Posts Tagged ‘cosplay’

pop goes the world: one family, many cultures

POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 15 July 2010, Thursday

One Family, Many Cultures

Baguio City – It is lovely this time of the year in the City of Pines, Luzon’s “Summer Capital”. I am here with my two daughters, ages 18 and 12, and my two sisters, whose ages I will not disclose for fear of reprisal.

One sister, Aileen, has been based in Dubai for the last 16 years. The other, Tiffany, was born in Manila but moved to California’s Bay Area when she was four. This is her first visit to the land of her birth in 15 years.

Aileen and I finished our education in local schools and did not get to travel abroad until after college. While we bear the mind-broadening effects of education and travel, still we are Pinoy to the core, thoroughly acculturated with Philippine values and norms, and aware of its traditions and rituals, in particular those of the urban area we grew up in – Manila.

Aileen is more traditionally Filipino than I am in her observance of rules and rituals that I prefer to ignore. She believes one should not sleep in, even on weekends. She insists that everyone must take at least one bath a day, no matter how cold it is, nor sleep right after a shower with wet hair. She tells Tiffany not to wash her hands in cold water as she might get pasma and asks her why she eats with only a fork and not a spoon too.

My mother and stepfather imbued Tiffany with traditional Filipino values – respect for elders, the importance of family, the significance of a good education. They have The Filipino Channel at home; Tiffany watched P-Noy’s inauguration before stepping on her Manila-bound Philippine Airlines flight. She watches Mom cook dried fish and eat egg with bagoong from a jar. Uncle Joe has instructed her to bring back Hizon’s ensaymada, the kind with grated queso de bola on top.

Not having grown up in Pilipinas, she cannot speak Tagalog nor Ilonggo though she can understand a sentence or two here and there in both languages. She is clueless about the Filipino way of doing things and wonders why motorists here weave dangerously in and out of their lanes, who Kris Aquino is and why she seems to have such a big impact on Philippine society, and what pasma is and why she should care.

My daughters, who grew up exposed to American culture on TV and the internet and in books, straddle the divide between cultures. They are at ease with their Tita Tiffy’s American twang and respect Tita Aya’s strict insistence on routine.

They are the true multiculturalists in the family, who understand the nuances of both mindsets and may at times act as ‘interpreters’, having the learning advantages of mass media, education, and travel in addition to meeting and interacting with people who are from or have been exposed to other cultures.

Alex, the elder, studies at De La Salle University, where she counts Koreans, Japanese, Indians, and Italians among her classmates and professors; online, she has Australian and American friends. Her best friend, Penelope moved to Singapore recently and chats with her often about her experiences and life in general there. Erika has classmates who grew up in Indonesia, Japan, and the US.

Their fondness for Japanese anime and Korean pop music has inspired them to study those languages. Now they speak and read a little in both, as well as being aware of the various differences in societal mindsets stemming from the country’s particular culture.

The kids cosplay (costume + roleplay) their favorite characters from “Hetalia”, a Japanese anime.

With the overseas foreign worker phenomenon growing even more as Filipinos seek economic opportunities unavailable at home, there is an expanded awareness of foreign cultures that did not exist 15 years ago to the current extent.

Now Aileen, having spent the past two decades in Dubai, can tell the difference between nationals of different Western, Asian, and Arabic-speaking countries from their accents and dress. She can easily switch between British and American speech codes, saying, “Has the lorry delivered the telly to your flat yet? No? Bloody hell! ” and in the next breath “Yeah, the old TV in your apartment sucks like a Hoover. I know, right?”

Yet the norms and values that guide her behavior are Filipino. She works beyond office hours to finish a task. Before she makes a decision, she assesses its possible effects on her family, which is her priority. She keeps snacks in her desk because God forbid that she or anyone else in her sphere go hungry.

My sister at Versailles – “a transformative experience,” she says.

When Aileen and I were growing up, we received knowledge about other cultures primarily from mass media. The younger generations have the added advantages of advances in communication technology, the shared narratives of the experiences of family and friends who work and live abroad, and friendships with people from other countries in the flesh and online to create the “mental model”, as theorist Peter Senge calls it, that is the lens through which they look at the world – a multicultural lens.

Here in Baguio City, the weather is cooler than in Manila and Tiffany is grateful for the respite from the lowlands’ humidity. Aileen says it must be much like that in San Francisco, and wouldn’t she like to live here instead? Tiffany smiles, because it’s not just the climate that will induce her to stay. Would she be able to adjust? How long will it take her to learn the language and norms so that she can fit into this society better?

My daughters shrug and say, “What’s the problem?” For them, there is none. Their knowledge of different cultures and ability to compare and analyze them gives them a broader picture of the world, making them global citizens while remaining Filipino at the core.

