Still She Rises: The Eternal Sunshine State Of Marina Summers

Still She Rises: The Eternal Sunshine State Of Marina Summers


On the heels of her Drag Race Philippines journey, Marina Summers takes a look back at her unparalleled run, looking back at her victories, learning curves, and the spark that started it all.

Usually, when a fresh face in a certain circumstance stacks up surprising success, the rest of the players will wince, furrow their brows, and purse their lips before letting out a weighted exhale. While most chalk this up the stroke of good fortune to beginner’s luck, for Marina Summers, the baddest bitch in the game, she simply sees it as hard work. “Parang, anong ginawa kong maganda sa buong buhay ko para ma-deserve ‘to? But then again I always remind myself na, ‘you worked so hard and you deserve to be recognized and you deserve to be where you’re at,” she asserts when reflecting on her Drag Race Philippines journey. “I think that should be the mindset of every artist that they shouldn’t downplay themselves. They shouldn’t, you know, put themselves in a box na okay, ito lang ‘yung sinasabi ng tao na kayang kong gawin.”

With the level of passion and perfection that the world sees, it is surprising that she has only been indoctrinated to the colorful, compelling, and complex art of drag in 2017. Through RuPaul’s Drag Race and her beacon of beauty, Valentina, the young Filipino producer and performer was able to begin a process of introspection that ultimately led to the birth of Marina Summers. “Nung una passion lang siya. At the end of the day, after a very, very long day at work, I just want to put on makeup. Actually, 2019 nga ako nag-start mag-makeup, ganyan. Pero the more you immerse yourself to that idea, mas naglo-long ka for bigger things. So, sabi ko, okay, parang ‘di na enough na nagme-makeup lang ako sa kwarto, kailangan ko lumabas. And then the first time I did, I joined a competition. And then I won. Okay, so kaya ko mag-perform,” she details. “Tapos nung na-tick ko na ‘yung box na ‘yun, it kept growing. My love for drag kept growing and growing and growing. And until sumali ako ng Drag Cartel, regularly nagpe-perform ako every weekends while juggling ‘yung day job ko, and then, ito Drag Race PH happened, parang pataas lang nang pataas, palaki nang palaki ‘yung respeto ko sa drag at saka ‘yung possibilities that it could give me as an artist and as a person.”

Beyond the succession of triumphs, the biggest spark for Marina Summers was when, as a television producer, she did a story on the queens of Nectar Nightclub. “Siyempre as a queer writer, producer, you want to champion queer excellence,” she says. “Doon ako mas na-inspire na parang, okay, hindi lang siya fashion. Work din siya for a lot of people. It’s their means to put food on the table. Hindi ko siya nakita like that before. Akala ko fashion lang siya. Akala ko gusto ko lang siya gawin kasi gusto ko siyang gawin, pero for a lot of our local artists here in the Philippines, ‘yun ‘yung bread and butter nila. And ‘yun ‘yung naging parang AHA moment ko. Hala, possible pala siya na maging career. Possible pala siya na i-pursue na hindi lang sideline.”

The Marina Summers Show

Drag is many things—passion, persistence, and protest among others. But for Marina Summers, it is a progression of the paths paved by the torchbearers of the LGBTQIA+ community in the plight of true equality. “We may be running in a different generation, pero the goal is still the same: to champion queer excellence, to champion LGBTQIA+ visibility and rights, and I think ‘yun naman same goal naman every generation of queer artists. I’m very, very happy to be one of the few queens selected to be part of herstory to really shift things up not only for the drag community, but also for the queer community in the Philippines. Kasi ngayon, may nakakausap ako na mga magulang na. And then gradually na-e-explain namin ’yung SOGIE,” she shares. “It’s starting to spark conversations, you know, household to household. And I think that’s one of the most powerful things that drag has given to us this year: to spark conversations and really tap a bigger audience apart from the LGBTQIA+ community.”

While some may shy away from the advocacy and responsibility, Marina Summers is taking it head on. Apart from ensuring a brighter and better future for queer kids, this is a nod to her experience navigating being gay in the province. “My family didn’t force me to be someone else. They allowed me to be who I am. Pero siyempre society still has a normative standard para sa mga tao. Parang kapag sasa probinsiya ka at wala kang masyadong access sa gay community at sa LGBTQ+ culture…ako kasi bata pa lang ako, baklang bakla na ako,” she says. In her exploration of drag, Marina Summers has not only created an extension of her personality, but she has, in effect, really defined her truth and identity for the person it matters to: herself.

“The more na in-expose ko ‘yung sarili ko sa community, mas naiintindihan ko ‘yung sarili ko. Sinasabi ko nga, drag ‘yung naging way for me to find the extension of myself.”


