Davai! GGG interviews the girls behind #yoiconph2017

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As of writing, it’s only a little over 48 hours before #yoiconph2017 opens its doors to the public, and the excitement is only mounting. Born to Make History: A Yuri!!! on ICE Fan Gathering apparently started out as an idea for a simple meet-up of fellow fans of the figure skating sports anime organized by a trio of lovely ladies – namely, Trisha Descallar, Nix De Pano and Judith Razon. It has then since grown from simple fan meeting to a full-blown convention at the Bayanihan Center.

I was fortunate enough to secure the promise of an exclusive interview with the organizers on the very same night that Hear My Heartbeat: the #yoiconph2017 Pre-Party was in full swing at the SM Megamall Skating Rink. Since schedules and general life made it difficult to sit down together properly, the girls indulged me about a week ago for a quick interview over Facebook chat.


So, I have to ask the obvious: what made you guys want to organize #yoiconph2017?

Judith: I think Trisha’s the best person to answer that XD but [everything] can be summarized in two words: inggit and #fomo (because Japan had all the events). I basically got dragged into all this – not that I wasn’t unwilling.

Nix: I want to say it was a noble reason like, spreading the love for Yuri!! On Ice but the truth is we were JEALOUS AS HELL. And since Trisha and I have had some experience running events, when she brought it up, I couldn’t say no. As ridiculous as it sounded back then, I wanted a YOI event to happen here – and I knew I wanted to be part of it.

Trisha: #yoiconph2017 finds its roots in a strong, debilitating sense of #fomo and #inggit. It was December 4 2016. Our friend, Kuri, just got back from Ginban no Glory 0.5 (editor’s note: a fan organised convention in Japan for Yuri!!! on Ice, which happened in Ota Plaza PiO), and was regaling us with her experience of it in our Yuri!!! on ICE LINE thread. She talked about all the artists that were present, the plethora of doujinshi already existing for the still ongoing series and the mountains of gorgeously made fan merch. We were all feeling the jelly, but I think me, even more so – I was actually just in Tokyo the week before, and it felt so near and so far all at the same time. It was either whining about Japan having all the events or making one happen here. The latter was a more productive use of time, and that’s how #yoiconph2017 was born.

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Organizers!!! on Ice

What has it been like getting something as exciting as #yoiconph2017 together? Because let’s be real here, you guys look like a major convention, and if the Pre-Party is any indicator, it looks like your attendance rate will be HUGE.

Judith: HAHAHAHAHAHA *insert Janina San Miguel speech*

Nix: O MAI GAD MY PAMILY – serious talk though, it’s been similar to running our smaller events. Trisha and I are moderators of ManikaManila, the local ball-jointed doll community and we run events all year. This event multiplied that by ten, maybe. It’s been a huge thrill, because we get to meet all these amazing people we never would have met if not for #yoiconph2017 (that’s our hashtag please use it) and we get to see our work appreciated on a much larger scale. And it is so worth all the hard work.

Judith: Um, to be honest it’s been a rollercoaster. And after the success of the Pre-Party I feel the pressure, I really do. But I’m doing something fulfilling for me as a fan of the series and the sport so I’ll continue doing my best. Trisha and Nix have been really great.

Judith: Sometimes, I feel like the saling-pusa because I hardly have any experience organizing. I usually throw my money at the organizers instead of being one. So I’m really grateful they took a chance on me.

Nix: It’s extra fulfilling cause we love this series so damn much, if it weren’t obvious enough. And to be in a place FULL of people who love it as much, is just wow! Amazing.

Judith: I was also really overwhelmed at the response last Pre-Party. We were so damn nervous but the people were really great.

Trisha: The event planning experience has been, in a word, hilarious. Nix was able to recover screenshots of the initial conversation I had with her about it, and I, naive as I was about the time, said that, in comparison to a Japanese doujinshi event, “an event here naman won’t be as malala.” Famous last words.

Trisha: We started off with very small hopes. We wanted to gather 20 artists and 150 people, that was a very decent number for us. I mean, we have 50 friends each, right? We were even joking about how we were going to gather 50 friends each, since we three have so many mutual friends. That also how we decided on the name “fan gathering.” That’s what we envisioned and hoped for – a small, intimate gathering of Filipino Yuri!!! on ICE fans. More famous last words.

