A Transgender Paradox, and Platform, in the Philippines

Photo by Hannah Reyes Morales/nytimes.com

By Aurora Almendral/nytimes.com – Angel Cabaluna dusted makeup onto her thighs, styled her hair in loose curls and applied smoky eye shadow that glittered on her lids.

As this hamlet of cornfields and concrete houses prepared for festivities honoring its patron saint, and as some people gathered in prayer, Ms. Cabaluna, 20, was primping to compete in an annual transgender beauty pageant.

“This is our passion,” she later said.

Dominated by conservative morals taught by the Roman Catholic Church, the Philippines is also one of Southeast Asia’s most tolerant countries toward gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. And lawmakers are taking steps to ensure national legal protections that would penalize discrimination against them.

At the pageant, children sat cross-legged in the dirt, crowded close to the spindly stage where the contestants spun and danced in red feather headdresses, gold brocade and clouds of tulle. The crowd laughed and cheered as they delivered flowery speeches, weaving jokes with witty rhymes, beauty-queen platitudes and proclamations on gender equality.

In a nearby chapel, the pageant’s blaring pop songs mixed with the steady rhythm of churchgoers reciting the rosary.

FULL STORY

Find more like this: Features

  • Philippine Airlines Flight attendant feeds hungry infant mid-flight after mother runs out of formula
  • Pinoy graphic novel ‘Trese’ coming to Netflix
  • Historically underrepresented, Filipino-American candidates look toward Congress
  • Filipino Chocolate Brand Auro Just Opened Its First International Boutique In Tokyo
  • Undas is a Filipino fiesta
  • Page 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

    Entertainment

  • Pinoy graphic novel ‘Trese’ coming to Netflix
  • Singer Rico Puno dead at 65
  • Filipino singer Marcelito Pomoy to guest on Ellen Show
  • Cassette Store Day debuts in Philippines on October 13
  • Meet the New Host of ‘Blues Clues,’ Filipino American Actor Joshua Dela Cruz
  • MORE...

    Features

  • Showcase of PH culture, heritage
  • US and Philippines: Friends, Partners, and Allies
  • A Transgender Paradox, and Platform, in the Philippines
  • The Box That Brings Christmas to the Philippines
  • ‘Pinoy Aquaman’ swims 23 kilometers for peace in Mindanao
  • MORE...

    Tourism

  • Philippines island Boracay reopens for test run following huge cleanup
  • Philippines closes ‘cesspool’ tourist island of Boracay
  • Boracay Set to Ban Tourists for Six Months During Island ‘Rehabilitation’
  • Boracay: the good, bad and ugly sides to Philippine island for tourists
  • El Nido to impose daily visitor limits in 3 iconic tourist sites
  • MORE...

    Sports

  • Pinoy gymnast Carlo Yulo earns historic qualification in worlds
  • Finding a way to bring the NBA to the Philippines
  • First Filipino table tennis Olympian Ian “Yanyan” Lariba dies at 23
  • Skateboarder Margielyn Didal wins 4th gold for Philippines
  • Asian Games gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz receives Air Force promotion
  • MORE...

    OFW News

  • DOLE suspends OFW deployment to Kuwait
  • Some OFWs turn to vlogging to beat loneliness, share life abroad
  • Overseas Filipino Bank to serve immigrants, workers
  • The ‘bagong bayani’ of the Philippines
  • Which countries pay OFWs the highest?
  • MORE...

    Environment

  • Boracay Set to Ban Tourists for Six Months During Island ‘Rehabilitation’
  • Boracay: the good, bad and ugly sides to Philippine island for tourists
  • Luzon has greatest concentration of unique mammals
  • Mindanao plants 3M trees in an hour, challenges world record
  • Fighting for sharks in the Philippines
  • MORE...

    Pinoy Places
    and Faces