28 December, 2012

A Woman of Virtue: The Real Essence Of A Transwoman

Cassandra Cass posing as a Virgin Mary like mother, San Francisco USA 2012 The Year 2012 2012 is one great year for me! Never got to travel in so many places all in one year! Looking back I really had to ask myself, how did I manage to do that? But of course, that would not be possible without the help of a lot of great new and old friends, and that’s something I am truly thankful for. Even before the start of 2012 I had already attracted this energy, this possibility to travel because I was running out of inspirations, I was getting burned out, I needed to go out and learn, get inspired. Series of opportunities to travel in Europe came knocking at my door in early February to do several photography workshops in Rome and Milan through an old friend Jon whom I used to work with at GMA 7. I came back home feeling accomplished, not just because I was able to impart my knowledge to fellow Filipino photographers in Italy but also because I had learned from them too. The second part of my journey was the United States, an exhibition that usually takes a year to plan came knocking at my door. I only had 3 months to prepare, I knew it was something i wanted, and i felt the need to grab this opportunity because I was not sure if it would come knocking on my door again. Exhibits in San Francisco and New York was something I only dreamed of, and it happened right in front of me like it was from a movie, I still could not believe that I had done all that up until now. 2012 is also the year which made Project Headshot Clinic a more global campaign, I am thankful for all of those who made it this big this year, and hoping to make it much bigger in the years to come. I am sharing you these stories because I want to inspire everyone that if we put our hearts and minds into something, we are actually attracting these positive energies that will help us achieve our aspirations and that there is nothing wrong with dreaming big. When we aspire, we are actually still attracting positive energies even when we are asleep, our subconscious minds are working even when you are resting. A Woman of Virtue This artwork is going to be the last artwork that I am going to share to the world this year! And I dedicate this to all of those who had helped me achieve my dreams this year. This is also my virtual pledge that 2013 will be a year of reaching out, helping others, giving back the blessings! Why this image? This image is made up of several photos which I have taken during my trips. The mother and child was shot in San Francisco at The Art Institute of California, the backgrounds were of 2 composite photographs which I took from Florence, Italy and Barcelona Spain. It would not have been possible too without the help of my friends for helping me put up this shoot most especially to Jethro, Cecilio, Alex and the beautiful Cassandra (and of course the baby!!!) The Real Essence Of A Transwoman If you are a fan of Miss Universe, you would know where I got this title from, yes, Sushmita Sen, but of course i had tweaked it to fit my topic. I had the privilege of working with a number of transwomen in the Philippines and in the US this year which is why the issues of our transwomen sisters are close to my heart. Below is a short Q and A with my friend Cecilio Asuncion who wrote and directed a documentary film called What’s the t? A documentary that explores the lives of transgender women. http://www.whatsthetfilm.com N: when did you conceptualize what’s the t? and what inspired you to do this? C: What’s the T was conceptualized a year ago and I wanted to do a film that celebrated the lives of transgender women. i was sick and tired of seeing them sensationalized on the Maury show or Jerry Springer. N: when did you first meet cassandra C: I met Cassandra at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. She performs at Harry Denton’s Starlight room and I was the Front Office Manager there at that time in 2006. Fast Forward to 2011, I accidentally bumped into her at DIVAS, a transgender bar, when I was scouting for the film and the rest is history. N: what was your first impression of her? Did that impression change over time? C: My first impression of Cassandra is that she is a character larger than life. Over the course of the shoot, my impression of Cassandra changed in the sense that while she has a very extroverted personality, underneath all the glamor, the sequins, the glitter, the feathers, she is simply a woman who has a dream. N: how is she different from the other girls? (in the film) C: All the women in “What’s the T?” are quite different from one another but other than her Double E breasts, Cassandra is the most driven woman I know (transgender or not). N: what do you like and not like about her? C: I adore Cassandra’s forthright behavior and candor. As a documentary film maker, Cassandra had no qualms about talking about anything. She is a documentarians dream subject. N: describe her in one word C: STAR N: making this film, how much of an understanding did this film give you towards transwomen? C: This film changed me completely but I sought out that change. I immersed myself in the transgender community by getting to know them in their bars, restaurants, community non-profit organizations. I have met a plethora of different transwomen and after a while, I simply saw them as women. No different than being around my mother, aunts, nieces or other female family members. N: what do you want your audience to learn from this film and from the girls? C: What’s the T?” is not an instructional video. I simply want people to watch the film and realize that these women are women. They are no different from us. They have aspirations, they have bad days, but as a general rule, these women’s lives should be celebrated if only for the resilience they have to keep going. N: what is the real essence of a transwoman to you? C: The real essence of a transwoman is that femininity is not a birthright, it is a creation. How one is born does not automatically dictate a person’s totality. It is how one treats oneself and the people around them that truly defines the essence of a transwoman, or any woman at that.