Continued from The Fine Line Between Cosplayer and Clown
Continuing a series of posts on Philippine cosplay — one tackling the issue of entitlement complexes, and another on the issue of cosplayers as mascots, is a third one on the Filipino cosplayer and his place in the international arena.
Philippine cosplay is nearing its tenth year of existence, but there is still a lack of recognition in the international community. Save for one or two local lasses known the world over, everybody else is pretty much relegated to (as the 4-chan natives would put it) “Mexicans on an island”. This is not because we are not talented, nor are we technically inept in the arcane arts of cosplay. It is mainly because we simply cannot afford the expense of flying out to compete in the proving grounds of international cosplay.
The World Cosplay Summit is the venue for international cosplay, and for years Pinoy cosplayers have dreamed of competing in it. WCS is organized annually by TV AICHI, who give accreditation to cosplay events worldwide as the official platform of selection for national representatives. These accredited events in turn must secure their own sponsors, to shoulder the expenses of the selected country representatives en route to Nagoya (as the WCS is under no obligation to pay for it).
WCS accepts applications from prospective competing countries on a yearly basis, but is only obliged to include them to its roster of official competitors, if the national event applying for the position is able to fulfill the WCS requirements. Most of these requirements involve logistics, financial backing, and local support, which many developed countries such as the US, Australia, and Singapore are able to fulfill easily.
However with the Philippines the way it is, we have to put in a bit more effort before we are duly accredited. At the forefront of our struggles is the lack of financial support. We simply lack corporate entities and other institutions willing to risk their assets to support Philippine cosplay in the international arena. Cosplay is nothing more than a niche activity here, so sponsors would find little reason to invest.
Another problem is the lack of proper venues to hold selections. Our local cons pale in comparison to what cons are overseas — massive affairs that pull in anywhere from 10,000 to 60,000 participants. The scale of these events ensure that selection is as democratic as possible, with all possible entries considered for the role as national representative, and not just from the 100-odd cosplayers who happened to show up for a small event held in Manila (with no representation from Visayas and Mindanao).
Our last concern is less economic and more social, but we can still factor it in as a financial concern just because of the sheer time and effort it costs in man hours: local cosplay wars. With the current climate of Philippine cosplay — cliques and communities busting each others’ balls just to prove who is superior, any result from the national selections will be disputed, and disputed hotly. A controversy of that size is soon to reach the ears of the WCS committee in Japan, who will understandably be very concerned with the situation — concerned enough to cancel accreditation and ban us from future participation.
All of this boils to a simple fact: we cannot afford to join WCS. At least, not yet. For local cosplay to fulfill the dream of competing in the largest event for international cosplay, it has to do three things: 1) gain as much financial support as it can; 2) gain as much legitimacy as it can; and 3) gain as much maturity as it can. Maybe then the WCS will consider us eligible for competition, instead of just another gaggle of unruly cosplayers with more talent than sense.
Concluded in Cosplay, Pinoy-style