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A cultural empowerment


In its Creative Economy Outlook 2022, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said that the creative economy offers a feasible development option to all countries, particularly developing economies.


A creative economy, according to UNCTAD, “builds on the interplay between human creativity and ideas and intellectual property, knowledge and technology.” The lifeblood of this economy are the creative industries, which include advertising, architecture, arts and crafts, design, fashion, film, video, photography, music, performing arts, publishing, research and development, software, computer games, electronic publishing, and TV/radio.


South Korea today is an economic powerhouse, far from its deplorable state in the 1950s following the Korean War — where Filipino soldiers provided support to the South Korean warriors.


The country’s rise from the ashes was also an arduous journey, but one of the great contributors to its economic success is developing its cultural and creative sectors (CCS). According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Korea’s cultural contents industry has 2.6 percent of the global market share, generating $114 billion in sales, $10.3 billion in exports, and 680,000 jobs in 2021. It is the seventh largest in the world and has been constantly growing, with an average annual growth rate of 4.87 percent.


Since the beginning of his administration, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has expressed his full support for the promotion and development of the Philippines’ creative industries. He has pledged to help the creative industries in the post-pandemic era, and said that the use of new technologies could bring greater opportunities to local talents and make them more attractive to the international market.


In support of the President’s pronouncements, First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos has been instigating projects towards the promotion and development of the creative industries in the Philippines.


For instance, during the celebration of the 125th anniversary of Philippine Independence last June 12, the First Ladyled the launching of “Likha 2,” an artisanal exhibit celebrating the creativity of the Filipino through traditional arts and crafts.


Each booth featured traditional crafts — handwoven fabrics, jewelry, embroidery, basket making, stone carving, shell crafting, and pottery from all over the country — skillfully done by Filipinos from different parts of the country. In most of the booths, the artists or craftsmen themselves were present to show how their products are painstakingly crafted.


The First Lady, in her speech, emphasized that this effort is in keeping with the words of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., who said that the creativity of the Filipinos is world-class.

But more than supporting the programs and pronouncements of the President, this undertaking of the First Lady is a very important boost for the creative industry, which was severely affected by the pandemic.


According to the statistics from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the pandemic cost the local creative industries 90 percent of their revenue. Moreover, about 61 percent of arts and entertainment companies ceased operations, and more than one-fifth of these businesses were permanently closed.


The First Lady said that there will be more Likha exhibits in the future to showcase the world-class creativity of the Filipino.


Likha 2 was launched just a few months after the first “Likha” in February. The exhibit is describedas “a bridge for traditional textile communities, designers, brands and manufacturers to communicate, innovate and co-create a sustainable pathway of Philippine textiles for the local and international market.”


Truly, it has become a bridge that has given renewed hope to many of our artisans who rely on their centuries-old traditions as a way of living.


And FL Liza does not stop there. She has also been initiating projects that will recognize the Filipino talent on a wider stage.


During the Independence Day Vin d’honneur in Malacañang Palace last June, female foreign envoys in the Philippines were dressed in different versions of the Filipiniana. The First Lady initiated the pairing up of women foreign diplomats and Filipino designers for the event to promote Philippine culture through fashion — a chic way of enhancing our soft power.


Also, this year, the Malacanang Heritage Tours, another initiative of the First Lady, was launched. It is a project that opens to the public heritage structures within the complex to showcase the rich Philippine history, art, and culture. One of the featured heritage structures is the Goldenberg Mansion, which has been designated as a venue for cultural and artistic events—the Goldenberg Series, a cultural initiative aimed at raising awareness and celebrating the diverse cultural heritage of the Philippines.


The First Lady has always been a patroness of art and culture. In fact, when President Bongbong was governor of Ilocos Norte, FL Liza initiated the full-scale cultural mapping of the whole province, even before it became mandatory for local government units to conduct this kind of comprehensive cultural research and documentation. She contributed much in the preservation of Inabel, the Ilocano way of weaving, supported the Museo Ilocos Norte, and the revival of the weaving industry.


Now, she is replicating what she did in Ilocos Norte on a national scale — she is bringing cultural empowerment.


In a year’s time, FL Liza has already set in motion a cultural renaissance, and her efforts are more strategic, highlighting the Filipino culture and creativity not only for awareness but more importantly, to promote and preserve our traditions, as a way of diplomacy, and to help spur economic growth.


We already have the Philippine Creative Industries Development Act (Republic Act 11904) that mandates the promotion and development of Philippine creative industries by protecting and strengthening the rights and capacities of creative firms, artists, artisans, creators, workers, indigenous cultural communities, content providers, and other stakeholders in the creative industries.


Through the implementation of this law and the efforts of government — through the President, the First Lady, and concerned agencies — we hope that in the next few decades, the Philippines as a creative nation, like our Asian brother South Korea, could invade the global stage.

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