Seat at the Table: Queen Mathilda Airlines on Identity, Advocacy, and Social Change

Jul 1, 2024 0 comments

When the scornful gaze and unfiltered opinions of people merge, it can be quite challenging to step forward and become one’s solidified voice. However, as our favorite pole-spinning queer activist graces us with her eloquence in an exclusive interview with Metroscene, we get to see how Queen Mathilda Airlines fares in today’s time and how she navigates the world with grace and compassion while staying authentic to her craft and advocacies.

Known for her quirky and iconic swirling stunts that went viral all over the internet, Queen Mathilda surely knows how to capture the audience’s attention. But aside from this entertaining side of hers, what people should really look out for from this queen is her consistent drive and passion to serve as a voice for the community, proving that she truly is a queen with a purpose.

In a society where there is a constant fight against censorship and disinformation, it is integral to note how our voices truly matter in this day and age. Having this insightful conversation with Queen Mathilda herself, we get a glimpse into her journey, the advocacies she upholds, what sets her apart from other content creators, and what pushes her to continue serving the people by being outspoken on both local and global issues.

In this year’s pride issue of Metroscene, seated at the same table with other queens whose voices are amplified and whose causes are highlighted, join us as we revisit our entertaining yet enlightening chat with Queen Mathilda Airlines!

Meet the Queen before the Take-Off

Granted the opportunity to have a one-on-one interview with the queen herself, one can truly sense her strength and refinement just by sitting there while she has her makeup done. With a composed image, it was no surprise that her answers were packed with eloquence and articulacy. Her responses were short but striking, allowing us to grasp the core of her calls and advocacies easily. When asked to describe herself in three words, she replied, “an activist, queen, and compassionate,” a perfect example of a short yet striking response, isn’t it?

When it comes to content creation, what makes Mathilda Airlines unique among the rest is that she isn’t afraid to delve into serious topics and talk about pressing issues inside and outside the country. Once you delve deep into her content, you'll find a perfect fusion of entertainment and education that entices you as she utilizes her platform very effectively. When asked what sets her apart from other content creators, she first lightened the mood with a joke, saying, “Ako kaya kong lumipad. Period.” But what truly sets her apart is her initiative to become politically active and her urge to act upon her principles. She believes that her edge lies in her deep understanding and perception of different societal situations. Coming from various social movements and organizations, she knows when to speak and stand by her ideals. She also emphasized that while many creators want to be socially aware, only a few are willing to be politically active, and Queen Mathilda isn’t one to disappoint.

As we introduced our concept for this year’s pride issue with the theme “taking a seat and making your voice be heard,” Queen Mathilda expressed her enthusiasm about the concept. She even provided her own analysis, where the table symbolizes the society we live in and the chairs represent different sectors. She shared how deserving queer people are of that seat at the table, molded by various struggles and by society itself. Without a doubt, the queer community should claim that seat, as the queen would say, “I think everyone deserves that seat, especially the queer community right now because for how many thousands of years, we have been fighting for freedom, we have been fighting for uhm patriarchy… the queer community especially right now deserves that seat, deserves to be at the forefront of fighting and amplifying voices for everyone’s rights, because SOGIE isn’t just imprisoned in the concept of the queer community, but it is for everyone.” Upon hearing these answers, we can finally know who Mathilda Airlines is—an icon one should definitely look out for and is called a queen for a reason!

What Lies Beneath Her Calls

Of course, her journey did not come easily despite growing up in a very supportive and loving home. Guided by her parents, her “kakampi sa buhay” as she would call them, there was absolutely no question about her sexuality and gender identity when it comes to their home, making it quite difficult for her to give advice to others when asked about coming out of the closet kind of advice. “They are very supportive kaya nga struggle din ako magbigay ng advice doon sa mga nagtatanong na… ‘paano po yong mga gustong mag out of their closet, so nahihirapan akong… hala pano ba to kasi sa magandang uhm… binigay na energy ng universe eh hindi ko siya naging struggle.” she said.

However, as she steps foot into the outside world, this is where the real struggle meets her. It is undeniable how strong the forces are outside the community that are responsible for the countless judgments and scrutiny against the LGBTQIA+, so when we asked “How hard is it to be queer living in the Philippines?”, she responded that there may be no parameters on how hard it is to be queer living in the Philippines. “Parang walang parameter eh no? Parang di mo siya masusukat don. Kasi parang, kung sa bahay na hindi… hindi challenge sa akin yong pagiging queer, sa labas oo kasi lipunan na yon eh. Talagang iba yong ididikta sayo…” Being in a deeply rooted hetero-patriarchal society, it becomes a huge challenge for the colorful community to live and go about their everyday lives because of the pervasive negative perception imposed and dictated by society. This is why Queen Mathilda never misses an opportunity to be vocal about her advocacies as she continues to fight for the community’s rights and freedom, and not to mention her utmost concern and call for the country’s sovereignty as well. A true queen indeed!

Own Your Narrative

This queen definitely slays and most importantly cares! Queen Mathilda Airlines also amazes people with her passion for battling alongside various sectors and their respective causes. Unbeknownst to others, being an advocate also comes with difficulties, especially when talking about one’s main advocacy. Given the number of people who are abused and oppressed, being an advocate cannot be restricted to one cause; multiple advocacies must be fought for; just like what Queen Mathilda said, "You care for everything!"

Queen Mathilda might have admitted that while she does not have specific advocacy, women are close to her heart since she takes part in the socialist feminist movement, which is equally concerned with gender development and good governance.

