Vice President Leni Robredo has been quoted as saying she indulges in the occasional Korean drama as post-dinner entertainment. This was back in August, of course, when things were simpler in the Robredo household and she still wasn’t running for the highest seat in the land. But even then, the word “indulges” might have been a bit much, considering she said she was also usually deep in paperwork while “watching” her K soaps play in the background.
In any case, when ANCX was recently invited to join a group of lifestyle journalists for a chat with the VP, with her familiarity with Korean dramas in mind—her favorite back in August was “Doctors” but she also liked “Crash Landing on You” and “Descendants of the Sun”—we thought it would be good to ask how a Leni presidency would impact the Philippine arts and entertainment industry.
Do we have a chance to be like a South Korea who has successfully exported its creative content to the rest of the world? This success is in no small thanks to “active state involvement, a willingness to absorb and finesse foreign influences, and a near-pathological export-oriented mindset,” according to a recent story on Financial Times. The paper also reported that, “taken together with South Korea’s huge gaming sector, in 2019 the East Asian country’s entertainment industry was estimated by the state-run Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA) to have raked in $107bn in sales revenues.”
Here in the Philippines, unless it figures in a scandal, the arts and culture sector has often received very little notice from government. Will Robredo alter this trend?
“Every time I watch (a K drama), naiinggit ako. Pakiramdam ko kayang-kaya natin ito if only yung support ng pamahalaan is enough,” said the Vice President. She believes it is possible for the Philippines to successfully penetrate the international entertainment market—but how exactly? She said there are five things that must be addressed to make this happen.
1. A clearly defined role for the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. “To revisit and possibly reframe it’s implementing rules and regulations,” said the VP. “Meron din mga proposals before to determine the feasibility of establishing a Department of Culture, to abolish and supersede the NCCA. So sa akin I think it will be worth opening it up for discussion, kasi baka kailangan talaga yun.”
2. The promotion of culture should extend to the LGUs. “I don’t think we have been investing enough to really make sure that [culture] becomes an essential ingredient in local governance.”
3. The institutionalization of artists’ welfare and protection. “Andami na nating pakikibaka pagdating dito especially during the pandemic na andaming nawala, and wala tayong safety nets para saluhin man lang yung mga nawala sa ating mga artists.”
4. Actively support a creative industry sector. But support should not come from government alone, Robredo said—there should be active collaboration between government and the private sector. “Ang pinakasadya nito ay talagang developing, protecting, promoting original Filipino content. Kasi sayang yung opportunity na hindi natin siya nama-maximize.”
5. Cultivating a deeper appreciation of Philippine history and culture. “Yung agenda natin should put a premium on education and mechanisms against disinformation. Kasi luging-lugi talaga tayo ngayon if we are not able to dismantle the mechanisms that fabricate and circulate this information in a government’s communication infrastructure. Kasi nadidistort niya talaga yung natural flow of things.”
According to a filmmaker we spoke to recently, our film industry has long struggled with high taxes for films and the lack of tax incentives for movie producers. There’s also a lack of marketing and distribution support, among other things.
“I am aware that we still have a long way to go to ensure that the arts and entertainment industry realizes it’s fullest potential,” said the Vice President. “The goal is really to create a culture that fosters artistic excellence by ensuring the welfare of artists, protection, education opportunity, and a large part of this will come from government. Government support is very, very important, and this is something that my administration aims to provide. A major pillar of my agenda for arts and culture is really to strengthen government’s capability to cultivate artistic excellence.”