05 January 2017

Blessed are the Creators - A look into the 2016 Adobo FOI

There’s a long line at the Newport Performing Arts Theater, and it’s not even 9:00 AM yet. I glance at the line and try to look for a familiar face – they say, after all, that the world of creatives is a small one – but to no avail. Nonetheless, it’s face after fresh face; youth notwithstanding and looks ranging from professional to hipster.

It’s an interesting sight to come by as I wait to be ushered in. Prior to this, I’d only heard of the Adobo Festival of Ideas from other peers; often about how good it was. It wasn’t much to go on, but I figured I’d find out soon enough.

Entering the venue was a kaleidoscope of sorts. You could blame it on Resorts World’s casino-like interiors, but for the most part it’s because of all the booth activity. You’ve got your big-name brands like SMART and PLDT. A sprinkling of local emergents like Kratos Coffee and I AM Cardboard PH. And so on. You could also opt to have your photo taken near the entrance.

Amidst the flurry, I head down the theater, where the talks would be held. This was, after all, what I had come for. A few steps down, I find a seat where I could see the stage clearly, pleasantly surprised to see an old friend of mine. After catching up a bit, we kept silent as the program began.

It’s very explosive, to say the least. Complete with laser lights and a rotating stage, the program opened with an impressive dance number by the A Team to the beats of Gab Valenciano and DJ Tom Taus.

In comes host Zach Lucero, whose presence warms the stage a bit more. Janelle Barretto-Squires and Angel Guerrero of Adobo then give some background on the Festival of Ideas in their respective talks, having begun 3 years ago and aiming to inspire a new generation of creatives. Aptly, it's here that they announce the launch of Class A, Adobo's student magazine.

This precursory talk might seem protocol for similar events, but this time around it's more than meets the eye. The youth, after all, has a reputation which precedes itself. Apart from hearsay, it's a generation known for its dynamic, innovative, and increasingly-aware nature, one which perfectly encapsulates this year's theme: "Create. Innovate. Or Die."

It's refreshing to note that today's talks reflect this. The opening seminars - from Wain Choi's talk on "launching people," to Anna Meloto-Wilk's call to elevate consumer needs and wants - look at the more compassionate side of the young Filipino creative, one which desires something greater. Kotoko Koya, in a later talk, also reiterates this point by noting how today's creative industry is called to " [create] for a purpose."

Tuomas Peltoniemi and Melvin Mangada's look into "The Flux Agency" highlights the need for creative agencies to adapt to a constantly changing world, one which appeals to the flexibility and self-awareness of today's generation.

Arthur Policarpio drives the point by looking into the future and possibility of a mobile-first generation, and the duo of Pam Garcia and Josie Brown further this by looking into the ruminations of tech to the Filipino consumer in today's world.

Later, Marcus Rebeschini takes stage with the bold proclamation to take the word "innovation" out of our vocabulary, noting how we sometimes get caught up in the word without actually doing something innovative. Carlo Ople follows this up with an equally bold statement, noting that those who are rewarded in this day and age are "not those who consume, but those who create."

Kitty Lun adds to this by noting the importance of co-creation between producers and consumers of creative work, while John Merrifield places importance on putting the user first.

Ibba Rasul Bernardo and Matthew Cua end the program in a fashion as explosive as its opening. Arriving on a motorcycle, the two cap off the segment by talking about ways to concretize one's creative ideas.

It's admittedly a lot to chew on, a myriad of information as dizzying as the booths outside. But it's understandable. To be a creative – and a young creative at that – has always involved some sort of multiplicity, in one way or another.

Not that it's a bad thing. On the contrary, it's about understanding that there's more to creation than making things aesthetically-pleasing, or more tempting to purchase. It's about knowing there are other aspects to a creative work than its face value, that there are more possibilities to it than originally thought. It's an insight that's worth the mental overload.

Knowing this, the session ends; a volume of people heading to the registration area for the complimentary goody bags. Some even head to the Remington for the after party. Nonetheless, I leave, understanding why they called it the Festival of Ideas. The concepts still swirl in my head, like a technicolored abstract of possibility.


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