A finalist in the Miss Trans Global Philippines 2022 gained online attention after carrying a cloth onstage containing a political statement.
Zoe Black, who represented Bulacan in the beauty pageant, dressed as a Filipina revolutionary warrior in the regional costume portion.
She donned a white Filipiniana top, a red sash and a skirt accompanied by a bolo sheath on the side.
When Zoe reached the edge of the stage after her runway walk, she took out a makeshift bolo which revealed a fabric with the words: “NEVER AGAIN!”
Pictures of the portion were shared on Twitter, where Zoe was praised by some Filipinos for making a stand.
“No words. I’m just so proud of you. Salamat sa pagtindig sa kahit saan man tayo dinadala ng pagkakataon. I love you, sister,” a Twitter user said.
“True queen attitude. Titindig kahit saan,” another online user wrote.
“Loud and Proud! #NeverAgain,” a different Filipino tweeted.
Don Escover, who is behind Zoe’s scroll, shared that he is “more than proud” to be part of this statement costume.
“Maraming salamat sa paggamit ng platapormang ito para sa mas malaking laban natin. Proud of you, @mszoeblack,” he tweeted.
Miss saHHara, president of Miss Trans Global and founder of the TransValid.org, also praised Zoe in a Facebook comment.
“Queens like you are the reason why we started Miss Trans Global. I am so proud of you,” she wrote with emojis of hearts, raised hands, raised fists and folded hands.
Zoe shared that she chose to take the statement in the beauty pageant “because of the organization’s battle cry to change the patriarchal narrative of pageantry where beauty is purposive.”
“As an activist, this is my purpose. To bring the struggle in whatever spaces I take up. And however big social media, and the national stage and platform that Miss Trans Global PH gave us, the real struggle is still in the streets,” she wrote on Facebook.
“Our struggle as queer people is intersectional and is more than just gender equality alone. We have a bigger fight ahead of us and we need all the power we can get to topple the system that continues to silence and oppress us. Now more than ever, we say #NeverAgain #NeverForget. Power to the people!” Zoe added.
She is also a cultural head of Bahaghari, a national democratic organization of the LGBTQ+ community in the country.
“Never again,” also stylized as “#NeverAgain,” is a battle cry that was initially uttered by those who opposed former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s electoral bids in 2015, when he announced his candidacy for vice president.
He is now the frontrunner among the 2022 presidential candidates in the recent elections, based on partial and unofficial counts.
Apart from this, critics also use the statement to remember the late Ferdinand Marcos Sr’s implementation of Martial Law, which was marked by various human rights abuses and violations.
The period was also rife with curtailment of civil liberties, extrajudicial killings, unsolved disappearances, media oppression and economic recession, among others.
According to estimates from Amnesty International, the era saw 70,000 imprisonments, 34,000 people tortured and 3,200 killed.
“#NeverAgain” is also used to counter efforts of historical revisionism against Marcos Sr’s regime. These pertain to exaggerating his achievements and portraying his term as a “golden age” despite the deprivation during that time.