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Manila Luzon says Pinoy drag queens ‘very passionate, dedicated, creative’

by Joanna Deala

EACH drag queen is their own unique person–after all, drag is an art of self-expression. But if there are factors that make Filipino drag queens stand out from the rest, renowned drag queen Manila Luzon said it’s their passion, dedication and creativity.

The Filipino-American drag queen shared this with republicasia during the launch of her new single “POM POM (Take Me High)” featuring content creator Sassa Gurl.

Manila Luzon and Sassa Gurl are both part of the ongoing “Drag Den Season 2: Retribution,” the second season of the reality series “Drag Den Philippines.” Manila Luzon serves as the show’s host a.k.a the Drag Lord while Sassa Gurl returns as the Drag Runner.

During the interview, Manila Luzon highlighted the beauty of Filipinos which, she said, is “absolutely stunning,” but their passion, dedication and creativity in drag are the qualities that impressed her the most.

“They have limited resources in which they do their drag. However, that doesn’t really stop them from really putting on the most spectacular drag shows I have ever seen,” she said.

The Filipino-American drag queen commended how resourceful Filipino drag queens were, despite having only a few pieces of materials but still managing to make something grand. 

“It’s like, I have a scrap of fabric and a little bit of sparkle, and then they make a whole garment that looks like something you’d wear in Miss Universe pageant,” said Manila Luzon.

“It blows my mind how innovative and creative the queens are, and that on top of how dedicated they are, it’s really, really impressive and inspiring to me,” she added.

People, especially members of the LGBTQIA+ community, do drag for many different reasons and one of those is to be able to freely express who they really are or who they want to be.

“Drag is a form of expression because we’re putting on the top of ourselves you know. It’s like an art form but like we are the canvas. So, you know, it’s really cool to think how you dress can affect how you act, how your mood is,” said Manila Luzon.

But more than the glitz and glamor, drag also helps a person to discover more of themselves, according to the “Drag Den Philippines” host.

“So many of us haven’t told how we’re supposed to dress. You go to school, you have to wear your school uniform. You go to your job, you have to wear your uniform, you know, your tie, your suit. And, you know, drag kind of throws all that off the window,” she said.

“It’s just fabric on your back. You know, it changes your mood, and it really opens up new parts of your personality that you may not know existed,” she continued.

Introducing drag through ‘Drag Den PH’

Manila Luzon hopes to make more Filipinos better understand what drag means in the Philippines through “Drag Den Season 2: Retribution,” which is now streaming on Prime Video.

“I’m introducing starting with, you know, our show on Prime Video,” she said. “I think that’s, you know, with media and our representation of what we are, I think that’s a great way to introduce it and we’re also a reality show. So this isn’t like a movie script that someone wrote down.”

“These are actual people. We’re capturing these moments, so it’s a little bit heightened because you know the pressure’s on and they wanna do really good [in] a competition setting. But ultimately, they’re just being themselves,” she added.

The show has also become an opportunity to have more LGBTQIA+ community representation in the media.

“The thing that I found, especially in the States, there wasn’t very much Asian-American representation, little on Filipino representation,” she recalled. 

She continued, “I just went on TV and I was playing myself. And I think that a lot of people were able to connect with me at a human level and that opened their eyes to not only the queer community, not only the drag community, but me as a Filipino-American, the Filipino culture.”

‘Drag Den PH’ offers more

“Drag Den Philippines” has returned bigger and crazier in its second season with its new set of drag queens, new set of rules and a new den.

Drag fans a.k.a “drag addicts” can expect more from the show as it will offer more looks, more drama, more celebrity guests, and “more makeup” this season, according to the show’s “Drag Lord.”

“There’s a lot, there’s music, there’s more fighting, physical? No, wait, is there? I don’t know, watch out,” she said.

Of course, the series’ soundtracks include “POM POM (Take Me High),” which was released on January 12. The song highlights body positivity, as well as the representation of LGBTQIA+ community in the music scene.

“The second season is very different from the first season. We want it to–the visuals, languages change from the second season because it’s more colorful and trippy and psychedelic so we wanted our song to reflect that,” she emphasized.

Manila Luzon said they really wanted to bring the new season to a new level, which is why viewers can look forward to hearing more stories from the members of the LGBTQIA+ community, more fierce looks, and higher stakes.

Asked about the future of the drag community in the country, she answered, “It’s gonna get bigger and better, it’s gonna get more popular. It’s gonna ruffle more feathers, it’s gonna create more conversation. It’s going to inspire more people and that’s the power the drag has, and I’m really excited.”



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