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Toff De Venecia believes PH can be creative powerhouse in ASEAN

Last September, the proposed Philippine Creative Industries Act was approved by the House of Representatives on Third and Final Reading. This bill, which seeks to provide financial and institutional support to targeted creative industries, was primarily authored by Pangasinan Fourth District Representative Christopher “Toff” De Venecia, who chairs the House Special Committee on Creative Industry and Performing Arts.

Cong. Toff explains that the measure will provide an enabling policy and governance framework that will shape the Philippine creative industry, make it globally competitive, and ensure a sustainable future for the country’s local talents. He believes that with the appropriate government support, the country’s creative industry can propel the Philippines towards becoming a creative powerhouse in the ASEAN region.

Creative industries identified in the bill include traditional cultural expressions, music and the performing arts, architecture and interior services, animation and digitized creative content, audio-visual, broadcast and interactive media, cultural sites, and visual arts.

Once enacted into law, the measure, which is still pending at the Senate, will allow for the creation of the Philippine Creative Industry Development Council, which shall be composed of representatives from both government and the private sector. Cong. Toff envisions that this will enable a new coordination and centralization effort across government agencies and across the entire creative value chain.

Rep. De Venecia heads the House Special Committee on Creative Industry and Performing Arts. As of date, 740,000 employees work in creative firms.

He explains that this Council will formulate and execute the Philippine Creative Industries Development Plan, which “should boost development of the creatives from womb to tomb, that is, from the education and training of our young creative pool, to the incubation and production of creative content and ideas, all the way to post-production, marketing, dissemination, and even exportation of creative goods and services.”

Rep. De Venecia with Ben Cab, National Artist for Visual Arts.

He adds that he wants to make sure that this creative growth will be as inclusive as possible, that the development of the creative industries would also make a lot of sense, business-wise. “As it enjoins government to pour big investments in capital and equipment to the creative industries, they must rake in returns at some future time. Jobs must be created, the value of our intellectual property must increase, and creative inputs must lead to economic gains.”

Cong. Toff has also authored other bills that complement the Philippine Creative Industries Act. These are the Freelance Workers Protection Bill, which includes a provision mandating the execution of written contracts before tapping the services of freelancers; and the Eddie Garcia Bill, a measure to protect and promote the welfare of workers or independent contractors in the film, television, and radio entertainment industry.

99.51 percent of business enterprises in the Philippines are MSMEs. 7.4 percent of the GDP or P661B was contributed by the creative sector in 2014.

His interest and concern in the creative industry stems from his early exposure in the film industry. His maternal grandfather founded the film production company, Sampaguita Pictures Inc. Cong. Toff himself dabbled in it as a child actor and later on, as a freelance theatre director, producer, and the founder and managing artistic director of The Sandbox Collective. As a member of the House of Representatives, he is now able to address the concerns of the creative industry through much-needed legislative interventions.

Acclaimed visual artist Leeroy New through the NCCA, collaborates with the local artists of the 4th district of Pangasinan for a large-scale mural at the Rural Health Unit in Barangay Lipit Tomeeng, San Fabian.

Earlier this year, the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) recognized him as a “Cinemadvocate” during the 5th Film Ambassadors’ Night, which honored individuals working hard on their own right for the betterment of the country’s movie industry.

Cong. Toff has always been passionate about the arts. He even says that he has always lived and breathed culture and the arts, and it is in experiencing firsthand the hardships in the industry, while also seeing the potential in the creative talent, that led him to seek the environment, the infrastructure, and the support that would enable the creative industry to thrive and flourish. Hopefully, in the next few decades, the Philippines would, indeed, be a creative powerhouse in the ASEAN, and eventually—like our Asian neighbors, Japan and Korea—invade the global stage.

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