Creative Manila

… in support of the creative economy.

By Melissa Gibson, Co-Founding Partner of PULSE | originally published on March 26, 2013


We are Pinoys United in Living the Solidarity Economy. We share a PULSE with Manila. We want to make visible Manila’s cultural wealth. We want to help organize and foster the creative and innovative economy of our city. But more than that – we believe that the creative city approach can be a viable and people-centered model of urban development.

If you spend enough time in Manila, you see it everywhere: talent, insight, boundary-pushing, meaning-making… There’s a world of culture here and a unique and dynamic Filipino aesthetic. PULSE aims to link Manila and the world by engaging creatives, innovators and entrepreneurs in the development of our creative city.

PULSE is committed to a vision of a Manila as a creative city. The creative city coined by Charles Landry in the 1980s presents an alternative development model that asserts the inherent value of arts and culture, pointing to underlying conditions that encourage people to live and work creatively. The creative city, then, is not just a marketing gimmick, aimed at monetizing culture and the arts for a paying audience, but crucially an approach to the city and its culture.


The creative economy of a city includes art, culture and knowledge-based sectors such as tech, film, publishing, advertising, food, design, music, visual and performing arts, and fashion. The aim is both social and economic: measured in job creation, product output, ticket sales, community and public identity, beauty, and quality of life. PULSE believes that through the creative city approach, Manila will become a better place to work and live. Indeed, many high-profile creative sectors, including online social networking, indie music, documentary film, slow food, etc. have emerged from social goals (i.e. valuing communities) rather than in pursuit of new markets. Ultimately, it is the movement and activity of the people that constitute a creative city.

Already in Manila, there is a growing recognition of the importance of creative services in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry. The newly created Creative Industries Council of the Philippines, and several local government initiatives, notably in Quezon City and Makati, are all part of the dawning of an important moment in the creative life of Manila. However, there is a real need for creatives, innovators and entrepreneurs themselves to get organized and shape the direction of Manila’s creative economy.


In an era of global-local connectedness, the creative city approach necessarily includes places beyond the city. Cannes in France, the home of global independent film; Tokyo’s anime production for a worldwide audience; the multi-cultural milieu of New York cuisine. All these places engage the creative city in ways that speak to the global human.

Manila, with its rich cultural diversity – drawn from 7000+ islands, long-standing trade routes in the region, and a history of conquest and migration – make for a myriad of local-global possibilities. In truth, Manila’s creative economy already includes an element of transnationality that ought to be recognized as a valuable element for taking our creative city to the next level.

PULSE envisions a creative Manila that does not simply serve global markets and compete for footloose capital. Rather, transnational identities, committed global-local partnerships and diverse forms of creative expression are global elements of a creative Manila that works for local people.

PULSE aims to help foster the people-to-people links, both local and transnational, that can make Manila the next creative city in Asia.

PULSE aims for a creative Manila that is more just, more equitable, more accessible and more livable for everyone.