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Miss Gay

July, 2002

During our first weeks here in the Philippines, we attended the Sandugo Festival parade in Tagbilaran City. One of the attractions of the parade was a float carrying Miss Gay and her court, and they seemed to be the most popular part of the parade. The gays are Filipino homosexuals. They are well accepted in society here, and have traditionally worked as hair dressers in the local beauty parlors. Miss Gay Tagbilaran City is selected each year in a pageant held as part of Tagbilaran's annual Fiesta. We were intrigued, and decided that we would attend the next Miss Gay competition. This is a report of our experience, in two parts.

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In swimsuits.
In swimsuits. (95k)
In costume.
In costume (92k)
Miss Gay.
Miss Gay (88k)
Finalists. (100k)

Part 1: Miss Gay Tagbilaran City

The Miss Gay Pageant was held on a temporary stage set up in a downtown parking lot, and started at 8:00 in the evening. We arrived at 7:00 so Jim could find a good location for picture taking. We did not expect many people, and were not surprised to find only about two hundred chairs set up for the audience. We walked to the COCOwalk Café for dinner and returned just before 8:00. All of the seats were taken, and spectators were standing along the sides of the stage. We walked up to the front corner of the stage where Jim had found a large pillar. He could stand near the stage for picture taking without blocking anyone's view.

No sooner had we arrived than we were approached by a very nice lady who insisted that we sit next to her in the front row. She collected chairs for us and we sat down right behind the judges. It turned out that our benefactor was Rose Mascariñas, the pageant coordinator. We introduced ourselves, and she introduced us to the Mayor of Tagbilaran, Atty. Jose Torralba. Jim told the Mayor that he was going to write an article about the pageant for our website, and gave the Mayor his card with our web address. The next thing we knew, the Mayor was introducing us, by name, to the assembled crowd. Although the Mayor's address was given in Visayan, it was apparent to us that the he was talking about tourism. We were the only foreigners in an audience that now numbered in the thousands, so we were obvious examples for his subject matter.

This event was far more popular than we could have imagined. The parking lot was filled beyond capacity. The audience spilled out into the adjoining street and filled the adjacent public market spaces. The City government put a lot of effort into the event, local businesses contributed funds for the prizes, and the people came out in support. There was additional entertainment during the evening, featuring an energetic dance troupe from the University of Bohol and a very funny gay comedian. It was all quite impressive, and a lot of fun.

The program began with the contestants entering in a group wearing what were called fantasy costumes. Some were quite elaborate. The contestants also appeared in swimsuits and evening gowns; they were interviewed on stage (in English), and performed in a talent competition. As you might expect, not all of the contestants were as talented as others, but some were very good indeed. There was also a Gay Impersonator contest, with a second group of contestants.

The contestants were each introduced and told us a little bit about themselves. As is probably typical of such pageants everywhere, the contestants were all about 18 or so and college students, with majors ranging from mass communications and secondary education to political science and engineering. They had obviously spent a great deal of time and money preparing for the event. And, besides all the issues any pageant participant must handle, these were really all young MEN. And they were beautiful, poised, and talented. It was impossible not to think of them as women.

When the judging was completed, our new friend, Ms. Mascariñas, made the presentation to Miss Gay Tagbilaran City 2002. Jim asked if he could get a picture of the five finalists, and they lined up on stage for him.

After the pageant, we had a chance to meet Jun Quimpan, the President of the Bohol Gay Association. It turned out that this was not the pageant that selected the participants for the Sandugo Festival Parade. There is another pageant the night before the parade, with contestants invited from throughout the Philippines. We were invited, of course, and would we like to be judges? Jamie declined to be a judge, but Jim said yes. Our experiences at the Miss Gay Bohol/Sandugo pageant follow, on page 2.

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Jim and Jamie Richter, http://gotouring.com/razzledazzle/
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Created 7/2002. All photos are © 2002 Jim Richter.