I dig my spoon into a jar of sweet sticky Good Shepherd ube jam and marvel how the confluence of cultures resulted in these four women, my family. I wonder where the coming years will take us.

One thing I am sure of – we are Filipino, and we carry that identity embedded in our heart and soul. ***

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cosplay? anime con? hunh.

With anime conventions now a regular part of the teen scene in Manila in recent years, I went with Alex and Ik to one to see for myself what all the fuss was all about.

This con was held today at the Megatrade Hall of SM Megamall, Ortigas, Pasig City. Entering the mall at ground level, one sees groups or pairs of teenagers dressed in otherwordly costumes familiar to TV viewers and manga readers, flaunting outlandish makeup, prancing around in killer shoes. It’s called “cosplay” or “costume play”. While they might have attracted gawkers following them around before, now only the strangest costumes turn heads.

The event venue is located at the top floor of the mall. Up there, the place was packed with dressed-up teens and the occasional parent. All were well-behaved; chattering was kept to comfortable noise levels, and there was no pushing or shoving to get in.

The Megatrade Hall at SM Megamall was packed with cosplayers, events people, vendors, and performers.


Cosplayers as Anakin Skywalker and a Stormtrooper


Toys abounded, from these huge and expensive action figures protected inside lucite cases…


…to these teeny ones on bases that allowed them to be displayed…


…to these colorful stuffed cuties.


Cosplayers and fashionistas, including Ik, cram into the tiny stall of Baby Moon Lifestyle, purveyor of Goth, anime, and Lolita clothes and accessories. (


Ik tries on a Baby Moon mini-top hat…


…but ended up buying these polymer clay cupcake earrings from Mush Pomato.


I call this stall “The Wiggery”. I rather fancy the light pink one with ponytails.


The space in front of the stage was packed.


The cosplayers are the most interesting feature of cons. They love to have their picture taken. Just tap them on the shoulder and they will promptly pose, like this group of accommodating elves.


Costumes are usually homemade or “patahi” at friendly neighborhood mananahis and sastres.


A lot of resources, ingenuity, and planning goes into making these costumes.


Makeup and accessories play an important part in recreating a particular anime character.


Interesting staff. Weapon, or magical item?


“The Mask” comes to life. The dapper suit was mostly likely custom-created by a tailor. The mask is cleverly and painstakingly constructed from sponge foam material. This cosplayer kept patting it before being photographed to make sure all the different bits were still in place.


As performers of a sort, cosplayers are treated rather like celebrities, and fans like Alex here love to have their picture taken with them.


One of the more interesting activities at the con was the impromptu “on-the-spot costume making” contest. This gave participants a chance to show off their wicked creative skills.


This con’s a certified success! With the price of an admission ticket at one hundred pesos, anime cons are big business in Manila.

Being a Gen-Xer, I can say from experience that the anime wave swept Manila during my generation. It was in 1979 that my stepfather, Joseph Sellner, a broadcast blocktimer, brought in “Voltes V” and “Daimos” from Japan. He loved cartoons, and when he went to Tokyo to view these, he was smitten. He aired them on GMA-7 and launched the “robot shows” craze in the country.

I was in fifth grade at the time, and I remember being asked to watch each show to log the commercials and the gaps during which they aired. Not that I had to be forced; they were my favorite shows, along with the other shows Uncle Joe brought in later.

Let’s see – Mondays was “Mekanda”, Tuesdays “Daimos”, Wednesdays “Mazinger-Z”, Thursdays “Grendaizer”, and Fridays “Voltes V”. Filipino voice actors dubbed the shows in English. This was the age of “mecha”, and its unexpected popularity spurred other blocktimers to bring in Balatack, Danguard Ace, and other forerunners of modern anime.

But then-president Ferdinand Marcos saw a good thing and found he wasn’t in it. So he banned these shows, claiming that they were “violent” and a bad example for children. Today, the children who grew up brandishing laser swords and trading rocket punches in their games are now leaders like Francis Pangilinan (senator) and Chiz Escudero (congressman). They turned out okay, didn’t they?

Back then, we didn’t cosplay, but we did wear the shirts and buy the vinyl LPs of the soundtrack, singing along without understanding the lyrics, but having a fine time anyway.

The ban on robot shows disappointed Uncle Joe, but he rebounded. He returned to Japan and came back with “Candy Candy” and “Paul in Fantasyland”, also animes but in different genres. They also became hits, but never reached the height of popularity of Voltes V. “Knight Rider” was also his import, but that one he got from Hollywood.

Today’s generation has brought up the game several notches with the advances in technology and the changes in cultural taste. Yet when I see these cosplayers and anime fans, I see the reflections of myself and my classmates. Through the years, the shows may be different yet the enjoyment remains the same.

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