One Crown, A Thousand Memories

Ever since I was a kid, I knew right away that I was gay. I would put on my grandma’s clothes and try on her lipstick. I would imitate Sexbomb dancers and their dance routines almost everyday, watching them in our neighbors VCD. I wasn’t scolded for being gay by my uncle and my grandma. But other people did bully me for my sexuality.

Perhaps that led me to realize, now as a grown up, to stick to those who appreciate me for what I am. And this lesson has been with me up to now, to cut off toxic people from my life and stay with those who truly understand me.

Growing up, I’ve watched gay beauty pageants mostly here in my hometown. I’ve seen how people ridicule gays who joined the pageants as well as how the gay contestants strive to make people laugh to get the attention of the audience. It left a mark in my life, swearing never to join in any gay pageants because I don’t wanna be just a comic relief for people who never truly appreciate our existence as homosexuals.

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Instagram: @mackybaggins

Then came 2017.

It was May 10 when I was asked to join Hamtic’s Miss Gay pageant. We used to refer to it as Ms. LGBT because last year, that was the official name of the pageant. This year, I thought it’s gonna be on May, just like last year.

First week of May was the town’s fiesta and I was expecting the pageant to be held within that week.

I was really anticipating for a gay beauty pageant to be organized as part of the activities for the town fiesta. I couldn’t vividly recall when it started but I remember that months before May, my friends had already started teasing me to join and be the next title-holder. We would even talk about the pageant and jokingly discuss what might possibly happen during the show. How my friends teased me for really expecting. The funny thing is, I started visualizing myself on stage even before the confirmation for the pageant to take place was announced. I practiced my introduction using a dummy script and before sleeping, I would rehearse usual pageant questions in my head.

I wouldn’t deny that I liked the idea of joining a gay beauty pageant. I loved it. But then I told them I still have no idea who to tap for my clothes and make-up for the show. Then I remember, Hublag, our dance company, has a make up artist that we grew fond of. I’m sure that I have mentioned the pageant to him before and my intention of joining. Nong Edam, our make up artist, was also interested to help me out. That time, the pageant wasn’t yet announced or organized even.

Then came May. A beauty pageant was held for teenagers. I was surprised not to see any hints of Ms. Gay being organized. I asked my friend, Nong Chard, who was part of last year’s Ms. LGBT’s production team if there were any plans for this year’s Ms. Gay. He told me he had no idea, concluding that if a municipal gay beauty pageant would push through, it would probably be on June, organized by the Municipal Health Office as part of their campaign to raise awareness on HIV. I remember thinking, wow. It would really be a pageant with a cause. But a part of me was also dismayed to know that it wasn’t really very sure to happen.

It was a week after the town fiesta when Nong Chard sent me a message asking if I wanted to join Miss LGBTQ 2017 for he was assigned to look for participants.

Of course, I confirmed immediately, without hesitation. It was the news I’ve been waiting for. I told Nong Edam about the pageant to which he said yes, teasing how I seem to be very giddy about the event. Of course, I am! Hahaha.

The next person I told about the pageant was Dimple, my ever-supportive friend. We’d plan out almost everything, even about how to conceal the scars on my legs due to my skin asthma attack last year. Yes. She even made fun of my overly-early practices. That week was the beginning of finals’ week in the university so we weren’t able to rehearse my walk very often. We only practiced once due to busy schedule. And you could just imagine how much I nagged Dimple to rehearse with me because I am a first-timer in pageants so I don’t know how to properly walk and project.

On Q&A practices. I did impromptu interview practices whenever I can: when eating with my friends, walking with them, or during our vacant periods. I’d go and say, “Ask me a pageant question.” And not only did I do interview sessions during these times; most of them I did when we were drinking. There’s this place where we usually drink that has a wireless mic and one time, around 8PM, we were the only people there as it was still early. We did interview sessions using the mic, half-tipsy! Even the usual post-drinking caldohan in Miagao had been a witness to my interview practices. Fortunately, it all paid off. I bagged Best in Interview.

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Fast forward to photoshoot day. They announced the shoot on May 22, a Monday, that it’s gonna be on May 24, nine in the morning. The thing is, that week was the final exams’ week. I had an exam that Wednesday, at eight in the morning. So I told the organizers that I wouldn’t be able to attend the shoot and asked if there can be an alternative shoot for me. I hadn’t realized the absurdity of my question until now. Hahaha! What was I thinking? But then I told the organizers if it is possible for me to arrive at the shoot around 12 noon because I’m in Miagao, to take the exam until ten in the morning and I’m yet to travel to Hamtic. They agreed.

