PHL aiming to make its mark in the global creative industry  

EXPERTS believe that the creative juices of Filipinos should be squeezed further to make the Philippines the hub of the creative industry in Southeast Asia, and even Asia Pacific.

This calls for the advancement of the so-called Philippine creative economy, which, according to Undersecretary for Trade and Investments Promotion Group Nora K. Terrado, encapsulates the development of the field of creativity, culture, economy and technology.

Globally, the creative industry produced $2.250 trillion, or 3 percent of world GDP, in 2015 through the production, promotion, distribution and/or commercialization of goods, services and activities that are cultural, artistic and/or heritage-related in nature.

In the Philippines alone, this sector contributed P661 billion, or 7.34 percent, to the country’s GDP in 2014.

Copyright-based exports, on the other hand, were estimated to account for 3.06 percent of total exports, with the creative industries accounting for 14.14 percent of employment nationwide, based on the report of the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines and the World Intellectual Property Organization.

“Despite taking up a significant portion of the labor market, Filipino creatives only ranked 22nd in their contribution to the country’s GDP,” she said.

This could be attributed to the relatively infant development stage of the creative industry here, which, on a positive note, also demonstrates the economic viability of the sector both locally and internationally.

“Right now, we’re just in the very nascent stage of creating that industry. We have so much gains that we have done already, but they are not working together,” Terrado noted.

Seeing the potential of the creative industry as the next growth area that the country could leverage on, she calls for collaborative efforts between the public and private sectors to develop it further.

“In the government, we want to provide that environment or ecosystem, where industry will thrive. And no less than the business, or the private, sector can make this happen,” the DTI undersecretary said.

New economic growth area

THE burgeoning Philippine creative economy does not revolve around the financial gains of the entire creative industry and its subsectors, but also its other impacts on communities, particularly in generating jobs and developing new entrepreneurs, as well as in creating a new image for the country.

“[It is a] brand that we will be known for, particularly in terms of content, where it is registered as an intellectual property and we have ownership and rights with. Here, the Philippines can earn royalties and our people will have their creative services, which not only the domestic market will recognize, but also the world,” Terrado said.

She reiterated, though, that this is a purpose that the government, business community, stakeholders and the public should share.

“But it will take time to do it, probably more than 10 years. If we have done it with offshoring and outsourcing, I think this is our next IT-BPM [information technology-business process management] industry in the services sector,” the undersecretary said.

With convergence happening the world over, she said that local export products are now being mixed with services components—a lot of which are in the area of creatives.

Since the creative industry is vague as it is comprised of around 24 subsectors, Terrado emphasized the need to push further the gains that have been achieved already.

“I think media and advertising have a lot of it,” she said, while citing the other high-potential areas, such as digital games and apps, film and animation, and performing arts.

“We have to promote these gains. I think we sorely lack that appetite or motivation to promote ourselves and showcase our wins. We don’t have a united messaging about what the Philippines can be known for in terms of creativity. So this is our chance to create an economic power using ideas. This will be emanating from individuals and even common people or anyone in the echelon of society. They can have a good chance to participate in this. This is a very noble aspiration for the Filipino people,” she added.

Bringing PHL creatives to the world

WHILE the creative industry continues to gain ground domestically, the initiative of pushing it further for the country to make its presence felt overseas seemed wanting at present.

“We have a very healthy domestic creative industry market,” said Paolo Mercado, founder of the Creative Economy Council of the Philippines (CECP). “What we have seen, though, is that there’s not enough perspective in terms of what we can do internationally, or how do we win as a creative economy.”

Although still relatively new, the CECP’s members from several creative industries are already working toward one specific mission, which is to make the Philippines one of the top five creative economies in Asia Pacific by 2030.

“What that means is for sure we already have Korea, Japan, China and India to be among the top four. We  need to be No. 5, beating Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, etc.,” he said.

Currently, the private-sector think tank strategist endeavors to bring in key people, like those Filipinos who succeeded in the international performing arts, advertising, digital, film and music scene.

“But we go beyond telling the individual success stories. We also want to take a look at business models being built here that allow us to scale in terms of our creative industries,” Mercado said, while citing the international film school in Cebu as an example of a potential creative hub.

“So we really drive the perspective of competitiveness that we are a legitimate creative-economy player. For us to really win market share in an international creative marketplace, we have to make sure of what we are good at, and then drive that skill in order to gain real share versus our neighbors and competitors,” he stressed.

On the road to success

Developing the creative industry as a whole—and expanding it to cater to customers abroad—is a painstaking process that cannot be achieved overnight.

In fact, the Industry Road Map for Creative Industry took the government, through the Board of Investments (BOI), considerable time to formulate until it was launched in 2014.

“That’s when we realized how big the industry is and how loose it is,” recalls Paul Edward Tajon, lead coordinator of the BOI.

This, in turn, had him and other luminaries in the industry, including Mercado, form an industry association aimed at pushing for the interest of the creative sector or economy, he said.

“So I think with an industry organization [or] umbrella organization, we now have a focal point in the private sector, wherein the government, through BOI, will be involved with other agencies like the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions [Citem],” Tajon said.

“We now have a single point of communication with the private sector. While we are aiming for No. 5 by 2030 [in Asia Pacific], we are also aiming to be No. 1 in the Asean region. That’s why we are really pushing for at least an industry road map so we can identify which of the sectors are the ‘lowest hanging fruit’ for us to develop and hone because they have the potential to grow and contribute to our vision,” he added.

Pioneering industry event

To help fast-track the achievement of the creative industry’s objective, Citem is organizing CREATE Philippines as the country’s first international creative industry trade show set to unfold at HallOne and the Philippine Trade and Training Center in Pasay City from October 20 to 22.

“This is in line with the Philippine Economic Development Plan of the Duterte administration to nurture our creative industry for them to become a significant contributor to the country’s economic growth, and to also play a major role in spearheading the Asean initiative in promoting creative industry across Southeast Asia, especially now that the Philippines is the chair of the Asean Summit,” Citem Deputy Executive Director Ma. Lourdes D. Meridan told the BusinessMirror.

“The trade show will also give the industry a unified voice so that this creative industry, through collaborative participation of various agencies, members of the public and private sectors and other key stakeholders, can make a breakthrough for the country, and we can envision to become a model for how this industry can make a dent in the global arena. In the end, we will create job opportunities and economic prosperity by converting ideas into economic activity or economic prosperity,” added Terrado.

The three-day event targets fast-growing creative sectors, such as advertising, digital art/graphic design, animation, game development, film and performing arts.

With the help of Philippine embassies and trade offices abroad, Citem is inviting international buyers, such as music and film distributors, as well as angel capitalists for the information technology sector, to grace the pioneering CREATE Philippines event.

“Our target for this event is only $2 million [or P100 million] since this is just the first edition,” she said of the expected value of deals to be closed between the 100 local exhibitors and international buyers during the trade show. “What we also want to do is to double whatever our share is [at present] in the next three years.”

To be mounted parallel with Manila FAME, CREATE Philippines will present three components, each highlighting a specific sector of the country’s creative industry: The Creative Hub and Talks, ARTALIVE and Music Fest.

Image Credits: Tai111 |

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Roderick L. Abad graduated from Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, with a degree course in Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication. He has 12 years of journalism experience, starting as a Special Features Writer in a major daily newspaper. In 2006, he moved to the BusinessMirror in the same capacity and, eventually, became a beat reporter. To his credit, he was a finalist in the 2011 Holcim Journalism Awards for Sustainable Construction and the 2013 Lasallian Scholarum Awards. He remains affiliated with the BusinessMirror as a contributor.