It’s rather the first time that I will talk about the issues surrounding the Cosplay Community for a long time (with emphasis on “a long time”), but now that I have free time, let me write about it — and if you may, let me write it as if I’m writing a diary or such, unrestricted by formalities and all that stuff.
Today, I am going to talk about the recent issue that went up on Cosplay Network Philippines’ (CNPH) “Are You Legit? […]” group. This is about a scam involving the Cosplay Costume Shop, its owner Shigiro Duro and his client. The said issue involves Php40,000.00 and the materials that are used to create a costume. In this post, I gather information why this issue exists. I’m bringing these things up for everyone to know, and take note of.
To start, here is the post on the CNPH Legit group stating the case. The original poster (referred here as M) asked everyone in the group if Mr. Duro still continues to make costumes as his friend (referred here as P) got “scammed” by him.
P, who was Mr. Duro’s friend before, commissioned M to make a mecha from the movie “Real Steel” saying that he got Worbla from Mr. Duro. M thinks twice because Mr. Duro had issues before, but still agrees to the commissioning of the costume. All that he knows about Worbla at that time is that it has a flesh-like color and it molds in warm water.
M and P agreed to meet up at SM Megamall so that M can have the material. They even discussed how to plan the costume. Mr. Duro has ten (10) rolls of it which he brought from San Pablo City, Laguna. But when M saw the actual material, he got surprised to see that it is actually a Bantex EVA foam. These sheets have the same texture as those sheets that M uses in making costumes, and he has a different name for it. Worbla is a moldable thermoplastic, while EVA foam is used for play mats, based on a trip to Google Image Search. I would like to share this FAQ for reference.
M asked P how much he has spent on the sheets. Each sheet costs Php1,000.00, and he bought more than forty (40) rolls of it, amounting to Php40,000.00. M states that Mr. Duro still has the remaining rolls, and that M pities P as the latter is cheated by Mr. Duro even though he is his friend. Further research shows that the said sheets has a thickness of 4mm to 5mm, which is said to cost about Php100 to Php150 each.
What P wants to get back from Mr. Duro, as told by M, is the excess payment in the rubber sheets since he claims that each roll costs Php180.00.
He also addressed that he has a friend in Texas, USA that is famous for cosplaying as Genderbend Vi and DJ Sona (to be referred as H). H commissioned some of his props and costumes to Mr. Duro and he was satisfied. He then commissioned the first DJ Sona board that CCS made, and he even visited the country to make sure it is perfect. Although the first board had lots of problems, H still recommended CCS to Riot Games N.A. to make the same board for the company. Unlike the first one, the second board was unsatisfactory, which gave a dent to Riot’s trust to H. M wants Mr. Duro to help H fix the mess brought by an unsatisfactory work.
Here are some of the responses to the aforementioned post. Some people asked quickly if that is really Worbla, and some pointed out that Mr. Duro is not a distributor of Worbla because there is a designated one to do so. The designated contact in the country, cosplayer and fellow props maker Erika Garbin (also known as Ae Ri) has also stated her side and is willing to help M with the case.
M also pointed out that Riot Games will file a case against CCS.
His side of the story
I remember that last year, Mr. Duro was beside me as a judge for an event in Taytay, Rizal; and at that time, I haven’t heard of the issues being hurled against him. Now that I felt pent up by the issue and the lack of his response, I decided to arrange a phone call with him. I quickly pulled up the issue as we start.
Jay: Ang dami ko nang naririnig against sa’yo, so how you would respond to that? [I’ve heard a lot against you, so how how you would respond to that?]
Duro: Hindi ko na sila pinapatulan, kasi humahaba nga lang, kasi ‘di ko naman sila nagiging client. [I don’t reply to them because it’s getting long, they are not my clients (referring to the commenters who shared their reactions in the post).]
He told me his side of the story. P, his friend, ordered 4 yards (2 rolls) which cost an estimated Php280 per roll at Marikina. In Laguna, it costs Php500 per roll.
With regards to H, he said that both of them agreed that Mr. Duro will ship a repair kit to H.
