonna be expecting in Drag Race Philippines,” said Marina Summers, one of the contestants.

On the other hand, Ballesteros shared what he felt being the host of the show: “Well, I’m so excited, of course. we’ve been waiting, we’ve all been watching RuPaul’s Drag Race ever since. And now Drag Race Philippines na siya so super excited.”


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