Mabuhay! Welcome to my review and power rankings of the second episode of Drag Race Philippines Season 1 – SagalAmazon, an unconventional materials design challenge.
As I understand it, this episode title is a play on words. “Sagala,” “santacruzan,” or “Flores de Mayo” is a flower festival and pageant where one beautiful local woman is declare the queen and is escorted by handsome men in a procession through town. From what I’ve seen, their outfits are not crafty flower affairs, but full-on regal opulence! The flowers come in everywhere else, including on the parade floats and arches that frame the queens.
As for the Amazon part… I’m not sure. Because they had to deliver the looks in a hurry?
Designing with real flowers and greenery is no easy feat. Even if you came to the show with plenty of sewing lessons under your belt and a suitcase of dress patterns, you might still fail spectacularly.
This challenge was slightly different than the similar Episode 1 challenge on RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under because the Filipino queens were encouraged to augment their plant-based looks with fabric from the workroom supply – but, they were not meant to use their own garments.
That meant the real, unspoken challenge in this episode was “Do you want to risk relying only on flowers and leaves, which are in short supply and might not sell the full Sagala fantasy, or do you want to rely on convention fabric with flowers as accents but risk being too safe?”
(Ostensibly they were mean to to also design their own flower arches, but the amount of flowers on the arches was vastly more than they had available for their outfits and not a single judging comment focused on the arches. I have a suspicion the queens were allowed to simply sketch the arches and then production crafted them. I could be wrong!)
This challenge is tricky to critique, because I don’t have the context of the Philippines’ festival to work from. I might have missed some references that made these looks more clever, referential, or haute couture than they seemed. I’ve done a bit of my own searching for image references, but if I’ve missed something, please feel free to drop me a link so I can educate myself. It’s not your job to do the labor for me, but I always appreciate a point in the right direction!
Before we get to the Power Rankings, which have shifted slightly since my Episode One ranks, I have to take a moment comment on two other aspects of the episode.
First, the mini-challenge was absolutely wacky. The queens were challenged to shimmy up a massive bamboo pole to grab a flag, with some support from a team of Pit Crew members (who actually got to wear shoes, presumably for non-slip safety reasons). I can’t think of another franchise that would throw out a challenge so aggressively athletic and actually dangerous, nor can I think of another cast we’ve met who could make it quite this goofy.
Second, and more significantly, the episode featured remarkable judging! Designer Rajo Laurel is a Drag Race superfan who gave actionable advice in the workroom and terrific, sensible critiques on the runway. He kept things aspirational and encouraging even when he was tearing into a concept. He was one of the best fashion judges we’ve ever had across all of the franchises. I’d compare him to Carson Kressley when he’s actually allowed in the workroom.
Also, our beloved investigative journalist Jiggly Caliente came for one of the queens for breaking the rules! I am living for Jiggly’s “fun aunt who has seen it all” energy on the panel, right down to her bejeweled domed take-out drink.
If you want to watch Drag Race Philippines outside of the Philippines and Canada you can sign up for WowPresentsPlus to watch the many worldwide Drag Race franchises for $4.99 a month or $50 a year. (Note that if you’re in the home country of a franchise you will need to use a VPN to “visit” another country to see that content.)
Readers, start your engines! And, may the best Filipino drag queen win!
Reminders: I consistently refer to Drag Race artists with their drag names and with she/her pronouns even when they are not in drag, which is the convention of the show. Some performers may have different personal pronouns. Drag is inherently brave, political, and artistic, and all drag is valid. It’s also hard to do. I’m commenting on drag artistry in how it comes across on this specific television program, but the reason I’m commenting at all is because I celebrate all drag!
Drag Race Philippines Season 1, Episode 2 – SagalAmazon Power Rankings
Before I dissect this floral runway, let us take a moment to bask in this butterfly couture look from Paolo! Mama Paolo is apparently going to be serving hard every single week this season, because this is another glorious garment.
