Partly inspired by this post by Shmuberry, and because in a few hours one of the events I helped pioneer is about to begin, please allow me to indulge myself.
Today is the first of two days of Cosplay Mania X. This year is extra special not only because of the two-day event, but moreover because it commemorates ten years of cosplay in the Philippines.
Now why is it so important to me? And how does it play into Oplan Kaligayahan?
Well, back in the year 2000, I was one of the first cosplayers in the Philippines. Let me digress for a bit: I was originally slated to cosplay in the 1999 San Diego Comic Con, but I had to return to my country the day right before, so I consider my debut in the year 2000. Of course your mileage may vary - those from the defunct gang Anime@Arki would profess they began cosplaying back in 2009, but then it's admittedly true that only the group's members know about the Animersion event at all because it was essentially a meet-up/get-together where everyone happened to be in costume. What happened during AnimeXplosion 2000 was definitely on a more massive scale, and thus the year 2000 is the one more widely acknowledged as the start of costume play in the Philippines.
In any case, I cosplayed as Youko Ryuuzaki from the little-known anime Debutante Detective Corps (Ojousama Sousamou), who I remembered watching in the US once with my former-seminarian-turned-marine-biologist-but-still-nerdy uncle, who still enjoys anime and Asian dramas in secret while his wife is sleeping. The reasons I chose to cosplay her were, on hindsight, terrible: first, I hadn't had time to get a costume ready but had a whole arsenal of closets (my mum's and sisters') at my disposal; and second, I looked like the character a lot. It only got worse because by the time I dressed up as her, the anime was nothing more than a distant memory, so getting into character was difficult. I was seen on TV messing up big time, and I was pretty scared too because I was still in high school, and our particular all-girls' private school was very strict about its students appearing on various media.
But all the same, I have seriously enjoyed dressing up in costume and competing with other cosplayers in who best gets into his/her character. Another digression: you must understand that in the Philippines, cosplay was introduced through a catwalk competition set-up as opposed to the American style of parading through skits and the Japanese style of individualistic modeling, and it has been that way ever since. Of course, this set-up has garnered no small amount of controversy; during the three-day AnimeXplosion 2000 itself, more than a few cried foul when its premiere guest, mangaka (comic book creator) Yuu Watase, picked out her favourite cosplayers - most of them from her manga, Fushigi Yuugi. Since I was a bigger fan of the other titles popular in that year, notably Rurouni Kenshin/Samurai X which had a significantly larger fanbase and a (relatively) large fandom composed of dedicated cosplayers from all genders, I was one of those that cried foul at her decision.
I didn't care that I didn't win anything myself in AnimeXplosion 2000 though. If anything, it fueled me to cosplay better, and cosplay more. I had a lot of characters I wanted to portray right, and I soon set my plans into motion. Around seven months after Youko Ryuuzaki was Anime Cosplay Manila 2001, where I debuted Sailor Uranus, making me the first (and one of the shiniest) Sailormoon cosplayer in the country - beat that Animersion peeps! XD
And then there were more. I borrowed Deadcraft's Sara Mudou dress to help complete an Angel Sanctuary/Tenshi Kiryoku skit lacking players. I helped some cosplayer friends who began working on Level-Up Games in beta-testing Ragnarok Online, and naturally chose to cosplay the Monk class because of its lone-wolf nature, which is similar to my own personal in-game temperament. I fell in love with musical theatre in high school and learned about the Takarazuka Kagekidan/Takarazuka Revue troupe, thus my obsession with cosplaying Maria Tachibana of the part-steampunk, part-dating simulation, part-musical theatre game Sakura Wars (sorry, this photo is from when a friend of mine borrowed it - I don't know why but no-one seems to have one of me :S). I went through a long sabbatical of 2 years due to a hectic schedule in college, but when I got back into cosplay it was almost like I couldn't stop, because I had a new costume for every quarter of the year!
Of course, useless drama follows all kinds of communities and all sorts of people, but cosplay drama is a whole other bit of serious business altogether. But no matter what, I will always love an excuse to dress up and have fun, and that's what makes it such an important part of Oplan Kaligayahan for me.
Well, that turned out long, and as much as I want to continue it I gotta go first to get some well-needed shut-eye. XD;;; Hope to see y'all at Cosplay Mania X at the SMX Convention Center later! ;D
PS if you'd like to see what went on, please visit the Cosplay Mania X Gallery here. ^^