TAGUIG CITY – Even as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary through a series of events in Metro Manila, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Design Center of the Philippines launched a presentation of initiatives from ASEAN member countries.
Dubbed the ASEAN Creative Cities Forum, the Bonifacio Global City (BGC) Arts Center served as host for the series of talks, presentations, and panel discussions with the central theme of culture and art serving as driving forces for sustainable development and urban regeneration throughout the region.
No less than DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez opened the activities on April 26. “The ASEAN region has its creative strength in place, founded on the rich artistic capital of its people,” Sec. Lopez said. “The goal is to channel these assets into innovation, employment, ad trade opportunities, and mobilizing it to drive each of the economies in the whole Southeast Asian region. This also means cultivating opportunities for free-flowing collaboration, exchange, and trade among the ASEAN countries, intended for the development of a unique and creative ASEAN.”
Professor John Howkins, an internationally renowned consultant and thinker on creativity who coined the term “creative economy,” followed onstage. Howkins first published his ideas on creativity and innovation in ‘The Creative Economy’ in 2001. He has worked in over 30 countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, UK and the USA, advising global corporations, international organisations, governments, and individuals. There is perhaps no better expert in elaborating on the concept of the creative economy than him.
After lunch was served, a press conference moderated by RJ Ledesma presented the Philippine government's plans to encourage more cities to be creative cities. DTI Undersecretary Nora K. Terrado, Nestle Philippines Vice President and Director of Communication and Marketing Services Paolo Mercado, Prof. John Howkins, Andrew Erskine, Director Arts & Creative Industries East Asia Katelijn Verstraete, and Colin Seah of Ministry of Design addressed the gathered media to discuss creative cities in ASEAN.
The first panel discussion of the day focused on the soft power of both creative and design diplomacy. Ateneo de Manila University Japanese Studies Department Chairman Dr. Karl Ian Cheng Chua and Mayumi Hirano, a former member of the Koganecho Area Management Center, served as panelists even as insights on how the creative and design industries are representing countries. Using the cities of Tokyo and Yokohama in Japan as prime examples, both panelists presented how soft power can be useful in shaping cultural appeal and awareness while also driving mutual growth in Southeast Asia.
For a panel discussion on ASEAN success stories centered on design, adobo Editor-in-Chief Angel Guerrero moderated a panel composed of three unique yet powerful voices in the world of design. Cebu-based industrial designer Kenneth Cobonpue; Anon Pairot, the Bangkok-based founder of Anon Pairot Studio; and Colin Seah, the Singapore-based Founder and Director of Ministry of Design, each shared their divergent paths to launch their careers and earn fame beyond their respective shores.
The panel on ASEAN success stories in digital, media, and entertainment was moderated by Matt Morrison of A Space. It featured Raymund Martin Miranda, Chief Strategy Officer/Chief Risk Officer of media giant ABS-CBN Corporation; Ngai Yuen Low, Executive Director of Global Entrepreneurship Movement; and Desmond Ngai, Vice-President for Strategy and Partnerships of startup company WebTVAsia.
The day concluded with a panel discussion on the development of world-class talents from all over the Southeast Asian region. Insights on the importance of talent development to better serve the creatives industry were shared to provide increased awareness on the value of Creative Cities and the creative economy. The panel included BBDO Guerrero CCO and Chairman David Guerrero, Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, and Haymarket Media Asia Pte Ltd. Marketing Editor Faaez Samadi. It was moderated by Nestle Philippines Vice President and Director of Communication and Marketing Services Paolo Mercado.