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Updates: Philippine Design Competitiveness Act of 2011

The ‘Philippine Design Competitiveness Act’ is the result of the consolidation of the 2008 Creative Industries Act of Sen. Villar, and the 2011 Design Council Bill of Sen. TG (@tgguingona). You can view the entirety of the new bill in a PDF file here.

Exhibit / Design Para sa Lahat

If, however, you just want to get an overview of what this bill wants to achieve — below is Sen. TG’s sponsorship speech last week. During our initial sponsorship back in August, my speech-writing struggle was in introducing the concept of Design to a non-designer, political-minded crowd.

This time, however, I focused more on articulating the government’s role is in cultivating a culture of design and innovation in the country, and why a national design strategy is crucial in this ideas-driven economy and fast-changing times.

This is the non-senatorized, non-oldified, still-very-Arriane-ish version of what was delivered on the Senate floor. Be that as it may, it’s still a little bit lengthy, so I divided the speech into three main points — you can toggle each heading to reveal the content.


[spoiler title="Government and design: Where's the connection?"]To many, it may seem that government and design belong to two entirely disparate worlds. In the same way that—to many, design merely refers to creating material products or making things more beautiful.

But it is important to know that design has come a long way in the past few decades, and has evolved to become more than just about aesthetics.

Design is now defined as the process of taking creative ideas borne out of limited available resources, and transforming them into tangible products, services and systems that answer actual user needs.

In other words, what design aims to do is to provide concrete solutions to people’s problems, while working with limitations in resources and situations. And isn’t that exactly what the government also sets out to do—to find the most efficient and effective solutions and ways to respond to its citizens’ needs?

Today, the term “Design” has gone so far as to evolve into a new development paradigm—a discipline that many nations now see as a driver of economic growth, and a vital tool for shaping human interactions and social systems, thus improving the quality of life.

It is in this light that I am calling for the passage of the Design Competitiveness Act of the Philippines, which endeavors to promote an economy and society driven by design and creativity that is responsive to our fast-changing times, and reflective of the Filipino culture and identity, while advocating the protection of intellectual property rights to these ideas and innovations.

This act re-engineers and renames our existing Product Development and Design Center of the Philippines (PDDCP) into the Design Center of the Philippines.[/spoiler]

[spoiler title="The government's role: To give direction & to facilitate collaboration"]The Design Center’s main function will be to formulate a National Design Policy, which shall serve as an integrated, forward-thinking and long-range strategy for design in the Philippines.

For example: How can we use design to establish a distinct brand, and to boost global competitiveness of Filipino products and services? How can we employ design to build more sustainable and livable cities and communities? How can the government utilize design to communicate and disseminate our programs more effectively to the end users, which are our citizens?

[pullquote align="right"]How can we employ design to build more sustainable and livable cities and communities? How can the government utilize design to communicate and disseminate our programs more effectively to the end users, which are our citizens?[/pullquote]These examples are issues that are national in scope, and would therefore need a national government-led design strategy.

If we are looking to harness the full potential of design as a tool for national growth and development, then there is clearly a need to provide a clear direction, and a cohesive and comprehensive plan, to make sure that all players are working towards a common vision.

And in order to establish that shared vision, the Design Center’s fundamental challenge is in cultivating a design culture in the country—that is, a greater awareness and appreciation of the value of design. Exhibitions and conferences are part of this promotion of design awareness. However, at the end of the day, in order to truly create an appreciation for design, we need to be able to integrate it into all aspects of society.

It is not enough that we develop capabilities to produce good design, but the government plays an important role in establishing linkages across all sectors in order to create an environment that demands for, and will invest in good design.

Design doesn’t operate in a vacuum—the design discipline, at its very core, is multidisciplinary and collaborative.

The Design Center should therefore work similarly: it must be that central institution that brings together and facilitates dynamic design collaboration between designers and innovative leaders not just from the creative industries, but also from the business sector, the government, the academe, and civil society.[/spoiler]

[spoiler title="A go signal for innovation"]But perhaps the most important goal of this bill is this: to drive and cultivate innovation in our country.

We now live in a world of constant and exponential change, where existing paradigms and present technical knowledge from this year may easily be obsolete in the next. But what this means is that our economy is becoming increasingly ideas-driven: where a country’s competitiveness no longer lies on mere machinery or technology, but on the constant generation of new ideas, and the ability to continually innovate.

[pullquote align="left"]We can see that governments are being challenged to be more forward-looking, to push creativity and innovation to stay globally competitive.[/pullquote]And what is the process that transforms ideas into tangible innovation? DESIGN.

In the past decade or so, the governments of our Asian contemporaries have made their move and already established national design bodies. In fact, the Korean equivalent of the Design Center, called the Korea Institute for Design Promotion, was created way back in 1970–that’s a whole four decades ago. China, Singapore, Hong Kong, India, Thailand, Malaysia have also created their own national design strategies.

We can see that governments are being challenged to be more forward-looking, to push creativity and innovation to stay globally competitive.

We can no longer deny that the world is moving to a new rhythm. Will the Philippines be able to move in harmony, or will we be the ones moving with two left feet, scrambling to stay relevant in this fast-changing world? Will we be that country that just sits and waits for the future to happen to them?

Innovation is about dreaming big, going out there, and making it happen—and that, I believe, is the heart of this bill.

This bill is the government saying that Filipinos have what it takes to go above and beyond just beautiful and well-crafted souvenirs, handicrafts and trinkets. This is the government saying: okay, we’ve mastered and excelled at that level, now we’re ready to compete on an entirely different plane. This is the government saying that Filipinos can and should dream bigger, go further, and create things the world has never seen before.

To support this bill is to believe that Filipinos can dream bigger.
To support this bill is to believe that Filipinos can achieve the extraordinary.[/spoiler]


What’s next?

  • We will be going into interpellation on the Senate floor tomorrow (Dec. 13), where other senators may ask questions or raise concerns about the bill.
  • Then comes the period of amendments, where senators may edit/re-arrange/supplement the bill.
  • After this, senators will vote on the bill, and if all agree on this second reading – it shall be calendared for the third reading.
  • The 3rd reading is where the bill shall be put to a final vote.
  • Once approved, it will be submitted to the House of Representatives (Congress) for consideration.

Those are roughly the steps of the legislative process, and these will hopefully all play out in the earlier part of 2012.

This bill would not have materialized if not for the trust and initiative of the private sector, the people who were open and willing enough to work with the government. Thank you guys, you know who you are.

The bill is only the first round of the battle — I’m afraid (and excited!) that the implementation is the harder and the most important part. I hope 2012 brings us more opportunities for collaboration between the government and the design sector. Let’s do this!



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  • http://artsijamy.wordpress.com Jamy

    I hope and pray that this bill will be a law on 2012. Not only the local designers will be happy, but also the Pinoys who promote national design through new media. And we can compete and promote our very own worldwide! You’ve done a lot this 2011, Ate Arriane!! I cannot wait for your hardwork to pay off in the future. :)

  • http://thescribblehappyproject.tumblr.com Paopi

    I am so excited for this! I also pray that this will be realized next year! Gogogo :D