A total of 61 intrepid souls sailed off to distant Fortune Island off the coast of Batangas for one of the most ambitious collaborative efforts the Philippine cosplay community has ever seen. Extreme Moments: Castaways pushed the limits of creativity, skill and imagination of cosplayers and photographers alike in an out-of-town outdoor adventure of a lifetime.
The Extreme Moments series was conceptualized last year, and there has been one edition for each quarter of the year, with the inaugural trip materializing early January at Capones Island in Zambales, the second at Mount Samat in Bataan, the third at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bataan. During and ever since then, the idea of an event grander adventure in an even more radical location has been constantly on the minds of the organizers, culminating in Extreme Moments: Castaways, pitting cosplayers and photographers alike against unpredictable nature and a harsh environment.
Desiring to provide a more fulfilling, more exciting, more satisfying experience for cosplayers and photographers than what they get from the usual conventions, Extreme Moments’ creator, organizer and visionary Jeff Ricalde of Jeric Photography has brought together some of the most talented individuals in the community to collaborate on this unique endeavor and sought out amazing new locations all over the Philippines to bring out the wonder and creativity among the participants. He describes Extreme Moments as “The Rockstar Group of the Philippine Cosplay Community,” always striving to innovate, to motivate and to inspire people with what a concerted effort can do.
To offer a different, more personal perspective of the event, we had our Cosplay Model Nicole, a cosplayer who has been a part of the project since the first XM, share her experience at Extreme Moments: Castaways:
“Our much-awaited Extreme Moments Out-of-Town Cosplay Project Series: Castaways adventure took place one fine weekend at Fortune Island, 14 kilometers off the shores of Brgy. Bucana, Nasugbu, Batangas, in Nasugbu Batangas. The resort island is known for its acropolis with Grecian pillars, as well as a pristine beach with its semi-fine white sand and beautiful turquoise waters.
Upon our arrival on the island, the heat of the sun was our first enemy, making us flinch, and we had to race up the top of the hill where the shade was under some ruins and tents. Since Fortune Island resembled a deserted island, there was no accommodations, electricity or water. The organizers put up a huge number of tents for the 61 participants. Everything was planned ahead as to who will be sharing each tent with. Most of us conformed to this and very few requested their own tent mates. The downside was that there was no real toilet and running water, but the organizers saw to it that at least there was enough to drink and allocated a number of gallons for sand-removing showers only.
The next thing was the battle with hunger and thirst, making ice cream our only desire that moment. There was a merchant selling dozens of it, until food was served at lunch time. Our cook-in-charge from the resort served luscious pork steak, which was the main menu, with slices of watermelon as our dessert. Iced tea was served too. Sir Michael Abas was relentlessly assisting us, overseeing each and every one’s necessities. Sir Eric and Sir Jeff at that time were still at the resort running some errands. Our lunch by was served in two batches, since there was only one cooking pan. Everyone had enough food and energy to have shoots afterwards. After eating, the cosplayers headed to their comfy zones to put on their costumes, makeup, wigs and armor. The themed photoshoot for this project was Kantai Collection, but there were other special cosplay shoots as well. Photographers prepared their equipment for a challenging Day 1, battling the heat of the sun and the harsh wind at the pillars. As each one of us finished preparing, we managed to go to our shooting locations.
People were busy everywhere! We occupied almost half of fortune island for the shoots. I wondered what was happening at the pillars on day 1, since cosplayers with armor were briefed beforehand not to go up there because of strong winds, and that a few wrong steps would be fatal with the steep cliffs up there. Together with the other KanColle girls, we set out on the beach for the much anticipated shoots along the shore. Supporting us was a medic, Mark Vibas, and repairmen and assistants, Orly Denzon and Jonathan Lopez Guarin. They were able to do their tasks admirably and even surpassed our expectation of what they can do for the team.
It was a tiring but gratifying shoot that Day 1, and everyone else was heading back to the campsite to take off our wet and sweaty costumes and hoped as well that dinner was ready. True enough, the smell of tinola as the main menu was soothing to my nose. The organizers called on to the cosplayers to have our dinner first. Everyone had fun eating, talking and cracking jokes.
In the middle of the night a bonfire was set up and most of us gathered there to bond and have food tripping as wel . It was so relaxing as everyone was in a joyful mood. Some were still shooting and a few of us were stargazing. Everyone was preoccupied with the things they found pleasurable. The night was cold though and it made me stay awake. We had to wake up early the following day but I stayed up late anyway because I was confident that I can get up early in the morning as long as someone woke me. Everything was nice and fun but eventually I had to go straight back to the tent and dozed off.
I got woken up very early as there will be a shoot at sunrise, and we were rushing and only light make up was put on my face and hurriedly wore my still-wet costume and went to the shore for our Day 2 shoot. Everyone else had followed a few minutes after. Again, everybody was so busy.
The shoot was more pleasant and amusing. Fortune Island was surrounded by the clear, blue-green sea, and it was tempting us to swim early during the shoot, and, well I did! I got all wet as I fought against the huge waves that almost tore my armor apart. Good thing my wonderful handler Orly Denzon was to the rescue all the time. But my eyes were preventing me to have good shots. I could barely open my eyes during the shoot. I felt bad that it brought trouble to the wonderful photographers I worked with.
