J Pilapil Jacobo
The predicament of depicting the lives of Filipina transgender women has been addressed in contemporary Philippine cinema. Films like Isabel Sandoval’s Señorita (2011), Adolf Alix’s Porno (2013), Eduardo Roy, Jr.’s Quick Change (2014), and even Jun Lana’s Die Beautiful (2016), have all dealt with trans as a mode of becoming where the political could be accessed as a rubric of resistance precisely because there remains the trouble of transgender as the difference within difference, or even against it.
Gerardo Calagui’s Mga Gabing Kasinghaba ng Hair Ko (Those Long-Haired Nights) (2017) does not exactly pursue the gains that have been earned by our current transgender filmography. There is nothing productive in repeating the tragedy of transgender employment in the flesh trade, and restating the concomitant involvement of the trans figure in the traffic of drugs within an erotics of the neoliberal scheme.
As well, the queerness of cisgender men portraying trans sufferance can only point out certain entitlements in an industry where gender is a topic but whose performative significance is never engaged through conditions of performance. Acting is merely understood as vehicular; one performs to craft a persona, and invent one’s signature of actressing.
Screengrab from Mga Gabing Kasinghaba ng Hair Ko‘s screener
Notwithstanding its inability to be conscious of the discourse that is preventing its form to speak through the habits of transgender spectacle, Mga Gabi’s narrative somehow allows trans to articulate the terms of its difficult passage. The long night that stages the seeming disparity of trans lives becomes the duration in which the solidarity of transgender difference can be intimately realized. Perhaps, one can intuit trans time in such a premise.
The form of the vignette must endure violence, as it plays the wound out; and the life of pain that is told within that episode can only be, if it can be precise, the moment of its own restitution. This kind of transit is somehow singularly embodied by Anthony Falcon, whose beauty does not pretend it can resist its own dynamism, after all manner of breakdown. We revel in their irresistibility.