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Ongina is the stage name of Ryan Ong Palao, a Drag Queen from Los Angeles, California. She was part of Season 1 of RuPaul's Drag Race and was eliminated in episode 5.

Ongina was best known on RuPaul's Drag Race for her sweetness, her fashionable runway presentations, and for coming out to the world about being diagnosed with HIV.

One of Ongina's most memorable performances was doing a lap-dance for a straight man for his birthday in Alabama, at a restaurant Ongina worked at. The man knew he was at a drag show and had fun with it. However, when Ongina did a flip-over on the man's body, her wig fell off.

Ongina's view of drag as an artistic expression, as an outlet for a woman, stuck in a gay man's body to come out and let loose. She views drag as liberating to perform and transform her imagery of performing into reality.

Ongina's view of performing is that the energy, the creativity of picking the song, the outfit, the hair, makeup and coming on stage living is amazing.

In her introduction video for RuPaul's Drag Race, she described herself as "Lady, Amazing and Fantastic", as the queens were required to describe 3 words about themselves.

RuPaul's Drag Race

Season Competed Season 1
Ranking: 5th
Mini-Challenges Won: 1 (Ep. 2)
Times as Team Captain: 1 (Ep. 2)
Main Challenges Won: 2 (Eps. 2, 4)
Times in Bottom Two: 1 (Ep. 5)
Episode Eliminated: Episode 5

Drag Name Origin

Her friend suggested using her middle name Ong, which is her mom’s maiden name. She then put Ong with the "last three letters of a certain kind of –ina" and formed Ongina. At first, she came up with Pek Pek Galore (Pek Pek means vagina in Tagalog and used that name for around 1-2 years before her 21st birthday when she became Ongina) and Ryana.

Memorable Quotes

Season 1

  • "I'm Ryan, also known as Ongina"
  • "I'm gonna have to put my balls behind my freakin' body today." - Episode 2 (Girl group challenge)
  • "Last week, the judges told me that I looked like a boy in a dress, and I wanted to elevate that this week. Not so much boy in a dress but, a drag queen in a dress." - Episode 2
  • "My name is Connie Chung" - impersonating news anchor/journalist Connie Chung in the Oprah Winfrey challenge.
  • "I'm a Mac Viva Glam woman because like you and many others, I care. Educate, Donate & Celebrate, because life is a celebration!" - Her famous quote from her MAC Viva glam commercial
  • "If I don't win this, I swear to god I'm gonna cut someone!"
  • "I just want to say, I've always been so afraid to say it, that I've been living with HIV for the last 2 years of my life and... it means so much to me" - This occurred when Ongina revealed her status of being HIV Positive after winning the main challenge of the "Mac Viva Glam" episode.
  • "I'm pretty, not smart Ru!" - asking a question to Peppermint at the season 9 reunion.[1]
  • RuPaul: "You were a controversial character, how does it make you feel?" Ongina: "It doesn't make me feel any different, some people are gonna love you and some people are gonna hate you."
  • "I was lucky enough to have won Viva Glam. It doesn't matter if I went home that night, I was really happy."
  • "She's lucky I left my knife in the truck. I didn't have any place to put it. I mean, I couldn't put it under my wig." - Jokingly referring to her elimination.


Ongina was eliminated on the 5th Episode of RuPaul's Drag Race.

The 5th episode of RuPaul's Drag Race was called "Drag School of Charm", where the queens had to take biological, athletic women and make them over to become their drag sister.

The queens had their athletic partners picked by Rebecca Glasscock, who won the work-out Mini-Challenge. Ongina teamed up with a long-haired, blonde woman named Jarret. It was a challenge for Ongina because Ongina is a bald queen, who does not wear wigs and she had to transform a woman with hair. She also had to put more effort into training Jarret how to walk a runway and lip-sync to Beyonce's "Freakum Dress".

Although Ongina did her best, she and her partner did not create a family resemblance according to the judges. She fell into the bottom two alongside Bebe Zahara Benet. Both being talented performers, Bebe shockingly outshined Ongina according to RuPaul. It was a tough decision to make, and it was a very controversial moment on the show.

Other Works

  • Ongina hosts a series on Logo called HIV and Me. HIV and Me tell different stories from individuals who are living their lives being HIV Positive. The purpose of the series is to reach out to HIV/AIDS patients around the world and to find a relationship with those stories told by the interviewed individuals. One of the reasons Ongina was chosen for this was because she came out to the world about being diagnosed with HIV, and for being a true icon to Mac Viva Glam.
  • Ongina was a drag professor for 2 seasons on Logo's RuPaul's Drag U – A spinoff reality TV show where everyday women compete in a series of challenges to unleash their inner diva. The show is hosted by RuPaul and a team of Drag Professors. Ongina is one of the five Drag Race Season 1 contestants to be a professor at Drag U.


