If you roamed around the first floor, you most probably heard how crazy the main stage and crowd sounded. A lot of the special guests were here and, while I am bummed that I didn’t get the chance to see all of them, I am at least happy to have seen my favorites.
The Exciting Stage Events
As an anime fan, it was only right that we watch the Anime Luncheon with Akidearest and JoeyTheAnimeMan on the main stage. The two shared stories about their old usernames and how they came to be content creators. Aki explained the backstory saying, “My current username, Akidearest, is the combination of my real name and the name my family calls me which is a secret. But Dearest, came from my mom’s photo albums of me when I was a baby and the first thing you see in the photo album is the dearest person in the world.”
Meanwhile, Joey also shared how he was currently working on his clothing brand. Afterward, he promises to eventually come back to making more anime content. In addition, he shared a nostalgic story of how Doraemon was the beginning of his love for anime. “Not only did it [Doraemon] singlehandedly get me into reading manga and watching anime as a kid but I also learned a lot of Japanese just by watching a lot of Doraemon. The thing is, every kid in Japan learns Japanese from a young age just by watching Doraemon. I just went down the exact same path as every Japanese kid. My grandma used to record the episodes on TV onto VHS and she would ship me this massive boxes full of VHS tapes of Doraemon and Pokemon, and all these animes that were on TV at the time… Shipped to Australia, where I was at the time. And yeah, I grew up watching those videotapes, and from there I learned to appreciate Japanese as a language and anime and manga as a medium. And that was the start of it all.”
Gloco, a local streamer and anime/gaming personality, also appears later onstage with them to play the ultimate anime trivia game — the TaichoKageShinigaiKaizoSenpai of CONQuest (TKSKSOTSI CQ). It was hilarious to watch because Aki, Joey, Gloco, and a Master Roshi cosplayer admittedly struggled with remembering their anime terms. Honestly, as an otaku, it’s either you remember the whole thing or nothing at all — which is why it was super relatable to me! If you want to watch the roller coaster ride, the segment is available to watch on Gloco’s YouTube Channel.
I was unfortunately unable to go to any of the NU events, but other than that, a stage was also set for special guests to appear at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Atrium. During the Roomies panel with Sykkunno, Pokimane, Yvonnie, Fuslie, and Valkyrae, the guests played Pinoy Henyo (a Filipino version of Charades). It was a fun banter among the guests and the crowd as they guessed for words like Jollibee. Another panel with local comic creators Libreng, Hunghang, Aeonix, LTPH, and Sskait also had another drawing game like last year.
The fact that many of the stage events and panels were happening all at the same time was truly overwhelming. I honestly struggled with which ones to go to because it was a lot of distance to walk to and from, but thankfully, CONQuest was live-streaming the main stage! The other highlights we were able to see were the Genshin Boss Rush with the Scamily, Offline TV and Friends, VTubers Bao and Shoto, Jollibee’s Dance Contest Segment, and the Cosplay Contest.
The Valorant Showmatch was also a highlight that many con-goers were excited about. They had Knifekkuno (Sykkuno) on one side versus Tondo Gaming (Razzie Binx) which made the game very amusing. In the end, Sykkuno and his team won the 1 hour-long game. During this segment, Vakyrae also mentioned her experience so far and said “It [the Phillpines] has been incredible. You guys are at a whole other level of support. The Philippines just hits differently, honestly.”
Informative Community Panels
Lastly, the stage event that I was looking forward to the most was the Community Stage on the second floor of the SMX. It’s a cozy and intimate area right in the middle of all the exhibits. Some of the panels here included the Cosplay Prop Making: Modern Day Blacksmiths with Gelo Grayson, Razgriz Props, and Solibeau; the Degenshin Panel: From Late Night Gamers to Content Creators with Sevy, Genshashin, Ryndia, and SaladdinTheWise; and the Songwriting for the Heart and Soul panel with Shawn Byron Bernarte.
The panel that I enjoyed the most was “Fishing 101:The Best IRL Adventure Game” with Gloco. The lecture was a playful introduction to everything you needed to know about getting into the fishing hobby. Gloco’s panel was especially fun and relatable because of his anime and gaming references. For example, he said that fishing was like an open-world RPG from questing, exploring the rivers or lakes, talking to NPCs, equipping weapon gears, battling monsters, and failing or completing the mission. Gloco even added that the thrill of finding out which fish he got was like a real-life gacha game. Lastly, he shared that while he has already tried fishing in Japan, his favorite memory is the time he fished a large Cream Dory from Pasig River, Metro Manila.
Gloco’s panel was definitely one of the best moments for me in CONQuest 2023. If you’re interested to see his lecture, Gloco actually shared his slideshow presentation after the event. If you didn’t notice, he was also cosplaying Tsurikichi Sanpei from the anime Grander Musashi. He recommends watching it, together with other fishing anime like Tsurikichi Sanpei, Tsuritama, Diary of our Days at the Breakwater, and Slow Loop.
An Exhilarating Music Night Concert
The paid music night was held on the main stage at the end of Day 2 (Saturday, June 3). It was actually not part of my plan to see the music night, but since it came with our media partner perks, I was able to take a peek at the concert. Well… to be perfectly honest with you, I was still at the second floor’s food lane having my first meal of the day when I suddenly heard Autotelic’s “Laro” and I kid you not, I took my food to-go and ran as fast as I could to the hall. When I got inside, I was jumping, vibing, and singing along with the band and the crowd. No words can describe how happy and alive I truly felt at that moment. It just hits differently seeing it live, you know?
With this, CONQuest 2023 really proved that it was a celebration of hobbies and pop culture. It had avenues (and communities) for all kinds of gamers, artists, cosplayers, and now, musicians as well. One of my joys in life is discovering new music, so I’m really glad that I got the chance to see this show. The other sets included Oh Flamingo, Timmy Albert, Lesha, Carousel Casualties, The Rose, and James Reid.
Free MeetZones and Panels at Conrad
If you were part of these events, then you have my congratulations for being one of the luckiest people at CONQuest Festival 2023! As much as I wanted to go, the gacha mechanics of these events were not kind to me. (Anne Yatco joked at me saying that I lost 50/50, and yeah, it’s true.) I was also not let in on the stage panels at the Conrad Hotel, but my fellow colleague and writer, Ken, was able to attend a few panels. He shared his experience in his separate coverage of the voice actors at the convention.
So anyway, this is only half of CONQuest 2023! I spent a lot of time on the second floor of the SMX with the artist alley and booths, so go on over to the next page and discover why so many people wanted to come to this particular part of the convention!