Q&A with Jiggly Caliente and Rajo Laurel of 'Drag Race Philippines

Can I Get an ‘Eme’: Q&A with Jiggly Caliente and Rajo Laurel of ‘Drag Race Philippines’ 

Drag Race Philippines has been my source of joy and a way for me to connect to the Philippines while I am overseas. It’s a wonder why it is only now that we are getting a local version of Ru Paul’s award-winning drag queen competition franchise because with every new episode being aired it just feels right at home with our local queens!

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The season 1 finale is nearing as the contestants are now whittled down to these fabulous five: Eva Le Quen, Marina Summers, Minty Fresh, Precious Paula Nicole, and Xilhouette. But today’s tea is not about the queens–we get cozy with a couple of judges as they share their thoughts about being part of the first-ever Drag Race Philippines! Here’s our exclusive Q&A with American singer, actress, and drag performer, Jiggly Caliente and renowned Filipino fashion designer Rajo Laurel:

Question: How do you feel being a part of the very first season of Drag Race Philippines?

Jiggly Caliente: It is an honor to be asked and even be a part of it. So, yeah. An honor and a privilege, definitely. 

Rajo Laurel: RuPaul’s Drag Race is my favorite show in the world! I am a superfan of the show and I have been watching it since the very first season aired more than 15 years ago.  To be part of the cast of Drag Race Philippines is more than a dream coming true.  It’s like pure joy.  I am so proud and deeply honored to be part of the show.

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Jiggy Caliente
[Photo by Magic Liwanag, courtesy of Perceptions, Inc.]

The Drag Race franchise already has many international versions – from Canada, UK, Down Under, and Thailand (the first Asian country to have a local RPDR). What do you think will set Drag Race PH apart from the rest that will make it a must-watch around the world?

Jiggly: We’re the prettiest f*cking franchise, period. The judges alone are the prettiest, the contestants are pretty, and on top of that, we’re super, super talented. And [Kalad]Karen is so f*cking smart. I was sitting next to her and I would think parang shunga next to her, kainis.

Rajo: What sets Drag Race Philippines apart from the rest of the world is our Queens.  We have so much heart and soul.  Every Filipino can sing and dance and perform but when you put the art of Drag in the equation then this becomes a completely different aspect altogether.  The production also remains very Filipino at the core however the execution is truly world-class.  We have been a constant presence on all Drag Race platforms since the very first season of the international franchise and now the rest of the world will realize why.  We are an incredibly talented race and the Season One Queens are a testament to this. 

Let’s talk about the other judges in the panel. What was it like working with all of them?

Can I Get an 'Eme': Q&A with Jiggly Caliente and Rajo Laurael of 'Drag Race Philippines' 
Rajo Laurel, Jiggly Caliente, Paolo Ballesteros, and KaladKaren
Image courtesy of HBO GO

Jiggly: I mean like these – like the panel of men, let’s start with them. BJ Pascual is a known international fashion photographer. He has taken photographs of Miss Universe. He’s taken photographs of Pia Wurtzbach – who is like my ultimate idol, and then, of course, Anne Curtis and other top celebrities of Asia. Then Rajo Laurel, who’s a known international fashion designer as well. And then, of course, Jon Santos is a comedy legend in the Philippines. That is crazy! And lastly, [Kalad]Karen, who’s so smart, so quick, so witty, and I was just in awe. It was really a nice balance of having [Kalad]Karen there, and it was also really cool that the two main judges are two trans women, and that’s a first also for Drag Race herstory.

Rajo: It was truly a riot! I loved working with all the judges. Each one of us brings a unique perspective to the judging panel.  It was really very difficult to judge the Queens because you get so emotionally attached to them. As you continue to watch the show you will understand why. However, it was truly a life highlight getting to know all of them.  All I remember is the laughter and the joy of working with my co-judges, cast, and crew.

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Rajo Laurel
[Photo by Magic Liwanag, courtesy of Perceptions, Inc.]

There are many Filipino fans that love Ru Paul’s Drag Race but still are yet to discover the local drag scene. Can you share with us what makes Filipino Drag unique?

Jiggly: Their work ethic and their drive are crazy and this is a part of our culture that I think the other franchises will hopefully get to understand, that a lot of these queens are the breadwinner of their families. They make money to help their family, to put their little sisters and brothers to school, or to help their mom and dad with the house bills. That in itself is the story of a hard-working immigrant anywhere. I feel like that should speak volumes to people worldwide.

Rajo: What makes Filipino drag unique is our sense of CAMP.  It has been there since the very beginning as we as a nation and as a culture find light and comedy in the most dire situations. This attitude translates so perfectly in drag and you end up on your knees roaring with laughter.  We also have a unique way of cross-referencing various cultures as we adapt so effortlessly. You feel this in our local gay lingo and how our diaspora has influenced most of our lives.  This global perspective definitely sets us apart.

Can you describe Drag Race Philippines in just three words?

Jiggly: World-Class Entertainment.

Rajo: INCREDIBLE, HILARIOUS, EMOTIONAL!  

If you found yourself on the Drag Race stage, what song would you want to have played in a lip sync for your life, and which RPDR queen would you want to lip sync against?

Jiggly: As much as l hope that I would never have to do it again, if I had to lip sync and it was my choice, I would want it to be Janet Jackson’s “If,” and you could put any bitch next to me coz’ I’m going to destroy them.

Rajo: OMG! I love this question. I would definitely want to lip sync Total Eclipse Of The Heart and I want to lip sync this song with my favorite drag queen, Alaska Thunderf*ck. LOL!  

The final episode of Drag Race Philippines happens on Wednesday, October 12. Find out which of the finalists will be crowned as the next drag superstar by streaming the show on HBO GO and  discovery+.

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