  • Ongina does not normally wear wigs. Only on certain occasions will Ongina wear a wig. She is the first queen to not wear a wig on the main stage.
  • Ongina loves to collect headpieces/hats. She prefers to wear headpieces instead of wigs. She even receives headpieces from her fans.
  • According to an interview on YouTube, Ongina only has about 6 wigs.
  • Ongina, along with Shannel, Nina Flowers, Tammie Brown and Bebe Zahara Benet are all the RuPaul's Drag Race Season 1 contestants to be drag professors at RuPaul's Drag U.
  • RuPaul's single, "LadyBoy" was inspired by Ongina herself.
  • When not in drag, Ryan works as an Area Visual Merchandiser for a specialty retail boutique.
  • Ongina is of Filipino descent.
  • Ongina was born in the Philippines and moved to Seattle, Washington in 1994.
  • After Seattle, Ongina moved to New York at age 19, where she ended up working at Lucky Chengs, a famous Asian Cuisine Restaurant, where the food is served and customers are entertained by Drag Queens. She worked with a then-unknown Laverne Cox there.
  • Ongina-x750
    A memorable feature of Ongina is a Japanese tattoo on her right arm. Ongina wanted a Japanese tattoo, not with a Sumo wrestler. She was advised to Google anime, and Ongina found a female samurai named Sakura Shinguji from the video game/anime/manga Sakura Wars and who is now featured on Ongina's tattoo. Her tattoo also features a Japanese Rising-Sun flag, and Japanese symbols representing one life, one choice, and one destiny.
  • Ongina was the first contestant on RuPaul's Drag Race to win 2 main challenges.
  • She is the first queen to achieve 5th place.
  • Ongina-0
    She is the first queen to receive a high mark in a challenge.
  • Ongina was the first contestant in series' history to have won two main challenges and not place in the top three, the second being Shangela in Season 3. This same scenario later occurred to Latrice Royale and Willam in Season 4, to BenDeLaCreme in Season 6, and Katya, Kennedy Davenport, and Max of Season 7. Every other contestant who has won two main challenges has placed in the top three.
  • Ongina was the first contestant on the show to be eliminated after won the previous week's challenge. She was followed by Jessica Wild in Season 2, Stacy Layne Matthews in Season 3, Laganja Estranja in Season 6, Katya in Season 7, Derrick Barry in Season 8, Tatianna in All Stars 2, and Miz Cracker in Season 10.
  • Ongina was shortlisted for all All-Stars seasons but didn't make the final cast in any of them. However, she is currently rumored to be on All-Stars 5.
  • She lip-synced alongside Blair St. Clair during the Season 10 finale.
  • Ongina has two dogs, named Little Monster and Iggy, one cat, named Athena, and a guinea pig named Hamlin. She revealed this in Mrs. Kasha Davis and Devin Green's WOWPresents+ show, Tails of the City: Pets 4 Pets.


Season 1 Looks



Year Title Role Notes
2009RuPaul's Drag Race: Season 1 Herself
2009New Now Next Awards
2010One Night Stand Up
2010-11RuPaul's Drag USeason 1 and 2, 5 episodes
2010RuPaul's Drag Race: Season 2 Episode: "The Main Event Clip Show" (Special guest)
2012RuPaul's Drag Race: Season 4 Episode: "RuPocalypse Now!" (Zombie)
2012RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars: Season 1Episode: "The Grand Finale"
2014RuPaul's Drag Race: Season 6 Episode: "The Finale" (Audience)
2018RuPaul's Drag Race: Season 10Episode: "10s Across the Board"
Episode: "Grand Finale"
2019RuPaul's Drag Race: Season 11Episode: "Whatcha Unpackin?" (Special Guest)

Music videos

Year Title Artist Notes
2011"I Gotta Feeling"The Black Eyed PeasCameo

Web Series

Year Title Role Notes
2009 RuPaul's Drag Race: Under the Hood Herself
2014 WOW Shopping Network
2014 Ring My Bell
2016 Besties For Ca$h
2017 Hey Qween!
2017-19 The Pit Stop Co-Host
2018 Fashion Photo RuView Co-Host (with Mayhem Miller)
2018 Cosmo Queens
2019 Tails of the City Episode 2: Pets 4 Pets
2019 Wait, What? Co-Host

Other credits

Year Title Notes
2014RuPaul's Drag Race: Dragopolis 2.0Voice

Awards and Nominations

Year Award Category Results
2009NewNowNext AwardsMost Addictive Reality StarWinner

Social Media



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