Trisha: The series described Yuri Plisetsky as a “beautiful, ever-evolving monster.” That’s the term we use to describe #yoiconph2017. It grew, and grew, and grew – and us, along with it. The event has truly been a test of our knowledge and skills – mine in marketing and public relations, Nix in art and graphic design, and Judith as our resource person for all things related to figure skating. It’s been a very enjoyable, fulfilling challenge. I’ll miss it, actually, hahaha.

Nix: This team is wow! Amazing. It’s been an honor working with Trisha and Judith. Labyu guys.

Judith: Huhuhu same here Nix ;_;

You girls are adorable, seriously. It’s so great to feel the enthusiasm about this whole thing. So, what can people expect? At least – beyond giving spoilers – what can you guys tell us to expect on the 26th?

Nix: You can expect to leave with an empty wallet, but a full heart. And that is all I’m saying about the 26th.

Judith: Expect to be in the company of like-minded people who love the series. You’ll have to make an effort to feel out of place surrounded by such people.

Trisha: Expect to be amazed – not because of anything we do on our own, but wow, this country has a rich pool of talent and so many of them are coming together at #yoiconph2017 out of love for this series. Expect to leave with a deeper appreciation of the series, a stronger sense of community – in all of twelve episodes, it has brought so many people together and inspired them to do so much.

Trisha: It’s been three months since the series ended, and three months since we began planning this event. Everything that we have planned for this event is rooted in our deep love and appreciation for the series, so we hope to rekindle and reinvigorate those same emotions in our attendees. Expect an overwhelmingly large Artist Alley, an excellently curated Merchant Market, multiple panel discussions led by some wonderful guest speakers, and musical performances. We’ll have raffles and photo ops and lots of laughs in between.

Trisha: It’ll be a good day to be a Yuri!!! on ICE fan. We’re doing our best to make sure the event runs smoothly, but at the very least, we hope that being in the presence of fellow fans of the same single series will be a memorable experience in itself.

Now that the major questions are out of the way: prior to Yuri!!! on ICE, were you all Figure Skating fans?

Nix: Very minorly so? I watched a few videos and I’ve always liked a number of skaters but I never followed the seasons and stuff, or learned the types of jumps and spins etc.

Judith: I was! though I didn’t get into Men’s until pre-Sochi. I used to be strictly a Ladies viewer. Am pretty much a nerd who cannot skate LOL.

Trisha: Prior to YOI, were you all Figure Skating fans? Aside from the obligatory cheer-for-Michael-Martinez-because-he’s-the-only-Filipino-in-the-2014-Winter-Olympics, I wasn’t particularly one. I watched the sport on a purely aesthetic level, without understanding much of the technicality that went into it. I lived for Ice Princess, though.

Of course, I now need to ask: what got you girls hooked?

Judith: The trailer. Not even kidding – okay, not exactly. Hmm… the trailer got me excited but I got cold feet when it started airing on Crunchyroll because it might have been over-hyped. And it’s a sport I feel very strongly about, so.

Nix: I’ve always liked sports anime, even more so the ones with any hint of gay between pretty boys. So YOI was an auto must-watch for me, because I expected it to be exactly that. I eagerly awaited it after seeing the gorgeous trailer. When it came out it was just as I expected. But then week after week it just kept blowing me away and exceeding expectations. It’s become so, so special to me.

Judith: It was on the second or third week when I watched because it came highly recommended from people – so I watched. And then, I got hooked and screamed into the void, explaining the finer points of figure skating to anyone who would read (like Nix haha). As the story unraveled, I became more and more invested in the story and characters. Episodes 7 and 10 were the most mind-blowing for me.

Nix: Those episodes definitelyyy BUT if I had to choose a favorite scene, it’d be the airport scene from episode 9–

Judith: I… cannot pick a favorite scene.

Nix: –and of course the ending but PLEASE STOP US WE CAN RAMBLE FOREVER!

No! Never! This is too awesome – but please, go on.

Trisha: We have a hilarious video of us watching the ending.

Nix: It is indeed hilarious.