“Actually, hindi nga extension of myself—who I really am eh. Na ‘yung matagal ko nang nire-restrict na idea of transforming into a different person is part of my SOGIE. Hindi siya mali. So, drag ‘yung naging way for me to be able to understand ano ba ‘yung SOGIE, ano ba ‘yung LGBTQIA+ community, ano ‘yung ipinaglalaban natin. Because of drag I was able to immerse myself with these things. ‘Yun din naging malaking tulong sakin ng drag. Siyempre bakla na ko ever since, may mas ibabakla pa pala ako. May mas maibabakla pa pala ako ng bonggang bonggang bongga.”

Queen Things Only

Today, Marina Summers has, of course, gotten greater acclaim and fame from her unparalleled run on Drag Race Philippines. While she may have not won the crown, she did win the hearts of many for her polish, professionalism, and personality. And yes, to anyone wondering, a Marina Summers playbook exists. “I was very strategic when I came into the competition. I knew the challenges that I have to work on a lot. I knew the challenges that I could slay. So, inuna ko ‘yung mga challenges that I know I’m gonna be not performing that well. I really took time to hone my improv skills, acting skills, and my comedy skills, because I don’t know shit about that. So, para kang naghahasa ng patalim. Parang okay, kaya na mang-cut ‘yan pero the more na hasain mo siya, mas matulis, mas nakakamatay,” she says in jest. “So, when I came into the competition, I knew I just have to do well, pero I know when to peak at the right time. I know sino ‘yung mga kakampihan ko, sino ‘yung mga hindi ko kakampihan. Well, parang third layer na siya. I know the first layer should be, I just, you know, show who I am as artist. Second is to do well. Third is the game plan, the game play. Parang ‘yun ‘yung driving force ko na i-a-apply ko dito itong game play na ito. Merong mga ganon eh, especially for like Snatch Game, improv challenges, writing challenges. Even back sa hotel I always like writing and writing and writing. Minsan may mga questions na papasok na utak ko, bigla ko na lang sinusulat ano isasagot ko para buo siya; buo ‘yung konsepto sa utak ko.”

This discipline, detail, and drive was not an in the moment occurrence. Instead, it was carved out by her years toiling as professional producer in the television and advertising industry. “Coming from the creative industry sabi ko, gagawin ko, si Marina ‘yung TV show ko, ‘yung film ko. Siya ‘yung isusulat ko. Siya ‘yung programa ko. Siya ‘yung artwork ko. She’s my story,” she quips, her eyes lighting up at every tumble of her words. “And at the back of my beautiful face, there’s this creative person na nag-iisip parati. Lalo na nung when I started doing drag professionally na talaga, naging vessel ko si Marina to push myself even more, create bigger things for my career.”

Not only did she know what would and would not work, but most importantly, she surrendered to the moment and just did it. And look at where that took her. Queen things, indeed.

The Sun Still Rises

In the span of our conversation, we were mere hours away from the crowning episode of Drag Race Philippines. While herstory unraveled the way it did, Marina Summers is taking the future in stride. Clearly, there are other destinies yet to be fulfilled, and at this point, things are just beginning for her and the rest of the queens of the inaugural season of the cultural zeitgeist.

“Hindi natatapos ‘yung race even after the show. I’m still gonna continue carrying that torch to champion queer talent, queer excellence—Filipino local talent to be specific. Not only here in the Philippines, but internationally,” she underscores.

“Right now I’m really focusing on the mainstream media, because that’s where we need to be, that’s where we ought to be. We need to take up space in every platform there is: there’s music, theater, film, TV. A lot of opportunities are starting to open up for the drag industry, so I’m really, really looking forward to that. I’m so excited!”

True to her point-of-view: she assures the Philippines and the mother-tucking world that just like the sun, she will rise. In the meantime, she is taking her time to bask in the glory of the moment. She has arrived, and this time, there is no turning back. But before she embarks on her next great adventure, which at this point of our chat meant adding the final touches to her glistening, golden face, Marina Summers turns sentimental and talks to her younger self.  

“I would thank him. I would thank that young dreamer for filling his heart with love and joy na nakukuha niya sa mga tao around him. I would like to thank him for being inspired to do great, to do bigger, to do things on a large scale. Kasi people will tell him, ‘you’re too much of a person for that. Ang laki mong tao. Ang dami mo gustong gawin. Ang dami mo gusto marating. Bakit ka ganyan?’ It’s going to be a rough journey, but it’s going to be worth it at the end of the fucking day. I just want to say thank you and I hope he’s proud of me. I hope he is.”

There is certainly no denying it: The future is very bright for Marina Summers. Just like what? The sun.

Art Direction BRIE VENTURA

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