For many Filipinos, working abroad is more of a necessity than a desire. 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. Most undergo the big hustle, obliging to work long hours, 6 days a week with Sunday as their only free time.
Baby Ruth Villarama’s excellent Sunday Beauty Queen documents how many spend this one precious day of freedom. Usually, they meet up with fellow Filipinos, sharing words and smiles over food and drinks. It is through these gatherings that they are able to feel at home.
There is also a group of OFWs who organize an annual beauty pageant, open 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 desperately needed for their families’ expenses back home. For some, however, it’s simply an opportunity to become something more than what they are.
Sunday Beauty Queen is a poignant love letter to those who dare walk that extra mile for their loved ones. It is also a heartfelt tribute to our modern-day Cinderellas: women who personify humanity’s potential to become the best versions of ourselves.
Not a single second did the documentary dare to overdramatize the plights of its subjects: everything was handled with compassion, tact and respect. The film explores various issues embedded in the lives of those who work abroad, without any attempts at glorification.
Still, Sunday Beauty Queen is not about its heartbreaks. The documentary is all about breaking the mold – trying to prove to everyone that there’s more to our overseas workers than the sacrifices they make.