MULTIMEDIA

The cost of cosplaying

Alren Beronio, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 05 2019 08:48 PM | Updated as of Nov 05 2019 09:59 PM

Saturdays at the La Mesa Ecopark are for fun and relaxation. Aside from the big space the ecopark offers, there are different activities for park-goers, including having selfies with cosplayers.

For cosplayers Michael Balajadia and his nephew Kenjie Libanan, weekdays are usually spent in malls or at events if they are hired for gigs, but weekends are spent at the ecopark.

The two earn anywhere from P500 to P1,500 in tips, posing for pictures, doing selfies with children or adults.

Few people look beyond the masks, but for Michael and Kenjie, their characters are real-life heroes who help provide for their families. 

Costumes await their owners at a shack inside the La Mesa Ecopark in Fairview, Quezon City. Alren Beronio, ABS-CBN News

The costumes of popular movie characters are created from recycled cardboards and styrofoam and then painted. Alren Beronio, ABS-CBN News

During weekends, Michael Balajadia (right) and his nephew Kenjie Libanan bring their acts to the La Mesa Ecopark where they have been allowed to pose for park visitors. Alren Beronio, ABS-CBN News

Michael has several characters which he brings to malls and events where they are hired as cosplayers. Alren Beronio, ABS-CBN News

Michael says he has been cosplaying for 12 years and is his primary source of income. Alren Beronio, ABS-CBN News

The costumes are do-it-yourself (DIY) and fashioned from popular superheroes such as Bumblebee and Iron Man. Alren Beronio, ABS-CBN News

Since 2010, the La Mesa Ecopark has hosted cosplayers as additional attractions for park visitors. Alren Beronio, ABS-CBN News

The cosplayers' characters are popular to both young and old alike. Alren Beronio, ABS-CBN News

A family poses with cosplayers for souvenir pictures. Alren Beronio, ABS-CBN News

An older fan poses for a selfie with “Bumblebee.” Alren Beronio, ABS-CBN News

Michael and Renjie take a break from the day’s grind. Alren Beronio, ABS-CBN News

Both Michael and Renjie consider cosplaying as a serious job. Alren Beronio, ABS-CBN News

Without cosplaying, they say they have no other means to support their families. Alren Beronio, ABS-CBN News

Their characters bring to life superheroes from cinema screens. Alren Beronio, ABS-CBN News

Cosplaying is livelihood for Michael and Renjie. Alren Beronio, ABS-CBN News

The money they earn from tips are enough to sustain their families. Alren Beronio, ABS-CBN News

A young fan puts money in the tip box. Alren Beronio, ABS-CBN News

Cosplayers earn a living and bring joy to park-goers. Alren Beronio, ABS-CBN News

Editor's note: Alren Beronio is a freelance photojournalist based in Samar. This photo essay is part of the requirements in the just-concluded 14th PCP Professional Photojournalism and Documentary Photography Workshop conducted at the Radio Veritas Asia on October 23-27, 2019.