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The sun always shines on Marina Summers

Marina Summers

The day her song “Divine” dropped earlier this month, we were on Zoom with Marina Summers. The drag queen, who was first runner-up in Drag Race Philippines’ first season, was excited about her sophomore single—her first under Tarsier Records.

Marina actually met Moophs, the head of Tarsier Records, on the set of “Drag Race Philippines.” Fans of the show would remember that he was the producer who worked with the queens as they recorded their vocals for “Pop Off Ate.”

Marina said, “He was very vocal about getting me to work with him right after we recorded my verse. He told his wife, who is one of the executive producers of the show, ‘Oh my god, I need to get her.’ We need to make music with her.”

And that they did. Marina said, “The main idea behind ‘Divine’ is I want people to worship drag, worship drag queens and how they embody themselves. I want people to worship Marina. I want people to worship drag in essence.”

Drag has always been political. Drag is a political statement.

People have been worshipping Marina. Her “Drag Race Philippines” journey has won her a lot of loyal fans—she’s the first queen from the show to hit 100,000 followers on Instagram. A fan has even gotten a tattoo inspired by her.

It’s not surprising that fans have latched onto Marina. The youngest queen in the show excelled in just about every challenge—fashion, acting, comedy, name it, Marina could do it all.

Top two! How does it feel?

I feel very, very honored to be to be there at the end. Not a lot of girls have the opportunity to show everything on an international stage. Being one of the top two finalists, parang natapos ko yung competition in its full glory. Parang nanalo na rin ako in a sense. I was very, very proud of the work that I was able to put out this season.

You had a fantastic run—what was your favorite moment or challenge from the show?

The girl group challenges are my favorite challenges whenever I watch any franchise of “Drag Race.” When when we did that in episode three, I knew I had to ace it because songwriting is something that I really love to do. As a drag artist, music is a huge part of what I do. I’m very happy to be part of that legacy. I think “Pop Off Ate” was monumental.

You also served so many amazing looks, what was your favorite and why?

Number one was the Perlas ng Silangan. It really embodies what Marina Summers is as a brand, as an artist and as a fashion icon—very sultry, glamorous, never the same. A lot of work went into that. Second was the lampshade look. With all the pride I have in my body, I would say that that’s one of the best looks this season. That’s one of the most ambitious looks I brought to the competition. I never thought drag would need physics, mathematics, geometry for that head piece alone.

Drag and science work together, I guess. (laughs) The last would be the tumbang preso look. It was so stupid but that’s the most fun I had on the runway that entire season. It showed a different side of me.

What was your proudest Drag Race PH moment?

Being able to stand at the end of the competition, knowing that you worked hard and that you did your best and you did well in the competition. The live crowning night felt like a graduation day. Finally, tapos na, because I’d been on competition mode for more than a year. Finally, I could let go of that. At that moment, I knew I fulfilled my purpose in in the show.

How does it feel to have people around the world embrace the show?

Coming into the competition, I never thought it would be this huge. It was in the middle of the pandemic when we filmed that so ang daming hardships, ang daming struggles, so to be received like this, not only locally but internationally as well, it’s such an amazing feeling. It makes me proud to be part of that cast. Even though we come from different backgrounds and we have different reasons for joining, ultimately, we were there to uphold queer excellence and I think the world saw that.

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What impact would you like the show to have in the Philippines?

That it’s time to shake things up. We are here to take our power back. We are here to reclaim our space in this society. Queer artists don’t get as much respect and as much recognition. I think it’s high time that we reclaim our space and our spotlight. We’re here to rule the world, queens rule the world.

I want to be an image of hope and inspiration for young queer kids like me, who grew up in a very small town, na hindi nila nakikita yung sarili nila on TV or social media.

What’s your favorite catchphrase from the show?

“It’s not the dress, it’s you.” Mainly because I didn’t know I said that. I said it right—“It’s the dress, it’s not you”—nine times but the one time I said it wrong, yun yung nag-mark sa mga tao. And of course, yung “I’m your Filipina winner.”

We love your snatch game. Did you expect that you expect it to become such a hit? And did you expect people to dress up as you as GMA on Halloween?

Did I expect for it to be a hit? Yes. I knew that it was going to be TV gold. Honestly, that was the first thing I prepared. I worked hard to be able to craft that character. There was a lot of writing involved. There was a lot of conceptualizing and brainstorming with my team. I knew it was going to blow up the internet. Did I ever think gagawin siyang Halloween costume? Not at all. The amount of people dressed up as Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was a bit scary and weird. (laughs) It was crazy. I knew that we made a mark just by seeing those costumes.

Photo by Bry Rivera

Is drag political?

Yes, definitely. Drag has always been political. Drag is a political statement.

How does it feel to be such a fan favorite?

I’m very, very, very thankful that they get to appreciate the work that I do. I take pride in working hard and for people to be able to appreciate that is the ultimate feedback that I could get. I’m very happy with the amount of support that I’ve been getting.

