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The Rise of the Androgynes

Photos by Ina Inonog

MANILA, Philippines - Balance will always be restored, and individuality will always triumph over assimilation. This week, Young STAR explores what it means to be androgynous.

In the musical Bare, a bunch of Catholic school kids convene in prayer to honor the Feast of the Epiphany. At this junction, Peter, an altar boy, dozes off and enters into a nightmare sequence where he is condemned by the whole school and practically everyone he knows, including his own mother.

“Please join us in singing our offertory hymn, number 273, ‘A Bender Among Us,’” announces a snooty senior from St. Cecilia’s Boarding School. The batch and the priest continue, “There’s a bender among us. He must be exposed. Or he’ll kidnap our children and take off their clothes. There’s a bender among us, there’s pink in our flock — a boy without conscience, who’s led by his…” Exaggeration.

Well, it’s a nightmare sequence, after all. Overhyped triviality, when really, all Peter was guilty of was trying to maneuver himself within a gray area, in a society that is hardwired to think in black and white. Let’s not forget Carrie: Hell hath no fury like a telekinetic scorned!

If only kids these days knew years later that it’s actually the misfits, the eccentrics, the iconoclasts, the outcasts, and those who don’t fit a particular mold who are lionized and celebrated for their achievements or, at the very least, their individuality. Think top blogger Chuvaness, models Jo Ann Bitagcol and Agyness Deyn, David Bowie, Annie Lennox, or even Tilda Swinton in her now iconic ads for Pringle of Scotland.

In the recent Preview Best Dressed list, Pauline Suaco-Juan wrote in her editor’s note, “This is the reason why we at Preview make sure that different types of women, different style tribes, and even opposing philosophies are represented.” She mentioned writer Mara Coson’s “thoughtful, anti-fashion, androgynous garb” and praised Tessie Singson for her “penchant for avant-garde silhouettes in her signature all-black palette.”

I remember giving a talk at my alma mater recently where a nephew of mine is currently enrolled. While I touched upon the school’s foundational values which I carried with me all throughout my formative years, I just had to mention a thing or two about individuality and finding your own groove at an early age. Not succumbing to the pressure of having to “fit in.” Well, who am I talk? I actually went through the motions of trying to fit in with the cool kids. I hope my 20-something wisdom doesn’t fall on deaf ears.

Eventually, I know for a fact that balance will always be restored, and individuality will always triumph over assimilation — which is why we at Young STAR are always celebrating those who are different; in this case, one of the most baffling cases known to man, one that even we ourselves can’t put a tag on: the androgyne.

Now, what exactly is an androgyne? Plato says that originally the sexes were three: “There was man, woman, and a union of the two, having a name corresponding to this double nature.” The third of them, the Androgyne, was said to be so powerful that they launched an attack on the gods, only to be silenced, halved and left to suffer in the duality of their constantly polarizing natures. June Singer talks about the “dark intimation of a potentiality, never fully to be realized.” Yes, in theory, androgyny is not something that man can completely fathom or fully comprehend just yet. It’s like “X” factor or je ne sais quoi. It’s just there. Either you’re an androgyne, or you’re not.

Thankfully, Young STAR stumbled upon these guys who might be able to help shed light on the matter. Sound off!

 

Ana Zamora, 21, student

Androgyny is…

when you can’t tell whether someone’s a guy or a girl based on how they look and what they’re wearing.

What makes you androgynous?

I like dressing up as a boy, and I guess I don’t act like a girly girl. My friends think I should’ve been a boy.

Who is your life peg?

Jujiin Samonte! I love him forever. He’s so cool and he dresses like Jesus. And his dog’s name is Disco.

 

Nice Buenaventura, 28, factory at IdKids (yes, that’s her title)

What makes you an androgyne?

My habit of borrowing my husband’s clothes.

Who do you look up to as a style icon?

Francoise Hardy because she’s cool.

