MANILA, Philippines – After following a million seasons and foreign iterations of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Filipino drag fans finally came home to their own version of the Drag Olympics, with the premiere of Drag Race Philippines on Wednesday, August 17.
The first two episodes of the show dropped at once on several streaming platforms – giving viewers enough material for a mini-Drag Race PH binge.
Spilling the TITE
In the first episode, we see the 12 competing queens entering the werk room for the first time: Corazon, Eve Le Queen, Turing, Marina Summers, Lady Morgana, Precious Paula Nicole, Minty Fresh, Gigi Era, Viñas Deluxe, Prince, Brigiding, and Xilhouete.
We’re treated to some pretty interesting entrance looks as they walk in – Viñas’ towel look, for instance – and also to some simmering tea as old tensions among several of the girls bubble to the surface.
Marina prickles at Minty’s entrance (it was some “random guy issue,” Marina explains), and Xilhouete’s entrance is heralded with the line “the real drama walked in” – apparently she has some unresolved issues with Marina (again), who happens to be her drag daughter.
Once the queens are gathered, the “she done already done had herses” call chimes, and the queens receive a recorded message from RuPaul herself. Of course it’s her immortal words: “good luck, and don’t fuck it up.”
The show’s host Paolo Ballesteros walks into the workroom for the first time, introducing herself as Mama Pao, a worthy Drag Race PH equivalent to RuPaul. Mama Pao then lays out what’s at stake: a one-year supply of One Size Beauty Cosmetics by Patrick Starr, and a hefty cash prize of P1,000,000.
The queens participate in the show’s first-ever mini-challenge – a photo shoot where they pose suspended from cables while wearing Darna-inspired drag as celebrity photographer BJ Pascual clicks away. Marina impresses BJ with her dynamic poses and she ends up winning the challenge – and a cash tip of P20,000.
Up next is Drag Race PH’s first-ever maxi-challenge: TITE, or the Totally Impressive Talent Extravaganza, where each queen had to prepare a performance of her choice, showcasing her talent.
Marina, Gigi Era, and Minty Fresh danced to their own original songs – with Minty taking it a step further by adding laser lights to her choreography. Also dancing their way across the stage were Turing with a contemporary number, Corazon with a “barangay dance” (she brought monobloc chairs!! on the main stage!!) to Season 13 hit “Phenomenon,” Precious Paula Nicole with a folk dance, and Prince doing burlesque.
Other queens opted for “quirkier” talents – Brigiding performed a magic act, Lady Morgana did newscasting, Eve Le Queen with spoken word, Viñas with a comedy sketch, and Xilhouete with live art.
At the end of the TITE, we’re introduced to the judges: mainstays Kaladkaren and Jiggly Caliente, and guest judges BJ and Pops Fernandez.
The queens then walked the runway in their “terno she betta don’t” lewks, with each contestant turning out their best interpretations of Filipiniana.
Marina Summers, Eve Le Queen, Minty Fresh, and Viñas Deluxe were the tops of the week at judging, along with Turing, who impressed with her TITE performance, but not her runway.
Three queens were at the bottom: Lady Morgana, whose newscasting bit left the judges confused, Xilhouete for her “disconnected” live art act, and Prince, whose burlesque was not burlesque enough, and who literally got off on the wrong foot with her runway look (in the words of Mama Pao: “Those SHOOOOEZ”).
At the end of judging, Minty Fresh was named challenge winner, bringing home P80,000 pesos and a Ru badge. Prince and Lady Morgana land in the bottom two, lip-syncing for their life to no less than Sarah Geronimo’s “Tala.”
After staying in the background for most of the lip sync, Prince became the first queen to get the porkchop.
Episode 2 started out with some tension between Corazon and Turing, though we only know a little bit about what really happened because the Untucked episodes have yet to be released. Their little spat fuels Corazon through that week’s mini-challenge: a good old game of Palo-sebo, with an assist from the Pit Crew, who make their debut in this episode.
After climbing up to the top of the bamboo pole in the shortest amount of time, Corazon wins P20,000 and a 15-second lead time to choose materials for their maxi-challenge: a Flores de Mayo-themed design challenge where they are tasked to make outfits – and design their sagala arches – using real flowers.
Corazon makes use of her lead time by going straight for the sewing materials and grabbing the flowers as an afterthought. Chaos ensues as the rest of the queens grab their own materials.
The queens get a visit from that week’s guest judge, designer Rajo Laurel, who tells them repeatedly, “the glue gun is your best friend.” Turing bypasses this advice and insists on sewing her garment from scratch. At some point, Viñas’ look raises some eyebrows too, with some queens saying it looked like a funeral wreath.
As the queens get ready for the runway, they end up sharing their own coming out stories, with Viñas talking about how she had a phase where she buried her true self and pretended to be straight just to fit in at the Christian school she attended. Overhearing Viñas’ story, Gigi broke down as she talked about her own experience of being beat up as a child.
When it’s time for the runway, Mama Pao serves her own Flores de Mayo-inspired look, and introduces another guest judge for that week: Pokwang. The queens walk out in their sagala looks, flanked by their pit crew escorts. Some looked stunned, while others fell flat.
Coming out on top were Minty Fresh with her edgy take on florals, Precious Paula Nicole with her polished Tinkerbell-inspired ensemble, and Viñas Deluxe, whose look was described as “absolute perfection.”
Landing in the bottom were Turing, whose look impressed Mama Pao least of all, and whose makeup was criticized for making her look old. Joining her in the bottom were Gigi Era whose look was seen as unfinished, and mini-challenge winner Corazon, whose dress was criticized for being “over designed.”
Ultimately, Viñas Deluxe won that week’s challenge, bringing home a Ru badge, P80,000, and an additional prize – a custom couture gown from the House of Laurel.
Gigi Era is marked safe and Turing and Corazon lipsync for their lives to Chona Cruz’s ’80s hit, “I’m Feeling Sexy Tonight.” While the two queens give it their all, Mama Pao awards the shantay to Turing, sending Corazon home.
p dir=”ltr” style=”line-height: 1.38;text-align: justify;margin-top: 0pt;margin-bottom: 0pt”>Drag Race Philippines streams Wednesdays on WowPresents Plus and HBO GO, while the Untucked episodes air every Friday starting August 19.