The Houses That Built Rising Drag Star Zymba Ding

The Houses That Built Rising Drag Star Zymba Ding


Zymba Ding’s biological and chosen family’s influences are integral to her growth, evolution, and success

Any person’s current portrayal of self is the culmination of a lifetime of experiences rooted in their early upbringing. Before Zymba found her chosen family and became the fierce, fearless, and ferocious drag queen, she was a dancer back in high school. I prodded more about how she discovered drag. “My family is very musically inclined,” she said. “They sing, and they have a band.” 

zymba ding

Zymba came from a very religious family that dedicated their lives to their church. Her mom was a preacher and her brother was the music director. Since she didn’t sing and her dancing wouldn’t be used in that setting, she was tasked to play the drums or the tambourine. She always felt different and had a burning desire for individuality. “Hindi ako worldly dahil ako ay taong bahay, taong church. I’m gay but never had a coming-out story. My queerness wasn’t tolerated nor accepted, only restricted,” she confesses. 

zymba ding

“My ate was the turning point of everything. She was very religious. Siya ‘yung nagdala sa’min sa church. Siya ‘yung nag-ga-guide talaga sa’min sa bahayano’ng dapat gawin, this and that. Hindi niya ako pinapayagang mag-drag. I met Brigiding in August of last year, and then ate had cancer.” This was when she became an assistant to Brigiding during the wave of Drag Race Philippines Season 1. She kept this job hidden from her family.

Due to her illness, Zymba’s sister unfortunately passed away. “I didn’t know what to do,” she says as memories of pain and confusion come flashing back so fast. “Never niya ko natanggap at never niya naintindihan ‘yung drag. Never ko siya napa-proud. Pa’no na ‘to?” 

chosen family

Parang ang naging nangyari sa pagkawala ni ate, bigla akong naging free,” she says with both hands raising outward like open wings. Having said that, Zymba doesn’t want the circumstance to be likened with the phrase, “nabunutan ng tinik.” “Siya ang life ko. Lahat ng natutunan ko about life, I learned from her. I would trade her life sa success na meron ako ngayon. Ayoko [‘yung idea] na dahil sa pagkawala niya, nag-boom ako.”

Drag then became Zymba’s coping mechanism. She made her drag debut a few months after her sister’s passing and received praise, yet admitted that the most important approval will forever be beyond reach.

drag community

As queer people, we often find a chosen family outside our biological ties that genuinely gets us, guides us, and helps us flourish as our true selves. 

Meet Zymba Ding’s chosen family, the children of the Bright House of Ding: Felicia and Bomba

What’s the best thing about being in the Ding family?

Felicia Ding: “My Ding family has always been my strength and always will. The support we give each other is unbelievable. Ang sarap isipin na I have a chosen family and a safe space.”

Bright House of Ding

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Bomba Ding: “The word ‘family’ itself. Here in the House of Ding, Mama Brigiding really treats us as her drag daughters. We eat, watch movies, talk about life, attend parties, and solve problems together. The House of Ding is not just a drag house; it also serves as a haven or a place where we can hone and foster our own artistry, not just in drag, but also in our endeavors. For example, ate Zymba’s modeling path and my dance career.”

How do you support each other while creating a performance?

Bomba Ding: “There is an ongoing tradition in our drag house that I think is very helpful and conducive to our performances. Before a drag event or a performance, we perform our number in front of our whole drag family. We watch each other’s performances and critique them. After watching the practice performance, we give each other our notes, comments, and other pointers on improving our performances.”

Felicia Ding

Felicia Ding: “During breakfast, lunch, dinner, and sometimes while eating snacks at midnight, we talk about our future plans for our performance, we share knowledge and suggestions. The fun part is doing the number in front of everyone so everyone can give comments and tips. 

Describe your drag sisters in three words

Bomba Ding: “Talented! Fierce! Promising!”

Felicia Ding: “Bold! Excellent! Stubborn!”

Bomba Ding

How do you support each other outside of drag?

Bomba Ding: “We support each other by simply being there for one another when someone needs company or when one of us just needs someone to talk to. We are trying to remain a family even in our out-of-drag lives. Mama Brigiding and Tatay Kevin support us in our other endeavors outside drag. It’s very helpful to us sisters that we can stay, eat, relax, and sleep in their place. 

Felicia Ding: “I personally help them with other goals that they want to pursue in their lives. For example, Zymba wants to get into modeling, and I always help her at shoots, audition reels, and other stuff. Bomba is chasing his dreams of cultural dancing. As their sister, I always make sure that I encourage and celebrate them for their wins.”

Photos: BRIGHT HOUSE OF DING (via Instagram)

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