The cosplay community in Cebu, Philippines is alive and kicking, but how much do you know about them? Did you know they are winning lucrative prizes on the world stage aside from bagging awards from regional and national competitions? Cebu might again represent the country for the GICOF World Championship in Seoul, South Korea this year.
Cosplay in Cebu was more popularized by the Otakufest of UP Cebu in 2007. In collaboration with GICOF Philippines, the same group is organizing a big comeback at SM Seaside City Cebu this June 24 to 25, 2023. Before Otakufest appeared in the scene, ARCHcon, a pioneering hobby convention in Cebu, has been facilitating cosplay events since 2004. It was held for the first time at Sacred Heart School that same year. Will this Japanese pop culture continue to grow and take hold in the Queen City of the South, the entire Philippine archipelago, and the world stage? Will the GICOF Philippines 2023 Preliminary Champion from Cebu win the Gyeonggi International Cosplay Festival (GICOF) grand stage this September 2023?
Cosplay Cebu Community
According to Seigfred Enero, a famous multi-awarded cosplayer in Cebu, “There are about two to three thousand active and inactive cosplayers in Cebu, but the entire community is around ten to fifteen thousand, including the exhibitors, gamers, and organizers.” He asserted that the usual attendees during events could range from five to ten thousand fairgoers.
Throughout the years, Seigfred has seen the growth of cosplayers in Cebu. He even considered the Queen City of the South the powerhouse or hotspot for cosplay competitions in the Philippines. As a matter of fact, GICOF Philippines considered Cebu a home of world-class Filipino cosplayers. Rising stars in the cosplay community of Cebu islands include Miles Semblante and Diane Marie Sabandeja (cosplay streaming), Charess Cos (cosplay modeling), and Team Class S and Team Zero (cosplay competition).
Cosplay Cebu Organizations
From Otakufest of UP Cebu and ARCHcon Cebu, they have created a bigger group called the Association of Cebu Hobby Organizers (ACHO). “As an assembly of active organizers in the Cebu hobbyist community,” posted on their Facebook page, “ACHO aims to provide an open and safe environment for the communities to freely express themselves within the set standards of society.” Adding to this list of growing cosplay communities in Cebu, the CESAFI Esports League (CEL) also conducted its first-ever cosplay event at SM Seaside City Cebu on April 15 to 16, 2023.
Regarding the local government, the three independent cities of Cebu (Cebu City, Mandaue City, and Lapu-Lapu City) are active in organizing cosplay events and supporting representatives competing outside Cebu. For instance, the Mandaue CDRRMO provided medical support for Bon Odori, a Japanese Summer Festival, at the vacant lot across Parkmall, Mandaue City last month. I attended Bon Odori for the first time in 2016 when I was still teaching English to Japanese students.
Cosplay Cebu on the World Stage
Cosplay, as Japanese pop culture, has gained popularity in Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, because of anime, manga, and online games. It took the world stage for the first time in 2003 at the World Cosplay Summit (WCS). Its fame also reached the Korean Peninsula through different organizations, such as the World Cosplay Festival and the Gyeonggi International Cosplay Festival in Seoul. It’s in WCS where Seigfred Enero and Sheena Mae Enero became a finalist in 2018. The Team Class S of Seigfred and Sheena managed to rank Top 2 for the Alumni Award for Skit at the same event in 2019 before the pandemic closed the global arena for all types of in-person events.
The four-time Otakufest Champions will be joining #OF23 again this June. Through the event, Team Class S is looking forward to winning the GICOF Philippines 2023 Preliminary Championship, which makes them qualifiers for the GICOF World Championship in South Korea this September. Only time will tell if cosplay Cebu gets the top rank in the industry for the first time in Philippine history.
Team Class S has been in the industry for eight (8) years now. According to them, people are getting in because of the hype and the constant increase in popularity of the event. Seigfred believes there is no stopping it. “The cosplay culture of Cebu,” he further uttered, “only gets bigger and bigger each year, especially in 2024 when ARCHcon Cebu plans to hold three international events.” Winning the GICOF World Championship will secure the Philippines and Cebu, in particular, a significant spot in the world of kosupure (コスプレ).
JP Abecilla – The Millennial Writer, an award-winning Cebuano blogger and Filipino influencer, is planning to join in covering this moment at the Otakufest and the GICOF Philippines 2023 Preliminary Championship this month. See you SOON!