The film is a deconstruction of how the world perceives beauty, happiness and dreams through the point of view of a local beauty pageant organized by migrants in a foreign land.
To feel like a beauty queen in whatever form is every woman’s desire. We capture both physical and emotional senses of a woman through visual representations and its synecdoche. Along the way, we capture life, love, sacrifices and longing.
On Sunday, Cherrie, 29, joins thousands of Filipino women commuting to Chater Garden, Central Station of Hong Kong MTR to take a sweet day-off from the week's hard life. Sunday is freedom day.
They flock in thousands, almost congesting the city's tram stations to accommodate the hordes of women living their 24-hour independence.
While there are posh coffee houses and restaurants available, Cherrie and her friends gather underneath the subways, in rented carton mattress chanting non-stop as if it’s their first time to talk in years.
Leo (formerly Noemi) is the mastermind behind this pageant. Working for more than three decades in HK, Leo knows almost all faces and corners of the city.
Cherrie, Mylyn and other candidates would search the best bargains in Hong Kong for their gowns and shoes. They will try to rehearse their dance numbers in between their Cinderella duties. Together with the others, they will create their Sunday fairy tale.
And the one who has the most number of votes, best talent, costumes and answers for the Q&A wins.
But everything must end at 7 pm. As the clock strikes 8, they must return to their buildings to be slaves again.
In a recent trip to Hong Kong, I had the opportunity to sit down with the Philippine Consulate with representatives from the Hong Kong government. More than 250,000 registered migrant Filipino workers are in Hong Kong. With USD 500 monthly salary, these Filipino women manage to provide for an entire family back home. I am personally moved by how our domestic helpers spend their years struggling to balance selflessness and survival in a foreign land.
The Beauty pageant held annually is their day of reckoning, their Cinderella transformation to be someone special even for just a day. But this dream and illusion of beauty come with a price.
I find their plight a microcosm of my own country or perhaps a lot of women around the world on how we adhere to the promise of beauty no matter the cost.