Words by Frances Leones
Photos by Franchesca Collantes, Gilbert Jacob Que, and Frances Leones (edited by Justin Francia)
Last August 3, my entire family woke up at 5:30 AM as per my younger brother’s request. His reason? We had to go all the way from our town of Santa Rosa, Laguna to Fun Con 2019 at Glorietta in Makati, where they were selling the newly-released Darna and Jolibee Funko Pops.
It was raining and the line was already so long by the time we got to Glorietta at around 7 AM. The mall didn’t open until 10 AM and the rain was coming down hard. On top of that, the convention organizers really didn’t know how to handle anything and issued a number system–needed to claim either of the two Pops–that wasn’t even being followed.
My brother put up with this bogus system and the pouring rain and stood in line for nearly 4 HOURS to get them.
When I think about it now, sometimes I wonder what drives these people to endure all of that. While I do look for and purchase the occasional collectible depending on what fandom I’m currently into, I’m not as crazy for collecting as my brother and so many other collectors are to the point I would go to all the abovementioned extremes. The waiting in line for the release of a new figurine or toy that would inevitably become widely-sold everywhere else, spending hundreds and thousands of pesos to score that one collectible, and the hours of scouring markets both online and offline for that rare piece… Why do these collectors, well, collect?
Over the past week, I’ve asked people what they collect and what drives them to go to all these lengths to acquire something for their collection and I’ve heard some pretty interesting stories.
NOTE: The stories have been slightly edited to make this article more user-friendly.
Gilbert: Spreading Culture Through Fashion
I am a costume collector. I collect particularly traditional costumes and sometimes accessories from different countries; I usually get them when I travel. For me, my collection is part of my advocacy to spread cultural understanding among people, and for me to learn more about the world (i.e. I also make sure that I use these clothes properly, through proper research and interactions with locals, so I won’t be accused of cultural appropriation).
Apart from my interest in cultures, having a new acquisition in my collection makes me feel that I have come to know another culture or another society. What I like most about my collection is that I don’t need to leave them in the cabinet smelling like mothballs, since I use them regularly (ex. I use the casual ones when I go to the mall or meet with friends, and use the formal ones in other more appropriate situations, and so on). So apart from personal interest, I guess I like collecting these things so I can be more to the world, by making foreign cultures more accessible to the people around me, and by giving me a chance to educate the people around me about the different realities, perceptions, and colors of the world.
For example, last year my costumes were exhibited as part of a cultural exhibition in UP Diliman, and I had fun telling people all sorts of things about the costumes I had in the exhibit. It made the people realize how similar many seemingly distinct cultures were, and that made them rethink how we see people who come from other cultures and experiences.
Angeline: No Boyfriend? No Problem!
In this world filled with stress and pain, collecting Funko Pops and toys brings a bit of peace and happiness into my life.
Also: wala akong jowa. Might as well have toys.
Also: finding that one toy you’ve been looking for for forever feels like such an intense achievement. Since I don’t really have any more achievements to look forward to, that’s all I have. Hahaha.
Henry: Connecting with A Brand
I used to collect shoes but then you know adulthood and poor decisions haha. I collected them because I simply wanted to have them. I also only collected a certain brand of shoes and it gave me the feeling that I am representing a great brand, like how athletes always have a specific sports brand on etc… I felt that it made me who I am and so its why I collected those shoes.
Varrian: Cultivating A Passion and Love for Different Things
Hmm why do I collect? Let me start with what do I collect. I collect toys and other collectibles and this only started 2012. Yun na siguro kasi yung time na may sarili na kong pambili. And the why? Siguro mainly because mahilig ako sa mga cute na bagay. Influenced by so many factors din. Movies and fandoms combined. Tapos fellow collectors na ang gagaling mag-influence. Bibili sila tapos ipapakita sayo ng paulit-ulit hanggang manuot sayo at magustuhan mo na ng tuluyan. Hahaha!
Now what makes it worth it? It boils down to the joy and satisfaction that I feel whenever I make a purchase be it from a store or from a fellow collector. I have a lot of points of interests when it comes to collecting. With superheroes, I have what I call The Core. That’s Storm, Wonder Woman, Loki and Maleficent. I also collect cute unicorns and other mini designer toys. Not exactly sticking to a single brand because there are a lot of good stuff out there. And apart from the joy that I feel on every acquisition, the bond that I make with fellow collectors-turn-friends is just precious. It’s really good to be part of a group where all of you love the same thing. And it definitely reduces the stress from our daily lives. Cheers!
Villarama: A Worthy Investment
I collect rare trading cards from across any title. The prices range crazily from a mere 100 to millions as time goes by if you know what card to look for, who can provide it, and how much can it give benefit to you in the near future. This gives a sense of accomplishment and a fun way to have a collection match up as an insurance for a bright future ahead.
Having heard these people’s stories, I understand why collecting is so important to them. It’s more than just a hobby, it’s almost like a lifestyle that allows them to express their love for whatever they’re into and a way to connect with others. And collecting doesn’t stop at fandom figurines or merchandise from a certain brand. A collection can range from just about anything.
When I think about all these collectors whose stories I’ve heard, I realize that I’m a collector myself. I collect artbooks of animated films that I love. I always get excited whenever I find one that’s been on my wishlist for a long time. And opening them up to see all of the conceptual designs made throughout the film’s production process allows me to get a glimpse at the creativity of the artists who made the films that I’ve watched and loved. These artbooks that I collect are expensive but, for me, they’re worth every peso.
So the next time you see someone standing in line for a newly-released toy, figurine, trading card, book, video game, etc., know that you’re seeing someone who has a passion. And if you’re that someone standing in line, keep on collecting!
Do you have a collection you would like to show off to the world? Let us know in the comments!