Mabuhay! Welcome to my review and power rankings of the fourth episode of Drag Race Philippines Season 1 – “OPM Divas: The Rusical.” This is a lip sync Rusical where each queen needs to impersonate an iconic Philippines pop star by lip syncing to nursery rhymes performed in their signature style.
OPM refers to “Original Pilipino Music” – a particular style of Filipino post-1970s pop songs heavy on soulful balladry. This is one of those times where no amount of YouTube research can adequately prepare me to fairly judge the results of a Drag Race challenge from an international edition of the show.
I tried my best to find comparable looks and performances from all of the OPM Divas to better appreciate the impersonations, but some of these Divas have been around for decades – long enough that we could have a whole Rusical dedicated solo to them the way we have had for Cher and Madonna on the US franchise.
Even this mini-challenge was completely new to me! It was a game of “Ten-Twenty Talon Becky,” a reverse-limbo street game of hopping, leaping, and eventually cartwheeling over a Chinese garter. (A “Chinese garter,” is simply a rubberized elastic band you can use for stretching and/or jumping rope.) I couldn’t imagine how the queens were going to make it over the belt once it got up to eyeball-level – and that’s where the cartwheels came in! If you get even a toe over the rubbery line, your momentum and its elasticity takes care of the rest.
The mini-challenges this season have showed off how good-natured and downright silly this cast can be, which is easily obscured by how seriously they all take their runway assignments. I cannot think of another season of any franchise where an entire cast of queens have been so gamely foolish for physical challenge like the pole-climbing and the Chinese garter.
The willingness to be awkward on camera feels unique to the Philippines cast, but it also helps that the mini-challenges are rooted in their culture and their sense of childhood play. Compare that to the typical US mini-challenges, which tend to be either games that Ru (a man in her 60s) finds personally entertaining or full of sexual innuendo (if not both).
This episode also showed that the Philippines franchise is not above outright riggory to create drama in critiques.
As I understand it, every queen had advance knowledge of two Divas they might impersonate, but they didn’t have a say in the final choice or in the style of song and how it would be choreographed. Many Filipino Divas are known for being Celine-Dion-adjacent balladeers, which gave some queens less to work with than others.
Minty Fresh, in particular, felt stuck with a performance that could only accentuate the “Wake Up, Pearl!” narrative that she’s been saddled with. Similarly, Lady Morgana landed the most world-famous of all the Divas, but that Diva is such a chameleon that Morgana couldn’t possibly capture her within 45 seconds of impersonation.
Finally, there were some queens who were protected from critiques to yield the elimination the show wanted tonight, which might not have been 100% warranted based on the episode but which made sense in the arc of the season.
Did all that riggory that wreak major havoc on my Power Rankings compared to Episode Three? Read on to find out!
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! [Read more…] about Drag Race Philippines Season 1 Episode 4 – OPM Divas: The Rusical, Review & Power Ranking