You were a drummer for one of the most popular OPM bands, Sponge Cola, when Philippine rock was at its prime. Are there fellow cosplayers who're surprised to find you beneath the spandex? If there are, how do you deal with, say, the fans? Is your former rockstar self totally separate from the cosplayer self?
Even when I was with Sponge Cola, I was very vocal about me being a geek. So the supporters at that time really knew that about me. Every so often I meet someone now who is just dumbfounded that a musician like me could ever be into wearing costumes and being silly on screen.
What got you into cosplaying?
I was a toy collector first. Mostly Star Wars stuff. Then a friend of mine gave me the idea of taking it to the next level by having my own Stormtrooper armor. I loved that idea so much that I joined the 501st Legion, the official Lucasfilm-approved fan costuming group, and got my first cosplay as a Stormtrooper.
How old were you when you began collecting toys?
I was in my third year in high school when I started buying toys for the sole purpose of collecting and displaying, instead of actually playing with them.
Why do you do the Power Rangers? Is Red Ranger your favorite?
I was obese my whole life until second year in college. So growing up I was afraid of getting a Power Rangers costume for fear of being ridiculed. Kids can be mean. Haha! So as an adult, and it being the 20th anniversary of Power Rangers a few years ago, I decided to make my childhood dream come true.
I like a lot of Rangers. It just so happens that most of them were Red. Right now my favorite is the current Blue Ranger from the new season of Power Rangers. The actor, Yoshi Sudarso, is a real fan who actually got to be cast as one of them. And he's also Asian, so gotta support your own!
You didn't slim down for Power Rangers, did you?
No, I didn't. Haha!
What made you decide to put up videos of your cosplays?
It was actually just for fun. It started with one silly morphing sequence that I did on iMovie and just uploaded it. I left it alone for a couple of months. Then when I went back to view it, I was surprised that it garnered hundreds of thousands of views already. Then I made another one, and the same thing happened.
A number of your videos are wacky and you show the bloopers. What made you decide to take the comical route instead of a serious one?
Let's be honest: When you see my face, you're more inclined to laugh than stay serious. I have always been the comedian growing up so it came very naturally.
What gave you the idea of making your nephew Damien a part of your videos, and how's it like working with him?
I realized that my demographic was more on kids, so I felt that they would relate more to my videos when they'd also watch someone their age.
Damien is a handful. You know those interviews where directors and actors say that working with kids is hard? It's so true! Damien has so much unfocused energy that it's hard for me to keep him concentrated in the scene we're shooting. Thankfully there's always at least one good take in every scene we do. And it's not like I force him to be in the videos. He himself comes up to me every day and asks, "Tito, can we shoot a video today?"
What are some of the difficulties of being a cosplayer, and one who produces videos too?
I would actually consider myself more as a YouTuber than a cosplayer, mostly because there are way more talented people out there who embody what cosplayers are all about. I have someone who makes my suits, while cosplayers actually make them from scratch! They're the real deal!
Right now in my current YouTube state, the number one challenge for me is to keep coming up with good ideas for skits and finding people I can collaborate with. The joy of being a YouTuber is collaborating with others! And I've been lucky to work with people I look up to, both local and from the States.
At this point, who do you dream of collaborating with?
I've always wanted to collaborate with Mikey Bustos, and just recently I was invited to guest on his channel for his project! That was a dream come true for me. I've also collaborated with Chris Lee, an actual Power Rangers actor from the Power Rangers In Space season. That was such a wild experience, too! That started my whole experiment of collaborating with people not from the same country. He sent me his scenes and I just edited them with mine. Now I feel I can have the potential to collaborate with anyone in the world because it's technologically possible already. I've also wanted to collaborate with Wong Fu Productions for a long time now. They've been my inspiration for being successful YouTubers, as well as being creative people. I'm a fan of a lot of people, both local and international, so I think there's no shortage of YouTubers I would love to collaborate with.
What are your plans for your YouTube channel as Chris Cantada Force?
Right now I just want to experience everything I can. I was lucky enough to be signed by one of the biggest networks in the business, Maker Studios. (That's where Mikey Bustos, Strawburry17, and the Fung Brothers are signed.) They have been a big help in getting opportunities for me to grow my channel, as well as for me as a person. Never in a million years would I have thought I would be doing this type of work. And now I'm very grateful that I am.
Would you say that you still play with your toys, maybe through the videos you do?
For the longest time I've always kept my toys in their packaging. Only recently have I started to play with some of my purchases, mostly because I open them in front of the camera already.
I think playing toys as a kid is more of using your imagination in certain scenarios and using the toys to reenact them. It usually ends up in just banging them together and practically destroying the toys! But for adults, I think it's more of reenacting these scenarios by posing the figure in a unique way. I think more adults like posing the figure and taking photos rather than actually playing with them like kids do.
Many people's childhood dreams fizzle out. Some may have pursued them, only to get bored or fall in love with something else. What do you think made yours endure?
I think if you were a true geek, that thing you love will stay with you forever. There hasn't been a time in my adult life that I decided to quit being a geek. There's always something new to engage your brain in, whether it's a new show, a new comic, or a new movie. And since being a geek is somewhat mainstream now, it's hard not to find at least one fandom that won't tickle your interests and spark something new in you.