Aleksa Manila first appeared in 1998 on All Hollow's Eve. Thereafter, applying the magic of make-up every Halloween night through the New Millennium. Seattle Pride 2001 launched a new phase which culminated in her being crowned Miss Gay Filipino with the encouragement of T.R.I.B.E. (To React In Basic Evolution), a dance troupe that emerged from RECESS II, a social event of the Young Asian Men's Study [YAMS], a Centers for Disease Control [CDC] – funded, University of California – San Francisco – Center for AIDS Prevention Studies [UCSF-CAPS] research project in Seattle. And the rest has been, as they say, 'history...'
During her year as Miss Gay Filipino, Aleksa founded the "Lola Maharlika" LGBT Youth College Book Fund with the Filipino Community of Seattle Organization. The fund is named in honor of Lola Maharlika AKA Lola Maria, Empress VII of Tacoma, for her outstanding achievements as an openly gay Filipino in the community.
In 2002, Aleksa was crowned La Femme Magnifique of Puget Sound, the pageant in search of the "most glamorous female impersonator." She organized various community fundraisers, including "Heart To Heart, Coast To Coast," a fundraiser for the Rhode Island Nightclub that burned down and left many unfortunate families.
She is very fortunate to have been in the cast of a local Seattle edition of Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologues, produced and directed by Joann Natalia Aquino, in 2003 and 2004. She made breakthrough performances as the only drag queen/transgender actor in the all-female ensemble.
In 2003, Aleksa was crowned the 40th Miss Gay Seattle, believed to be the oldest drag title west of the Mississippi, if not the world! Aleksa traveled across North America representing the Emerald City at various benefits and fundraisers, and raising awareness of LGBTQ history and representation.
In 2004, world-famous band, Pink Martini band leader Thomas Lauderdale asked Aleksa to sing, “Bayan Ko” [My Country] at the final Peacock In The Park benefit at the Rose Garden in Portland, OR. In the next couple of years, Aleksa continued as guest vocalist at concerts such as the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, Oregon; and Microsoft Company’s Holiday Gala, Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery’s Summer Concert Series and Washington Mutual’s Zoo Tunes in Seattle, Washington.
On President's Day Weekend 2006, Aleksa was elected and crowned Olympia XXXV- The Empress of Seattle, one of the oldest and respected drag titles in the Seattle LGBT community. Aleksa organized various fundraisers for the Court of Seattle Organization, including a week's worth of fundraising during Empress Express in June, for the JC/Lady Graytop Memorial Scholarship Fund. She chose the moniker, “The Pearl of the Pacific & Orient Seas - The Thrilla from Manila,” to honor her cultural background and her new home.
In March 2007, Aleksa was named Heir Apparent to the Queen Mother of the Americas, Empress Nicole The Great de San Diego, President of the International Court Council (ICC) of the International Court System, the world's largest LGBT organization. She also served as Board Member of the ICC, Secretary of the Jose Honors Board of Governors and Member of the Anti-Discrimination Committee.
To date, Aleksa has produced & directed annual fundraisers for various charities, including “Aleksa Manila & FRIENDS,” and Seattle Counseling Service’s “ICON: a celebration of drag, art & life!” She is a favorite emcee and speaker at various functions, such as the Seattle LGBT Community Center’s Queer Fest and Fruit Bowl Awards, Greater Seattle Business Association’s Dinner Awards, Ingersoll Gender Center’s Snow Ball, Chica Boom’s National Women of Color Burlesque Show: Kaleidoscope, Seattle Erotic Art Festival, American Friends' Service Committee, Seattle Central Community College, University of Washington, Seattle University, University of Puget Sound, South Seattle Community College, and University of Montana, Missoula.
From local bars to amphitheaters, lip syncing to live singing, solos to productions, black boas to Pink Martini, Aleksa Manila has traveled as an outspoken advocate, performance artist and community leader across North America. Aleksa Manila is known in Seattle and beyond as a stellar drag artist, consummate host and community activist. She is a beloved panelist and speaker at various LGBTQIA [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Allies], youth, people of color and political/activism workshops, trainings and conferences.
When not in face, 'he' educates the community and counsels clients about the harms of crystal methamphetamine with Project NEON, a program of Seattle Counseling Service. Currently, he is Program Coordinator and Addictions Services Program Supervisor at SCS where he has dedicated his professional career for over ten years. For many years, he tested for and counseled about HIV & STD with Public Health - Seattle & King County; and served as Honorable Commissioner with the Seattle Commission for Sexual Minorities with the City of Seattle - Office of Civil Rights, advising the Mayor of Seattle, City Council & City Departments on LGBTQI equal rights.
Copyright 2000-2019. Photo credit: #GenderGems Shann Thomas 2019