For many Filipinos, working abroad is more of a necessity than something they want in the first place. To be physically distant from loved ones – to spend months and even years alongside a community with different sets of values, culture, and principles – is oftentimes a sacrifice that never gets rewarded.
A large chunk of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) can be found in Hong Kong working as professional helpers (it was reported that the count is over 190,000). All of them undergo the big hustle, obliging to work 24 hours a day for 6 days a week with Sunday usually as their only free time.
Baby Ruth Villarama’s excellent Sunday Beauty Queen documents how most of them spend this precious day of freedom. Usually, they meet up with fellow Filipinos to make themselves feel like they’re at home in the Philippines, sharing words and smiles over food and drinks.
There is also a group of OFWs who organize an annual beauty pageant limited only to the Filipino community in Hong Kong. For a single day in a year, this is their big highlight. Contestants join because of the cash prize, something that might be useful to their families’ expenses back home. But for many, it was an opportunity to be bigger than who they are.
Sunday Beauty Queen is a poignant love letter to these people who dared to go beyond the extra mile for their loved ones. It is also a heartfelt tribute to our modern-day Cinderellas – the women who personify our humanity’s tendencies to become the best we can be.
Not a single second did the documentary dared to overdramatize the plights of its subjects as everything was handled with as much compassion and respect. It was also able to explore various issues embedded in every Filipino working abroad without any attempts of glorification.
But Sunday Beauty Queen is not about its heartbreaks. The documentary is all about breaking the mold – all about trying to prove to everyone that there’s more to our overseas workers than just their sacrifices.