The Innovation and Creative Enterprise (ICE) Professional Diploma Scholarship offer came like an oasis in the midst of an educational decision-making conundrum. Originally, I was set on taking an MBA but put those plans on hold because of how the ICE program seemed to me like a dip into the world of masters with a little more soul. But, before we get to that, let’s backtrack.
The first few years of running a business are the period of a long and hard learning process—a trial by fire. Imagine seeing success float right at the tip of your fingers before a riptide of new problems wrenches you away with your hands having barely brushed its surface. That’s how starting a business feels.
I found myself bobbing in and out of knowing what to do and not knowing anything at all when I started out. I was handling operations and struggling to make it work as the artist inside me slowly shriveled into the ghost of what it once was. But those are the woes and blessings of life—experiencing things that are set to shape who you are to become.
The past year, with me finally working full time in a job that I love, left me yearning for chance to learn and to change the system. Financially, I was better off running a business but mentally and emotionally, I was fulfilled in my creative space. What if there was a way to properly marry the two? Scrap out being a starving artist, forget about being a “soulless” business person—why not try to do both and be happy, and give that chance to other creative people too?
During my business struggles, what kept me fighting on were the people; the business had to succeed to provide them proper job security and help them keep their livelihood. As a creative business person, that became my dream—to do that for other creatives as well.
The ICE Program seemed to be the right stepping stone toward achieving that purpose. It is centered on cultivating and shaping Creative Entrepreneurs—people who invest in creativity and combine creative innovation with their entrepreneurial abilities to develop successful businesses that sustain artistic initiatives—and is the perfect avenue for business-minded artists to expand their learning horizon.
Jim Torres, Kat Mallillin, Gerome Sta. Maria, Cheska Cadorniga, Andrei Nikolai Pamintuan, Genesis Raña, Jun de Leon, Clint Catalan, AJ Dimarucot, David Louise Ouano, Miguel Señires, Chino Carlo Aricaya, Cherry Saculo-Genato, Alison Segarra, Franchesca Casauay, Alee Garibay, Carlos Celdran, Chuck Dela Rama, Tommy Secuya, and Tiffany Neri were among the 20 professional diploma scholars accepted in the program.
A mere two days of the orientation at Thames left all the people involved absolutely ecstatic for the future they pictured to create together. Different creative communities have to be connected and invested in—and that’s what Thames, Apl de Ap, and all the entities involved were doing—connecting and investing in us.
To build the next generation of creative community leaders in the Philippines, creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship have to be synergized and directed toward creating social impact. That was what really sold it—the idea of social change.
Most of the time, people further their education to help themselves get ahead of the game. “I need to be smarter, faster, and stronger than everyone else,” is what most people think. It’s all about competition. When I stepped into the classroom, met all these people, and listened to the lecturers and mentors talk, I realized that competition was beyond the question—the end results would be birthed from collaboration. The thinking went more along the lines of, “We need to be smarter, faster, and stronger with everyone else.”
The class projects themselves were geared toward the act of giving rather than receiving. A mentoring project and a creative place-making project—both concrete examples of artistic initiatives to instill positive change and give the community something to hope for.
With all these overwhelming yet inspiring goals in mind, it became clear that although the crown our class would wear was a very unique one, it was one we would wear together. The orientation left me hopeful—with a feeling that these next few months were going to be part of the greatest little victories the creative sector of the Philippines would have.
photos by: Lui Mawis