Photo by Dennis Sulit

What have been your favorite fan moments so far?

People come to the meet and greet with gifts that they bought, pinag-ipunan nila and all, but most importantly yung sila mismo yung gumawa. The amount of time and effort that they take away from their day just to give me that gift, it’s such an amazing feeling. Sobrang validating yun na “Oh my god, people do care for you.” Ang sarap sa feeling. Sometimes may gumagawa ng cake tapos ibabyahe nila from Laguna to meet you here in Manila. May gumagawa ng pendants, ng care kits, super sarap sa feeling.

What’s the weirdest thing a fan has done to get your attention?

Gusto nila laging nagpapamura sa mga live, sa IG, Tiktok, lagi yan, “Marina, murahin mo ko.” I don’t do that. I’m a woman with dignity. (laughs)

The fans can be super loving, but they can also be vicious to the friends they don’t like. What are your thoughts on that?

Social media is something that we cannot control, no matter how hard we call out fans who cross the line in sending hate to the other queens. One example is when Precious won and a lot of fans were dismayed just because I was their favorite. I knew I had to step in and take some action because it’s not okay. I’m very happy for Precious, why can’t they be happy for Precious? Super loving ng fans, don’t get me wrong, they’re so so loving and very supportive and very protective but there’s a small percentage who are very, very rabid when it comes to sending out unnecessary messages to the queens. It’s sad but there’s not much we can do about that.

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We were amazed watching you handle attempts at drama in the show. What is the secret behind your patience?

(laughs) Before coming into the competition, I was a TV producer and advertising producer so I think a lot of my patience stemmed from that. My discipline when working is, you know, just keep an eye on the goal. I think my problem-solving skills were honed while working in the media industry for five years prior to coming into “Drag Race.” Also, I’m a very chill and a very diplomatic person. Honestly, I was there for the crown, I wasn’t there for any drama at all.

What has been your biggest lesson from drag race?

It will only catapult you to greater heights but what will get you to those heights is what you do after the show. Yung “Drag Race Philippines” para siyang pabaon eh. So paano mo siya gagamitin on your journey? “Drag Race” is a great platform, it’s an opportunity for us to be seen and to be heard para sa longevity ng careers namin after the show.

How has the show changed your life?

Before, I was working behind the camera most of the time but now I’m in the spotlight. “Drag Race” has really changed everything for me. I am living the life I wanted when I was young. “Drag Race” really helped me grow my fan base and take them on a journey with me even after the show. Right now, I’m on that road of really discovering more of Marina and showing more of Marina.

With the help of “Drag Race,” mas nakikita na kami ngayon. A lot of people care about the drag community now. It’s a big opportunity for us queens. There’s a drastic change as well in the local scene with regards to the love and support that not only Ru girls are getting, but also our talented local drag artists. We want to push for better working conditions for our local queens. They have to work five times harder just to get food on their table.

Right now, I think we’re seeing a really, really big change and I hope this continues and it gets better. Another drastic change is we’re bringing drag outside of the clubs through media, through brunches, through popup events na mas accessible for a different type of demographic. We are sparking conversations about the importance of drag and most importantly, SOGIE… we’re starting to spark conversations in households.

Ngayon nakikita natin ang mga pumupunta sa drag brunches and dinners mga moms with their kids. It’s a great discovery for us na apart from the queer community, there’s another demographic that wants to be immersed in drag and it’s our duty to introduce drag to them and have them introduce drag to other people as well.

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Photo by Bry Rivera

What advice do you have for Queens joining Season Two?

Don’t do it. It’s torture. Joke lang. Be yourself, put your best foot forward, be a TV star and give them a good show by not changing who you are. Continue to carry the torch of queer excellence and Filipino drag excellence. We started very strong and they have big shoes to fill and I say that with utmost pride because season one was really monumental.

Where can people catch you? How can they support your drag?

“Divine” is out now on all streaming platforms. The music video is out and there’s a lot more content coming out including live performances. I’ll be doing a lot of media guestings as well. I have a lot of shows coming up soon. Marina Summers on all social media platforms.

What are your plans post-“Drag Race”?

Apart from music, TV shows, there’s going to be a lot of things coming up in 2023 and I’m very, very excited. Chasing the Sun will continue to flourish on my YouTube account as well. But TV shows something that we’re really looking forward to and of course more music, definitely more music under Tarsier.

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What do you love the most about being a drag queen?

Being famous and being pretty. (laughs) No, no, no. I want to be an image of hope and inspiration for young queer kids like me, who grew up in a very small town, na hindi nila nakikita yung sarili nila on TV or social media. It’s fun to see queer artists thriving doing their best, na hindi pinagtatawanan, na hindi naka-hair clip at binubully sa mga TV shows. Yun yung magandang representation ng queer community. We need to see more of that. I want to be that representation alongside the other queens from “Drag Race Philippines.” Yun yung masarap sa feeling being a drag queen, I love the power that it holds and and the stories we get to tell now.

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