Judith: Since I was not with them when watching, can I just say I cried on the way to work – because that is when I watched it.
So… yay me for crying en route to work because animu :))))))

Nix: ANYWAY EPISODE 9. I don’t think I’ve seen a scene so PURE AND TENDER and they didn’t even have to say much. It defines their relationship, seeing each other, surprised that the other is there and real, realizing they ARE, and that they CAN be with this person, wasting no time running to each other, not keeping their eyes off the other for one second, then finally coming home, into each other’s arms.

Judith: THEIR RELATIONSHIP IS SO BEAUTIFUL.

You guys are seriously adorable :))

Trisha: Only because the series is adorable. People compliment and congratulate us, but I always say, it’s our way of giving back to the series that has given us so much.

Care to expound a little more on that?

Trisha: The initial draw to me was oh, gay sports anime, fantastic. I went into Yuri!!! on ICE thinking I’d get another Free! – lots of emotion leading nowhere. I was very, very wrong. The three exclamation points should’ve told me otherwise. I’m a sucker for good storytelling. Regardless of the particulars of the story, as long as it’s told well, I’m all over it. It was good, and it kept getting better and better.

Trisha: The series in its entirety has so much depth. There’s so much to do with it, so many lenses under which it can be examined. There’s the angle of gender and sexuality, mental health and the athlete’s psyche, even the role of social media in human development. It’s an intricately layered series filled with an incredibly diverse cast of characters. What’s not to love? I love it way too much.

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Fans pose for a group photo at the Hear My Heartbeat Pre-Party.

I’m going to swing back a little to the Pre-Party. I came late, but what I saw was mind-blowing in terms of turn-out. What was it like putting that together?

Judith: The pre-party was… not in our original plan at all. Trisha are we allowed to say that???

Trisha: The pre-party was… us shooting for the stars and landing on the moon.

Judith: YEEEEEP.

Trisha: Like many things in this event, it began as a joke. We were putting together a program, and we wanted to have a panel on figure skating. We were cajoling Judith to handle it if we couldn’t find a resource person – that was the running gag, we’d end up speaking at the program ourselves if we couldn’t put one together.

Judith: We just wanted to add legitimacy to our event by having the PHSU speak if it wouldn’t conflict with their schedule for the World Championships.

Trisha: In the LINE thread where we do most of our planning, I jokingly typed, “Dear Philippine Skating Union, Greetings of Peace!” just like how the letters from private Catholic schools like to read. Libre mangarap – we’re free to dream – right, so why not? We laughed about it, but I couldn’t get the notion of out my head. I looked up their contact details, got the blessing of the other two to reach out, so I did. We put a lot of things out there for the sake of doing so, thinking we’d lose nothing if they don’t reply but gain everything if they did. The Philippine Skating Union replied, curious about Yuri!!! on ICE.

Trisha: We met with Mr. Pico Martin, Sports Director of the Philippine Skating Union, and told him all about it. We had a little presentation prepared and some clips from the show. Our initial hope was really to invite them to speak at #yoiconph2017 – that, and sweet talk them into sweet talking SM Skating into giving us a few GCs for us to raffle off. We didn’t have to sell the show to him too hard.

Judith: He was really sold on having an anime that treated the sport with such respect and care.

Trisha: Yes. He already appreciated the series for its relevance to the sport and the respect with which it tackled its topics. Better than Peppa Pig and Sofia The First, said Mr. Martin. Judith and I walked away from that meeting, slack-jawed and with way more than the GCs we originally came for.

This interview was fantastic, girls. Thanks so much for being so game to talk about your experience. Any last words for our readers?

“We Call Everything On The Ice Love.”


Born to Make History: A Yuri!!! on ICE Fan Gathering runs from 12NN to 7PM, this Sunday, March 26, at the Bayanihan Center. For more information on how to attend, please visit www.yoinconph.com.

An earlier version of this article stated that Ginban no Glory 0.5 took place at Tokyo Big Sight, this has since been corrected. This interview was lightly edited for clarity.

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Noey Pico
Audioromantic, geek and gamer. Currently a contributing editor to both Girls Got Game and What's A Geek, while occasionally moonlighting as fictional characters online. Flails a lot. A LOT.

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