AYO 2023: SIKAP aims to bring Filipino content to global audiences

What if the Philippines could be more successful and systematic in exporting its original content for global consumption?

AYO 2023: SIKAP aims to bring Filipino content to global audiences

Editor’s note: This is a sponsored post by the Creative Content Creators Association of the Philippines, also known as SIKAP.

Filipinos are natural storytellers, and the Philippines is fertile ground for myths and modern tales. Yet while Filipino writers, artists, actors, musicians, and other content creators are recognized for their talent and creativity, international consumption and mainstream acceptance of Filipino content has not yet become a reality.

True, we have success stories, such as Freddie Aguilar's 1978 hit "Anak", which is the best-selling Philippine music record of all time. Not only was it hugely popular in the Philippines, but also became an international hit that was released in 56 countries and translated into 27 different languages. More recently, we saw Netflix releasing the "TRESE" anime series based on the graphic novels created by Filipino writer Budjette Tan and Filipino artist Kajo Baldisimo. On the video game front, the very first Philippine-made PC game Anito: Defend a Land Enraged ushered in the Philippine game development industry when it was released in 2003. In 2004, it even won in the Innovation in Audio category at The 12th Annual Independent Games Festival. Nowadays, we also have Philippine-made blockchain games. These include Anito Legends, a strategic turn-based auto-battler whose lore was created by Palanca Award-winning writer Yvette Tan, and ASTRO XP, a space-based open world role-playing game that touts itself as the first Philippine-made triple-A web3 game.

These, however, are individual success stories. But what if the Philippines could be more successful and systematic in exporting its original content for global consumption? Just as South Korea has conquered international markets with its Hallyu or Korean Wave that includes K-pop, K-dramas, and Korean movies.

"While doing our roadshows and meeting our members, SIKAP has seen the stories and creations that have been done in the Philippines. In a world where the audience is looking for unique stories, characters, and different heroes, Filipino content is right there. We have what it takes. What we are missing is the network, the knowledge on the business side of licensing or selling our creations, and valuing our creations properly. Also, just look at all our kababayans (countrymen) who are successful storytellers, musicians, and artists internationally. We know we have what it takes," SIKAP President Marla D. Rausch told Digital Life Asia.

Community of creators

Marla D. Rausch is founder and CEO of Animation Vertigo and Animation Vertigo Asia, a motion capture animation company with locations in the US and the Philippines. She is also Managing Partner of Kampilan Productions, a content development studio and the writer/director of a 3D animated feature, developing her own IP that features a Filipino hero. Marla is the current President of SIKAP – Creative Content Creators Association of the Philippines. Image credit: SIKAP

The Creative Content Creators Association of the Philippines, also known as SIKAP, is a non-profit association set up to help Filipino creators in animation, video games, comic books, prose, music, and other fields navigate the tricky world of intellectual property (IP). The ultimate goal of SIKAP is to help Filipino content creators competitively deliver their ideas onto the international stage.

Asked to describe SIKAP in 10 words or less, Rausch replied: "A community of creators supporting each other to bring our creations to the world." Current SIKAP members are creators in the Filipino game development, animation, music, comic book, original character, and literary sectors – many of them are developing their own creative IP! Rausch herself is an animation creator and motion capture professional.

According to Rausch, SIKAP was formed to address the three main pain points that Filipino creators experience.

First, knowing how to pitch their creation for funding, distribution, or publishing. Second, understanding how to protect and manage their IP so that they can maximize their monetization. And third, seeing and understanding the business side of creating. SIKAP programs and events are designed to address these key points.

AYO 2023 in Cebu

To this end, SIKAP offers its flagship event, AYO, which this year will be held at the Bluewater Maribago Resort in Mactan, Cebu from May 12-14.  

AYO is derived from the Visayan word maayo, which means "good". Visayan speakers also use Ayo! as the equivalent of the Tagalog Tao po!, which literally means "I am human" and is a polite way of letting people inside the house know that you are at the door.  

This year's AYO, whose theme is COLLABCREATE, is a three-day event consisting of workshops, talks, and content jam sessions that will bring together the valuable experience of creators, top international mentors, IP investors, and industry leaders into a single forum.

What are the main lessons that SIKAP learned from last year's AYO, and how will these be applied to this year’s event?

Rausch said one of the things they learned is that many Filipino creators were excited to realize that original IP is a viable option for them – not just content outsourcing or services. The attendees were also keen to find out how to get their creations out, and what to do next.

"We have a lot of really shy creators. They have amazing talent, but they aren't confident enough to pitch, sell, or network with people they consider better than themselves," she said.

According to Rausch, this is why they chose the theme COLLABCREATE for this year’s event.

"We want to emphasize why working together with other creators is a good thing. Someone might be good at business development while another one is purely creating. Working together allows you both to succeed," Rausch said.

SIKAP will also showcase more IPs that are succeeding. By introducing more creators and their work, they hope to motivate, inspire, and show a path to success to AYO 2023 attendees.

The event will also allow creators to network in a safe space, to build their confidence as SIKAP further develops and grows AYO into the content market that it envisions.

"We also want to give our creators the ability to promote, market, and possibly sell their IP, because this was also something else we saw that was really good for our attendees," she said.

Not only that, but also SIKAP has invited more government agencies and business sectors to AYO 2023 so that all stakeholders will be on the same page in ensuring the success of Filipino creators.

This year, AYO is ably supported by the Department of Trade and Industry Region 7 (DTI7), the Department of Information Communications and Technology (DICT), the Intellectual Property Office - Philippines (IPOPhl), Animation Vertigo, Payoneer, Meowsmouse, Taktyl Studios, the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), and a host of creative industry partners. Payment platform powered by Boozt.

SIKAP and your story

Creative champions at AYO 2022 in Cebu from government, the Cebu business sector, SIKAP, IPO Philippines, DICT, and creators in the games, animation, and film industries pledge collaboration and support to further the vision of Filipino original content locally produced, globally consumed! Photo taken on Oct. 8, 2022 at Waterfront Hotel in Lahug, Cebu City. Image credit: SIKAP

While AYO is its flagship event, SIKAP also reaches out to the grassroots with its AYO Roadshows. These are mini versions of AYO, which the organization brings to different cities. So far, SIKAP has held AYO Roadshows in Dumaguete and Bohol.

Through these on-ground events and their online efforts, SIKAP ensures that it can listen to the community and tailor its services to the needs of local creators.

Incidentally, the name SIKAP itself has an interesting story behind it.

Asked why the organization is known as both SIKAP and the Creative Content Creators Association of the Philippines, Rausch shared that the incorporators tried submitting different names to the Securities and Exchange Commission, but none of them could be registered.

"What was finally accepted is what it is now – Creative Content Creators Association of the Philippines. We realized that is a mouthful, and CCCAP is a little too much, but if you break it down it sounds like SIKAP. Which also fits because producing original content needs sariling sikap (self-reliance)."

What message would Rausch like to share with Filipino content creators?

"We wanted to be in the creative industry because we wanted to create something of our own. We wanted to tell our story. We had something we wanted to share to the world – and the world deserves to hear your story. If you don't know how to do it, what to do next, where to go, or you just feel like you need a push, SIKAP is here as a community for you, and AYO is the place to go for original content," she said.

So, want to share your story? Register for AYO 2023 and find out how you can reach out to a global audience. Ongoing 20% off until April 27.

Tuloy po kayo!