Every October 31 gets perky 20-something BPI assistant bank manager Ssiala Azores feeling pressured. No, it’s not her birthday, or some other special holiday to anticipate for that matter. It’s because it’s, well, Halloween. And her friends, once every year for the past seven years, always find themselves dying to see what kind of spectacular she will transform into that season.
“It all started back in 2011 when my friends thought my piso/coin costume was hilarious,” she recounts. “I did not expect that people would find it interesting since I crammed making it—literally just a day before our get-together!”
“At first, it was just me challenging myself to think of random ideas to implement as my costume because I enjoyed the process. My mom would sew my suits while my siblings helped me out in cutting and painting— basically whatever it is I needed. They’re all so supportive and it sort of has become a family activity already.”
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That year, to have that tinned finish for a Philippine peso coin, Ssiala powdered her face with silver eye shadow. “I used it to cover my whole face then I had lotsa pimples after!” she wrote as an accompanying caption for that Facebook photo. The post only raked 40 reactions, but it was only the beginning for her "fan base" to grow.
In the following year, Ssiala morphed herself into Gotye in the music video of “Somebody That I Used To Know,” the preceding year’s hit song. For this, the young creative slipped into flesh tights and leotards (“I think I suffocated at one point since it shrunk after I painted it”) and then painted a cubic illustration for the backdrop.
Ssiala—a business graduate of the University of the Philippines Diliman—only got more hardworking in the next Halloween, encasing herself from head to toe in a golden suit a la, yes, an Oscar award. She even uploaded an album documenting “a day in a life of a statuette.” (Click the gallery to see more!) The vibe was almost the same in her next year’s costume, which had her dressed as the lamp on that iconic Pixar logo. (Also click the gallery to see how she made it!)
“Then suddenly my friends just expected that I would come up with something crazy every year! And so of course, the pressure would get to me and of course I did not and do not want to fail them!” she recalls with a laugh.
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#Halloween2015 and #Halloween2016 became more ridiculously amazing for Ssiala’s genius. First, she cut out a cardboard and sewed a patterned cloth over it to become a... chair. And then next, she became a stick of isaw on a grill. Unthinkable, right? She aptly wrote the following as the caption, “I came. Isaw. I conquered.” The comical young lady continued, “And to the peeps who messaged me "Ano na?" "Saan na?" "Pa-send pic!" "Napanaginipan ko costume mo!" "Don't disappoint me!" I just wanna say, TRY KO NA I-READY COSTUME KO FOR NEXT YEAR, MGA BES.”
The pressure was no less for Ssiala this year, and so she chose to be yet another peculiar, stationary object.
“This year’s different though because my mom is out of the country… I was not sure I could pull off a costume without her! This year, I’m Tostitos in a grocery bag,” she reveals, with the following as a half-hilarious, half-insightful explanation.
For Ssiala, putting some wild thought into her costumes year per year has been more than just for entertainment or a showcase of her personality and resourcefulness. (Her posts have since garnered thousands of online reactions altogether with comments of her friends saying they are “fans.”) She instead tells us, “I still took the extra effort to make my costume because I think that God, the master of creativity, is allowing me to see how I can use this ‘avenue’ not just to entertain people, but also to use my skills to spread good vibes and, ultimately, to point them to Christ. This year, I'm not celebrating Halloween but instead, the 500th anniversary of the Reformation! The Reformation is a movement that was started by a German monk named Martin Luther back in the 16th century... Since God has done everything to accomplish the salvation of His people, He alone deserves all the glory.”
For now, though, while it’s still early and with #Halloween2017 over, we already cannot wait for Ssiala to top herself yet again. Now there’s another punch of pressure!
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Photographs courtesy of Ssiala Azores