The Philippine Design Competitiveness Act: Pushing Filipino Creativity and Innovation to Greater Heights

There’s a much brighter future in store for our Filipino designers.

Republic Act No. 10557, or the “Philippine Design Competitiveness Act”, has been enacted and signed into law by President Benigno Aquino III last May 15, 2013.

The Act aims to boost competitiveness of the Filipino design industry with the following objectives: (1) creating forward-thinking and long-range direction and strategy for the design industry; (2) promoting national awareness on the use of design as a tool for economic competitiveness and social innovation; (3) integrating design into other industries and aspects of society; (4) incorporating design as a priority component in national planning and development; and  (5) encouraging innovation and creativity in the use of raw materials and natural resources (see Section 3).

Design Center of the Philippines

The law renamed the Product Development and Design Center of the Philippines (PDDCP) into the Design Center of the Philippines (“Design Center”), which is now attached to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Under Section 4 of the Act, there are specific undertakings of the Design Center in attaining its goal of promoting design as a creative tool for improving the quality and competitiveness and branding of Filipino products in the global market, to wit:

  1. Develop and maintain a creative research and development program on product design, development and improvement of Philippine products and services, including those created by small and medium enterprises (SMEs);
  2. Conduct continuing research on product and product packaging design trends, materials and processing technologies;
  3. Create, develop, promote and upgrade the design of all Philippine products and services, including those created by SME’s;
  4. Conduct seminars and workshops on product design and development;
  5. Set up design exhibitions;
  6. Publish design-related materials;
  7. Ensure protection of Filipino design ideas, products and other outputs of creative talents;
  8. Promote design education throughout the country to meet the needs of Philippine industries; and
  9. Promote design here and all over the world.

In order to carry out the abovementioned undertakings, the Design Center was also given specific powers and functions with regard to the following areas: national design policy, design awareness, design integration, design for development, and design and innovation (see Section 4).

Design Advisory Council

The law also created a Design Advisory Council (“DAC”) which will serve as an advisory board to the Design Center. The specific duty of the DAC is to advise the Design Center and give insights on the formulation and implementation of its policies. In providing advice and insights, it shall represent the collective views of both the public and the private sectors. It may also act as liaison among the professional design, design education and government design stakeholders. With regard to design education, it may provide advice and guidance on the development and standardization of course syllabus, ensuring the propagation of high quality education in design throughout the country.

National Design Policy

Section 9 of the Act gives an overview of the National Design Policy, which shall be formulated by the Design Center, aligned with the government’s economic agenda. It provides:

“The NDP shall serve as the State’s strategy in promoting design as a driving force towards a sustainable economic growth and development and a catalyst for increasing the competitiveness of the country in the global market.”

The formulation of the NDP is aimed at achieving the following goals:

1.   Global Competitiveness: To enhance competitiveness and innovation of Philippine products and services making it more responsive to social needs; to create a distinctive and recognizable identity for Philippine products through global positioning and branding of Philippine designs; and to build the competitiveness and capabilities of Filipino designers through continuous trainings, seminars and workshops and collaborations with Philippine manufacturers.

 2.   Institutionalization and Promotion of Design Culture Nationwide: To encourage the creation of original designs in Philippine-made products and services; to conduct programs that will challenge designers, design students, and ordinary citizens to actively engage in solving and mitigating socioeconomic and environmental problems through design-led approaches; and to enhance the quality of the Philippine products and services and productivity of the Philippine manufacturers through design.

3.   Creation of an Environment to Cultivate a Constant Demand for Good Design: To create a balance of supply (designers) and demand (private and public organizations, whether local or international) of the design industry; and to create linkages with the business sector, the educational sector, government institutions and the public in general to encourage them to employ and invest in good design.

4.   Design Protection: To promote Philippine designs through registration of Intellectual Property Rights and through Technology Licensing Officers; and to encourage and facilitate a culture of creating and protecting intellectual property in the area of design.

5.   Design Education and Professional Development: To elevate design education and design research in the Philippines to global standards of excellence; and to invest on appropriate infrastructure and technology to support design.

 6.   Institutionalization of Design as an Effective Problem-Solving Tool: To conceptualize affective and sustainable design-related approaches to drive economic growth and development; and to seek design solutions for issues related to social innovation and environmental sustainability and protection.

With the enactment of this law, it is hoped that Filipino designers would be able to keep up with the cutthroat competition in the design industry. It’s about time our government undertake steps to push Filipino creativity and innovation to greater heights.

The Act took effect on June 11, 2013, 15 days after its publication in two national newspapers.

(Ricky Ongkiko and Melissa Asuncion A. Ursua co-authored this post.)