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#TheFutureIsCreative

SEARCH FOR TRUTH - Ernesto P. Maceda Jr. (The Philippine Star) - May 15, 2021 - 12:00am

Today, I yield my space to the gentleman from the 4th District of Pangasinan, Congressman Christopher Vera-Perez de Venecia, and his initiative of a shared advocacy on the creative industries:

In 1997, during the fallout of the Asian financial crisis, former South Korean president Kim Dae-Jung was hard-pressed for an economic path to recovery. Their main driver which centered on cheap manufacturing was lost to them and so they had to pivot towards new growth strategies. As with any crisis situation, there are two sliding doors – one in which an agent crumbles with “business as usual” and another in which he or she meets the crucible head on with “business unusual.” South Korea made a “business unusual” pivot towards developing their latent content industries – basically paving the way for K-Drama and K-Pop, two bastions of the hallyu or Korean wave, as we know it today. Newsflash: Crash Landing On You, BTS, and Parasite were not some freak phenomena. They are creative consequences of an intentional policy shift.

As a creative myself who’s had to battle it out for survival and sustainability in a country that hardly ever supports its creative firms and creative workforce, it amazes me how government identified an opportunity in the sector and developed policies and programs to enable it to flourish. In so doing, South Korea tapped into a wisdom that has long been harnessed by developed countries but has seemingly escaped us since our independence.

Cut to: the Philippines 2021 where creative governance is dispersed, siloed, substantially lacking in capacity and, dare I say, relevance. Culture and creative industries are closely linked but they are not the same. One is past-centric, the other is future-centric. Both occupy a liminal space in the present through dialectic, tension and negotiation. As a creative, I consider culture and heritage as input to my creative output.

While there is a need to definitely improve things on the cultural front, there is a need to consolidate and bring together our diverse Philippine creative industries to become the economic behemoth that they were always meant to be. But first, a definition!

Based on the bill that I filed along with members of the Arts, Culture and Creative Industries Bloc of the 18th Congress (or ACCIB), creative industries involve “persons, whether natural or juridical, that produce cultural, artistic and innovative goods, products and services that originate in individual creativity, skill and talent and that have the potential for wealth, through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property.” It’s a definition that takes its cue from the United Kingdom’s Department for Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS).

Another quintessential definition comes from Professor John Howkins, globally renowned father of the creative economy, who describes it as “economic systems where value is based on novel imaginative qualities rather than the traditional resources of land, labor and capital.” In short, creative industries are part and parcel of the “knowledge economy” to which all nations have begun their pivot in light of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This was also an express policy declaration of the Duterte Administration’s Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022.

The bill has been passed in the special committee on creative industry and performing arts which I chair and the committee on ways and means and is set to be tackled next in the House committee on appropriations. Its counterpart in the Senate was filed by Senator Imee Marcos and had its initial deliberation in the committee on trade as chaired by Senator Koko Pimentel.

We thank Speaker Lord Allan Velasco for his strong support of our bill as well as our advocacy spanning several legislative inquiries in the past year since the pandemic, legislation and policy reforms and collaborations between government and the private sector. We’re equally grateful for the endorsement by the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce, economic agencies such as NEDA and the DTI, and many others from the private sector like the National Live Events Coalition, Philippine Fashion Coalition and Inter-guild Alliance for Film who have devoted long hours with us in the committee hearings to fine-tune details of the measure.

Once enacted, a Philippine Creative Industry Development Council shall be created and co-chaired by both DTI and a private sector representative from among nine creative industry domains. Each domain reflects the developmental framework of the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and aggrupates more than 20 creative sectors into 10 key domains: a) Audio and Audiovisual Media; b) Digital Interactive Media; c) Creative Services; d) Design; e) Books, Publishing and Printed Media; g) Visual Arts; h) Performing Arts; i) Traditional Cultural Expressions; j) Cultural Sites and k) Other domains and sectors as may be later determined.

While various powers shall ascribe to the Council, what would be most crucial would be the determination of key performance indicators and economic goals in which to ascertain each sector’s growth trajectory. In particular, value creation, contribution to GDP, job creation, export targets and intellectual property through a Philippine Creative Industries Development Plan. Here, a short-, medium- and long-term roadmap shall be institutionalized.

The bill shall also codify various programs to benefit stakeholders, including shared service facilities, R&D and innovation support, digitalization, fiscal incentives, financing, creative instruction and education, capacity-building for stakeholders and government instrumentalities at the local level, creation of lighthouse creative economic zones and many others.

It’s very telling what a unified governance framework can do for a sector. At a time when creative industries stood alongside tourism within a 7 percent GDP range, the latter enjoyed a watershed moment with the passage of the Tourism Act in 2009, accelerating and paving the way for what is now 12.9 percent of the country’s GDP.

Imagine what growth opportunities our Philippine creative industries may reap if this bill is enacted into law. It’s not a silver bullet but it’s a start. We have what it takes to be competitive – especially in services. In fact, Lea Salonga once said that if we could pay our nation’s debt with talent alone, we would have long been emancipated from our economic woes. Now we have to put our money where our mouth is. After all, #TheFutureIsCreative.

For queries on the Philippine Creative Industries Development Act and other bills like the Freelancers Protection Act, email christopher.devenecia@house.gov.ph

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