Less than two months prior to the staging of the dark-themed political play Halik ng Tarantula, BB Gandanghari told the press that taking on the character of Molina, a homosexual prisoner, was the boldest career step she has made so far.
The nudity and erotic scenes that the Pulitzer-winning play demanded posed a risk for the controversial transgender actress, who was once known in showbiz as the handsome and hunky Rustom Padilla.
Not that the public has particularly rebuked her new persona, but will this “risky” move pave the way for a deeper acceptance?
“Alam mo, it’s only a risk as far as my artistry is concerned,” BB told PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal).
“What my hopes are pag napanood ito is magustuhan lang ng tao— ‘Uy, ang ganda ng performance!’— not really an acceptance about, yung para ma-accept ako bilang si BB? Hindi.
“Pero kung ang mangyayari e, ‘Marunong palang umarte si BB,’ a, okay!”
Her precise aim, she said, is to present BB Gandanghari as a “working actress” who takes her craft seriously.
NEW PERSON. It has been five years since BB Gandanghari first came out on national television via the reality show Pinoy Big Brother, but the public still sees BB with a sense of wonder and peculiarity.
BB tells that there is no explanation as to why she had to change her name, unlike other celebrities such as international theater actress Monique Wilson, who recently admitted being lesbian yet retained her original name.
The way BB understands it, she expressed, “Kasi sa akin, parang sa Amerika, ang dami nang gumawa no’n, e.
“At hindi ito mga artista ha, mga totoong tao na nagpalit ng pangalan because they feel that their former name doesn’t represent them anymore.
“And if they can do that, why can’t I?”
The 45-year-old actress likewise pointed out that in the Bible, even the Apostle Paul underwent the same symbolical transformation. From the Saul who persecuted Christians, he was converted into Saint Paul, the greatest of the apostles.
BB went on, “I don’t wanna be biblical, but it’s the truth. It happened…
“They changed [their names]. Hindi siya bago at hindi siya masama ding gawin.”
LOVE. Acceptance, BB gets from love— as in the romantic kind.
In a January 7 interview, the actress confirmed that she finds inspiration in her Irish-American boyfriend. Asked if “he’s the one,” BB blushed and giggled, “Oh my god! Hindi pa siguro. Too early to tell!”
Part of what makes her current squeeze special is that he embraces her uniqueness.
“He’s seeing me from a different light,” BB said.
“He talks to me from a different perspective. Tapos, I also see him from my different world.
“Tapos very… walang kaso. Hindi ko nararamdaman na … I always feel, sabi ko nga, I always feel I’m very unique.
If anything, it's also the feeling of normalcy he gives the actress— “Parang sinasabi niya sa akin, ‘You are unique but you’re not that different,’ which a good feeling na binibigay niya sa akin.”
Will “love” influence or push her to undergo sex-change?
Not slighted by the question, BB firmly replied, “Oh no. Hindi. And it will never…”
Should it happen, the actress said that it will be a personal decision.
BB added, “Yun yung sinasabi sa akin nung psychologist na it shouldn’t be, at doon ako ingat na ingat, actually.”
PSYCHING UP. “I’m taking my first step. This is [it] actually. It’s really a long process,” BB relayed when asked if she has firmed up her decision to undergo a sex- change operation.
For the longest time, the actress has been hounded by such questions regarding the matter. The innuendo about a sex reassignment has put BB through redundant interviews that inquired about the same topic.
“The psychological process is really very long.”
BB, who has sought professional guidance, was advised to “take it easy,” to “take it just as long as kung anong nararamdaman mo,” and to “just go with the flow.”
The actress admitted that seeing her psychologist has immensely helped her take in every change she is going through.
“I used to talk about it before. Not to mislead people, but only because hindi siya talaga... kasi nga hindi mo alam pa kung anong mangyayari.
“It is a very psychological thing. Yun ang laging sinasabi sa akin.
“That’s why now, after namin makapag-usap, now I’m ready to talk about it kasi noon talaga, sarado ako because hindi ko nga alam ang sasabihin ko.”
COMFORTABLE. The process has taught BB to be comfortable with her body— “Parang ako kasi pinagbibigyan ko lang ang katawan ko to develop the way it should develop.
“Go with the flow. Parang ... I enjoy my body now. Nawala nga after yung mga insecurities ko after.”
It's as if BB’s just undergoing puberty or in Tagalog, “nagdadalaga.”
The actress got giggly at the comment.
She smiled, “E, talaga naman! Chos!”
But it’s true, BB takes back. “Sabi nga nila, hindi pa ako nagkaka-boyfriend... sabi ko, totoo.
“Kasi during the past four years, kinikilala ko lang rin ang sarili ko bilang si BB.
“Kaya totoo yung sinsabi ko na ‘Rustom is dead,’ it’s only because iba talaga. Ako nga mismo, hindi ko pala talaga kilala ang sarili ko.”
BB said that she does not keep old photos of Rustom: “Wala na. Totally. As in.”
The actress even joked, “Sumalangit nawa ang kanyang kaluluwa!”
KEEPING THE FAITH. BB reckons that a sex change is not going to happen anytime soon. At the moment, she is taking “baby steps.”
She admitted that in the process, faith is key.
“I don’t wanna sound spiritual. Pero kasama pala yun. When you do baby steps, you have to have faith in your God.
“In making this kind of decision, contrary to what people believe that ‘Ay naku, nagkaganyan 'yan kasi wala nang paniniwala sa Diyos!’
“Actually, it takes a lot of faith to make a decision.
“[I] constantly pray na each day will be a better one.”
People like her who are going through the same process are prone to making mistakes. It’s okay, BB says, so lang as one holds on to his faith.
“Madadapa ka— baby steps nga, e! Kaya importante yung may kapit ka sa faith para kahit madapa ka, alam mong hindi ka gi-give up, di ba?
“Kasi madaling gumive up [give up]. Isang dapa, e ‘bata’ ka nga, ang hirap bumangon.
“Pag hindi ka na makabangon, ang tendency, ayaw mo na. So, don’t give up!
“So, masakit yung mga bagsak and [there] will be a lot kasi you’re learning to walk.
“But once you start walking, you’ll realize it’s all worth it.”