Cosplay: How This Hobby Has Opened Doors For Modeling Jobs And Travel Opportunities For Filipina Creatives
Unleash your inner creativity!
If you scroll through the famous mobile app TikTok, you will see that the hashtag #Cosplay has more than 75 billion views! There you’ll find videos of people dressing up as their favorite characters, in full makeup and costume, with some of them impersonating fictional roles. It is an avenue for cosplayers, actors, and artists alike to unleash their creativity.
Years before TikTok came into the picture, Cosplay, or “costume play,” was already a well-known hobby in the Philippines. Famous Filipina cosplayers like Alodia Gosiengfiao and Myrtle Sarrosa helped in making the country a permanent name in the world of cosplay.
Do your makeup, dress in costume, and look like your fave character. Sounds easy, right? Well, not really! OneLife.ph got to chat with Filipina cosplayers Kimberly Sabino and Geneva Cabading about how a seemingly simple hobby opened doors to new opportunities, and how it turned into a lifestyle.
Kimberly Sabino, known for her cosplay name “Loki Heart,” has been in the industry for 11 years. She is now in her thirties, and she says that her experience opened an entire world for her as a professional and an entrepreneur.
“I started out when I graduated from college and was enrolled in graduate school. I needed to have a job first before I started cosplaying because I know it is a bit pricey,” she shares. Kimberly actually started as a costume maker back in 2009.
“The cosplay community was still young back then, there weren't so many costume makers at that time so I opened up a small online costume making business. A year [later], my customers started asking me why I haven't tried cosplaying myself. So that kind of started my interest to join the hobby,” she adds.
From 2010, Kimberly became a full-time cosplayer.
Geneva Cabading is a 24-year-old social sciences teacher, language coach, and cosplayer. She has been cosplaying for five years now and did so because she was inspired by Alodia Gosiengfiao.
“I have been engrossed in anime all throughout my childhood but the turning point that shifted me from viewer to cosplayer was when a friend during my freshman year of college urged me to perform an anisong while wearing a costume in a local mall event,” she shares. “Anisong” is a short term for “anime song,” or theme songs used in anime.
“Cosplay was always an idea in my mind as my older brother was a seasoned cosplayer, so I took the plunge.”
Today, Geneva has more than 10,000 followers and 62,000 likes on TikTok, where she dresses up and produces cosplay content.
my favorite,,, dva? original sound - Mocha Bean
What is cosplay, anyway?
For Kimberly, cosplay is a hobby where she can showcase her fandom by dressing up as her favorite characters and acting them out on stage during competitions.
“It is a hobby wherein we can truly express our creativity in terms of costume making, makeup, and prop making. It requires a lot of time, passion, and money to truly participate in cosplay. Cosplay is for everyone and can be enjoyed by many as long as you have the means to do so,” she says.
As for Geneva, she loves that she is able to bring fictional characters to life by adding her own interpretation to them. “Cosplay is both an art form to master, and a means to temporarily escape and add color to an otherwise dull life,” she says.
Did cosplay open new doors for you?
Yes, a lot! Since 2016 up to [the] present,” says Geneva. She won the Best Female Cosplayer at the Otaku Choice Awards back in 2019, which she considers the most memorable prize out of all of them.
“Some opportunities were one-time gigs for modelling and commercials, while other opportunities had me working as a recurring partner for some local organizations and even international companies,” she adds.
Aside from joining competitions, Geneva also offers most of her wigs and costumes for rent and sale. This way, she is able to make money, snag awards, and do what she loves all at the same time!
Kimberly won local contests and represented the Philippines in international competitions. She snagged the Level Up Event Best Female Cosplayer Champion 2012, Level Up Live Best NPC/MVP Monster Champion 2013, Cosplay Mania Team Battle First Place 2014, Gyeonggi International Cosplay Festival Top 1 PH Team Representative 2020 titles, among many others.
“From there, I started judging events and started being invited to conventions as a guest cosplayer. I get the chance to travel a lot during shoots and event guestings,” she shares. “It also landed me modeling jobs for online games outside the country and I get sponsorships during local guestings. It was a lot of fun.”
“The once considered ‘weird’ is becoming more of a norm.”
During cosplay’s early years in the country, people frowned upon the idea. According to Kimberly, “It is currently evolving into something else. When I started out, cosplay was not a popular hobby. It was looked down upon as a ‘geeky and nerdy hobby.’”
Thankfully, times have changed and so has the appreciation for this hobby. “I believe the community is forming a lot of subcategories and it has become more flexible for others on how to express their passion and creativity,” she says.
“Being into cosplay for five years now, I see a burgeoning interest in cosplay that is positioning our niche hobby as something mainstream,” says Geneva. “And with the increased accessibility thanks to ready-to-wear costumes, skilled local artists, and the promotion of individuals who have made big breakthroughs, the once considered ‘weird’ is becoming more of a norm.”
As we trudge through life, we will encounter people who always have something to say about your decisions, hobbies, and even interests. However, filtering out the negativity can bring wonderful opportunities into your life. Geneva and Kimberly are proof of that.
“One will encounter different kinds of people that more often than not break our expectations of the stereotypes of who cosplayers are,” says Geneva. “Over time, I have seen the line blur between artistic eccentrics and straight-faced professionals. But both extremes are bound by the common denominator, which is the passion for anime, games, and cosplay.”You may reach Kimberly Sabino (Loki Heart) and Geneva Cabading on Facebook or Instagram