What challenges do you face as an androgyne?

Getting reprimanded by old people for “looking like my dad.”

 

Renz Pangilinan, 20, hairstylist, visual artist

Define androgyny.

Fusion of both sexes — “perfect being.”

Who is your personal style icon?

Rihanna. I love how careless and brave she is when it comes to fashion. Plus, we both love black, skulls and crosses.

What is your style mantra?

Be your rock-star self.

 

Bruce Venida, 21, model, student, artist

What makes you an androgyne?

My slim body, my small face, my long hair… my f*ck!! I don’t really know…

Who are your style icons?

The Addams Family because they’re very dark. Puss from Puss in Boots because I like cats. And of course, JP Singson. I like black and white. He’s my favorite!

What is your style mantra?

Dress like a villain with many cats. Join the dark side.

 

Samantha Lee, 25, freelance director

My life peg is…

Vampire Weekend x Adrianne Ho x Kanye West

What dualities govern your lifestyle besides the masculine and the feminine?

Love and f*ck you. If you don’t love it enough, you have to say “f*ck you” and change it.

Style mantra:

Don’t think about it too much.

 

 

 

 

Mav Bernardo, 22, bum

What makes you an androgyne?

My facial features. They look more feminine.

What duality governs your lifestyle?

AC/DC — it’s like negative and positive.

What personal challenges do you face as an androgyne?

They call you gay, weird, or drag queen. They just really don’t know what an androgyne is, I guess.

 

 

 

 

Jonard Palteng, 21, freelance photographer, blogger (jonardmanilakid.blogspot.com)

What is your definition of androgyny?

Not cross-dressing. Definitely. It’s meeting a balance between both sexes. The aim is to blur the lines between looking like a man and a woman.

Who is your style icon?

Kate Lanphear! I love how she translates women’s wear into something that comes across as “ungirly” and very rock star-ish. She is not the conventional female dresser.

What is your style mantra?

If it looks like you’re cross-dressing, you probably are. Edit, edit, edit! And never lose yourself in the clothes you carry on your back.

 

Joma Bernardo, 20, fine arts student, stylist, model

What makes you an androgyne?

For me, it’s all about balance. Choosing pieces that are unisex and mixing it with menswear, polishing it with feminine accessories, thus marrying the whole look.

What challenges do you face as an androgyne?

To me, the challenge is more when it comes to choosing pieces that won’t translate as too feminine, given the look I exude.

What is your style mantra?

Pride and confidence is and always will be the best attributes to complete your whole look.

 

Mara Coson, 24, Rogue magazine online editor, fan of Tessie Singson

What is your definition of androgyny?

The usual answer of not subscribing to gender norms. It’s not about being different — it’s about why it’s okay to be different.

I’m an androgyne because…

Wearing heels makes me uncomfortable. I like menswear; and I don’t think it means I have to be a man.

What personal challenges do you face as an androgyne?

The daily “Ma’am/Sir” confusion.

 

Miah Legaspi, 21, visual artist, fashion enthusiast

Define androgyny.

Gender bender, basically breaking the rules of the usual fashion mantra that “only boys can wear suits and pants; and girls should wear dresses and skirts.”

What personal challenges do you face as an androgyne?

Sometimes, when I’m out with my girlfriends, guys would hit on me the whole time and wouldn’t know that I’m gay ‘til I tell them.

What dualities govern your sense of style?

Classy and edgy; effortless and fashionably ready.

 

Kristine Dabbay, 23, associate editor, Status magazine

What makes you an androgyne?

Sometimes, I get called “Sir” like I’m Paul McCartney or Elton John. Then, they realize their mistake. I don’t mind at all, sirs!

Who is your life peg?

Grace Kelly. She’s sexy and classy even when she’s all covered up. Oh, and Rei Kawakubo! She understands power.

What is your style mantra?

Never mind the blogs. Trust your taste.

 

 

 

 

 

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