Monday, November 09, 2009

Rain Marie Madrigal: The Reigning Queen

Rain Marie Madrigal. Photos by Zandro Sy Guillo.

Cebu's very first Queen has been crowned!

Professional title-holder Rain Marie Madrigal eventually wound up wearing the most coveted Queen-Universe crown, after edging out her fellow veteran contestants during the first-ever Queen pageant held at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel & Casino over a fortnight ago.

No less than every true-blue woman present at the Pacific Grand Ballroom that evening admitted to feeling somewhat insecure about how many times more today's gays could be worth applauding for their feminine physicality and absolute confidence, as 21 of Cebu's exceptional transvestites/trans-sexuals glided in their National Costume, Swimsuit, FunWear and Evening Gown, and the top 10 bravely expressed themselves during the Interview segment hosted by Cebu's Queen of Talk, Jude Bacalso.

Rain Marie was a bright and shining standout from the moment she introduced herself as Miss Philippines. It was no neck-and-neck battle of beauty and brains before the panel of judges, who unanimously singled her out to walk away with the crown, after she articulately discussed STRAP, of which she's been an active member for two summers now.

The ever eloquent pageant champ recaps, "It stands for Society of Trans-sexual Women of the Philippines. It is the only transgender rights support and advocacy group in the Philippines. It aims to provide assistance to transgender people who are victims of discrimination and prejudice, be it in the workplace or in society in general. Most of the time transgender people are not taken seriously in the workplace. The organization provides legal support as well... in order to assert every transgender's rights to equal employment opportunity. After all, Transgender rights are also Human Rights. On a personal note, I'm fortunate enough to be part of a company that respects equal employment opportunity and somehow takes into consideration Affirmative Action when hiring employees."

Her unaffected stage presence, no doubt her elegant stance and regal strides, easily won for her the Best in National Costume, Best in Swimsuit and Best in Evening Gown major awards, respectively.

As soon as her name was called out, Rain Madrigal couldn't help putting her hands on the face and getting down on her knees before she stepped forward to be crowned as the Queen-Universe, be wearing the best-kept sash of the night, and be handed the symbolic trophy, beauteous bouquet, and attractive prizes. "I just wanted to give God all the glory," she describes the scene.

Before hearsay about staging the Queen pageant were spread, Rain was yet an icon in the community here and there; thus, her rivals would've talked amongst themselves during rehearsals, photo shoots and outreach visits that they could only aspire for the smaller one: the Queen-World or the Queen-International crown. Last 2007, she knocked down Manila's elite transgendered women by bagging the grand Super Sireyna title (along with the Miss Telegenic special award) on Eat Bulaga; in 2005, she knocked off the country's most exemplary finalists by winning as Miss Gay Philippines-Universe.

Having all of the above to reckon with, many cannot help wondering why the national beauty titlist took a trip back to basic. However, Rain Madrigal is poised to defend her title and the experience, "Beauty pageants have always been my passion since I was a child. As an individual, I also need to grow. I felt the need to take my passion to the next level, to a level wherein I can add more meaning and worth to it. I used to join pageants for the sake of fame, exposure and even more income, because it was my bread and butter.

I joined this pageant because I felt there is a purpose behind it... and that is to help our society understand that we are here to lend a helping hand and to do our part in community-building. The Queen Pageant is our own way of telling everyone that we are here to do our part to unite our community and not to create another problem in society."

Not necessarily loud but sensibly proud, Rain responds to a query on her foray into the world in which she lives today, "Well, the transition was hard, and it's because of a lot of factors. Just like any other transgender woman, transition involves physical and emotional aspects. But most of all, it was a journey to self-discovery. The details are not important anymore; what's important is that I have successfully completed my journey of self-discovery."

Rain Madrigal's family need not take pains to close with the fact that "their baby is now a lady..." Unlike most, there weren't any nights when she would cry herself to sleep at her wit's end, over whether she would refrain from or get up the next day donning her daintiest dress. Her outstanding academic records and astounding intelligence helped smoothen the rough road she would've trudged to feeling accepted as far as her wardrobe would've gone. Thankfully, her family was always her number one support system in every step of the way, and would be there whenever, wherever their beloved flesh and blood was in a parade of beauties.

Because there is definitely no room where we can please everybody, Rain will not give a hoot to people out there who despise those who practice transgenderism. On behalf of all transgendered women around or the LGBT for that matter, the erudite spokesperson points out, "It would certainly be an arduous task to change other people's perception towards us. We can start it through proper information. To all the people out there, all I can say is, when you judge a person right away you will lose the chance to love him/her. You've got to take time to get to know the person and not judge them based on their looks or sexuality."

And what is her take on the fact that some people will not be pleased with the inclusion of the traditional swimsuit competition in a pageant? "Personally, I believe that the swimsuit competition is an important part of any beauty pageant. A beauty queen has to be holistic, perfect in total package. She has to have a sound body in order to have a sound mind, and that's exactly the purpose of having a swimsuit competition. Also, if you are physically fit, one thing is for sure, you have self-discipline. That's how a swimsuit competition should be portrayed in any beauty contest here and abroad," the recently enthroned Queen spells out.

As "the" Queen, Rain's biggest dream is"...for Cebu society to fully acknowledge and respect our sector which is the LGBT community, and for our country to fully respect our human rights as well. She adds,"I'd like to take this opportunity to inform our society on what LGBT is all about. It stands for Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual and Transgender.

"Gay" is not exactly an umbrella term that should be used to generalize non-heterosexuals. Rather, there are different segments in LGBT that properly correspond to each member. That only goes to show that there is uniqueness or diversity too within our community. I know it's still a long road, but at least we can start it through information. I suggest that you visit"

Like any other legitimate beauty queen, Rain has a good 12 months to live to her reign, whilst holding her recruitment-supervisor position at E-Performax as gracefully as she did her significant scepter which carries a lot of responsibilities. But more than anything, she is all agog about utilizing her title to the fullest. "I remember I was asked during the preliminaries about how I can change society's perception towards non-heterosexual people.

Then I said, I'd like to start within myself, as I believe in the Clothes for Life Foundation's advocacy for the poor and the underprivileged. Of course, I will do my part in the different projects to help the orphanages we are supporting. Aside from that, I hope that during my reign I can be a good example to everyone: to inspire other transgender women, to be more comfortable in their own skin," Rain Marie Madrigal crosses her heart as she sits on her throne for being a beauty queen, and then stands up for being an emissary of goodwill for everyone. (Ariel Allosada Allera)

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