After the tiring but worthwhile shoot, we had our late breakfast. A few minutes after we were back to shooting again and a short time was spent for swimming with my cosplayer friends.
Later on the announcement was made that we had to board the boat at exactly 2:30 pm. Everyone had packed their things. Us cosplayers were the first batch to go back to the resort and we got on the boat but we were half an hour behind schedule. As expected, strong waves hit the boat repeatedly. Yes, huge waves crashed against the boat, splashing saltwater on us, but thank goodness we made it safely to the resort. We dashed into the bathrooms and took a bath. We were so grateful to feel clean and comfy again. We thought everything was going well as planned, but something went wrong. The second boat got stranded and had to call for help, and fortunately arrived safely a couple of minutes after. The last group to arrive included Sir Jeff, Sir Eric and a few photographers. It was dark already and they were still on the island waiting for the boat to fetch them. There was a little misunderstanding between our team and the resort’s owner. Good strategies were made by the following people at the resort: Sir Donnie, Sir Michael and Sir Rhagmhone, as they made us feel comfortable and still cheerful despite waiting for a long time already. There was no panic or agitation. Sir Donnie took orders from all of us for our dinner at McDonalds.
While waiting for them, some of us had small conversations about different things and most of the cosplayers made a circle and played the werewolves game to keep each other company. We enjoyed every minute of our bonding time. We were all tired but happiness was written on our faces. No one complained about the delay of going home because our concern was entirely for the last group to arrive safely at the resort and enjoying the camaraderie and companionship as well. We couldn’t care less. No one was selfish to rush things knowing some of our companions were at risk. Hours later, the last boat made it back and the people it carried were all safe. They were all quiet and restrained, perhaps from the struggles they had encountered along the way that made them overly exhausted. After eating we all boarded the bus. All of us were drained and by the time we hit our seats some of us had already dozed off. I didn’t notice how long it took us to get to our destination. Everyone bid their goodbyes to one another and then went home.
It felt nice to have an attachment with some of the XM members who were easy to be with. It also feels great that I’ve met new people and became friends with some. I salute Sir Jeff Ricalde, Sir Eric Dc, Sir Donnie Medina and Sir EMjey Abas. Organizing an event is far from easy especially when it is an out-of-town shoot. They had to work on so many things like ocular inspection, transport reservation, island reservation, preparation of provisions, and most importantly following up for the cosplayers’ fee, costumes and availability. Sir Jeff, being the front liner, underwent so many challenges to make things possible just for his passion of cosplay and photography. I can understand his sentiments now and also very proud of him as the best organizing team was with him this XM: Castaways, making him cool, levelheaded and considerate to all of us.
Out of all the Extreme Moments adventures, XM: Castaways really is my favorite. Despite some small problems, everything else was phenomenal, worthwhile and productive. And we did it! We survived the scarcity of resources and limited facilities in the island. It’s truly an honor to be with such awe-inspiring and marvelous cosplayers, photographers and organizers. I won’t forget an extreme event like XM: Castaways.”
Jeff told us that, for now, Extreme Moments: Castaways is the fitting finale for an extraordinary year of amazing out-of-town cosplay photoshoot adventures at some of the most beautiful places in the Philippines. He extends his gratitude to the many individuals and groups that have made Extreme Moments a landmark project in the local Cosplay community.
Organizers: Jeff Ricalde, Joseph Michael Abas, Eric Dc, Donnie Medina.
Photographers: Jigen Satto, Ysabel Pelobello, Johann Lim, Kaylze Aishien, Sol Occiano, Ron Naldo, Niko Shinn Cruz, Neko Shie, Kami Kun, Japs Antido, Jhe Olaño, Dale Perias, Ronnel Tumangday, Chops Bardos, Stephen Advincula, John Mark B Pilapil, John Manuel Ramos, Marlon Andrew Alcazar, Natsuki Jiro, Ron Dela Cruz, Biin Sanchez, Rhagmone Paolenise Manleutache, Emman Chris Es, Holi de Leon.
Cosplayers: Ian Cartalaba, Nicole Ubando, Eun Cajucom, Yukiko Deisori, Brendhine Jonelle Lopez Frias, Markee Ilano, Nica Salazar, Anjel Yuri Serrano, Vanessa Anolin, Misaki Yukino, Tanaka Melody, Achi Tolentino, Ai Natsumi, Jc Zala, Abu Tendencia, Kyo-suke Fukuzumi, Alyssa May Parilla, Melliza Joy Villahermosa, Rei Chan, Yya Alexandra R. Coballes, Claud Shin, Syrelle Ramos Dela Cruz, Nicole Javinar, Aldrich Obsuna, Jeyel Kyo, Shin Meggumi, Angelica Wong, Yvonne Rose Anne Basera.
Support: Orly Denzon, Art Vincent Absalon, Mark Anthony Vibas, Jonathan Lopez Guarin, Arlyn Ubando.
A short video on the people behind Extreme Moments: Castaways.
Many thanks to the photographers who unselfishly contributed their wonderful work for this article: Eric DC of Eyestrain Photoworks, Jeff Ricalde of Jeric Photography, Kaylze Aishien of Eyebug Productionz, Neko Shie of Stray Cat, Japs Antido of JapsWorx Photography, and all the other great photographers of the Extreme Moments: Castaways project.
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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.
View all posts by Xtian Mack