Roma Agsalud-Agsunod of Common Room shares her insights and ideas after a dynamic study tour in Manchester and London.

“Every hub visit magnified the enormity of this whole new universe of possibilities that await us, not just in the Philippines but in the global stage.” – Roma Agsalud-Agsunod

Read the full transcript of Roma Agsalud-Agsunod’s inspring speech.

"First of all, I just want to take this opportunity in behalf of all the fellows here to thank the Philippine Embassy, Honourable Antonio Lagdameo, for hosting this send off from London. We know you are busy with more pressing national and international issues so to take the time for us makes us all hopeful that while there's still a long way to go in terms of government support for creative industries, that we are not alone, that we have potential allies in the public sector; that there are government agencies willing to connect and to listen to what we have to say. Of course, we also want to thank the British Council and the Design Center of the Philippines for making this trip possible. Thank you for investing your time and your resources on us. 

Thank you for validating what we have long believed in that we, along with all the creatives who we are representing today, are worth the investment. Know that we are not the same people who came here seven days ago. And that I have no doubt that everyone here will be leaving London, better managers and hopefully, better people. When we left the Philippines, all of us already had big dreams and big hopes for the hubs, the communities, for the cities and for the country that we represent, but after everything we've seen here, the term “big" does not seem quite enough anymore.

Every hub visit magnified the enormity of this whole new universe of possibilities that await us, not just in the Philippines but in the global stage.  To be honest, it's like a double-edged sword. It has left us feeling pumped and inspired to go back to the Philippines and work harder and better, but at the same time, it also left us feeling paralyzed by the sheer weight of all these responsibilities that await us.

On one hand, we felt hopeful because there is still so much we can do. But on the other hand, hopeless because many of these hubs we visited, in one way or another, had support from their local councils, city government and national government. Just imagine where we could be today if we just had this level of support as well! But again, one of the lessons we will be taking home from this trip is that we, as managers, do more than just create opportunities for our creative communities but we are also the bridge that will connect them to authorities who hold the power to make the change today. Yes, we can take a shot at it on our own because we have been doing it on our own for so long. But the downside is that it will take time–time that sometimes, our fellow creatives back home don't have the luxury of because bills need to be paid and mouths need to be fed. Another lesson is that all these have reminded us how incredibly talented Filipinos are for still being able to produce something despite the lack of support or access to materials, resources and equipment. This trip reminded us that what we lack, we make up with resourcefulness, ingenuity, grit and most importantly heart!

Even our museum visits here were great reminders that back then, they even had less in terms of knowledge, techniques and technologies. And yet they have made things far more intricate than what many have produced today. So not having is no excuse for not doing.  It is harder but not impossible. Another key thing we will be bringing home from this trip is better "whys". Why do we do what we do? Why do we make what we make? I'm sure we all had great reasons before but now, we have deeper, more purposeful reasons that we make because we can create something that hasn’t been done before and we make because we can help improve lives.

Huge tasks ahead of us for sure. But we are hopeful. We have faced similar seemingly impossible scenarios as well when we were all putting up our hubs. In my case, I started with only five thousand pesos and like Paul, only had scraps as materials for our first products. But today, Common Room has three branches and helps more than 200 creatives in the Philippines. If we did it then, we can do it again!  Especially now, slowly but surely, more and more private and public groups are recognizing the role of creative industries in the future of every nation. Long way to go no doubt but just being here on this trip, just  talking about it, and opening the lines of communications to private and public sectors who have the power to make  the change today is already a good reason to end this  trip with hopeful, grateful hearts.”

Creative Convergence 

The Creative Innovators Programme’s Creative Hubs Connect! UK Study Tour concluded with a networking social hosted by the Embassy of the Philippines in London. From visual arts to fashion and design, this year's fifteen Creative Innovators Fellows have successfully led some of the Philippines' most dynamic creative hubs, empowering artist and artisan communities and providing a platform for young people to unleash the Philippines' creative potential. It was an evening of inspiring stories, a-ha moments, great food, and new partnerships and collaborations, summarized eloquently by Roma Agsalud-Agsunod in her speech above.