By Gabrielle Diolata Payla
My name is Gabriel. I am Gabby to my family, relatives and friends, especially in the wonderful world of transgender. Actually, I could not distinguish from among my friends whether transgender or not, if they are genuine or fake. My detractors and critics (who are known for being hypocrites but are trying to be saints) call me Gabriela with a Cebuano accent. So they say, I am amiable, cute, sweet and talented. And being a normal person,I do also dream, aspire and have ambitions – one is to join a beauty pageant for transgenders in several cities, municipalities and secluded barangays, aspiring to bag all the prizes and awards. Who says that I don't have the 3Bs – body, beauty and brains?
Joining a particular pageant for transgender is not an easy task. Of course, a transgender must have a beautiful body for the swimsuit and evening gown competition. Aside from being witty and being tactful, she must have brains for the question-and-answer portion of the pageant. Aside from her charm, winsome smile and exceptional talent, she must have beauty or a beautiful face as her ace card to win the several special awards of the contest, like Miss Photogenic, Miss Congeniality, and Miss Talent. Just like anybody else, however, I sometimes win and sometimes lose. But then, quitters never win and winners never quit!
I remember when I joined a beauty pageant for transgenders in a remote area of Barangay Matabang in Talisay City. A week before the pageant, the organizer of the event introduced us to the Screening Committee for auditions. Being one of the aspiring candidates, I was enveloped with mixed emotions. I was very happy to find out that some of the candidates were my friends. I was quite nervous, because some candidates were tall and beautiful, and could be mistaken as real ladies.
We were interviewed by the Committee. We showed a little portion of our talent. After a couple of days,the head of the Screening Committee announced the ten lucky candidates for the pageant. Fortunately, I was chosen to be one of the aspirants.
During our rehearsals, I came to know better the other nine candidates of the beauty pageant. My mind at first was filled with bad impressions about my rivals. However, these were replaced by a happy disposition because of the goodness they showed toward me. They were kind-hearted, friendly, and very accommodating. I couldn't help but laugh when they came out from their shell. They even gave me some useful tips for the beauty pageant.
Then the night came if the much-awaited beauty pageant. Backstage, my makeup artist did a lot of retouch on my makeup, unmindful of the national anthem and the invocation.
We were first presented to the audience with our festival costumes, made of recyclable materials. The crowd was very refined and civilized.
When we conquered the stage wearing two-piece swimsuits, however, the once-quiet audience became so unruly. The unwanted noise of shouts and laughter created by the crowd filled the covered court. Our focus was not to entertain the audience, but to win the hearts of the judges by showing our curves. The unruly crowd was not content just to laugh and shout. They even whistled with gusto, especially when their favorite candidate occupied the stage during the talent portion. Most candidates did a modern or pop dance. To break the monotony, I did a lip sync which, to my surprise, wowed the crowd!
There was a deep silence when the candidates invaded the stage with our evening gowns, beautifully created by our loyal designers. All the candidates were elegant and sophisticated, and can be likened to actresses at the awards night. Clad in a rented blue gown, I walked down the aisle like Tyra Banks.
And then we were down to the Magic 5.
My heart beat so fast during the question-and-answer portion! I was asked, "What would I do as a transgender to help protect our environment or Mother Earth?" After a few seconds, I answered the question with a smile. I replied: "I will clean my surroundings to be an example to my neighbors. I will not burn trash to protect the ozone layer, but bury trash instead. As much as possible, I will plant ornamental and flowering plants to beautify my environment and trees, because our country is suffering from climate change."
Because of my exotic beauty and my extraordinary talent, plus my brain, I won the hearts of the judges. And presto, I got the crown.
I have learned so many values and ideals while joining beauty pageants. Some transgenders are selfish and jealous with their fellow transgenders, particularly in the world of beauty pageants. Instead, we must all unify and support one another, so we can fight against discrimination in our society.