It’s been more than 10 years since I stepped my foot into an anime convention. My first event is the Anime Overload Festival in November 2009, and I believe SMX Convention Center is that young.
I remember wearing an oversized shirt that I describe as a cape, and I’m still a skinny guy who is yet to be introduced to the anime fandom in general.
The only keepsakes from that event is a free photo of me in different poses. that’s just about it.
Months after, I visited my first TOYCON, my first Cosplay Mania, and the rest is history. I was supposed to talk about my short-lived animeblogging stint, but that can be a story for later.
Cosplay Community as a refuge
It’s in the cosplay community that I found my circle of friends, might as well include the people who are working in that community whether in front-of-house or the sidelines.
It’s in this community that I find refuge, camaraderie, friendship, and connections. Every photo of a cosplayer, every hi and hello, every thank you, every group dinner, these are good memories.
Over time, I learned the who’s who of the community, learning their skills, how they interact, and how they do turn this hobby into businesses of their own.
While I still don’t consider myself as a photographer (you need to learn more than lighting and the rule of thirds to be one), I am learning how to develop photos good for sharing, at best.
Cosplay community as a stepping stone: No problem at all
Hear me out: The cosplay community has evolved to be a stepping stone for some who want to get in the world of fame while living the way they want, and it’s not a problem.
As much as I think that it’s a problem that people will follow suit like a bandwagon activity, I found out over time that those who enjoy cosplaying are the ones who stay.
I’ve seen people evolve from mere cosplayers to basically community figures. I’ll take the example of Naru and Envy Smith who become hosts for Cosplay.ph, the team behind Cafeterium Chaldeas, crafters like Sergio Sta. Ana who was so hands-on with mentoring Cebu’s Team Class S last 2019, and even Myrtle Sarrosa who was in a cosplay pair before entering Pinoy Big Brother.
If you can turn your hobby into something productive, that’s great!
Cosplay community, growing even further
We didn’t know that the Cosplay Scene will be this huge, and we simply credit it to one Alodia Gosiengfiao who has changed the way mainstream people look at cosplay in the Philippines, no doubt.
Imagine all those who want to follow Alodia becoming today’s cosplayers. I’m sure they don’t forget their roots.
Of course, we still have the misfits. Whoever they are and whatever they do, this community does give a damn if they do something stupid – just like any other community that is flourishing on human connections.
People do not tolerate mistakes if done repeatedly even after apologizing and promising to change. People here can also smell bull from far away. the term “May tenga ang lupa, may pakpak ang balita” (The land has ears, the news has wings) is strong in this community.
Nevertheless, we turn to grow from our mistakes. I observed that someone I know has survived from the repercussions of her mistakes and is now living another life as a simple person.
I keep coming back to the Cosplay community
This community has taught me well and helped me grow, even if I don’t even Cosplay (I still have my own insecurities, but that’s about it).
Truth be told, I tried to go deep into the local idol scene but I still go back to this community. The Cosplay and Anime fandom did teach me more about what would be our own idol culture, but I still go back here.
Even during this quarantine period where on-site/offline events are not allowed, I still get in touch with the cosplay community.
Growing with the Cosplay Community
I know there’s more to what this community has, and as soon as I got enough resources to go places, I went out and had no regrets: Davao, Singapore, Cebu, Baguio, and crossing fingers I can get to Iloilo and La Union soon.
By going to places, I get to learn the who’s who, as well as common courtesy and – to little extent – what is the life of a cosplayer in a different place. I encourage you to go places, it’s really wonderful to do so.
Capping off, what do I incur from the Cosplay community? Connections and confidence.
I now have friends from around eight locations in the country, as well as the acquaintances I develop from going to Singapore; and I got the confidence to create content, moderate panel discussions or pitch into anything which caters not just for this community but also the industry I’m into.
If you find the cosplay community useless, then this is not for you – to rephrase, you’re not the target audience. Move on.