1. Viñas Deluxe (was 4, Pre-Season #5)
Viñas Deluxe (Instagram | TikTok | YouTube) slayed and slipped down the runway as the only queen to realize that the real “fabric” of the unconventional materials was the greenery, and the flowers were just meant to be accents. Her all-greenery Vegas Showgirl look was divine
I’m not sure how no other queen though to simply wrap an entire corset in leaves as if they were making paper maché. Viñas Deluxe cornered the market on the technique, and added a shockingly huge bustle of leaves in the rear. It really did look like a Vegas showgirl outfit rendered entirely in greenery!
I think Jiggly was completely right in her thoughts on Viñas’s fall on the runway. Any kind of slip on the runway only matters if you show you are bothered. If it entertains you, it entertains the judges. Plus, to DESIGNER’s comment – not a single damn petal fell off her look when she fell! I can’t even fathom how that was possible. This queen glued the house down boots.
Also? Great, great hair. The perfect height and sculpt to fill out the proportions of this look. A+
While it’s excellent for Viñas Deluxe to clinch a win so early in the season, I think it is even more important that she showed the ability to think about detail from head to toe and to not be flustered by a mistake. Those are the skills that make a drag superstar. To add all of that to the power of her personality makes Viñas seem like one of the most-powerful queens in this cast.
2. Minty Fresh (was 1, Pre-Season #3)
Even from the judges’ walkaround it was clear that Minty Fresh would be selling body as much as she would be showcasing flowers. Her brown wrap dress looked like a robe only half-worn, and a full-on basket of flowers on her crotch was downright goofy.
Add to that a pair of oversized black vinyl gloves that looked like they were for veterinary medicine and a pair of busy rainbow thigh-highs and, for me, this look was a wreck.
I was downright puzzled at how this got positive notes. At least two of the safe looks were much, much better garments and more cohesive designs. It felt like Minty got credit simply for being tone of the only queens to add a dimensional element to her look with the caged shoulder.
Alas, the Power Ranking is meant to express how a queen is trending in the competition, and Minty Fresh’s stock is high for the second week in a row. If the judges ate up this hodgepodge, imagine how much they will love the looks she brought from home!
3. Precious Paula Nicole (was 3, Pre-Season #2)
When Precious Paula Nicole first walked out I thought this look slightly resembled Vanjie’s elimination disaster from Season 10. However, as we got a closer look at it I realized it was incredibly clever.
Precious Paula used the texture of different leaves to give her shape, in the same way Jaida Essence Hall uses different textures of black to break up a garment. She managed to suggest a sash and a corset despite looking like a walking bouquet. I don’t think it quite meets the bar of haute couture, but it had plenty of visual interest.
It’s also not especially flattering. That’s not only because it doesn’t have shape, but because it goes right up to her neck to nearly swallow her neck! I think it was clever construction, but not necessarily a good garment on her body.
I think the next two queens easily beat this look, but it was definitely on the higher side of what we saw on the runway. That gave the judges a chance to praise Precious Paula Nicole, who already feels like one of their favorites.
4. Eva Le Queen (was 2, Pre-Season #1)
I don’t say that to discredit Eva Le Queen. Far from it! I think many of these other queens tried to think so far outside of the box on how to apply their flowers that they barely made clothes. Eva Le Queen might’ve been a bit basic in electing to stick flowers to her corset, but a well-designed corset look with a skirt that had more than one layer felt downright revolutionary by the time she walked the runway!
Also, even more credit where it’s due, I think the construction of the corsetry is just smart. Eva treated her greenery as if each bit was a distinct piece of fabric rather than a bunch of flowers to be deployed as flowers. She created one “fabric” from the yellow petal, cut that with a lining of moss, and extended that line with a long leaf that became her shoulder strap.
That’s not revolutionary, but it does evidence a more advanced idea of how to tackle these unconventional materials than most of the other queens showed. I slightly preferred it to Precious Paula Nicole, but Eva was coming off a strong week in Episode 1 and didn’t necessarily need another critique.
While I’m duty-bound to knock Eva back a few spots to place lower than the queens who got positive critiques in this episode, she still feels like a potential finalist with obvious momentum to me. It will be interesting to see how she fares in next week’s performance challenge.
