THE Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) is eyeing to create an ecosystem for creatives to help them flourish under the new normal.

CCCI president Felix Taguiam said this sector has created countless job opportunities for many Filipinos and has served as income-generating prospects for locals.

But because of the Covid-19 pandemic, many of those who depend on these sectors have lost their source of income.

A report from the National Economic and Development Authority showed that the entertainment industry lands the top spot in the Top 10 hardest-hit business sectors caused by the pandemic.

“Although this is disheartening to hear, this also serves as a wakeup call for us in the business sector,” Taguiam said, in a forum that kicked off the Cebu Creative Entertainment Week (CEW) on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021.

The CEW is one of the activities during the 2021 Cebu Business Month, an annual event organized by the CCCI.

Prior to the pandemic, Mel Allego, president of the Cebu International Film Festival, said the audiovisual sector which includes theatre, film and music accounts for almost seven percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

“Along with the closing of cinemas and the cancellation of gigs for our musicians, our creatives have to find ways to support themselves and keep making art,” said Mike Cubos, CCCI vice president for Cebu Business Mobilization.

Chris Millado, vice president and artistic director of the Cultural Center of the Philippines and director of Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, noted that the arts and culture sector was not ready for the health crisis.

The pandemic had resulted in the massive loss of livelihood among artists, production staff and related industry workers, Millado said.

He disclosed that at the CCP, at least 800 events were cancelled, affecting 3,000 artists, cultural workers and production staff. It also lost at least P90 million revenue in sales, on top of the revenue loss in venue rentals.

Digital pivot

To cope with the pandemic, the industry, which is among the early adopters of digital technology, was able to make adjustments to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, said Millado.

The theater industry, on the other hand, had to revisit strategies amidst the changing environment, he said. These include video streaming of archival recordings, edited recordings and production of new content and the migration of selected festivals and activities to online platforms.

Allan Nazareno, Performing Arts coordinator of Yew Chung International School of Hongkong, said the estimated revenue loss of professional theater companies reached half a billion pesos, with 90 percent of the workers losing their jobs.

Like other sectors in the creative, theaters also accelerated their digital transformation journey. Technology was used in digital scenic elements, video projection and digital mapping as well as in incorporating video gaming into virtual interaction.

Moreover, Dennis Marasigan, Theatre Arts program head of Meridian International College, said theater companies had to adapt and survive through the online streaming of existing recordings of performances.

Also, they had to “pivot to the new normal through productions intended for streaming.”

Marasigan urged artists to continue creating content for films, TV series and Tiktok performances, among others and explore how technology could further help theater reach an audience.

Aside from content creation, the creative entertainment industry should also experiment on the use of technology in the actual production and use various online platforms for their theater productions.

“I think the pandemic has taught us that art is important, entertainment is important for how we could have survived the pandemic if not for watching things online,” Marasigan said.


Steve Sanchez, content and creation specialist for Viva Communications Inc., said smaller studios can look at possible co-production. This strategy, he said, will enable smaller companies to pool financial resources.

“A lot of outside international studios have come into the Philippines to produce. For example last year, there was Almost Paradise, a TV show which was co-produced and filmed in Cebu,” Sanchez said.

Meanwhile, Mirasol Cruz, executive director, Film Philippines Office/Cinema Evaluation Board of Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), urged the sector to get in touch with FDCP for possible project funding.

The FDCP provides funding for domestic and international efforts and partnerships of Filipino film producers to serve as line producers or partners or co-producers for the production of quality films.

CCCI trustee Mario Panganiban, earlier pushed for the creation of creative entertainment 2.0 for Cebu to achieve P500 million annual revenues in the next two years and P30 billion by 2030. (KOC with PR)