How Drag Race PH tested — and strengthened — ‘Divine Divas’ friendship
With only one crown at stake in the riotously glamorous pressure cooker that was “Drag Race Philippines,” tension was bound to rise among the contestants—even for the best of friends.
Known collectively as the “Divine Divas,” Precious Paula Nicole, Viñas Deluxe and Brigiding have long envisioned themselves on the show’s main stage, lip synching for their lives. So when news broke in 2021 that a local spinoff of the reality talent contest was in the offing, the three drag queens vowed that they would all make it into the first season.
“‘We have to be there,’ I told them,” Brigiding recalled.
They did. And they couldn’t be more excited. Little did they expect, however, that the show would be a test, not only of skill, but also of friendship.
“At one point, we thought we would lose each other’s trust. It was a competition. We were there for a few months, so we couldn’t help but lose focus on the fact that we have always had genuine friendship, even before we became competitors,” Precious said in a recent group interview for the trio’s first major show, “Divine Divas: The Ultimate Drag Experience.”“There was only one crown, one title and P1 million cash prize. And we all wanted to win. So there really were instances where we had to try to outdo each other. Laban talaga siya. And in our eagerness to win, we ended up saying stuff that we didn’t realize was already hurtful,” she said.
“There were misunderstandings. After all, we were put in a place designed to bring out the good and bad in us, our best and worst traits. And that unwittingly affected us,” Brigiding said.
In the end, it was Precious who took home the coveted title. Brigiding and Viñas finished sixth and seventh, respectively. After the show finished taping, the three had a two-hour, heart-to-heart talk. Tears—a copious amount—were shed, needless to say. And it was then that they realized that no crown is more precious than the sisterhood they had forged through the years.
Precious’ triumph is Brigiding and Viñas’ triumph, too.
“We resolved [our differences] after. Mas naging solid pa kami ngayon. We had no idea how the people would receive the show and what would become of our lives before it aired. But we told each other that, whatever happens, we will continue to perform together as Divine Divas. We promised na walang iwanan,” Precious said.
“We all realized that what was said in the show didn’t define who we are,” Brigiding pointed out. “Our connection remained. And our friendship has become even tighter.”
And together, the three divas are starting to fulfill their dreams one by one. In the absence of live events at the height of the pandemic, Precious, Viñas and Brigiding resorted to doing online shows where they would perform, have a toast and drink with the fans. It was a three-woman team effort. They took care of all the technical stuff—the lighting, music choices and costumes. They conceptualized the themes, sought sponsors and sold the tickets themselves. The concept was a big hit among drag fans, old and new, so much so that the online shows became more profitable than the actual live shows they do in bars.
And picking up on the trio’s penchant for using the word “divine” in place of “‘di ba,” viewers started calling their show the “Divine Bar.” The divas ran with it, and the rest is history.
Dream come true
Now, they’re about to bring that experience to a bigger venue—the New Frontier Theater on Feb. 10. Visit www.ticketnet.com.ph. “The show will revolve around our friendship and how we manifested and whispered all these things to the universe. Back then, we were just thinking, ‘Parang ang sarap yatang magperform in a concert,’” Precious said. “Finally, this is a dream come true.”
How do they plan to scale up their routines, which they usually perform in more intimate and interactive venues?
“There will be bigger production numbers and backup dancers. There will be things that we’re going to do for the first time. I’m looking forward to the musical number created for us by Vincent de Jesus. We will also be performing original songs,” Viñas related.
Guiding the divas through the creative process are show producers Ice Seguerra and Liza Diño of Fire and Ice Media Productions.
Because of the surge in their popularity after “Drag Race,” Precious, Viñas and Brigiding are constantly booked and busy, at times doing five shows a day. What they do is no joke: Performing in heavy makeup and wigs, impossibly high heels and restrictive garments meant to keep everything “in place” can be taxing. “Ihi lang ang pahinga,” Precious quipped.
But they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Seeing that we’re all working hard toward the same goals keeps the exhaustion at bay,” Brigiding said.
“We can’t afford to get tired now. We’re grateful because we have been waiting for this for a long time. ‘Di ito ibibigay sa amin kung hindi namin deserve,” Viñas said. “What we do is hard, but once you hear the people’s applause, suddenly you’re like, ‘Ay, parang ang sarap ulitin.’” INQ
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