Even before becoming the popular TikTok content creator that we know today, she had already been working as an activist in oppressed and marginalized sectors of women, children, LGBTQ+ members, and informal settlers for 5 years. Ms. Mathilda, as the voice of the community, now has the influence and platform, one who became an exemplary model who makes good use of her platform by bringing the campaigns online.

Recently, she has been actively posting informative videos regarding both international issues of conflict between Palestine and Israel and the West Philippine Sea dispute between China and the Philippines. Queen Mathilda takes a direct and outspoken stance in her support of Palestine. Her videos also contain clips of her attending events and even joining supply missions for fishermen in Zambales.

Apart from seeing that people actively sought out and supported the campaigns, the strong desire to be the voice of the community was sparked by the reality that today's society that we live in was being submerged in various narratives. These competing narratives are inevitable, in which the most believable according to the majority will prevail. That's why she felt the urge to act on the calling of journalism and storytelling as she believes that “....hindi ko mabibigyan ng hustisya kung sasayangin ko lang yung storya ng taong to.”

Declaring and Choosing Your Battles

In this generation, being a popular influencer with advocacy is not a free pass from prejudice and mistreatment in society. Ms. Mathilda revealed in our interview that she has also experienced a lot of discriminatory acts from other people. This same situation goes for many people in society who cannot voice out their grievances or bad experiences. Despite it all, she chooses her battles. Like the Queen that she is, she knows when to demonstrate the 'art of dedma' and most importantly the exact time to talk and educate.

Truth be told, in this society, the danger she may face every time she is being vocal with her thoughts and opinions is no joke. But fear not as this queen embodies a brave and determined soul who is willing to take a stand and fight for a better society for everyone. As an advocate for 5 years, she has already received numerous death threats, not because she is queer, but because she is outspoken about what is going on in the government. When she was asked what pushed her to continue taking a stand despite countless threats she could receive, she said “...hangga’t buhay pa ako diba, hanggat buhay tayo, we have to amplify our voices kasi hindi lang naman ako yung ganito, so kailangan ko ring hanapin yung mga may shared values, may collective visions para sa pangarap nating lipunan.“ Queen Mathilda on Digital Footprints and Lega(SAY)

As they say, Queens don’t compete, they empower. This is what exactly Ms. Mathilda Airlines does when she invites and convinces people to hop in and fly with her as she advocates and takes a stand. Ms. Mathilda emphasized the significance of taking action, no matter how small or large the impact it could make. She said “maraming akala natin maliit na bagay lang yung pwede nating gawin pero malaki yung impact noon, kasi kapag nagsama-sama tayo ganyan…” On top of that, she also mentioned what she perceives as the most effective way to convince people which is through storytelling.

“Labanan kasi ng naratibo, labanan talaga ‘to ng, ng storya—kwento mo yan eh, masama ako diyan, mga ganon. So labanan…ahh… disinformations, lahat yan deeply rooted yan by money, personal and political interest, so kanya-kanya tong labanan ng kwento…”

It's never easy to win the narrative, so for our dear Mathilda Airlines, building alliances, research, and most importantly, reading are some of the important factors to consider. “Laging magdebunk, dahil yung reading ay [is] a life saver din naman natin yan”, she added.

Being a Queen is truly a state of mind but time surely flies and for most of us, we want to be remembered in the best way possible. For Ms. Mathilda, she is fine with people remembering her as someone who flies, but kidding aside, her swift pole-spinning skills had really been her trademark which helped her gain the recognition that she currently uses to promote advocacies. It's indeed a unique way to influence and at the same time entertain people.

She does not expect people to remember her for a long time yet what's important for her is the legacy she will leave. Queen Mathilda believes that digital footprints are irrevocable, hence everyone must use their platform responsibly.
“Hindi mo talaga mababawi ang marka na iniwan mo on the digital world, so you have to uhm…uh you have to use social media as a platform in a very helpful, entertaining yet informative way. And that’s what I’m doing right now. So gusto ko iwan yung ganoong marka ko kasi at the end of the day, pagandahan nga [lang] to ng legacy. Ok bye kita-kita sa grand finals! Charot!”

Sometimes, being a queen doesn't require a crown. Others just wear their hearts on their sleeves, while some dedicate their lives to rightful causes. In a society full of competing narratives, be like Queen Mathilda Airlines. Behind her funny remarks is a person with a pure and courageous heart who highlights the importance of one’s voice and ability to give justice to others' narratives through storytelling. To make a stand is a step toward changing the world. It's not easy, but remember that you aren't alone. As for Queen Mathilda Airlines, you just need to find people with shared values and collective visions who will join us in fighting for our ideal society.

Preach, Queen!

Produced by Mark Elwyn Baccay (@markelwyn)
Cover Images Photographed by Miggy Broño (@miggybrono_)
Creative Direction: Mark Elwyn Baccay (@markelwyn)
Editor-in-Chief: Mark Elwyn Baccay (@markelwyn)
Makeup: Artist: Jia Cruz (@jiaachacruz)
Hairstyling: Gab Villegas (@grandpagabo)

Fashion Styling: Bryan Laroza (@iambryanlaroza)

Designers: Yves Camingue (@ycmng_), East of Eden (@exploreeastofeden
Kurt Abonal (@kurtabonal), and Thian Rodriguez (@thianrodriguezmnl)
Set and Production Design: Studio Tatin (@studio.tatin) by Migs Alcacid (@migsalcid
Assisted by Vienna Bleza (@viennableza), Neil John Remolin (@neiljohnremolin), Mariz Fetalvero (@mariz.fetalvero)
Videographers: Gimo Natanawan (@gimomigo)
Shot at Studio LAJ (@studiolajph)
Story: Wineya Arwen Molojedo & Regina Jules Lorico
Special thanks to Chicken Chingu (@chickenchinguph) 

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