A Fangirl’s-Eye View: Oz Comic-con Sydney 2015 (pt. 1)

Last weekend was the most fun and memorable working experience I had in my entire life! I signed up as a volunteer for Oz Comic-con in early September and got to immerse myself in the event, gaining valuable work experience along the way. It was my first big ‘con and I was very lucky to have been able to do what I did!

I was on duty for both days of the comic-con, which was held in the Sydney Exhibition Center on Glebe Island. For those who don’t know, Oz Comic Con has been around since 2011 and while it may not be as big as Supanova or SDCC, they do get a few celebrity-status guests a year. This year’s big shots were Supernatural’s Jim Beaver and Mark Sheppard (who I never got to see the whole time I was there!) Evanna Lynch and Robbie Jarvis of the Harry Potter franchise, Jed Brophy and Stephen Hunter from LOTR and The Hobbit and Richard Dean Anderson of Stargate/McGyver. Also present were several popular TV stars, a visual effects team from Animal Logic, a number of comic book writers and artists and voice actors as well (including fellow Pinoy and prince of the fire nation, Dante Basco.) It was a pretty fabulous opportunity for me to be a volunteer at the event since I would get free access, a complimentary autograph (more on that later) and a chance to meet other fans and be introduced to other fandoms.

So, prior to the weekend we volunteers (or ‘vollies’) had been emailed manuals on how the event would be run, information on travel and shuttle buses and what areas we would be assigned to. I got placed as a stage assistant for Stage 2. My job was mic running (finding people in the audience who wanted to ask questions during a panel and screening these questions beforehand) ushering and guarding the entrances and exits. But in between working, I was able to walk around, get some photos with cosplayers and pop into a panel or two.

For the benefit of my buddies back home and for anyone who’s interested in volunteering for OZCC next year, this post and the next will be dedicated to a full rundown of my work experience on the panels, covering what I did, what I saw and what made Oz Comic-con fabulously great!

Saturday, September 26:

6:12 AM- Arrived at Central Station in Sydney, where free shuttle buses would go to and from Glebe Island throughout the day. ReedPop, the organization who handles OZCC, tries to take good care of its guests, attendees and volunteer staff, making sure everything is convenient and comfortable!

7:08 AM- At the Sydney Exhibition Center, I signed in and got my green volunteer shirt :) There were a ton of us teenagers and young adults in the same bright green shirt, all of us in the same place was like that scene in LOTR when Aragorn gets the ghost army.

8:00 AM-  I met Beck, the Stage 2 emcee and team leader, and the other Stage 2 volunteers. At our station we were given a throrough briefing on how to conduct Q & A’s. From 8-9:30 am I was able to walk around the different stalls, getting my first look at the various exhibitions and shops before anyone else did.

First, i found these cool autographed posters for sale!

Spot your favorite stars.



…and as I was walking, I thought I heard a familiar grinding, wheezing sound. The sound of hope! I turned a corner and…


There were also a ton of cool stuff on sale (which I wanted but could not have)


10 AM- Let the panels begin!  My first job was mic running (a job I ended up doing more than anything else, because I was tiny enough to pass between rows of attendees unobtrusively) for the Dragonball Z Panel with Mike McFarland and Todd Haberkorn.

fans showed up cosplaying as the cast of Dragonball Z

I don’t watch Dragonball Z, but I still enjoyed the panel a lot and learned a little of what it’s like to work in voice acting. Turns out Todd also plays Natsu from Fairy Tail, which is maybe the only Anime I’ve actually been interested in. I loved the mic running jobs because I got to get close to stage while holding the mic for attendees in the front row seats!

These two guys were funny, talented and passionate about their job, able to put on their anime character voices at the drop of a hat to the delight of the audience!

11 AM- By now I had been assigned to usher in the line for the next panel, which meant I had to stand by the entrance and stay there for the duration of the panel. This next one was Voice Acting 101 with Olivia Hack, Dante Basco and Rikki Simons. I’m a big fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender, so when I found out that Stage 2 was getting Olivia and Dante (who play Ty Lee and Zuko on the show, respectively) I got even more excited for the comic-con weekend. However, today I didn’t get to watch all of the panel as I was busy showing people inside.

