Menagerie Strike a pose: Celebrating LPEP’s grand return at the CHOWL
Menagerie Strike a pose: Celebrating LPEP’s grand return at the CHOWL
Strike a pose: Celebrating LPEP’s grand return at the CHOWL
April 1, 2022
April 1, 2022

By day, it’s the good, old Henry Sy Sr. Hall (HSSH); but by night, the gagatondra begins.

As the sun sets, technicolored lights sparkle to give life into the darkness. Hands clap, fingers snap, and a cacophony of laudations harmonize together to form a symphonic rally. The night’s emcee—Emmy-winner Billy Porter who portrayed Pray Tell in the TV series Pose—teases the crowd for the night’s festivities. All of a sudden, the lights go black; a catwalk slowly emerges from below the Cory Aquino Democratic Space as heart-thumping music accommodates the gag of the century. Start your engines, dawlings; the Children of Lozowl (CHOWL) ball is about to begin!

Inspired by Pose and reality competition show RuPaul’s Drag Race, the Lasallian Ambassador (LAMBs) are ready to dish out a one-of-a-kind Lasallian Personal Effectiveness Program (LPEP) experience. “Dahil nga ito ‘yung unang face-to-face [LPEP] ng DLSU since the pandemic, we wanted to make sure that we foster a sense of community and pride to students, like the ballroom culture in New York City,” CHOWL co-project head Mary Tessa Calateira McMichaels (III, AB-LZL) recalls.

(Because this is DLSU’s first face to face LPEP…)

Rrrrra-ka-ta-tussy-ta-ta. Yeah, I’m amazing [redacted]. Ooh-la-la-la-la-la-la. C’est bon, c’est bon.

Balls to the walls

One may scratch their heads as to why the ball would be a feasible concept for LPEP. However, CHOWL co-project head Bernie Dupree Paris-Mugler Vandergowl (II, IE-IT) believes that it can expose students to queer cultures, encouraging them to unapologetically be themselves within the University. “It’s exciting to see how inklings of my community’s culture are translated into Lasallian culture,” they profess, promising that CHOWL will be interactive and educational for future Lasallians.

For instance, in the grand tradition of the documentary film, Paris is Burning, the HSSH Learning Commons and Library tour will return. “During the library tour,” Vandergowl continues, “may challenge where each block must read the designated LAMBs stationed at each floor to filth.” This part of the program—the project head hopes—may allow students to know more about the history of the library while being immersed in the art of throwing shade.  “It’ll be so realistic that everybody will have that rukukukuku moment they’ve been waiting for,” McMichaels adds.

“But when night falls, that’s where the real fun begins,” she shares, hinting that students may need to bring it to the runway. Indeed, she boasts that LAMBs successfully requested for a 10-meter runway that can be hidden underneath the grounds only for it to rise in use. “When we pitched to Sir Maralit (Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities Management) he gave us the go signal because there was actually space beneath [HSSH]. I think it was after they found the cats’ cult,” she continues.

Both project heads envision that each block would have representatives to walk in different runway categories. While the list of categories cannot be revealed as of press time, Vandergowl teases prompts like “ayced cwofee elegownzuh”, “sent to the SDFO realness”, and “sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeshkirikakirikakow” for froshies to prepare as early as now.

With all of this in mind, the ball could be the University’s grandest opening in years. But how could they cap off CHOWL’s goopery? “With an interblock, lip-sync lollapalooza eleganza extravaganza spectacularia,” McMichaels discloses, implying that students will lip sync for their lives to avoid sashaying away. “Our very own froshies get to perform, without singing of course! It’s a lip-sync, what part of that would they not understand?” she posits.

A ball is a haven

Sadly, reports of future Lasallians being exposed to leaks about CHOWL were reported after members of the Mari-Union organization posted their heresays on Twitter. “Upon hearing this year’s plans for the event [through] Marisol, I was so thrilled about the idea,” Diamond Davenport Iman Ambie So-Sia (I, BXSA) professes as she awaits her LPEP schedule. So-Sia even shares that students began preparing for the event to avoid “getting our wigs snatched.”

While the project aims to celebrate new students, McMichaels and Vandergowl reveal that the idea came from a place of wanting to cultivate a community that knows one another already. “I know how hard it is to not have a solid support system,” Vandergowl admits, citing their personal experience of being outcasted by their relatives for being queer. “Gusto namin mag-foster ng inclusive and supportive environment para sa lahat.” McMichaels—who has been a part of the ball community herself—hopes CHOWL can “create [a community filled with] love and acceptance.”

(We wanted to bring an inclusive and fun welcoming for everyone.)

In addition, the goal to level up this year’s CHOWL is also backed by the necessity to yassify the campus while making it sustainable. “We noticed with events like Animusika na may entablado, pero walang boom pow pow shakalaka skrrrrt rah rah rah—if y’all know what I’m sayin’, hunty. With a runway that’s especially made for CHOWL, mai-ensure na well-maintained ang project as it can be used for future events,” McMichaels describes.

(We noticed that with events like Animusika, there would be a stage but it’s lackluster without any burst of life.)

Ultimately, LAMBs hope that the University ball could also encourage other schools to organize their balls. McMichaels emphasizes that while such efforts contribute to the yassification of university campuses nationwide, she also imagines “a network of safe spaces where everyone can have fun, be themselves, and just be loved for who they are” by having university ball chapters around the country. “With these balls, [just remember] to be yourself and to live in the moment,” Vandergowl adds.

A trophy to take home

With multiple events in store, McMichaels and Vandergowl assure that the fun doesn’t end there. Those who served the runway will also be awarded with their own choice of acrylic nails to be designed by the “Queen of Bling” herself, Jenny Bui. To give them that boost, style, and energy, they are given nails to embody what it means to be yassified,  clapping their fingernails in unison to rectify the symbol of true campus yassification. “We know we’re going to see baddies through these activities, and we want to make sure they’re yaaasifyingly unified to let that shine even after CHOWL,” McMichaels hopes.

Despite all the events in store, the project heads emphasize that the DLSU community is their family. Along with the staff and administration, they want to ensure that the community fosters a safe space for Lasallians, old or new. “Sabi nila na ang buhay, nagsisimula sa college,” So-Sia opines. “I really am hoping that we get to have the family we all deserve and need for the rest of our University lives,”

(They say that life starts at college.)

While the fun and avant-garde activities highly excite the students for the campus reopening, LAMBs also hopes CHOWL would be an event that makes them feel at home. As Vandergowl notes, “We made a lot of effort to bring out a different kind of bond, one that lasts not just during the CHOWL, but forever.”