Press Release
August 9, 2011

Sponsorship Speech

Senate Bill Number 2930


Today, I rise up to call for your support for the passage of Senate Bill number 2930, titled " An Act Creating the Design Council of the Philippines and for other purposes".

In calling for the passage of this bill and for the creation of this Council, we seek to recognize the world-class talents of Filipino designers in the various creative fields, and to harness the vast potentials of this sector.

In so doing, we tap this valuable resource for our economic and social development initiatives, and allow it to take its rightful place in the arena of global creative excellence.

And, if we don't act now, we face the specter of putting this important national resource to waste.

Allow me to explain the basis for this call.

Let me begin by underscoring an important fact that may have been hidden from our view.

Fact: Design is a sunrise industry.

Ladies and gentlemen, a decade or two ago, the term "design" simply referred to the creation of material products or improving its look. It has gone a long ay since then. Today, the term "Design" has evolved into a new development paradigm--a discipline that several nations now see as a driver of economic growth, and a vital tool for shaping human interactions and social systems.

Allow me to illustrate.

The name of this outstanding Filipino is Kenneth Cobonpue.

Kenneth, today, is a world-renowned Cebu-based furniture designer. He has won accolades following his ingenious integration of indigenous Philippine materials with modern production techniques.

Because of the genius of his innovative design, he is not only bringing in ordinary economic returns. His products bring in what is called in economic parlance as "very high value export earnings".

Ladies and gentlemen, I stand here awed by the possibilities. Imagine if our country could multiply these returns a thousandfold by going beyond just lauding the success of one Kenneth Cobonpue, but empowering and leading more young Filipinos to achieve the same.

Sayang kung hindi natin gagawin.

Here's another story of the ingenuity of the Filipino designer.

And this story is close to my heart because it impacted on the very work of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.

During that crucial moment in our history, a group young creative talents called the 2720 design studio compiled news articles and facts about the cases against the former Ombudsman, and transformed those into clear diagrams and graphic representations of all the evidences.

Then, the product of their creative and patriotic work were made available as a downloadable PDF file online. In so doing, they not only promoted transparency, but it also encouraged participation from the public, because the information was made more interesting and understandable.

Again, I stand in awe as the possibilities stare me in the face.

Imagine if we could use this same method to better communicate the programs of, say, the DOH or DSWD to the common tao? After all, what use is a good government program if it is not communicated well to its end users, the Filipino citizens? What may seem like incremental changes in the design of our information can actually save the government money. Lots of money.

Again, sayang kung hindi natin gagawin.

Recently, I learned about an initiative called The Bottle School Project.

A joint venture between Pepsi, My Shelter Foundation, and the local government of San Pablo, the project involved the ingenious use of discarded plastic bottles to build a durable and weatherproof classroom.

The creative solution all once answered several problems: it provided a new classroom and reduced the cost of building one, because it used recycled materials that would have instead added to

the city's trash. And due to the durability of plastic, it also addressed the problem of the vulnerability of the structure to typhoons. This is great example of architecture and industrial design working for social innovation.

Again, I stand in awe as I imagine the possibilities. If we could facilitate these kinds of linkages between designers, private institutions, and local governments, design-driven projects such as this is just one could be replicated in cities and barangays all over the country. Sayang kung hindi natin gagawin.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is precisely for this reason that I reiterate my call for the passage of Senate Bill Number 2930. The Bill proposes for the creation of a multi-sector Council that would serve as the hub for the creative collaboration of our various design sectors so they can be harnessed and tapped to the fullest.

I propose that this Bill be our shared and collective response to the vast opportunities right before us; to the fast changing times that we live in, where there is clearly a need to boost the competitiveness of the Filipino design industry, so that it can become a driver of economic growth and social innovation.

These are times that call for an evolving mindset, for creative and proactive responses. The Design Council of the Philippines is one such response.

And if we do not adopt this response today, we stand to lose the vast opportunities for the kind of tomorrow we all aspire for.

Around the world, more and more countries are recognizing the need for a new and forward-thinking strategy. And - way ahead of us - they are turning to Design.

Design is the process of taking creative ideas that are borne out of limited available resources, and transforming them into tangible, high-value products, services, and even social systems--and this is what the world has always called ... innovation.

United Kingdom, Denmark and Finland are some of the bigger Western frontrunners in the field of design and innovation--but we are surprised to find that our Asian contemporaries already catching up with these major players.

Singapore and Korea in particular, are the most aggressive, earning them top spots in the world ranking for global and design competitiveness.

The Singapore government is using design as a strategic tool to future-proof their country.

Meanwhile, the Korean government has already introduced 'Designomics', a strategy that directly uses design to drive economic growth in the form of high-value products and exports.

Even Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia have already established official government bodies to boost the global competitiveness of their respective design industries.

But isn't creativity the very competitive edge of our race?

And are we set to put this vast national asset to waste again?

Huwag po nating sayangin.

The time for tributes to our Filipino designer, I believe, is over.

It is time we pay them a higher tribute. It is time we recognize the tremendous value they bring to our economic and social goals.

Let us join hands together for the Filipino designer. Let us join hands in this proactive step towards the future.

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