BB: Ready to face the world
In a lot of ways, it feels like graduation day for BB Gandanghari, as she welcomes a whole new world of possibilities.
It has been six years since she first emerged in the local scene as BB Gandanghari, making a splash with her reinvention as a proud transgender woman.
For sure, it was not an easy journey at all, BB admits.
For years, she recalled, she tried to fit in as a straight man, as Rustom Padilla—heartthrob and action star.
In 2006, she first owned up as a gay man on the reality show “Pinoy Big Brother” and went on to win an Urian best actor for “Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah Ze Moveeh” the following year.
In 2009, she stunned the public once again, with her stunning transformation as svelte and statuesque BB Gandanghari.
Although she feels she has finally attained freedom and self-acceptance, she would often find herself grappling with difficult questions—which she sought to answer away from the limelight, by living a relatively more serene life in the United States.
As an androgynous model in New York, she would sometimes encounter the ugly reality of discrimination.
“I welcomed it,” she said of the intolerance. “I knew that it came with the territory. It made me more certain of my decision.”
When she heard of the Valkyrie incident concerning transgender Veejay Floresca who was not allowed entry to the local bar, her interest was piqued. “This is a tricky issue, but as far as I am concerned, this is not about gender preference, but about gender sensitivity,” she pointed out. “This controversy teaches us to be more sensitive and more aware of other people’s rights.”
Which led her to the landmark decision of the US Supreme Court, allowing gay marriage across the land.
“I am for marriage equality,” she said. “I’ve seen gay couples who were together for 30 years, but when one of them got sick, the partner didn’t even have the legal right to visit him in the hospital.”
She could only hope that these rays of enlightenment would reach Philippine shores.
“We still have a long way to go. Is it because we are a predominantly Catholic country? But so is Ireland and it approved same-sex marriage,” she said. “At least, now we are talking about it. Sooner or later. I hope change would come.”
In her own personal struggles, BB was fully aware that it was easier to give up, but she was no quitter. The hardships, and there were plenty, only affirmed her decision to face the world head on.
With the clarity and wisdom earned from living life with no regrets, she can now say that she has learned a lot from her ongoing journey as a transgender woman.
“I am very comfortable in my own skin now,” she said. “I am ready to begin a new chapter in my life, on my own, on my own terms.”
Career-wise, she is going solo, taking care of business on her own.
After working with her brothers Robin Padilla and Rommel Padilla in the TV5 sitcom “2 1/2 Daddies,” she is cooking up solo projects with Beehive Idea Garage Co.
She recently partnered with Beehive to handle her career as well. Those who are interested in tapping BB for projects can email: firstname.lastname@example.org
BB has a slew of exciting concepts in the works.
The pro-active artist that she is, she will not wait around for an offer, she will create worthwhile projects for herself and other performers on stage and on the big and small screens. “Beehive is a studio that will create tailor-fit concepts for producers, networks and artists.”
To prepare for this new chapter in her life and career, BB has been working on her own skills, expanding her repertoire of talents.
“I studied arnis, kickboxing, aerial yoga, ballet,” she related. “I even took up motorcycle riding.”
She recalled that, while doing the TV5 fantasy series “Enchanted Garden,” she was asked to do a fight scene.
“I enjoyed myself and realized that I can perform my own stunts if needed,” she said.
Will BB reinvent herself again as an action queen?
After all, BB is a pioneer in the truest sense of the word.
Long before Hollywood sensation Laverne Cox made waves and landed on the cover of Time magazine for “Orange is the New Black,” BB was already out and about, carrying the banner of transgenders in the Philippine entertainment scene.
Long before former Olympian Bruce Jenner’s makeover as Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair, BB was already being true to herself, speaking boldly on previously taboo subjects.
Unlike other celebrated transgenders, she didn’t resort to expensive cosmetic surgeries to attain her dream, though.
She opted to do it the natural way, working out assiduously and losing over 50 pounds of muscle as a result.
The world will surely benefit from BB’s story of integrity, authenticity, discipline and perseverance. Other young transgenders will surely learn a lot from her story.
Will a talk show be an option as well?
Will BB go for international stardom, too?
Now that she is ready to face the world, the sky is the limit for BB.