I arrived at 12 noon during that day and all of the other candidates were already done shooting. They were already rehearsing for the production number routine and then there I was, yet to start my make up for the shoot. I felt left-behind but my dancer self told me not to worry.

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When the official photos were released, I gathered everyone I can, to start sharing my photo to win People’s Choice Award. At first, I was leading. But one other candidate caught up and won the sash. It’s fine, though. I felt the genuine support of my friends, exerting effort in sharing and tagging their Facebook friends.

Just a segue, I once rehearsed my walk in a rough road at one in the morning because no one can rehearse with me.

The day before the pageant, my make up artist brought a new pair of heels. Higher than the pair I had been rehearsing with. I really felt the difference because my already-stable walk with my old heels changed when I started using the new one. It’s like I’m back to where I started in terms of walking. But I eventually realized, those new pair of heels was actually sexier on stage so that assured me, despite the struggle to walk properly.

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Photo by Dimple Rios.

The night before the pageant, I went for a walk, alone. I was so nervous then that I kept on assuring myself that no matter what happens, I must not be disappointed and must accept whatever the result would be. I listened to some Gaga songs just to calm me down. I went home, washed my gown, and rehearsed for my talent presentation at three in the morning.

The day of the pageant, June 2, surprisingly, I was not nervous. I was sleepy because my make up artist and I had to wake up early and buy the materials for my yet-to-make costume. I was also excited to try on my clothes. I was surprised, really, why I haven’t felt any sign of fear or wobbling of legs before the pageant. I was just sleepy, I tried to keep my eyes closed while I was being made up to try catch some few minutes of sleep.

Perhaps one reason why I was assured to take on the stage without any nervousness is because I knew I was beautiful that night, modesty aside.

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Photo by Steph Rizardo

I believe it is a factor. Confidence really makes a difference. And besides, I love the stage. I love performing for others and I’m so used to being watched by an audience. So maybe those are the reasons.

One of the few moments during the pageant when I became terrified was when my number was called for the preliminary interview. I was nervous because I cannot anticipate the moment. I’ve never been there, in that situation. Sure, I had Q&A practices, but what if I got metal-block? What if I stutter?

I just remembered the tips I got from my friends and said what I had in mind. Then it’s done. And of course, I got really comfortable because my friends were there in the audience, cheering. That, somehow, calmed my nerves.

To tell you frankly, I was embarrassed about my talent presentation because I thought it wasn’t the right audience to do that performance. But to hell with it. I just hoped I inspired people that night. And just like what I’ve reminded myself before the pageant, if ever I won’t get the title, as long as I get to perform a Lady Gaga routine, I’d be okay.

The announcement of the top five candidates. I was included. Somehow, I was quite sure I’m gonna be in. I know the dynamics of a pageant and since I had two minor awards, that assured me.

Then came the final interview. It was funny because the judge asked how I was feeling, and thinking it was the final question, I answered enthusiastically.

To be honest, I was not satisfied with my final answer. When I got back backstage, I was silent, already reminding myself not to assume and let go of the thought of winning because I wasn’t confident with what I said.

We were called back on stage to announce the major awards. The highlight of the pageant, for me, was the announcement of the first runner up. It had to be me, I told myself, otherwise…

Have you ever been in that situation where you intently and focus all your energy to listen to the announcer’s first muttered syllable to know whether you are being called or not?

That was the feeling. Half of me says, it’s me. Half of me says, please let it not be me. Plus, my feet were already in pain because of the heels. I couldn’t project properly. I kept mouthing to my friends that the heels were killing me.

Apparently, I wasn’t first runner up. I bowed my head and closed my eyes, still not able to believe the reality of the moment. I heard my friends yell in triumph. I was then crowned as Miss Gay Hamtic 2017. It was ecstatic. I couldn’t describe the moment any better.

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I used to say I won’t enter a gay beauty pageant because my worth is more than just a laughingstock. But then I realized that I can use this platform to show people how much they are missing for discriminating the LGBTQ community and for taking for granted our existence. In addition, I am a performer. The stage always calls for me to perform and share my skills.

I also realized that I can use this platform to show people how much worth we have; that we, as humans, are equals, and that “we are worthy of respect, love, and we are worthy to live the life according to how we want to live it.”

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Instagram: @mackybaggins

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was my crowning moment. I am Macky Torrechilla, your Miss Gay Hamtic 2017.

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