Her life revolves around the world of “beauty, talent, and relentless passion,” having spent her entire life mastering pageantry. She joined beauty pageants of various sizes – big or small, including those held in far flung provinces. She has won different titles, and lost a few.
Meet Tigerlily Garcia Temporosa, better known as TL in the transgender community. She hails from the city of Mandaluyong. This 37-year-old transgender is a trainer of gay and transgender beauty pageant aspirants.
MOTHER OF BEAUTY QUEENS
It was in 1997 when TL first managed a talent. And while it was a rough start for her, she enjoyed every moment of it.
“Nag-ipon muna ako ng mga gamit para kanila habang naghahanap ng mga may potensyal na isasabak ko sa mga pageants. Syempre, kailangan maganda, may talent, at may utak. Mas madali mag-train kung may potensyal (I had to save first while looking for someone to train. Of course, I wanted someone beautiful, with talent, and had brains. It’s easier to train someone with potential),” TL explained.
She watched numerous Miss Universe pageants over and over so she could master how the beauty queens walk and answer the questions.
“Pinapanood ko ng madalas ang Miss Universe para makakita ng mga techniques pagdating sa pagrampa, aura, at syempre sa pagsagot. Hindi rin mawawala ang mga scripted na sagot, kasi kailangan rin talaga ‘yun (I frequently watched taped Miss Universe pageants so I can see the techniques when it comes to walking on the catwalk, self presentation, and of course, answering of questions. Delivering scripted answers is always there; we’ll never be rid of that),” TL said.
And through the years, she produced a roster of talents who have triumphed in the world of beauty pageants, theater, showbiz, and some even in the international stage.
DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH
TL was also the one who discovered Geena Rocero, a transgender model based in the US.
“Napadayo kami sa Laguna noon, tapos may friend ako doon na sinabi sa akin na may ipapa-alaga sa akin na bata, matangkad at maganda raw ang hubog ng mukha. Then, noong nakita ko si Geena, hindi na ako nagdalwang isip para dalhin siya sa Manila para isali siya sa pukpukang pageant. Fresh, makinis, at higit sa lahat, maganda ang katawan ni Geena. Noong sumali siya sa first pageant na ‘yun, she won best in swimsuit and best in long gown. She even landed 2nd runner-up that night (We were in Laguna then, and a friend said she wants me to look after this kid who is tall and had a beautiful face. When I saw Geena, I didn’t have second thoughts; I took her to Manila and made her join a pageant. When she joined that first pageant of hers, she won best in swimsuit and best in long gown. She even landed 2nd runner-up that night),” TL recalled.
Rocero gained popularity in the LGBTQ community when she came out as a transgender during TED Talks’ annual conference last March. Since then, she has been very active in various LGBTQ events and gatherings to promote awareness and education.
“I’m so proud of Geena. Hindi ko inakala na sisikat siya ng ganyan ka-sikat at mananatili siyang down to earth at hindi kami malilimutan dito sa Pilipinas. She’s a very hardworking person and she deserves all the success. Kaya tuwing may mga bago akong talents, palagi kong ginagawang halimbawa si Geena sa kanila. Sinasabi ko sa kanila na kaya ng mga Pinoy LGBTs na sumikat at makilala sa iba’t-ibang larangan, hindi lang dito sa Pilipinas, pati sa ibang bansa (I didn’t expect she’d be as big as she is now yet remain down to earth, and she won’t forget us who are still in the Philippines. She’s a very hardworking person and she deserves all the success. So everytime I encounter new talents, I always make Geena an example. I tell them that Filipino LGBT people can make it big in different industries, and not only locally but also internationally),” TL added.
DESIRE TO MAKE EVERYONE BEAUTIFUL
In the Philippine setting, LGBTQ beauty pageants are usually stereotyped as an event where spectators can make fun of the contestants. For TL, that is wrong. LGBTQ people do not parade on stage to be made fun of; they join these pageants so they can showcase their beauty and talents.
“Nasa culture na ng mga Pinoy na kahit hindi beauty pageants ay pinagtatawanan ang mga LGBTs. Para sa mga taong hindi nakakaintindi ng mensahe at ng purpose ng mga beauty pageants, kailangan sila bigyan ng pang-unawa at palawakin na lang namin ang aming mga utak para sa kanila (It’s embedded in the Philippine culture that – even when not in the context of beauty pageants – people laugh at LGBTQ people. For people who do not understand the message, the purpose of those joining the pageants, we need to make them understand and broaden their knowledge),” TL said.
TL also had her share of the limelight during her early years. Just like the others, she has won and lost many titles. But she believes her true calling is not to be in the spotlight.
“Syempre naranasan ko ng sumali sa mga beauty pageants. Pero iba ang fulfillment na nabibigay sa akin kapag ako nag-t–train tapos nakikita kong tumatanyag sila sa larangan nila (Of course I have joined pageants in the past. But the fulfillment I get is different, if I am the one who trained those who succeed in their fields),” she said.
TL added: “Kasi kapag tumutulong ka, pagdating ng panahon, babalikan ka nila kung may maganda kang nagawa for them. Mas gusto ko talagang tumulong sa mga aspiring beauty pageant contestants. Gusto ko silang nakikita na natutupad ang mga pangarap nila (Because if you help, when time comes, the people you helped return to you. And so I prefer helping beauty pageant contestants. I want to see them succeed).”
Today, aside from handling different beauty pageant talents, she is also a stage manager for the “Amazing Show”, a theatrical production that features beautiful and talented transgenders in the Philippines.
“Para sa mga aspiring at mga bagong transgenders, i–boost niyo ang self-confidence. Unang-una sa lahat, walang nilikha na pangit and Diyos. Tao lang ang nagbibigay ng meaning nito. Dahil kung hindi ngayon, kailan pa? At baka hindi ka na magkaroon ng pagkakataon pa (To aspiring and new transgender people, be confident. First of all, God didn’t create anything ugly. Only people refer to something as ugly. If you don’t act now, then when? You may not have other chance to act) ,” TL ended.