When Gazini Ganados competed at Miss Universe 2019, she consistently expressed her advocacy as a title contender — universal elderly care.
Her line during her opening statement is still vivid in my memory: “ We should reciprocate that love, and no one should be ever left behind.”
She refers to older people whose future is indefinite during the sunset of their lives. Sadly, her boosterism didn’t help her to get thru the next cut of the finals night.
Elderly care is less appealing than children’s rights or women empowerment advocacies to first-world countries like the United States, the host country that year. But in a third-world country Philippines where Ganados grew up, getting old is a bit tricky for our citizens.
Three possible things could happen to you when you reach the ailing age. It’s a matter of luck if your family will keep you and take care of you until the end of your existence, or if they’re going to send you to a home for the aged, or if you will just live the rest of your life by yourself and die alone.
Though the most emotionally dreadful, the latter is also the most probable fate to happen. Especially if an older person belongs to the LGBTQ+ community, is unmarried, and cannot raise kids who will claim to be their caregivers for good.
Four years later, another queen with a purpose rose to fame — a drag queen named Precious Paula Nicole (PPN), who won the first Philippine franchise of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Aside from advocating LGBTQ+ rights, she has been a patron of support for the Home For The Golden Gays. This non-profit organization provides support and care facilities for elderly LGBTQ people in our country.
The Golden Journey
Precious Paula Nicole, her communications team, and other drag queens organized a fundraising event last March 10 in Rapture Café Bar in Cubao, Quezon City. The show is “The Golden Journey: The Return of the Kembak” and aims to raise funds for the members of Home For The Golden Gays.
The program was opened with a powerful lip sync performance by Precious Paula Nicole, followed by her sweet and empowering speech dedicated to the elderly gays who were also present, all entirely made up and queenly dressed that night.
Even before she competed and won Drag Race PH, she was steadfast in her commitment to helping the organization with all its financial needs. And now that she has a bigger platform, she is not hesitant to gather the other queens to build up a show that will sell tickets like pancakes.
One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to provide for the beneficiaries’ basic needs. It also intends to secure a new permanent home for the elderly gays and a more stable livelihood to sustain their living.
Queens on a mission
Aside from PPN, other Season One queens were tapped to perform for a cause.
It’s refreshing to see ‘yer majesty, Eva Le Queen, gracing the stage with a powerful lip sync performance of a classic Celeste Legaspi ballad. She also shared her story of helping the golden gays and Precious Paula Nicole before becoming celebrity drag queens. She even quipped that she sees herself as a future golden gay and will probably be elected as the vice president of the “or-gay-nization,” with PPN as the future president.
Also present that night was Brigiding, one of the Divine Divas trio known as the “Brightest Star.” With her usual energetic self, she lip-synced to Shirley Bassey’s “Diamond Are Forever.”
Turing dazzled the audience with her lip sync number, and BOOM! Gorgeous looks.
Other drag daughters also rocked the stage, including Ali Nicole, Gorgeous Dawn, Jolly, Felicia, and Solenn—all paid tribute to our original drag mothers.
Golden Divas no longer forgotten
Of course, the night’s highlights were the performances from our beloved Golden Divas.
Amparo, Elizabeth, Tricia, and Mama Mon — all from the Home for the Golden Gays, fascinated the audience with their visually enticing numbers. Each of them channeled the high energy of a young drag performer. In their moves, poses, and smiles, you can see that they enjoyed every sequence, not minding their aging bodies and maybe… even arthritis!
Much has been said about the stories of elderly gays living together in a small apartment in Pasay City. The Home for the Golden Gays has been featured as a subject in many documentary shows and news reports on local TV. And over the years, their situation worsened after being displaced from their original home following Justo Justo’s demise.
Justo was the organization’s founder, and his passing has made the rest of the members’ lives uncertain. After Justo’s immediate family allegedly reclaimed their original home, they now reside in a small flat. Imagine all 27 members crowding in a 2-bedroom place with no permanent jobs or retirement plans. This has been the plight of our elderly gays, who, mostly, no longer have families to reunite with.
In addition to the monetary funds from the sold-out tickets, the Golden Gays got a massive surprise from Rapture Café Bar’s owner Nel Turla. During the show’s climax, he announced they would be getting the Golden Gays to be one of their regular performers on their stage! They will have a weekly production number with a much-deserved talent fee.
Kembak, just the beginning
Divine Divas’ communications team head Erica Ngui, also one of the spearheads of this initiative, told us that it is just a kick-off of their planned event series. They are arranging more shows, one this July for Precious Paula Nicole’s birthday month. All for the love of the elderly gays who badly need our support, morally and financially.
The event ended with a tearjerking all-star number of the Golden Queens, joined by the younger drag queens, lip-syncing to Diana Ross’ “If We Hold On Together”. Some elderly gays couldn’t hold their tears while saying much thanks to everyone who bought tickets and gave them tips.
It was an entertaining yet truly emotional night for everyone.
About the Author
Arci Formales is an award-winning Filipino writer and journalist from the News and Public Affairs department of GMA Network. She has been working in the media for more than a decade and has handled programs with different formats, such as food documentaries, daily newscasts, investigative reports, and even podcasts, making her versatile and well-rounded as a media practitioner. She has won a number of prestigious local and international awards because of her passion for producing socially relevant documentaries, including the highly coveted Gold Medal award at the New York Festivals and the very rare Cannes Corporate TV & Media Awards.