Posted June 11, 2014 by Joseph Batcagan in Events

From The Ditches: Notes from Iloilo Comic Con 2014

ICCON 2014 Streamer

Pinoy Icons in one picture

I have a confession to make: I’m an ex-geek. Or at least I think I’m supposed to be. I do not have the same passion for comics, anime, and Marvel movies now than I had back then. I think it’s because I’m becoming old, but I know many “old” people like me who still like to engage in a zealous bit of fanboyism akin to manangs going to Sunday Mass on 5 am. And I must say, I miss feeling that kind of fiery fandom in my veins. Which is probably why I decided to go to Iloilo Comic Con 2014 two weekends ago.

However, there are many things you probably have to know before reading this piece. For many geeks, extrovert, closet, or—at least, in my case—“recovering”, this is not just “the” event to go to, this is the ONLY event of its kind anywhere in this town or in this tiny Panay island. While some third-party organizers have lately followed Iloilo Comic Con’s tract of being “everything to everyone” in terms of providing diverse entertainment to folk who may not be otherwise a part of “our” world, it is the Con’s sense of inclusiveness which allowed it to be the success that it had been ever since the first one had been held in 2012. And for a tiny city like Iloilo, this “inclusiveness” can go a long way towards attracting younger generations of geeks to come out and celebrate their… uh, geekery, I guess.

So, when I say that this year’s ICCON was “everything to everyone”, it really isn’t just mere lip service; I was surprised that the organizers even decided to include an academic panel discussing traditional Ilonggo Mythology, a topic which surely allowed one of my bohemian-inclined photographers something to relate to for the whole duration when we were there at the venue during that sweltering afternoon.

paolo herras and tepai pascual

Paolo Herras and Tepai Pascual posing with local fans 

And yes, it was indeed sweltering. While this year’s Comic Con did not have the luxury of being situated inside the centralized air-conditioned confines (or, to make it even shorter, “air-confines”, ha-ha) of a downtown mall, it at least made the whole thing feel like a more intimate event than it has any right to be. It was easy for me to be a detached observer during the last Comic Con because… well, if I got bored, I always have the nearest coffee shop to scurry away to. But not this time; this year’s event was held in the open-air Promenade of Central Philippine University. So, in other words, all the “distraction” one would ever need for this Con was essentially happening within the four sides of the venue.

But then again, I’m glad that Jann Galino, the main organizer of the ICCON, and his crew decided to hold the event in a university which, in the first place, is already sorta famous for being a local geek hotbed; it essentially allowed us not just to shoot photos, but to also talk with some of the local talent who were there to basically show their stuff, whether it be selling their work or just busting out their “portfolio” for anyone interested enough to take a look. Heck, I’ve even talked to a trio of young people who came from as far away as Bacolod City—literally, two islands away from the nearest port in Iloilo City—just so they can sell their comic to what should hopefully be a receptive audience for them.

Sketches on Display 

Of course, any Con worth its salt knows that it can’t survive without having a “star” or two anchoring the whole thing. In this regard, ICCON has that in the presence of the ever-ubiquitous Manix Abrera (of “Kikomachine Komix” fame and, more recently, the auteur behind “News Hardcore”, “Travel Hardcore”, and all the other nouns which can be considered “hardcore”) and Marvel freelancer Carlo Pagulayan. Of course, present are also the standard indie komiks luminaries in the form of Jon Zamar, Paolo Herras, Tepai Pascual, and many, many others we probably haven’t even talked to but are worth mentioning in pieces like this one. Also of note was Apollo Anonuevo’s rah-rah speech on Pinoy animation which he bookended with an impressive showing of the TOEI Philippines-produced short, The Origin of Mang Jose (which, if you’ve been keeping tabs on Pinoy rock, predictably has music set to the seminal Parokya ni Edgar song of the same name).

(Speaking of which, we’ve interviewed ALL of the names mentioned in the last paragraph, so check those one out in the future!)

The piece de resistance of ICCON—as in every Con in history, as always—is the cosplay competition, which was held as the day was winding down. Since this year’s cosplay was simply confined to a single “open” category, the top slots were won by a couple of mecha dudes who were wearing synchronized Iron Man­ outfits. However, the arguable show stealer was a petite charmer who dressed up as Bentham from One-Piece; he essentially tried his darndest to stay in character even before he took the stage with his routine. For a dude like me who watches pro wrestling regularly, that’s the kind of hustlin’ I’m down with.

ICCON 2014 Cosplay Contestants

Guess who won here. 

Even from the get-go, it’s very obvious that this year’s ICCON is still undergoing its birthing pangs. But—and I’m not just saying this because I’m a proud neytib of Iloilo or anything—at least I can say that it’s still going on the right and steady track. And even then, a mammoth undertaking like this one still deserves its kudos, particularly for the folks who worked tirelessly AND without pay (yes, gotta stress that word out). Next year’s Con may probably not be bigger than what it currently is, but as long as it still has that “local” flavour, I’ll probably be going to the next one next year. Even if I’m not there for assignment.

toy comic collection

You know, just in case someone gets the wrong idea.

Attack on Titan cosplayers

It was so hot that someone actually decided to strip to his skivvies. 

Kikomachine Merch

Kikomachine Merch: Always a bestseller at Cons 

Joseph Batcagan

Copywriter by day, weekend warrior by... err, weekend. Amateur podcaster for IlonggoPop.com. Lapsed geek (but currently experiencing "remission"). Feels weird writing about himself in the third-person. @JBatcagan