Some people just linger in the doorway wondering what’s going on. Some are content to stand at the entrance for a few minutes before leaving, which is really bothersome for the people lining up. I also had the job of reminding attendees to stop taking photos after the first five minutes of the panel, as per the OZCC protocol. Quite a few attendees get kind of snarky if you tell them this, but others are polite and apologetic.

left to right: Dante, Olivia, Rikki and teamleader/ emcee Beck

Nevertheless, I was thrilled to be able to observe the panel from afar. Olivia Hack had injured her ankle and was on crutches during the con, but that didn’t dampen her friendly and bubbly attitude. Dante Basco sounds exactly like his characters, and when he said ‘dragon up!’ (his catchphrase from the cartoon American Dragon) I almost lost my mind. He talked about his experiences with Mark Hamill on the show as well, and about how art truly sometimes imitates life. Plus, fellow ATLA fans will be thrilled to know that ‘The Beach’ was Olivia Hack’s favorite episode of the series :) There were a lot of people and a lot of questions, owing to the popularity of Avatar, American Dragon and Invader Zim, which Rikki Simons was a part of.

12 PM- Shortly after the Voice Acting 101 panel ended, a man in a Sonic the Hedgehog outfit approached me asking where he could wait. I asked him to wait in line until the panel started, then he told me he was a guest on the panel! Surprised, I brought him around to the back entrance where he could wait with Beck.

By the time the panel started I was beginning to feel a little dizzy and restless, and was beginning to think maaaaaaybe I should have something to eat. The information we’d been emailed prior to the panel had allowed for one hour break for lunch per dey of the comic con, a rule which was softly bent as time went on. 12 pm on Stage 2 was the team of Good Game, a popular show of gamers who review different video games (including the guy in the Sonic suit.) The audience for this was overwhelming, mostly families with young children, and the team was friendly and fun in answering their questions. 

1 PM- The next panel was for Bryan Krause of Charmed fame, and seeing as I was not needed for this panel I asked Beck if I could go take lunch. For vollies, lunch is a free sandwich and one drink. Thank God for free sandwiches! I felt a lot better after that and decided to walk around the venue, taking pictures and looking at all the cool merch I couldn’t have. 

2 PM- The International Creatives panel brought together four different comic book illustrators and artists from different comic book companies. For this panel, I was tasked to count audience attendance. I have to say this was a pretty boring, slow panel, for all I love comic books and comic book art. This panel had the least questions and the least attendees, but I was still able to learn a thing or two about what it’s like to work in the industry.

3 PM- Again I was mic running for this panel. The guest this time was Rachel Nichols, a science fiction actress most known for her role on the show Continuum. However, I also realized she’d been in G.I. Joe as Scarlett and Star Trek as James Kirk’s green-skinned one-night-stand. She was friendly and witty, and I enjoyed her panel as well. Rachel talked about how art can bleed into life, and how the many different characters she’s played always seem to stay with an have an impact on her. 

4 PM- Now this was one I absolutely couldn’t miss! Jed Brophy and Stephen Hunter of The Hobbit and LOTR had a panel with wide attendance and a lot of positive reactions. I was mic running for this as well, and really enjoyed listening to them answer attendees’ questions. Like many of the panelists, Jed and Stephen are very invested in their work and characters. Jed is a tall, lean beanpole of energy for a guy his age and Stephen was wearing a ridiculous bee outfit– i loved it. We all got treated to a brief History of the Origin of Dwarves in the Tolkeinverse in their own words: 

Jed: The dwarves came first, but we were so beautiful the world couldn’t handle us. 

Stephen: Yeah, so then they put us to sleep. 

Jed: They put us to sleep until the world could handle the beauty of the dwarves.

Stephen: So we were kind of like heavy metal. Nobody was prepared for heavy metal, but there it was. 

As a mic runner for this panel, I facilitated a number of interesting questions which got interesting answers in return. Jed and Stephen reminisced about singing the Misty Mountain song, talked about the perks and pitfalls of working with green screen, and brought up fond memories of working with the late Sir Christopher Lee. They even poked fun at gorgeous Dwarf actors Dean o Gorman and Aiden Turner. Jed even did a hilarious impression of a Kili smolder! They talked about how Martin Freeman used incredibly colorful language to help get Richard Armitage in an angry mood for a scene. I found out that Stephen is in fact from Randwick, NSW. Last but not least, an audience member asked how they felt about the love story added into the Hobbit film, to which Jed and Stephen replied that while such a change felt important, they had their own reservations about it as well. As a fan who wasn’t too keen on that little cinematic alteration, this was actually kind of satisfying to hear.