Duro: “Para sa akin Jay, ‘pagka meron akong problem, ginagawan ko naman ng paraan. ‘Di ko na kailangang makipag-complain sa isang tao na hindi ko naman naging client.” [… If I have a problem, I make up a solution. I don’t need to complain to those who are not my clients.]
Mr. Duro also stated that his reputation is being destroyed by M and he is going to file a case against him.
He told me of other instances where he had problems dealing with local clients. These instances have wind up to how he conducts his business now: He only deals with overseas clients. According to him, overseas clients are much easier to deal with. He has been dealing with them since five months ago. He also stated that other shops get pissed as he is getting their clients.
Duro: “[…] So sabi ko, “Kung mayroon mang complaint, ‘yung complainant ang mag-complain sa akin, ‘di ba?” Hindi ‘yung gumagawa sila ng mga tsismis nila. […] Napatunayan ko na sa video na mayroon akong Worbla, pero iba ang price ng totoong Worbla.” [So I said, “If there’s a complainant, he/she should directly complain to me, am I not right?” rather than they make gossip. I have proven on video that I have Worbla, but the price of real Worbla is different.]
I also brought Ae Ri’s response in the table. I mentioned a while ago that she is the official distributor of Worbla.
Jay: […] Eto na ngayon — si Ae Ri, confirmed na siya ang official distributor ng Worbla dito. Have you got any Worbla from her? [Here’s the thing — Ae Ri is confirmed to be the official distributor of Worbla here. Have you got any Worbla from her?]
Duro: Wala. Meron akong nabibilhan ng Worbla– actually, meron akong Worbla dito, kaya kong patunayan sa kanila ‘yun, eh. May video kasi ako. ‘Di siya ‘distributor’ kasi madali lang bumili ng Worbla. Actually, napakabilis lang kumuha ng Worbla kasi dami kong kilala sa U.S. Kadalasan, ang ginagawa namin para makakuha ako ng Worbla– actually, napakamahal talaga ng Worbla […] nagre-rate siya ng isang sheet lang, 5,000 to 7,000. Para ako makakuha ng Worbla, tine-trade ko ang costumes ko for Worbla.
[None. I have places where I can buy Worbla– actually, I have Worbla here, and I can prove it since I have a video. She is not a ‘distributor’ since it’s just easy to buy Worbla. Actually, it’s quick to get Worbla since I have lots of contacts in the United States. Most of the time, I get Worbla by trading the costumes that I make since it is really expensive — a sheet rates from 5,000 to 7,000.]
If she does not get Worbla from Ae Ri, then how he gets Worbla? He gets it from his clients overseas through a barter exchange. He then uses the Worbla that he have acquired to create costumes and sell them at higher prices. As for the overseas clients who wants Worbla infused in their costumes, this is the process that he told me:
Duro: […] Gusto nila na Worbla, sasabihin ko “Ay, wala po kaming Worbla dito sa Pilipinas.” Ang gagawin nila, sila ang magpo-provide sa akin. [They want Worbla, but I will say “We don’t have Worbla in the Philippines.” What they will do is that they will provide Worbla to me.]
It was mentioned before that Mr. Duro hunts clients who have reported him personally. Here’s what he told me about that:
Duro: […] Hindi naman siya hunting. Actually, hinanap ko lahat ng nagsasabi na nagre-report kasi I have the right naman kasi nagre-report ka hindi ka man lang sa akin nag-complain; kasi pag nag-complain ka sa akin, tatlong ways ang pwede kong gawin — pwede akong mag-refund, pwede akong mag-repair, pwede kong tanungin yung problem ng costume [at] aayusin ko. ‘Di ba ganun naman ‘yung para sa aming mga shop? Kumbaga, parang … para sa clients din.
[…] ‘Pag may problema, magkita tayo first-hand tapos ipakita mo sa akin yung error na ginawa namin, tapos nagkakaintindihan kami, ganun. Sa nangyayari kasi, pino-post nila, so sabi ko nga noong una “Panindigan niyo na, pinost niyo na, eh. ‘Di ko na ire-refund iyan.” Pero noong huli naman medyo may nagpi-PM din. Actually, sa dami-dami ng nagpagawa sa akin, tatlo lang silang nagkaroon ng problem.”
