THE Philippines has the potential to become the top creative economy in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) by 2030.

Rep. Christopher de Venecia, chairman of the House Committee on Creative Industry and Performing Arts, made the bold prediction during The Manila Times Creative Industries Forum on Thursday.

"That was the goal that was set by the Creative Economy Council of the Philippines. I think we all have the tools and all of the potential and the building blocks to be able to be the No. 1 creative economy in the Asean by 2030," de Venecia said.

"We are leading the Asean in terms of the export of our creative services, and we are a service-oriented nation," he said.

Citing the presentation of Department of Trade Industry (DTI) Undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba, de Venecia said the country's creative industry has been a "fast-growing, high-value contributor to the Philippine economy, with potential to become an important driver of more inclusive and resilient growth."

The country ranked 10th in creative goods exports in 2020, fifth in total creative exports in Asean, and first in creative services exports in Asean.

De Venecia said the Philippines' overall competitiveness in the creative fields needs improvement.

Estimates from the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines and the World Intellectual Property Organization showed that the creative industries generated around P661 billion or 7.34 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2014.

De Venecia said while this is significant, the country still lags behind Thailand's 10 percent.

The 740,000 Filipinos employed in creative firms is way behind Indonesia's 15.9 million, he said.

"It's not that we need to be greedy, it's just that these opportunities could have generated more jobs and could have lifted families out of poverty. To be able to capitalize on them," he said.

"Instead, we have continued to look outward for opportunities instead of looking inward into our country's greatest resources, our creatives and our creative talent," he added.

Creative future

The country is celebrating the Year for Creative Economy for Sustainable Development, and de Venecia said he is endorsing two major pieces of legislation "that will shift our narrative toward a more sustainable creative future."

One is the Philippine Creative Industries Development Bill, which defines the scope of creative industries to include audio and audiovisual media, visual arts, books publishing and printed media, digital interactive media, creative services, and performing arts.

The measure will also create a coordinating body that will be called the Creative Industries Development Council. Headed by the DTI, it will include key agencies such as the Department of Education, Department of Science and Technology, and National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

The other bill is the Freelance Workers Protection Bill. When passed into law, the bill will require written contracts for creative freelancers, de Venecia said.

The contract must contain the services to be provided, details of compensation and benefits (inclusive of rate, schedule of payment), period of employment, grounds for breach of contract, and the freelancer's TIN number.

The measure also mandates a night shift differential of 10 percent, hazard pay minimum of 25 percent and tax breaks for freelancers.

De Venecia said that as the Philippines aims for lofty economic goals, it must keep in mind that "a future that is creative must also be a future that is safe, sustainable, and happy."

Also participating in the forum were Undersecretary Aldaba, Filipino industrial designer Kenneth Cobonpue; advertising maven Merlee Jayme, chief creative officer of Dentsu International for APAC; Warner Music Philippines Managing Director Ian Monsod; and business innovator Rose Bosch-Ong, Wilcon senior executive vice president and chief operating officer.