Despite being on duty, I was having so much fun that I almost didn’t want the panel to end. The two actors left the stage to thunderous applause. Up next on Stage 2 were Rob Maschio and Sam Lloyd from Scrubs, but as we were clearing the area in between panels a senior volunteers asked if I wanted a break. And did I ever! Because on stage 1 was a panel I really wanted to see…

5 PM- I instantly made my way to Stage 1 to catch the first 25 minutes of Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood) and Robbie Jarvis (Young!James Potter) from Harry Potter! Myself and other volunteers had the entire back row to ourselves, where we could stand behind the seated crowd (yeah, such VIP, very wow.) The turnout for this panel was enormous, but the questions were moving rather slowly, which allowed time for both actors to give detailed answers. 

It’s always amazing when actors in real life are just the same as the people they are on Twitter, and Evanna Lynch proved that. Even years after the Harry Potter success, she still wants to be a cat. All of us in the audience got to know them a little better– Evanna mentioned that JK Rowling drew inspiration from her love of arts and crafts when writing Luna’s room into the second book, and Robbie even mentioned writing Harry Potter fan fiction in his younger years, a revelation that was met with incredibly positive reactions from the fans (positive meaning screaming and cheering and gasping.) Both actors truly believed in the importance of their characters in the series, proving their understanding of Luna Lovegood and James Potter to be unique and layered. Robbie even talked about wanting to do a Marauders movie (about James Potter and his squad during their teen years) to bring audiences closer to the character and what makes him the man he grows up to be. This is one of the profound things I took away from their panel, no matter how short a time I stayed. And after leaving early to check back in with my assigned area, I realized I’d always be grateful that Evanna got the part of Luna Lovegood in the films. She totally gets the character, and I loved it. 

6 PM- Returning to my assigned area I found out that I was not needed after all. Beck had the panel wrap up early as there was somewhere she needed to be. After checking Out with her and doing a short clean up of the strange and seats, I was free to collect my bag and go! 

The facilitators had arranged for more free shuttle buses to drop off attendees and follies at the train station. I climbed into a bus surrounded by happy, euphoric teens in cosplay, all talking about their great experience. I was pleased that everybody had a good time and was all ready to take some shut eye on a relatively relaxing drive home.

And then one girl received a text message saying that Central Station was on fire. 



I have aches

They linger persistent, muscle-deep

Vestiges of movement ingrained into me

Shadows of where I stretched and pulled for jab, cross, hook

I can live with these aches

For they will fade

Unlike the other aches,

That go deeper than skin and muscle and tissue,

That lodge deep in my bones

Vestiges of laughter and memories ingrained into me

Shadows of how I hugged or high-fived

Or playfully punched or squeezed the hands of

Friends I miss

I can live with the other aches

But these,

Will take me time

It’s not the way you look, it’s the way you see

When I was a kid there was one thing that set me apart from my kindergarten classmates pretty early. 


Blame the genes and blame my tendency to sit too close to the television, but there they were. Glasses. And I could not function without them.

First it was cool, then it was not.

There’s stigma attached to glasses. People with glasses are seen as nerdy. Boring. Smart-ass. Unassuming. Glasses come with unecessary hassle when you’re riding a roller coaster, going to see a 3D movie, going for a swim or playing volleyball. And on top of all that, when you’re growing up with glasses, with periodical and regular check ups to the optometrist that with every passing year makes you feel worse and worse as your prescription increases almost exponentially, you can’t help but feel like there’s something really wrong with you. 

Plus, having lenses and frames changed is expensive. 

But you learn to live with it, and you learn to be okay with it. You even learn to be proud of your four eyes and realize that they don’t have to limit you. Wearing glasses never stopped me from trying martial arts, or horseback riding, or being super fab at prom. There is only one thing I’ve remotely dreamed of doing that I never could do by mere virtue of being short-sighted, and that’s flying jets.

But, in comparison, the multitude of possibilities I still have before me despite needing glasses and contact lenses is as endless as the sky. 

