‘This is me!’

In Photo: Juliana Parizcova Segovia was crowned as the winner of It’s Showtime’s gay beauty pageant segment Miss Q and A.

WHEN The Greatest Showman director Michael Gracey wanted an anthemic song for the oddities in his film, he turned to Tony- and Oscar-winning composers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. Little did anyone know that the song “This is Me” was inspired by Pasek’s experience when he was young and still in the closet. He felt that as a gay teenager, the world was sending him messages that he was not good enough, or that he would never find love. So through this song, he wanted to make the listener feel that no matter what you are, one has to shine like a bright light, and that there are many people who feel the same way you do.

It’s this sentiment that fueled the song to become a worldwide hit, and it was the obvious choice in the cold opening VTR of Showtime’s long-awaited finale of its gay beauty pageant, dubbed “Miss Q and A.” The phenomenal Vice Ganda belted the song and in the VTR, he was erasing gay slurs written in a mirror and applying a fabulous shade of lipstick in their place (Vice Cosmetics of course!). It then shone the spotlight on the gay contestants as introduction, with them singing along to the chorus: “I am brave, I am bruised/This is who I’m meant to be/This is me!”

Their “me” was what they bravely and beautifully revealed when they identified themselves and where they’re from in glittering costumes and fierce liners in true beauty pageant fashion. One had a peacock costume while another was adorned in balloons, and another was a giant sunflower, and another was a dragon—but all were ready to slay. All 30 of them. After their introductions, the Showtime hosts then revealed that they were the semifinalists, and that the one who got the highest online and text votes would join the already-declared nine finalists to make the top 10. Marigona was the people’s choice and she joined the ranks of Juliana Segovia, MatMat Centino, Rian Azares, Lars Pacheco, Kaye Bernawan, Princess Santillan, Kristine Ybardolaza, Elsa Droga and Odessa Jones.

All 10 of them were subjected to a one-on-one question with the judges to trim them to six. This, for me, was the most exciting portion, called “Deba, ’teh,” or a debate, where two queens faced each other head-to-head, platform heel-to-platform heel on mundane issues, like who was stronger, Cardo of Ang Probinsyano or Lakas of Bagani; or which was more excruciating, when you stifle a sneeze or a yawn?  It was a test of wit, adroitness and insight, and the finalists who entered this round were Rianne, Mamat, Juliana, Elsa, Marigona and Lars.  They faced off each other in heated arguments on irreverent issues and in the end, only three remained: Matmat, Juliana and Lars.

Matmat is the most veteran among the three, and she was the first to be asked the final question: “Sa iyong palagay, ano ang pinaka-nakakatakot na tanong at bakit?” Her answer was something like why only 80 percent accept the LGBT community. What is this 80 percent, she didn’t say actually, but she did elaborate that gays should raise the rainbow flag to show everyone we’re different but inspiring. Matmat is the most experienced among the queens and her entire stint in the contest was exceptional, making a lot of people think that while she gave a runaround answer, she still would go on to win.

Lars, meanwhile, tried too hard to answer the question. She said that the most difficult question she faced was “Bakit ako ganito?” Meaning why was she gay, and she went rambled on too long before finally arriving at her point and then, like MatMat, connected it, too, to gay rights.

But Lars is a fishy queen and, in fact, host Vhong Navarro even had a moment with her as he was stunned with her beauty, so it felt that she, too, had a chance to snag the crown.

But Juliana came charging with her one-toothed smile and answered that the most difficult question she had faced was what she’s most terrified of. She also answered that question, saying she’s afraid of losing her mother and proceeded to give a heartfelt tribute to her mom. It was personal yet relatable, and, more important, it felt sincere. It felt genuine and it felt like it really came from the bottom of her heart.  She was the hands-down winner of that round. She knew it, too, because there were still a few seconds left before she was buzzed out, but she used that time to smile to the crowd, proudly showing the single tooth she calls Cookie (short for “kuko ng puppy”) for the whole world to appreciate.

But would the judges base it on that final round, or would they take into consideration their whole journey as a contestant? Apparently, they chose the former and declared Juliana the first-ever Miss Q and A winner. Among the prizes she won were a trip for two to Thailand, a retoke package and P1-million cash tax-free from Vice Cosmetics.

While Juliana may not have the looks like MatMat or Lars, she has boundless energy, precise thoughts and a unique point of view.  Her sincerity is exuding and her comedy chops constantly unfolding.  She has charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent.  She is the deserving winner of the pageant.

We can all learn from Juliana. As we recently finished celebrating Pride Month, let us continue to be like her who is out and proud of what she is.  Someone who is strong and determined, and despite all the hardships she has experienced, she still faces life indefatigably and fights with fierceness and always ready to flash her one-tooth smile anytime.

Like Juliana, even when the going gets tough, fight with (one) tooth and nail until you become the Ms Q and A grand winner in your own life.  And always sing at the top of your lungs: “This is me!”

SIDE NOTES:

  • Heartthrob James Reid serenaded the candidates and did it like in any beauty contest. He interacted with the contestants, kissing the hand of some of them, which elicited major shrieks at the venue. Major points for you, James! #Inclusion
  • Vice Ganda was in tears at one point of the show, as he acted as the “mother” of all the contestants and helped them throughout the pageant so it was hard for her to see them go. #Sepanx
  • Category is: Eleganza Extravaganza! And the winners with their dazzling duds were Vice Ganda, Mariel Rodriguez and Anne Curtis. #Slay

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Jet is our weekly columnist for Show section under Life. When not hobnobbing with stars and starlets (or crashing their events for fun), he loves filling his head with pop culture trivia (which comes in useful sometimes when he answers a Facebook personality test or two). He loves listening to music but is tone-deaf, watching volleyball but is a klutz and shopping but is always broke. Previously, he was a publicist, talent handler and script writer for various TV shows, concerts and events. He is, next to Gerard Ramos, Madonna's most die-hard fan.

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