adobo Exclusiveadobo Talks POVFeaturedInsight

adoboTalks Podcast: Cong. Toff De Venecia on how the policy improvements can catapult Pinoy creatives to the global stage

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — The plight of creative workers is close to Congressman Toff De Venecia – he is a creative himself, having worked in film, publishing, and most recently, theater as Managing Artistic Director of The Sandbox Collective. In the first episode of the adoboTalks Podcast, he spoke with adobo Magazine Founder, President, and Editor-in-Chief Angel Guerrero on the importance of the Philippine Creative Industries Development Act (PCIDA) and how it can finally help world-class Filipino creatives – always on the cusp of brilliance – take the leap and break ground on the global stage.

Creative industries in the Philippines are the backbone of the country’s economy, generating PHP 1.6 trillion in 2022. Yet despite the significant contribution these sectors bring to the Philippines’ GDP, they are fraught with little understanding, leading to a lack of protection for these creative workers and a drought of support in developing these industries to create sustainable livelihoods across the board. 

There is a lot of uncertainty that riddles creative sectors; it is not uncommon to hear stories of talented youths being discouraged by their parents and loved ones to embark on creative careers. Yet one law hopes to change that, leading the charge in a fundamental shift of support towards our creative economy and nurturing these workers and their craft.


The PCIDA or RA 11904, authored and sponsored by Cong. Toff, was passed into law on July 28, 2022 — just on the tail-end of pandemic restrictions that had seen various creative industries struggling to survive in an unprecedented period.

Here are just some of the takeaways from his episode of the adoboTalks Podcast:

1. Creative industries are more important to the country’s economy than people realize.

The PHP 1.6-trillion revenue that creative industries generated in the Philippines accounts for 7.3% of gross domestic product – that’s just behind agriculture, which contributed 8.6% to the country’s GDP.

That means 12.5% of the Filipino workforce is employed in creative industries. Yet that hardly captures the entire picture, given those working freelance and in the informal sector. 

These numbers should hardly come as a surprise – about 73 industries alone were identified and defined in the law, all classified under nine domains modeled after the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) framework on creative economy.

Despite these strides in formalizing support for a creative economy in the Philippines, Cong. Toff shared that there is much work to be done, particularly in allocating resources that can support the growth of these creative industries.

2. Creative industries make up more than just the arts.

So little is the understanding of creative industries that traditional art disciplines usually come to people’s minds, Cong. Toff said. “The automatic impression of a layman of creative industries is, ‘Arts ba yan? Is that like theater? Is that like music? Is that painting? In reality, arts are just segments of the entire creative economy pie,” Cong. Toff explained. “You also have science and technology, you have design, which are functional and antithetical to arts.”

Ultimately, the creative economy deals with the value of creativity, which can be found in other realms – and it continues to be an ongoing discussion. One example is the inclusion of gastronomy under the law’s nine domains, which is not part of the original UNCTAD model, and yet food continues to be undeniably recognized as a creative endeavor in places such as Thailand and Indonesia.

3. Look at K-entertainment for inspiration.

South Korea is the prime example of a fully harnessed creative economy, made possible by synergistic partnerships between public and private sectors, Cong. Toff said. The K-Pop industry has grown into a global force to be reckoned with, and its thriving filmmaking industry has led to barrier-breaking films such as the Oscar-winning Parasite.

The lawmaker said that success for South Korea didn’t happen overnight. “While we look towards South Korea as like, ‘Wow, they seem to have gotten their act together,’ as though their success happened overnight – it didn’t. The South Korean government’s pivot towards content industries or creative industries happened in the ‘90s.”

The lawmaker adds that support is important in developing markets not just internationally but also domestically. “I think something that we don’t realize with Hallyu or the Korean wave is that the biggest consumers of K-content are the Koreans themselves,” he explained.

“I think with the shifting trends right now in the creative economy, to go global is to be hyper-local.”

4. Encourage and harness grassroots creative talent in the regions.

Manila may be regarded as the country’s center of culture, but talent and creativity doesn’t exist in one city alone. Cong. Toff asserted that the country needs to decentralize creativity and empower local grassroots creatives in order to build thriving industries in their regions. “They don’t have to uproot themselves from their locality, where they studied, where they grew up, where their friends live, and their families, and have to migrate to Manila and duke it out here in an oversaturated labor market for the creative industries, [so] we need to be able to spread out the development of creativity across the regions,” he explained.

With Baguio named as the Philippines’ first Unesco Creative City for Crafts and Folk Art, followed by Cebu for Design, and most recently Iloilo for Gastronomy, these are steps forward in reclaiming our creative heritage and strengthening pockets of creativity in these places outside Metro Manila.

Develop more original Filipino content.

The Philippines ranks number one among ASEAN countries in exporting creative services – which speaks to the undeniable talent of the country’s creatives. Yet much of this work deals in working on intellectual property from other countries, such as Filipino animators working on shows and films for Disney and Pixar.

“We’re trying to encourage more Filipino content. We create our own characters, our animation, and you can actually have intellectual property protection,” Cong. Toff said, citing the example of Netflix’s Trese, based on the local graphic novel by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo, also opening the doors for local filmmakers and content creators to produce high-quality content for global viewing.

With a law in place to institutionalize support for creative industries, there are opportunities for those involved in the creative sector to fully realize the potential of the creative economy. Learn more about Cong. Toff’s views on developing a comprehensive creative roadmap, how Filipino creatives can create globally relevant content, and whether Jollibee counts as creative gastronomy by listening to his episode of the adoboTalks Podcast on Spotify or Soundcloud, or by watching it on YouTube.

The adoboTalks Podcast, adoboTalks | the business of creativity, is presented by adobo Magazine, and produced in partnership with The Pod Network and Hit Productions. The adoboTalks Podcast is available on Spotify, Soundcloud, and YouTube, with a new episode premiering every Thursday at 7:00 am.

Partner with adobo Magazine

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Back to top button