5. Marina Summers (was 6, Pre-Season #6)
Marina Summers (Instagram | TikTok | YouTube) was strategic in matching her flower petals to her fabrics, which meant she could do more with less – but she wound up with the least-flowery look of all.
Marina Summers really didn’t have all that many flowers on her look – just some yellow and pink petals on her bosom and leaves at her shoulders. However, she extended the impact of the petals by applying them over a smartly-pleated silk butterfly motif beneath that echoed their colors.
I think Marina’s slightly stripped-down aesthetic from the first episode worked in her favor here, since it didn’t seem unusual for her to be in effectively a sports bra and an open wrap skirt for this design challenge.
Even if this look was successful and on-brand for Marina, it was a fair call to be safe. She may have used the least flowers of everyone in the cast! Yet, she did that in a strategic way and seemed perfectly pleased with being safe to slay another day. For me, that keeps her hovering near the quickly-solidifying top group of queens.
6. Brigiding (was 5, Pre-Season #4)
Brigiding (Facebook | Instagram | TikTok | Twitter | YouTube) understood the assignment, turning herself into a human bouquet with make-up to match. However, she’s getting way too pressed way too early over being called safe!
Obviously only using flowers wasn’t going to give full coverage on a garment, so Brigiding did something brilliant: she color-blocked her undergarments so no plain corset or panties would show through.
Seeing the peek of purple at her bust or pink at her panties just made her outfit seem more complete rather than seeming to show something we shouldn’t be seeing – even though if those aspects were plain base garments we’d think exactly that!
I am obsessed with Brigiding’s make-up in this look. Her “so pink it’s purple” lip was such an unusual color. I loved the harsh, high swipes of red blush and how they blended into her purple lid, which gave way to orange at the brow bone. It’s such an inventive palette applied in a striking way. It screams “flower festival.”
This was not a safe look. In fact, I think this was the obvious runner-up of this week’s challenge, behind Viñas. However bothered I was about that, Brigiding was obviously bothered more. I felt like she almost backtalked to the judges on the runway when she was called safe, but then thought better of it and simple walked in front of the other girls to register her dissent.
I love a bold move from a queen, but Episode 2 is far too early to be getting bratty over slights from the judges. Brigiding should be confident in the skills she showed on this looks. She still has plenty of time to prove herself, but if she gets in her head this early she is going to run out of steam in the middle of this competition.
7. Xilhouete (was 9, Pre-Season #9)
Xilhouete’s look is hard to figure out even when you’re looking right at it. It’s a draped skirt that’s longer in the back, a tied-and-knotted bodice, and some greenery attached to the hip. Yet, as plain as that sounds, it had a surprising amount of visual impact on the stage.
I love that Xilhouete wore a wavy hair with more volume, but I was puzzled by her plain make-up and dark purple lip. It wasn’t giving me “Queen of the Flores de Mayo.” If she had gone with a more romantic make-up look with heavy red blush it would’ve have sold the romance of the black-and-red garment more.
I think this was a fair look to call safe. I actually admired Xilhouete’s craftiness and her ability to do more with less when it came to her flowers. However, her “dark lady” looks are already getting repetitive two episodes into the season. I really want to see something exciting, surprising, and colorful from Xilhouete in the coming weeks … in addition to much larger wigs.
8. Lady Morgana (was 11, Pre-Season #8)
Lady Morgana (Instagram | Twitter) was determined the be the Queen of Color at this festival, with a vibrant mini-dress absolutely packed with highly-saturated color. What it lacked in coherence, it made up for in visual impact.
I think Lady Morgana was wise and strategic here. She treated her various greenery and craft supplies as elements for color-blocking, clumping them across her garment to create a color pattern and accentuating that by adding more color with her base garments.
I don’t know if I’d call it successful, but to me it showed off a level of intention and craftiness that was missing from some of the other looks.
