Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Welcome home, BB Gandanghari!
Early this week, local showbiz was abuzz because a former matinee idol by the name of Rustom Padilla guested in two major entertainment talk shows to announce that she is now a woman. And that her name is Binibini (BB for short) Gandanghari. Roughly translated into English, it stands for "Miss Beauty King".
The revelation may not have been as surprising to many because it was not the first time people saw Rustom all dolled up. In October in an awards night, Rustom also showed up in women's clothing. Rustom stole the show then but did not reveal the reason for showing up "en femme". Many speculated that perhaps it was a promotional ploy to get people interested in an upcoming show featuring the actor.
It might be remembered that Rustom shot to renewed fame, after a long absence from showbiz, in 2007 upon joining the Philippine version of Big Brother. Rustom entered the Pinoy Big Brother (PBB) house but left on his own voliton on the 45th day. Before he left the show, he made waves when in a tearful episode he came out to a starlet housemate, Keanna Reeves. In an intimate moment, Rustom told Keana that in fact he was gay.
But now Rustom is dead so said BB Gandanghari in her first TV interview on GMA 7. In the place of Rustom is BB (pronounced bi-bi), alive and kicking and all woman. And people seem to accept BB with open arms. In her next television appearance on a rival station, ABS-CBN, BB was interviewed by two famous celebrities who related to her quite well. They did not problematize BB's identity and did not make a fuzz about labels. They treated BB like a woman although they asked her if she was taking hormones. BB said she was not and that she wanted to keep things natural. BB has so far also remained mum about genital reconfiguration surgery (GRS). During her first interview on GMA 7 she said she didn't want to comment on the issue because she was in the middle of everything.
Personally, I am very happy about this development and wish BB well. BB just recently came back from New York after studying modelling there and now she has an upcoming play titled Gandanghari that I hope to catch. As someone who's witnessed Rustom Padilla's career from a distance, I can imagine the courage it took for Bebe to come out in the open and say to the world that Rustom is now in the past and that Bebe is the future.
Definitely, BB has come a long way. Her journey reminds me of the song, I've Never Been To Me by Charlene. Rustom has been to paradise in some sense (enjoying a career as a matinee idol, marrying an actress, divorcing, going to the US to disappear) and yet he was never himself. Now as BB, she has arrived. She has finally come home to herself.