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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

RS Francisco walks the talk with ‘Rampa’

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In an intimate interview last month, award-winning actor and entrepreneur RS Francisco shared that he has always dreamt of creating a sanctuary for the LGBTQIA+ community. This dream, conceived even before the pandemic, materialized in February this year when Rampa, Quezon City’s first-ever drag club, opened its doors to the public.

A few Friday nights ago with some friends, I found myself singing a mix of old and recent hits at the top of my lungs. This was while I was chugging down a glass of water flavored with a little lemon juice from what was supposed to be a chaser for tequila. Known among my friends as the introvert, non-alcoholic drinker, and homebody who would rather Netflix and chill than party, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and felt safe and comfortable in the place with a diverse group of people.

Rampa is the first drag club in Quezon City

Rampa, which literally means “walk down the catwalk,” is now loosely used as an expression to refer to “the walk into the party scene.”

As a brand, Rampa in Quezon City is more than just a club. It has become a stage where everyone, especially the LGBTQIA+ community, can shine.

In RS’ own words, “Rampa is a club I had in my mind even before the pandemic. I wanted to give the LGBTQIA+ a safe space where they can be celebrated, where they can be themselves, where they are celebrated themselves.”

“I really want to have a safe space here in Quezon. City,” RS shared in a mix of Tagalog and English, emphasizing his desire to establish a place where the community feels empowered and celebrated. “Sometimes, being part of the community myself, I feel like a minority in a place, an event or an occasion. I want to give them a space where they can be the stars,” the passionate advocate and businessman explained.

“That is also why I coined the term rampa because it’s like slaying or working it. When you’re there, rumampa ka [You slayed], you’re the star,” RS added.

The journey to creating Rampa was not without its hurdles. After initially facing resistance or doubts from others in the planning stage, RS’ determination and passion for the project eventually prevailed. He elaborated, “I had to lobby. It was hard to push for my agenda for the LGBTQIA+ community. But I pushed hard and in 2023, I told myself, I won’t stop. I said that by the end of 2023 or early 2024, I already need to create a safe space for the community. So, on February 17, 2024,  Rampa was launched.”

While Rampa is known for its eye-catching drag performances, RS emphasized that the club welcomes everyone. “You’ll see how safe and welcome you’ll feel when you’re there. Each of us is a star there. We can all rampa. We are all celebrated.”

To ensure a truly inclusive environment, Francisco and his team have taken significant steps to educate the staff about LGBTQIA+ issues and SOGIE (sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression). RS said it was made possible by the help of Paulo Castro and Darryl Reciña, the names he referred to as experts in LGBTQIA+ and SOGIE matters. They conducted orientation sessions with the staff and performers.

“I’ll be honest with you, even I, as a member of the community, I still get a little confused at times. I don’t want to pretend that I know everything. I don’t want to claim authority when it comes to the subject matter so we got experts,” RS admitted. “Our members, bartenders, staff, bouncers, they know how to properly deal with customers and address situations, even our drag performers. We made sure that everyone is properly oriented with SOGIE to avoid issues.”

Rampa features show-stopping drag performances to foster a fun and empowering time to all its guests

“The bottom line is always respect,” RS emphasized, as he further discussed the inclusivity Rampa wishes to promote. “ How you see yourself, I respect that. As long as you’re not stepping on anyone’s toes, you’re not doing anything illegal, you’re not taking advantage of others, I respect you.”

The stage is lit up by the star power of drag performers, including Drag Race Philippine alumni Precious Paula Nicole, Brigiding, and Viñas De Luxe, collectively known as the Divine Divas. Rampa’s lineup also takes pride in the performances by Kiari, Katana, Neenja, Bomba Ding, Zymba Ding, and a lot more.

These days, Rampa stands as the manifestation of RS Francisco’s artistic vision, compassion, and love. Following his recognition for acting stints and establishment of a multilevel business empire, success does not come as a shock. RS effortlessly slays through it all by walking his talk.

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