Freeman Cebu Entertainment

The comeback of Maki Gingoyon

Vanessa Balbuena - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — After a nine-year pageant hiatus, Maki Yurong Gingoyon is back to fulfill her dream of representing the Philippines in an international beauty tilt. The 33-year-old is candidate #10 at Miss International Queen Philippines (MIQP) 2023 where she’s eyeing a back-to-back win for Cebu

“Nervous a little bit, but super excited to showcase what I’ve prepared especially that I have a team of talented people behind me,” Gingoyon told The FREEMAN and other select media in an interview before she left for Manila in time for the pageant’s preliminary competition this Sunday, March 5, at the Palacio Cristal Del Aquila in Tagaytay City.

Two other representatives from Cebu, Roxwen delos Santos and Mae Coppens, are among 27 candidates hoping to succeed Bogo City, Cebu native Fuschia Anne Ravena who will crown her successor on the March 11 finals at the Aliw Theater in Pasay City.

Gingoyon, who is representing Mandaue City, will be wearing evening gowns by Dino Lloren and a Balintawak-themed baby pink national costume by Steffi Dorado which the beauty titlist says was inspired by fellow Cebuana Kris Tiffany Janson’s ensemble at Binibining Pilipinas 2014.

In a social media post last December announcing her MIQP candidacy, Gingoyon shares that she’s “immensely grateful for this opportunity to be part of an organization that gives us a platform to share our advocacy, and the chance to meet other empowered trans women and learn from each other’s stories.”

“I am looking forward to creating a genuine sisterhood that will leave an essential message to the community that we as trans women exist and that we are not afraid to take up space.”

At 21 years old, she was crowned Queen of Cebu Universe in 2010. She later on gained wider prominence for being named Eat Bulaga’s Super Sireyna of the Sky during its weekly finals in 2013.

What took her so long to compete again? “I waited for my heart, mind and spirit to be ready. Back in 2013 when I joined Super Sireyna, I got lost. I wasn’t prepared for the stardom that came with it. That one was a big pressure because the first Super Sireyna ever was Reign Marie Madrigal from Cebu. I wasn’t strong enough to say no to joining.”

“Right after the finals, I was escorted by police because a crowd had gathered for me and I didn’t know what to make of it at that time. All I knew was I wanted to go home. I went there fresh from my activism in school. It was a blessing in disguise that I didn’t win because I’d be unable to focus on my advocacy. It took me a while to learn who I am and discover my purpose again.”

And no, she’s not feeling the weight of her sash factor. Despite eyes on the Cebu delegates with last year’s winner, all the way to the international level, being a Cebuana, Gingoyon is not letting external pressures get to her.

She explains, “Not to sound like I’m bragging, but to be honest, I am in such a privileged and honored place right now to be sharing the stage with other trans women. However, I don’t want to compete with them. I am competing myself. So yes, hopefully a back-to-back win because I am more than prepared. I have an honest heart and an honest mind to serve the LGBTQI community.”

Apart from her stint in the country’s longest-running noontime show, Gingoyon is also known for making local headlines years back for sharing in an online post how a mall’s fitness center refused her access to the female locker room as she had yet to undergo gender reassignment surgery.

Asked how far things have changed since that episode, she notes, “It’s very different in a positive way. Although I don’t want to discredit the things we are currently doing for us to push forward our SO-GI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) bill. I believe that situation was an eye-opener as I reached out to local media to tell my story. I enrolled in a fitness center and I was in a situation where I felt humiliated.”

“To be honest, we still have a long way to go. A lot of my trans sisters and the rest in the LGBTQ community, especially for the economically disadvantaged…the lack of employment opportunities and the passing of the SO-GI bill still needs to be pushed,” says Gingoyon, who proudly points out that Mandaue is the first city in the country to implement an Anti-Discrimination ordinance.

Gingoyon is currently Chief Operating Officer of a dating site for transgender women which she co-founded. Part of her job is ensuring the safety of trans women while they are trying to look for a date online.

“Not a lot of people know, 10 years before, the dating scene for transgender women is very sad. In fact, it created a stain on the reputation of trans women online who were presented as sexual objects,” she says.

“That issue is close to home for me because I also had firsthand experience on online dating. Who doesn’t want to fall in love? Loving and being loved is the most beautiful thing to experience. My experiences pushed me to create a safe space for my trans sisters to find love online.”

Her team is also quite active in utilizing social media such as creating educational YouTube videos. Just recently, she recorded a video addressing a common question of whether a man attracted to a trans woman is considered gay.

“Having these topics and conversations on social media will help others understand not only the transgender side, but also the side of men attracted to trans women. This is a way of socialism for me because I helps people understand the real nature of transgender dating, and more importantly, it opens the topic of sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression.”

On why she deserves to be the next Miss International Queen Philippines, Gingoyon says, “Because I am passionate to take this responsibility. I am equipped with immutable beauty, and driven by a purpose to serve the LGBTQI community. As a co-founder of the number one dating site for transgender women who has seen the positive impact of creating online safe spaces that breaks stereotypes and defies marginalization, I would like to bring this asset to the Miss International Queen organization, and use efficiently the most utilized tool in the world, which is the internet, so that we can reach a wider audience to continuously promote the message of MIQ, which is equality.”

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