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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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Jun Quimpan.
Jun Quimpan,
BGA President (62k)
Backstage. (69k)
Making the Presentation.
Presenting the award (72k)
Finalists. (82k)

Part 2: Miss Gay Bohol/Sandugo

The Miss Gay Bohol/Sandugo Pageant was held inside the Bohol Cultural Center on a Friday evening. There were ten contestants remaining after a preliminary event had eliminated those who were considered non-competitive. Although contestants were invited from throughout the Philippines, most were from Bohol, Cebu, and Leyte, the nearest islands.

The pageant started over an hour late, which gave us time to observe the preparations. Jun Quimpan, the President of the Bohol Gay Association was busy with all the paperwork and other arrangements out in front. The contestants were all gathered backstage, getting into their costumes, just waiting for the pageant to start, or having their makeup applied.

Each contestant appeared in a "fantasy costume", introduced herself, performed in a talent competition, and then appeared in both swimsuit and gown. Finally, each was interviewed by the MC. The finalists were interviewed by the judges to pick the winner and runners-up.

Jim was one of the four judges for the pageant, so he was not able to take any pictures of the actual competition. Being a judge was serious work, requiring careful attention to each contestant's performance and numerous reports. In the end, Jim's first choices always seemed to come in second. It seems that the other judges had different ideas about who should win. Maybe they actually knew what they were doing!

The judges, assisted by some of the sponsor's children, presented the trophies and crowns to each of the finalists. Jim made the presentation to the winner — Miss Gay Bohol/Sandugo 2002.

Early in the evening, the power went off. These power failures, called "brown-outs" here, are not uncommon. They generally last from a few minutes up to about 8 hours. In this case, the lights were out (and the program delayed) for a little over one hour. This, combined with the late start, meant that the pageant didn't end until after 2:00 a.m. We were very tired when we finally got to bed about 3:00.

The finalists should have taken part in the Sandugo Festival Parade on the following day, but due to the visit of the President, Gloria M. Arroyo, the parade had been rescheduled at the last minute to the preceding Wednesday. This created many difficulties, including an inability for the Gays to participate in the parade. This sort of thing happens here quite regularly. People seem to accept the disruptions without much complaint.

Once again, we tried something new. It turned out to be much different than we had expected, but we had a wonderful time. The Philippines continues to amaze us, and we are enjoying ourselves more and more as we venture further off the beaten path. Our status as foreigners will open many doors for us — we are slowly learning to knock on those doors.

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