Let me start with an excerpt from a wikipedia entry of the song "Superman" by the singer "Five for Fighting":
The narrator portrays himself as misunderstood and unsure rather than the god-like figure others see; he does not feel as powerful and perfect as people see him, and at the same time believes he is more than simply that heroic, unreal figure. Instead, he describes himself experiencing an ordinary man's struggles to understand himself, to live up to expectations, and fulfill his responsibilities, even while he is aware of how much greater his responsibilities are.For the last 5 years I've been with these extraordinary group of people who had nothing on their minds but service for others, even when the subject in question is cosplay, a subject people can easily take for granted.
After all this time, I can easily say that Cosplay Mania, the event, can be compared to Superman of this particular song. It started out small, delicate yet firm in its belief that it could do much good to cosplay enthusiasts. It came out of the blue, out of the sky, falling in a capsule of ideas that could have exploded on impact or never made it to its destination due to a wayward thought or dismissal of pessimism. It was unreal, alien, a hobby which came from a different culture (Japan) yet we adopted it and molded it as our own. The whole Cosplay Mania team, the people behind it, the organizers, marshals and volunteers, were like the Jonathan and Martha Kent of Superman's world - people who believed in old-school values while embracing the new with parental understanding.
But like the song, Cosplay Mania has its own share of insecurities and weaknesses. But despite all that, the driving force behind it still believed that it was worth all the wisdom it can gather and learn from, and from there, fly off to become an inspiration to others.
I've observed that some people see Cosplay Mania and the people behind it as supermen/women themselves: untouchable, invulnerable, and laden with enough superpowers to decimate any imagined opposition. They were either admired (and sometimes *shudder* worshipped) like saints or demi-gods, or despised because of it, making their own assumptions to justify their dislike towards the event and the people behind them. Sometimes decisions are made that aren't very popular, and would endure the storm fed by fear, ignorance or malice. Thus is the tragedy of being in the spotlight, but like always, we make it a point to simply hold our heads high and aim for something much higher, because we know our actions, and the result of that, will speak for itself.
On a personal level, it has been a struggle to define myself as either the Clark Kent or Kal-El when it comes to helping out Cosplay Mania. Its a double life I live in, juggling personal and professional obligations while helping out my own responsibilities for the event. I never intentionally kept my other life secret, its just that I never really talk about it. Its easier for me to deal with it without the annoying questions that came with the discovery. But its already general knowledge here in the office when it comes with my hobby, except when you're newly hired. But apparently I had reached my limits when what I dreaded finally happened: when your job and personal obligations intersect with the event itself.
I've seen it coming actually, three years ago in fact, and that I have been grooming my friend Zaerone to lead the Costume Building Contest, an activity close to my heart. This was his very first year without me, and I'm glad he was capable of leading on his own, but I really wished he should start finding an assistant soon before all of his hairs turn grey with stress.
Since February I've been helping out Cosplay Mania through graphics productions, although the poster designs for Cosplay Mania and TORCH, I give all the credits to artists Wilson Tortosa and Ruben Devela for the designs. I simply did the layouts and everything else (well except the huge tarps and souvenirs, where Elben helped me with). The only thing I wasn't sure of was who made the giant tarp of the TORCH finalists draped over the second floor near the escalators. But even the demands of the event can make a man weary, especially if I have to satisfy equally the demands of other things like work and home. These are the times I'm very grateful to friends who are more than willing to lend a helping hand in those times of weakness.
With all these Superman references, the obvious question is what would be Cosplay Mania's kryptonite? Will it be in a form of a hypothetical Lex Luthor, Brainiac or Darkseid? No, it's kryptonite would be this picture below.
Without these people (the organizers, marshals, volunteers, sponsors, guests, congoers and cosplayers) Cosplay Mania would be nothing, a dry husk without meaning. A kryptonite that instead of your usual lethal green kind, its the blue one that heals. We were all blue kryptonites, caring and healing and helping it grow (unless you're the Smallville version, we're screwed, so lets pretend to be the Super Friends version, shall we?).
We all look forward for the next year and what our humble event can do, to provide a venue for creativity for all cosplayers out there, and yet still dependent on all the Jimmy Olsens, Lois Lanes, Perry Whites, Jonathan and Martha Kents and a huge plathora of supporters and super heroes. A huge thank you and we promise keep on fighting for a better Cosplay Mania for all you blue kryptonites out there.
So unless we turn into some sort of Bizzarro, our quest for flying ever higher will never fade. So here's to a sixth and beyond!