By LIZA DIÑO-SEGUERRA
Notes from the Chair
The Sunday Times Magazine
The Manila Times
June 28, 2020
As we end the month of June, I want to dedicate this column to my agency. June is doubly special to me because there are two significant occasions that make me feel excited – the anniversary of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) and my birthday.
When the FDCP turned 18 this month, I exclaimed, “Wow, dalaga na tayo!”
They say that when you turn 18, you’re ready for the world and the rest of your life. And this is exactly where we are. The FDCP and Philippine film industry are ready for the world.
The FDCP Quarterly Town Hall Meeting is the columnist’s favorite staff event.
The Agency’s 18th anniversary comes at a perfect time as we are ready to be part of this global platform that is hungry for our films not just within the walls of international film festivals but the commercial market itself. I’m delighted about how far the FDCP has come since it was formed on June 7, 2002 through Republic Act No. 9167.
As the national film agency, the FDCP is responsible for policies and programs to ensure the economic, cultural, and educational development of the Philippine film industry. It encourages the production of quality films and conducts film-related events that enhance the skills of Filipino talents. The agency is under the Office of the President of the Philippines which leads the film industry’s participation in local and international film markets and film festivals, and is tasked to preserve and protect films as part of the country’s cultural heritage.
Since my appointment as FDCP Chairperson and CEO by President Rodrigo Duterte on August 12, 2016, my life changed in so many ways. It was like growing up into a whole new person and finding a purpose all over again.
Sometimes, however, I ask myself why I was chosen. I’m sure until now, a lot of other people still ask the same question about me.
At the House Committee Hearing on the Eddie Garcia Act with Ice Seguerra, Batangas 6th District Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto, 1-Pacman Rep. Eric Pineda, and Bembol Roco.
I remember during my first six months as head of the agency, I would always feel hurt and affected when people say that I was nothing but an “obscure” working actress who never became famous enough or skilled enough to be worthy of the position. While it did hurt, I chose to keep my head down and just do my work and do it to the best of my ability, hoping that someday, my sincerity to serve and the work that I do would speak for itself.
I never thought it was possible to place myself in the service of others completely and to be so passionate with work that’s not about self-fulfilment. I spent almost my entire life as an artist — an actress, flamenco dancer, or a chef — and for me then, the goal was about my upcoming project or next role. It used to be just about me and my passions: When is my next flamenco show? When is my next acting gig? What role am I going to play next? It was about self-growth and getting better at my own craft.
Public service is the complete opposite. It is about the next program to support your stakeholders. It’s about their growth and getting better at their craft, and providing mechanisms to see them shine and excel through the initiatives created for them.
When I watch Filipino actors give justice to a particular role or watch a Filipino film being appreciated by the international audience, that becomes my source of joy–finding happiness and fulfilment in other people’s success. This is what public service has been all about.
To be in the position where I can contribute significantly to this industry was originally unimaginable to me. I never understood what it meant to live a life in public service until I did it myself. This captures a lot of what I feel about the trajectory my life has taken.
My husband, Ice, put it succinctly: I finally found my center.
The columnist with FDCP FIlmPhilippines Office Executive Director Fabros and FDCP staff Jayvee Santos, Rachelle Villaluna, Nikki Casanova, and Apple Barbero
It was an uphill climb but gradually, the industry felt the support, the trust, and the optimism that FDCP strove as an ally of its stakeholders that aspires for a bigger vision.
It was indeed surreal but I do believe that everything happens for a reason. There are no coincidences, only missed opportunities. And I want to thank our President for giving me the opportunity to serve this country.
I’ve grown so much in the last three years that I’ve been part of public service. The impulsive, overly sensitive, and emotional me somehow found a sense of balance to understand what good governance means. Not to mention the amount of patience I need to muster to deal with negativity.
The FDCP has also made me braver. I thought I was already fearless, having had my share of ups and downs in life. It turns out, that was just a warm-up. My whole life, I ran away from being stuck in a job. But now I can’t seem to stop myself from working. Beyond the 9 to 5. And I willingly do this because I love what I do.
As I ponder on the FDCP’s anniversary, I realize that I still have a lot of aspirations for the Agency. There are numerous plans to expand Philippine Cinema not just locally but globally as well. In the age of digital technology where access to content is right on your fingertips through streaming platforms that allow us to discover the stories of the world, we need to go and reach out to the widest audience possible.
We have to imbibe the philosophy that the film industry is a global market. In the same way that we are consuming different kinds of content from all over the world, we want other countries to consume our content as well. So we’re not just learning about international cultures but we’re also spreading our culture in other countries.
At the Philippine Cinema Night in Berlin with Philippine Ambassador to Germany Ma. Theresa “Tess” Dizon-de Vega
I wish for the FDCP to be seen as more than just a film agency. I hope that we can be transformed as a commission, and for us to have a stable position to shape the direction of the audio-visual industry vis-à-vis the creative industry in the years to come.
The film and audiovisual industry impacts the country not only as a cultural contributor but also as an economic contributor. I hope that the government will pay more attention to what this sector can give to the country and prioritize us as one of the forefront industries that can contribute to the GDP.
I want to create more impactful changes by the time I end my term as Chairperson. I want to be able to say that I can go back to the industry that I love, the industry that shaped me into the person that I am, knowing that I did more than my best.
This quarantine really teaches you about the most important things in life: to go back to basics and realize that you don’t need much. To be able to spend time with my family at home and at work — that for me is a perfect birthday.
If there are people in my life who I really care about aside from my family, it’s my family in the FDCP. I actually spend more time with my FDCP staff and leads than with my family so I’m glad I got to celebrate my birthday with them.
I may have celebrated my birthday differently because of the pandemic, but I am happy to have spent it with the people who matter. It actually feels good to look back and say that even if I had my birthday during the quarantine, with all the well-wishes I received, there was no feeling of isolation at all; only an outpour of love from people around me.
In the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, we are challenged to do more and provide the support this industry needs to be able to get back on its feet. We at the FDCP remain steadfast in our commitment to RISE above obstacles—guided by our values of Respect, Integrity, Service, and Empowerment.
Happy 18th Anniversary, FDCP! Happy birthday to us. I hope, somehow, I’ve made you proud.
Notes from the Chair is part of the Arts Awake section of The Sunday Times Magazine published by The Manila Times. Click HERE to view the article on The Manila Times website