I was fine with this being called safe. I would’ve been annoyed to see it low, but it wasn’t a winner. I’m not sure if being safe is enough to redeem Lady Morgana’s week one Talent Show flameout, but at least now she can be confident that there are a few other queens with their own struggles.
That might allow Lady Morgana to wait a few more weeks before her next reckoning. I think she will be fine on Girl Groups, but I wonder what will happen when we get to an acting or comedy challenge.
9. Gigi Era (was 8, Pre-Season #10)
Gigi Era (Instagram) came close to success in full-bloom, but she was missing either the time or the rose petals to fully complete her look.
When Gigi Era first walked out I thought, “finally, a complete garment!” Indeed, her rose-petal bikini top (actually an illusion with crepe paper on a sheer shirt) was eye-catching! However, after her waistline the look, just… ends.
In voice-over, she says it was due to the time pressure. I don’t know if having the time to cover her bikini bottom with rose petals would’ve taken this to haute couture level, but anything would’ve helped! I question the decision to leave it nude, which gives an unfortunate Barbie Doll Crotch illusion. Even a quick swap-out of some red, pink, or green fabric on the crotch could’ve worked and would’ve immediately made the look complete.
I really felt for Gigi in the judge’s critiques. The combination of being upset about running out of time, missing her partner, and recovering from the confession of her childhood domestic abuse in the mirror chat was so much emotion to deal with early in the competition.
The question we’re left with is this: what part of this look is more indicative of Gigi’s eye as a drag queen? Is it the clever petal-and-crepe-paper bikini on a successful nude illusion top? Or, is it putting her bare crotch on display on the runway without even the slightest bit of embellishment?
I suspect the answer will dictate her placement on this season, but I also think she’s a queen who could win a first lip sync against several of these girls.
10. Turing (was 7, Pre-Season #7)
Turing received sound advice in her walkthrough: that she ought to keep flower embellishments at her hips to emphasize her proportions. Instead, she draped leaves haphazardly from her belt. It meant you could barely see the base garment, and the leaves weren’t dense enough to give much of an impression.
Even if she had done the same leafy fringe from her bra top rather than her waist the look would’ve been more interesting.
Garment and styling aside, Turing showed us she is really, truly a dancer in this lip sync. These weren’t a bunch of club moves and drag stunts. This queen knows how to move and use her body while serving face the entire time. There were so many great moments of rhythm. Throughout the song she varied if she was hitting the heavier downbeats or flittering along to the higher parts of the song. It was all very intentional and a joy to watch.
Turing managed to lose a challenge where she had such an obvious advantage as a seamstress because she didn’t have a good eye for detail. Combined with her runway from last week, that doesn’t speak well for her potential longevity in this competition. Yet, next week we’re heading into a Girl Groups challenge – which surely has to be one of her strongest areas! Can she climb out of the bottom of the ranks to show that she is a contender? And, even if she crushes the challenge, will she have a runway strong enough to make it to the top group in critiques?
Eliminated: Corazon (was 10, Pre-Season #11)
Corazon (Instagram) had a terrific strategy for creating a silhouette out of chicken wire, but she ruined it with slapdash detailing and wearing a pre-existing dress beneath.
Corazon made wise use of her chicken wire to create a flat, paper-doll frame of a dress for herself. That’s brilliant – it gives the illusion of shape and proportion with none of the sewing, plus it’s easy to add leaves, petals, and crepe paper to chicken wire!
Instead, she… affixed a bunch of spools of thread to it and criss-crossed it with random crepe paper stripes. And, instead of whipping out a quick tube dress, she wore an existing garment beneath – which got her read to filth by Jiggly Caliente.
The entire affair was a huge surprise for me. I had Corazon pegged as an inveterate pageant queen who would be felled by being unable to break out of going through the pageant motions. Instead, she failed at meeting some of the essential requirements of this challenge – which was a real shock from a pageant competition and seamstress.
Corazon’s personality was infectious (which, coming from Turing, would be derogatory), but got the the sense that she was the odd one out in this cast of queens. She is a beautiful queen and a talented artist, and placing 11th on Drag Race takes nothing away from her litany of pageant titles.