On Legislature and the Creative Industry

Left: The Façade of the Senate of the Philippines [Wikimedia Commons]; Right: Animator drawing animation frames. [animaster.com]

Today, I am going to discuss a piece of history that should have been relevant to the Philippines’ creative industry but nevertheless is disregarded. Before that, what is the “creative industry” that I am speaking of, for the benefit of those who do not know?

Scope and Definition

“Creative Industry.” Two words that define an industry where creative minds gather their skills and do something. This includes arts, the media, culture, etc. In 2001, John Howkins referred to this as the “creative economy,” and as defined as follows:

[…] Howkins’ creative economy comprises advertising, architecture, art, crafts, design, fashion, film, music, performing arts, publishing, R&D, software, toys and games, TV and radio, and video games. (Howkins 2001, pp. 88–117). (Excerpt from Wikipedia)

Howkins did not mention Animation or Cosplay though, but in the following definition, we can determine that these are included.

The UK Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) defines the creative industry as follows:

“those industries which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and which have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property” (DCMS 2001, p. 04)

Does Animation create jobs? Yes. Does Cosplay create jobs? Apparently, yes — this goes to the props-makers, the merchants who sell raw material for the props, the events organizers and the like. Does both have potential for wealth? Yes — ask the hardcore AKB48 fans.

With the definition of Creative Industry addressed, let’s get on with the topic I’m going to talk about.

The Topic at Hand

I and Mikki were having a conversation with the staff from KAORI Nusantara, and the conversation went from the issues surrounding the Indonesian Otaku community to government legislatures related to the creative industry. (As you may know, I’ve mentioned how Komik Indonesia came to be.)

“Any government policies on Creative Industries?,” says Ahotaku39, who has just recently been included as part of KAORI’s English edition The Indonesian Anime Times. “None, as far as I know.” “…woah. And I thought we were behind.”

I haven’t seen any piece of legislation for our country’s creative community in mainstream media, which is definitely filled with political scandals and hours somewhat wasted on political propaganda for a general election that will come in fifteen months.

“What has our legislators done for the creative industry?” This question that ran on my mind has prompted me to think back what I’ve said and go straight to the records of the Philippine Senate. (As of the moment, we are still trying to reach the online records of the Philippine Congress to no avail.) I have to add that that I have no background in law, and this topic at hand open to suggestions and violent reactions.

The Story of Republic Act No. 10557

In the the First Regular Session of the 15th Congress (2010–2013), the then-senator Manuel B. Villar introduced the Senate Bill No. 1064 [PDF], which is the “Creative Industries Act” in July 2010. This Senate Bill aims to establish the Creative Industries Development Council, in which the said author notes that “the contributions of the creative industry to the country’s economy has remained insignificant.” Villar has been advocating this since 2009. A press release in 2011 elaborates the said bill. This has been “[…] Referred to the Committee(s) on TRADE AND COMMERCE; LOCAL GOVERNMENT and WAYS AND MEANS.”

Meanwhile, in the House of Representatives, the then-congressman Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara of the Lone District of Aurora introduced House Bill 5779 [PDF] which aims to create the Design Council of the Philippines. Angara is currently a senator in the 16th Congress.

In the Second Regular Session, this was substituted by the Senate Bill No. 3071 as addressed in the Committee Report No. 84 dated November 23, 2011. How was it substituted? Senator Teofisto “TG” Guingona III delivered a co-sponsorship speech on the “Design Council of the Philippines” in the said Committee Hearing.

This has become the Republic Act No. 10557 [PDF] signed in May 2013, only to be defined as the “Philippine Design Competitiveness Act of 2013.”

What does this mean? From the general “Creative Industry,” the legislators narrowed down to the “Design Industry.” Basically, the House’s version has been prioritized more than Villar’s — and if Villar’s version have been favored by the Senate’s Committees on Trade and Commerce, Local Government, Ways and Means, Economic Affairs and Finance, we should have a governing body on our country’s creative industry.

It’s saddening that we see a good piece of legislation being trampled down into something that only favors a part of the country’s creative industry. As of now, we only know of one organization that supports the industry, which is the Animation Council of the Philippines (ACPI), which organizes the annual Philippine Animation Festival Animahenasyon. That makes the Animation industry into something that is being left out.

Nevertheless, when we will see a proper piece of legislation that encourages the whole of the Philippines’ Creative Industry?