This year Filipino Lesbian and Gay Community (FLAGCOM) and Friends celebrates its 11th year anniversary. Over the years the group has played a great part in promoting community harmony and cohesion, safe sex and showcasing of talents of members of both the LBTQi and mainstream communities.
It also has been holding colourful and dazzling Miss Mardi Gras International Queen beauty pageant, with the winners participating in the Mardi Gras Parade. With COVID 19 impacting on events, this year FLAGCOM held for the first time a virtual beauty pageant.
The candidates were required to send video of themselves and the place they hail from. There were two stages for judging - held on April 4 for Best in National Costume and Swimwear and on April 17 for Long Gown and Mardi Gras Costume. The Final stage was held on May 2, with the live Question and Answer session involving the judges.
Whereas is in the previous years, candidates from many places joined in, the restrictions due to COVID 19 have impacted on not achieving same level of participation. This year, there were nine candidates in the pageant and they were mainly from the Philippines and Thailand. These were: Piano (Thailand), Matrica Mae (Thailand), Clod (Thailan), Tarataiya (Thailang), Elena (Philippines), Fami (Thailand), Mariane (Philippines), Julry (Philippines) and Lalita (Thailand).
The main judges involved in assessing the candidates through the stages to the final come from varied background with exposure to the advocacy of the LBTQi community, organisations, fashion and health areas.
The judges were:
Yosita Sooksom who was Trans Universe Thailand 2019 and Miss Mardi Gras International Queen 202;
Peter Dwyer who has been making and teaching in Art, Design and Fashion for over 45 years and is currently completing his Doctorate of Fine Art at the National Arts School;
Rene Rivas who is a multi-awarded and well known Iconic Fashion Designer, Artist Extra-Ordinaire and Quintessential Costume Couture Designer Recognised both Nationally and Internationally.
Trixie Maristela who was Super Sireyna Philippines 2014, Miss International Queen 2015, Graduate of European Languages (Major in Spanish minor in French) from the University of the Philippines and finished Master’s Degree in Professional Accounting from Torren’s University Australia.
All the candidates were gorgeous in their swimwear. They all looked amazing in their dazzling gowns and costumes. However, like any competition, there could only be one winner per category of the competition.
Special Awards – Sash, Plaque and Cash of $250.00
National Costume - Julry
Swimwear – Mariane
Long Gown –Mariane
Mardi Gras Costume – Mariane
Cash award of $150.00
Photogenic-Johnnies – Julry
Darling of Social Media-Tarataiya
Community Service Award - Piano
Main Awards: Sash, Crown and Cash
Pink Triangle Princess –Clod
Rainbow Princess- Elena
$1000.00 + Round Trip Ticket with Accommodation to Sydney
Mardi Gras Queen- Mariane
THE FINAL EVENT
This historic event which was held at the Parra Villa Lounge in Parramatta was also enjoyed by all who attended in person. They enjoyed the dinner, the social interaction and the amazing performances of Jersay Delaney, David Michael White and Laelani Kealoha, followed by public dancing.
The event was opened by Christine who was looking gorgeous in her resplendent gown and Albie Prias who was equally dapper in his attired. They provided background information about the competition and the process.
The other emcees of the evening were Lei Licdan and Glyssa Perez.
The Australian Filipina caught up with Albie Prias, Founder and Managing Director of FLAGCOM and asked for his overall comments on the pageant.
He said: "It was a trial and error exercise as we are not technology experts. Having a Virtual Pageant tested our ability to become more flexible and creative at the same time. Accurate Planning was very crucial. Good Budgeting was also a challenge as we were only able to get limited sponsors.
"Thank you to the FLAGCOM Crew who contributed in the success of this event. Thanks to all our minor and major sponsors specially the Department of Tourism, Mama Lor and Western Sydney Community Forum for being with us through thick and thin times. Thank you to all the participants who were so patient and creative in making their videos for the show and spending a great amount of money to be in the pageant."
The applause has barely ended but already ideas and suggestions for next year's event are being sent in by potential candidates and supporters.