[It’s not really ‘hunting’. Actually, I look for those who report me because I have the right. If you complained to me directly, there are three ways that I can do. I can refund, I can repair the costume, and I can ask what’s the problem with the costume and then fix it. Isn’t that the way for us who have a shop? It’s for the clients. … If there’s a problem, tell me first-hand then show me the errors that we have done, and we can understand each other there. As with what’s happening today, they are reporting online (rather than telling me directly). So I said “Maintain that stand. You’ve already posted it. I will not refund that.” But recently, there are some who send me a message directly. Actually, those are just three who had a problem among the people that commissioned me to make their costumes.]
Back to the Worbla incident, Mr. Duro mentioned to me the case M mentioned, which happened two years ago. He asked the help of a barangay tanod (village guard) to witness as he will hand money at that time.
After I spoke to Mr. Duro over the phone, I went to approach Ae Ri online for feedback, sharing her side on the said matter. She denounced everything that Mr. Duro has said about his Worbla.
Ae Ri: You cannot buy Worbla anywhere in the country. If it was that easy to obtain, Hindi na ako mag-aabalang makuha yung partnership directly from the company who manufactured it and import directly from Germany.
[You cannot buy Worbla anywhere in the country. If it was easy to obtain, I won’t be bothering to partner directly from the company who manufactured it from Germany.]
She also said that Mr. Duro does not know what it is, and told me that Worbla not as think as EVA foam. Bantex, which made the EVA foam in question, is a local company and is not affiliated with Cast4Art.
Ae Ri: The prices he gave you was for EVA foam not for Worbla, Worbla by the way is the brand name. Products are Finest Art and Transpa Art etc. etc. So the fact that he keeps on using Worbla alone to describe the sheets are proof that he does not know what it is. […] I also forgot to mention na [that] he used to claim that he has a supplier in the US. Pero [but] that same person denies it. […] I am getting that persons statement and once I gather all of it, I will present it to Cast4Art.
She also told me that she is gathering statements and will counter it.
I have approached M about this matter, and he confirmed to me the two issues against Mr. Duro.
M: also p[…] told me that there is no receipt na nakuha siya from shiguro [sic] and also kung may written..we can use it also..because ae ri is helping us to make a case on him..even riot games and josh agree on giving shiguro a case. josh is about to go here on august to be guest on a event and also to make some actions regaring shiguro’s case.
[Also, (P) told me that there is no receipt that he got from Shigiro. Also, if there’s a written (agreement), we can also use it because Ae Ri is helping us to make a case against him. Even Riot Games and (H) agreed on giving Shigiro a case. (H) is about to go here on August to be a guest on an event and also to make some action regarding Shigiro’s case.]
To end this post, I would like to share my conclusion with regards to this issue. This feels much more complicated than what it was simply supposed to be. The fact that we are not just focusing on a single issue alone complicates it. The issue at hand just proves that it’s hard to maintain a shop without a strong stand. Each side that I have spoken to has shared — and proven — why the Cosplay Costume Shop should or should not get ripped off to pieces.
I have learned from this issue that the shops and its clients should get a better understanding of what they will be getting into. Setting the money that has been spent aside, the statements brought by M and Mr. Duro are somehow conflicting.
As for Ae Ri, I didn’t saw her name as one of the distribution partners from the Cast4Art website, so I approached Cast4Art about this. Thankfully, this is the reply that I got from Cast4Art’s Boris:
[…] She is not included in the list of distribution partners yet, but she will be in near future.
We have heard that there seems to be someone selling foam under our brand name, but this one is simply telling lies — we do not carry any foam products at all.
The only distributor of the real Worbla products is Ae Ri.
As you can see, even the makers of Worbla knows.
This post is, open to changes from the sources themselves as appropriate, and I will be keeping tabs on this in the next few months. I hope that I have done my utmost care in telling everyone about these issues at hand, and I hope that this too shall pass.
It’s October, and I am yet to follow-up on the case regarding this,and hopefully, I will be able to post it here soon.