Besides, look at who else wears glasses. Steven Spielberg. Tina Fey. Stephen Hawking. Steve Jobs. Ingrid Michaelson. Milo Thatch from Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Eliza from The Wild Thornberries. Clark Freakin’ Kent. Harry Freakin’ Potter, one of the literary world’s greatest childhood heroes. Yes, the bespectacled not-quite-minority of the world’s population does have some pretty badass representation. 

Then somewhere during my teen years, when I had started wearing contacts, glasses suddenly got a change in rep. Suddenly they’re cool, unique, intriguing, quirky, sexy. The ‘hipster frame’ took the world by storm. 

But I was already all of those things before the revolution. And I would have been all of those things without my glasses anyway.

I learned early on that it’s never the way you look, it’s the way you see.


Spring creeps in

In increments,

Rising temperatures and

Sheets of sunlight

Opening flowers,

And I notice

My pace quickening
I am she,
Winter-bleached Persephone, 

Blooming in the blinding daylight

A goddess come home,

A queen come into her own

I cast away coats and layers

With every passing day

Until I stand with arms and legs bare

Under sunlight, and feel

More like myself again

Sab Does the Tim Tam Slam

Ah, Tim Tam, a staple of Australian childhood and a significant part of Australian culture (apparently.) And I say ‘apparently’ because I didn’t know the scope of the brand’s popularity until I actually moved to Australia. Yesterday I visited the Smooth Chocolate Festival in Sydney with a new friend (hi Jen!) and was able to get my hands on some deliciously free Tim Tam…plus get a look at the various flavors I didn’t know existed before.

Prior to moving to Sydney, a couple of friends who actually used to live in Australia told me about how one could use Tim Tam as a kind of straw when drinking milk. Last night one of them sent me a series of pictures of her demonstrating the Tim Tam Slam (hi Pat!) from the comfort of her home in Manila. And today, I tried it myself with a white chocolate Tim Tam from the fair. 

This counts as an informative blog post on cultural assimilation!


1. Step 1- bite one end of the Tim Tam

2. Bite the other end of the Tim Tam
  3. Dip one end in milk and drink it through the Tim Tam

4. Be surprised that it actually worked  
Because it does work, and satisfyingly well! After trying it I don’t think I want to eat Tim Tam on its own anymore (same way I prefer to have milk with Oreos.) After a while of course, as the biscuit thoroughly absorbs the milk, the Tim Tam gets kind of soggy. Maybe if you have a white chocolate type like I used here you can drink chocolate milk. Just don’t use orange juice. Although maybe you could try it with vodka, because everything tastes better with vodka. (IMHO) 

Next on the list? Hug a koala! 

The Knight and the Lady: a song in pictures

Growing up in a Waldorf school I was exposed to various lesser-known, but equally important, seasonal festivals and feast days of saints. My personal favorite is Michaelmas, the festival held in honor of archangel Michael (or Mikael.) A big part of Michaelmas is about overcoming fear and obstacles, which are represented in antiquity by a dragon. I love dragons and I love stories, and I particularly love the collection of Waldorf Michael-centric songs. This Michaelmas, I decided to adapt my favorite song into a series of pictures, like a comic strip. Granted, it’s the only Michaelmas song I know that tells a story. Half-nursery rhyme, half-Medieval lay, The Knight and the Lady was written in such a way that I could depict the scenes as they were described by the lyrics, but also have enough room to draw things that I imagined were happening between the lines.


Art done on Adobe Ideas, text done on Over.

Page 1- My favorite page! Without text would make an okay timeline cover for Facebook…

Page 2- I intentionally skimped on the characters’ facial features, retaining their anonymity (they don’t have proper names, they’re just the Knight and the Lady all throughout) 

Page 3- Setting up the next scene is always difficult especially with the limited aspect ratio of my screen  :(( but I had fun experimenting with panels hinting the approach of the dragon and then finally introducing it.

Page 4- In the only page without words, the angelic power of St. Michael makes an epic cameo! This would explain the knight’s sudden ability to tame the dragon without putting me through the process of illustrating a big fight scene. (also had to find a way of making the background transition from dark to light)

Page 5- My least favorite page despite being the climax of the story. 

Page 6- I really wanted the maiden to have a Daenerys moment with the dragon XD In the background of the last panel you can see a meteor shower characteristic of the time of the year Michaelmas takes place. The lady is suddenly brunette, the trees have suddenly disappeared, but whatever, I make the rules here. 

Happy Michaelmas Festival!