I write better when I smoke. Don’t ask me to reduce it to a science.

A brave new world

It does seem like a brave new world out there, doesn’t it? One that is no longer bound by old conventions or even old sensibilities. It seems like the world has found a new normal, and many of us are floundering.

Take Rustom Padilla, f’rinstance. He’s gone from matinee idol, to husband of one of the most attractive girls in show business, to estranged hubby, to showbiz exile, to a wannabee come-backer, and finally to re-emerge again as – he says – a brand new person who wants to be called Bebe Gandanghari.

I have to admit, I was one of those at a loss at what to say when I saw Padilla – Gandanghari – sashaying onstage with all the trappings of a woman, but still being quite unmistakably a man.

Was it noble self-actualization – as one netizen put it?

ang galing niya, siya na ata ang pinakamatapang na taong nakilala ko ngayon. hindi takot na magpakatotoo. mas mabuti ng magpakatotoo kesa ang maging hipokrita.

Or was it a last ditch attempt at reviving a career which – while not exactly moribund – was certainly on the skids? So hard to tell, and so easy to heap accolades on someone for doing something different simply because he did something different. Just as it is incredibly easy to brand as bigots those who refuse to embrace Gandanghari as unquestioningly as Oprah might.

Here’s what I think: I think Rustom Padilla might’ve been heavily influenced by drag queens in the States. Seeing the lack of serious drag queenery in Philippine show business (the nightclub circuit of course not being considered showbiz in this discussion), seeing the lack of any serious chance of him standing out in the biz as yet another pigeonholed gay actor, and finding in himself both the predisposition and the courage to be Priscilla Queen of the Desert for this country, he took the plunge. 

But could it really have been as mercenary as that?

Why not?

He is, after all, an entertainer and all entertainers need something to set them apart from the crowd. Without the comedy chops of the other gay entertainers, without any stellar acting skillz to speak of, what else did he have going for him except his willingness to dive into the outrageous?

Of course, he’s not likely to admit to such a base motivation. Knowing our penchant for drama, the emergence of Bebe Gandanghari will evolve into some self-affirming act, complete with complex psychological underpinnings, butterfly imagery, and a Danton Remoto-esque social agenda. But in the end, I think it will all be revealed to be more a fabulous fight for continued relevance in a business that seemed on the verge of forgetting him, than anything else.

The bravery of this new world, we will find, is nothing more than an act of desperation.


Filed under: pop-culture, sex, society, , , , , , , ,

10 Responses

  1. Savior says:

    “It does seem like a brave new world out there, doesn’t it? One that is no longer bound by old conventions or even old sensibilities.”

    This is actually part of the reason there are so many STD’s and other problems raging through every continent on this planet.

    You won’t find heroes today like you did even 500 years ago because bravery today is nothing compared to what true bravery was back then.

    A police officer today gets killed in the line of duty and we call him a hero. The truth is, a person isn’t a text book hero if they committed the act we’re calling heroic in an exchange for money.

    A truly heroic deed is a selfless deed… taking money in exchange for something negates the possible definition of being a true hero.

    WE NEED these OLD conventions back… our entire world is seriously falling apart.

  2. Marocharim says:


    More like, confusion needs guidance, and guidance leads to confusion.

  3. BrianB says:

    For a reason I do not understand yet, it makes me feel better….

    Oh, yeah, I know what it is. Now when Robin pisses me off, I now know how to get his goat.

  4. BrianB says:

    This is great television. Thanks for posting it.

  5. BrianB says:

    This isn’t just for people interested in showbiz, it’s for all Filipinos wherever they are.

  6. Sherwin says:

    Wow! Rustom has really changed. I would like to congratulate him from coming out of his closet. But his new name sucks! Bebe? WTF?! He should have used BB instead. Baklang Bakla! I wonder what his brother Robin would say on this.

  7. wehavenoname says:

    Hello, Danton Remoto here. I was assigned to write a column about Bebe Gandanghari. I may not agree with all your comments about the issue, but they are certainly helping me form my own opinions about the complex diva that is Bebe.

    And thanks for the “Danton Remoto-esque social agenda.” I’ve been called “statuesque” before (I am alost six feet tall), but “Remoto-esque” sounds better.

    Have a good day.

  8. rom says:

    wehavenoname: welcome to the smoking room, danton! And since I have seen you in person before, I have to agree that you are statuesque. 😀

  9. Bencard says:

    i think rustom is just trying to cash-in on his kabaklaan. why not? it used to be that his kind had to hide in the proverbial closet to maintain respectability. now, it’s a ticket to big bucks and “celebrity” status, especially in pinas (where one can out-bakla all the baklas in the world).

  10. nilofc says:

    Nakakahiya! Nakakasuka. Bakla magpakalalaki ka nga!

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