Cosplay has been around in the Philippines since the early 2000s, and although the general populace still has some apprehension or resistance towards this hobby, times have been changing and we are happy that public perception toward cosplay has been improving over the years. We were then pleasantly surprised to have found a public high school in Las Pinas that supports cosplay as a hobby for its students.
Las Pinas East National High School-Equitable Village Annex invited me to be one of the judges for their cosplay competition. While they did want me as a judge, they told me not to expect much since they were “just a public school.” They most likely didn’t realize that that was the most amazing part of it all: that their public school supported cosplay for their students while other schools have been either indifferent or strongly against it. So from work at my office near SM North EDSA I traveled a couple hours to the school somewhere near SM Southmall (just to give some idea of the distance I had to cover). I didn’t mind the trouble because despite having judged many times before and covered as many competitions, I knew that this one would be special.
I was led to a small courtyard inside the school complex. It wasn’t large, but it was enough to hold a small event with enough of an audience. It was their MAPEH Month Celebration, and it was the student’s opportunity to show off their skills in dancing, singing and playing instruments, and, surprisingly, cosplaying.
Teachers here appreciate cosplaying as a performance art and hobby that their students can enjoy and even excel in as they organized and gave their all for this event. Over thirty contestants, all students of different years from the high school, put on their best performance in front of their school mates.
Most were new to cosplay and were nervous about performing, but they all stepped forward and showed off their cosplaying skills for everyone to see. Even more surprising was the reaction f the audience. They didn’t jeer or make fun of them. They were truly supportive, clapping their hands and shouting encouragement to their favorites and cheering their classmate contestants on. It was personally, for me, a moving experience of acceptance.
I judged the contestants as best I could. Some were already good at it, others needed to work on their performances, others needed more knowledge on how to put on makeup, on how to fix their wigs, on how to use their props, but it was obvious that they all love cosplaying. I was sure that all of them can only get better with time.
My fellow judges Johann, Ai, Shane and Ruru have been cosplaying as well for a long time, and the to help me with the selection of the winners. Scores were tabulated and the deserving winners were announced. Some great prizes were given away courtesy of the teachers.
Probably as important as the awarding was the picture-taking with everyone afterwards as students and teachers could get enough of the judges.
The final part of the program was a dance party, with lights, loud music and excited teenagers all adding to an already festive atmosphere. It was somewhat comforting to see the cosplayers, still in costume, laughing, chatting, dancing having fun with their friends and classmates without having to be thought of as strange or different.
It was a gratifying and humbling experience, and I hope that more people, schools and institutions can be more open-minded and more supportive of cosplay for the youth. Many thanks t the teachers and students of Las Pinas East National High School-Equitable Village Annex for your hospitality and making an unprecedented example for the community.
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Xtian Mack took up AB English Studies, Major in Creative Writing at UP Diliman. Currently works for a medical transcription company. He is the Creative Director of The Cosplay Cafe: arkadymac.com, doing photography, writing, and reporting for the website. His line of photography specializes in cosplay event coverage, having covered 300 events in a span of 3 years. Loves cute and furry things.
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