Seattle Drag Performer Aleksa Manila Takes Pride in Community
'I’ve always believed drag is a platform.
Just by nature of dressing up out of the norm, you’re already making a statement. You’re already a rebel'
By Beau Iverson | PRINT EDITION | JUNE 2019
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Copyright 2000-2020. Photo credit: #GenderGems Shann Thomas 2019
Image Credit: Hayley Young
QUEEN OF HEARTS: Community and LGBTQ advocate Aleksa Manila photographed in the Chinatown-International District at the Publix Hotel
The dynamic music duo, Sendai ERA collaborated with ALEKSA MANILA on this short video depicting immigrant roots and national pride from a FilipinX perspective. The music is inspired by the song, "Bayan Ko" (My Country), one of the most recognizable patriotic songs in the Philippines that, because of its popularity, is sometimes assumed to be a folk song and the country’s unofficial national anthem. Originally titled Nuestra Patria in Spanish by the revolutionary general José Alejandrino; translated in Tagalog as a poem by Jose Corazon de Jesus in 1929, and set to music by Constancio de Guzman. Written as a protest song, it is often sung in protest rallies and demonstrations throughout Philippine history.
“My journey to Seattle started in July 1995, just days after 4th of July celebrations. I had just turned 20, and so I was this wide-eyed brown boy excited to join my family in the US and was eager to be an "adult." As an immigrant FilipinX, my Philippine culture that includes both my ethnic background and religion, are very important to me. It's what makes up a big chunk of my identity. Because I migrated as a young adult, my childhood memories and much of my familial history is intact. And I feel proud that I am able to keep my brown identity in the forefront of who I am and what I do as a FilpinX-American and genderqueer person. A lot of the work I do (& not necessarily in my profession only) is centered on ethnic pride - be it with Pride ASIA, the Filipino Community Center, Legendary Children, UTOPIA or mainstream spaces where I'm reminded of being a minority, I get to join forces with other proud POCs to celebrate our diversity. I chose the Filipino Community Center for various reasons - primarily, it's the place where I was crowned as Miss Gay Filipino in 2001, my very first drag pageant where I won every category except for Miss Congeniality (insert laughter here). And beyond that, it's become a symbol of community for me - "bayanihan."
- ALEKSA MANILA, Miss Gay Filipino 2001/ Miss Gay Seattle 2004, Founder - Pride ASIA