header featuring multiple photos of Lairieux dressed in a Filipiniana and all dolled up

Beloved TikTok Kasaysayan Cosplayer Lairieux on History, Cosplay and Mental Health

The TikToker is wildly passionate about history and cosplay!

Lairieux, who prefers to keep her real name under wraps, has made a name for herself on TikTok for a number of reasons. It’s primarily because of her cosplay skills and magical vibe. She goes into her own characters based off her fascination with Filipino history. Currently, she’s best known for making Filipinianas such as the viral “pan flag” one and her cosplay of characters in classic Filipino literature as well. She also started a series based on characters in “La Loba Negra” by Fides Cuyugan-Asensio!

Despite her busy schedule, she granted FreebieMNL an exclusive interview just in time for September—a crucial month in Philippine history.

FreebieMNL: You have such elaborate costumes and storylines! What came first, cosplay or writing?

Lairieux: Cosplay. That’s what my account was initially based on…cosplay. Writing, well, if you followed me even before; you know, I was low-key about it. I like to keep things separate; if you go to my Wattpad account, it’s not Lairieux. Cosplay definitely came first; there were cosplay TikTok compilations on YouTube. I saw ’em, thought “Hey, I wanna do that,” and…there!

F: Was it more “ooh this is fun” or “gosh I need to express myself somehow?”

L: I was on an academic break because of my mental health. To put it in the simplest terms, I was not allowed on school grounds. I was on house arrest and needed stuff to do. Cosplay was intriguing enough at the time. I started with low-budget cosplays. Eventually, I kept moving forward. Now, it’s a hobby of mine that I really like.

Used to be shy about my mom catching me in cosplay and stuff. Gradually…that improved too.

F: Do you think cosplay helping your mental health journey was instrumental to your mom accepting it?

L: I think my mom always knew that I liked dressing up since I was young. There’s a picture of me at seven years old in Barbie clothes in a blonde wig. She always knew. As all parents are, there was concern at first; she kind of really likes whenever I sew my own stuff [now]. Cosplay is a stress reliever…I’m in college now, so I have to do a lot of stuff. When I’m done with that and still feel productive, I sew my Filipinianas and stuff.

F: Where do you get your ideas?

L: Uh, this is going to sound random, but…scrolling through Shopee. I just have an impulse to create. While scrolling, I saw a Filipiniana Barbie at PHP5000! I would never be able to afford it, so I thought about it. Figured that I would make my own! Downloaded a bunch of types and asked my sister to choose. ‘Cause there’s casual Filipiniana Barbie and formal Filipiniana Barbie. She picked pink roses and, while I said it looked difficult, I said I’d do my best. That was the first time I created an entire Filipiniana by scratch by myself! The tapis, the skirt, the alampay, the panuelo, the kamisa…they were all done by me.

Some people hyperfixate on something when they’re going through it, then it’s less of a priority when things are better. Why are you cosplaying if it was initially just meant to pull you out of the “dark,” so to speak?

It’s cool! I know that sounds lame on paper, but hey. I like dressing up and pretending to be another character. [I’m] better now, but I still have moments…I’m clinically depressed; sometimes it boosts my morale to be someone else for a moment. As I mentioned, as a younger kid, I think everyone knew I loved dress up. So me doing cosplay is also giving back to my younger self because I had to grow up really quickly. It’s okay for me to slow down sometimes, not always be the grown-up I have to be.

F: Why is Philippine history your main niche of choice?

L: Okay two things: I had a Filipino teacher in Pisay who was real good. When we had Filipino text to study, like “La Loba Negra,” he would give us a deep dive into it history and all so we understood what the text represented. Also how much it meant at the time. I’m horrible at memorizing dates, but I love Philippine history so much [that] I go into it during my free time. My first love was pre-colonial Philippine weapons but I can’t acquire that, so…clothes!

For the Filipiniana in particular, I wanted to do a BL concept for my pre-debut shoot. One of my favorite shows is a popular piece that even had a live-action version. I didn’t want to wear something Chinese because…I’m not of Chinese descent, right? So I looked for similar pieces and just made it Filipiniana, patterned after what characters wore. A character known for being rigid wearing white and blue…a barong, then, and a blue skirt! After I put it on, I was filled with delight! That’s what sparked my love for [the] Filipiniana. 

F: Why does Philippine history matter? There’s a lot of disinformation right now…why do you think people are unable to go beyond current event-related history?

L: It’s difficult to own or understand our history because we were occupied a lot. It’s all about the being and becoming; what came before, what comes after. This country was built on love for the motherland, after all! I think people aren’t interested in history, a lot like I was before…it’s the education system turning it into memorization. Why are we placing momentous occasions into just dates and names? It’s more than dates, names, and a basic rundown. It’s sad. It’s become so trivial. Nobody wants to explore that because they think memorizing it is enough. People struggle connecting it to real people; they see it as things in a textbook. 

History and its effects influence us all the way to today. The evolution of clothing is tied in with history too; people focus on the most trivial things. The easiest aspects to remember. Not their fault because of the educational system; Araling Panlipunan sticks to names, dates, locations. They don’t ask you to remember why people wore the tapis, they don’t ask you to remember the process of weaving from indigenous people. 

Studying historical facts is very important especially considering this country and everything it has gone through. The availability of misinformation is a huge issue.

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It’s partially a class struggle, too; it’s on Facebook, where many people see it. These people don’t have the time to actually check sources; they’re busy, it’s in the past, why should they care? Those who learn more have a disconnect because of language sometimes. “Classism,” “racism,” are big words that make sense, but you have to find a way to make people understand. People see surface level because they don’t see the effects until it’s too late.

Photo courtesy of Lairieux

F: Any advice for people wanting to cosplay?

L: When it comes to cosplay, there’s the “play” at the end of the “costume.” Even if people dislike you for attributes that you cannot change, so what? Have fun! Don’t be too rough on yourself when starting out. Many people tune out early because they compare themselves to others. It’s something you grow and develop like every other skill. Be patient! It’s about being a character you wish to embody. I hope you find a vulnerable you and that they see you and feel happy they’re represented. 

F: What do you want people to take away from your passionate advocacy to spread factual history’s importance and relevance?

L: It’s easy to write history off as words in a book that don’t make sense. History’s so much more than that! It’s someone’s way of living, way of remembering something that can no longer happen, way of honoring something that’s lost. History is about people who gave a lot for the cause they believed in. The least we can do is to remember them and honor them for what they were.

Featured Image Daniella Sison

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