A Home for ‘Furry Friends’: FurryPinas Promotes This One-of-a-Kind Fandom
by Anne Marielle Eugenio, June 20, 2019 5:00pm
Art by Ahl Mirambel
When someone expresses fascination as we talk about movies, TV series, books, or video games, we can’t help but feel all giddy and excited to tell more about it. It’s a different story when there’s a whole community dedicated to a certain interest—there’s a sense of belongingness. We are well aware there’s a fandom for Harry Potter, Marvel, and Netflix TV Series shows to name a few.
Then there’s specific fandoms and conventions that cater to different interests like AsiaPop Comicon and Sticker Con. But do you know there’s a fandom for fans of anthropomorphic animal characters? This is called the “furry fandom.” And yes, we celebrate it in the Philippines, too!
The Furry History
Furry fandom is a subculture interested in anthropomorphic animal characters—characters with human-like characteristics. Members of this community are called “furries.” They are interested in literature, art, and films surrounding the fandom. They even create their own crafts like costumes and accessories based on famous animal characters. Furries also do cosplaying (or, in this case, fursuiting)—either wearing a tail, ears or in full-on animal costume to show their “fursona” (furry persona). To showcase those, furries like to go on conventions and meet-up with other fellow-furries.
According to fandom historian Fred Patten, the concept of the Furry fandom started in a science fiction convention in the 1980s. A conversation about anthropomorphic characters sparked because of Steve Gallaci’s comic book series Albedo Anthropomorphics. Soon, this conversation started a discussion group and as the years go by, they would also start on what we now call “furry fandom.”
The Philippine Furry Scene
In the Philippines, there is also an existing furry culture, although not many people may know about it—we even have a convention for it! This is called FurryPinas, which is deemed Asia’s biggest furry convention. According to FurryPinas executive director Brian Uy, the furry fandom in the Philippines can be traced back in 2008 in a Yahoo! group.
Now FurryPinas creates not only a space for furries for two years now, but also for the non-furries who would like to know more about the fandom. For the 2019 convention, they held a costume parade, art competitions, and games for everyone to enjoy. Booths filled Bayanihan Center to serve con-goers looking for postcards, t-shirts, and stickers among other furry merch.
Furries Fur a Cause
The furry hobby may seem like merely putting on costumes, but it is beneficial to some people. Apart from holding a convention, FurryPinas also makes time for charity works. They partner with the non-government organization called Hands of God Charity Works to encourage people to give donations and sponsor a child. They also invite kids to FurryPinas convention as they believe this would bring joy to every kid.
For Brian who’s had a tough childhood in terms of socializing, the furry hobby served as his coping mechanism and now plays a huge part in improving his social skills. And so, this motivated him to organize FurryPinas—to share this experience with others who are dealing with the same problem.
Brian sees the furry fandom as a blank slate in the Philippines. So, he wanted to shape it into something positive as early as possible. Everyone is their market, not just the furries, so more people can understand the furry hobby. As much as FurryPinas can, they actively seek out people who would want to know more about the furry fandom.
People may look at the FurryPinas or other furry conventions as odd, silly, and out of this world, but it is no less than any other conventions. Just like the other communities, it organizes avenues for people with the same interest. It creates a safe space for them to express themselves and their crafts. So yes, FurryPinas is not just a convention—it is a home for every furry and for everyone with an open mind to know more about this culture.