By Joseph Alcantara, one of the administrators of the Filipino Communicators Collective and marketing communications manager at Emirates.
Out of UAE’s 9 million population, more than 500,000 are Filipinos. We are the fourth largest expat community in this country. It’s impossible not to encounter one of us in your daily life since we’re literally everywhere. You see us, you hear us, you deal with us. In every industry, there will for sure be at least one of us.
Fast forward to this April. Not a single Filipino was nominated for Campaign’s list of Faces to Watch. As a Filipino marketing practitioner in the UAE, I saw this as a wake-up call.
Truth be told, the list stirred questions and ignited discussions within the Filipino community. Why aren’t we represented? Aren’t we good enough? Should we be more assertive to be recognised? Didn’t we nominate rising stars? Or is there indeed a scarcity of young Filipino talent in the sector? Are we really such an insignificant minority that our voices and accomplishments can’t even make a dent?
As a resilient bunch that immediately bounces back, our small group made a call-out for community unification and action. A few days later (thanks to social media), the ‘Filipino Communicators Collective’ (FCC) was born. With nearly 200 UAE-based volunteers, we are now a team of evangelists (client-side marketers), overseers (agency strategists, buyers and account managers),
creatives (art directors, photographers, videographers, filmmakers and copywriters), storytellers (public relations, social media, broadcasting and publishing practitioners) and campaigners (bloggers, influencers, and Instagrammers).
In the snap of a finger, the passion and momentum resulted in people coming forward to make a difference. Together, we aim to use the power of communications to rewrite the ‘Overseas Filipino’ narrative that will thrive in equality, integral participation and meaningful ownership.
A small battalion following a compass just of dreams and ideals isn’t enough. Hearts may have been set on fire, but keeping them burning to achieve our desired results is the bigger battle. To me, these should be our immediate steps:
Excel and make the Filipino brand better – Big or small, our individual action and output contribute to our group branding. We have to showcase our best every single day, leave our inferiority complex outside the door and stamp that positive Filipino signature on all that we do. Be where it matters and raise our flag.
‘Group promote’ rather than ‘self-promote’ – Instead of self-promotion in our own little community pond, it’s time to spread the excellence of the group in the bigger ocean that we have yet to conquer.
Open opportunities for everyone – Since all of us are in the same field, most of us are direct or indirect competitors. Yet it’s the age of collaboration and we need to shift our mindset by opening opportunities for everyone, celebrating each other’s success and amplifying it, as the outside world deserves to know.
Teach and inspire one another – Create learning opportunities to strengthen current trailblazers and develop new leaders. Grow our community by producing exemplary talents that will represent the Filipinos in mainstream platforms and, in the process, cultivate a culture built around continuous learning and synergy.
Dispel the old meaning of ‘crab mentality’ – Be pragmatic and be the crab who pushes everyone to get out of the basket (not the other way around) to make it big in the outside world.
Our new narrative
In this cosmopolitan country, where all ethnicities are recognised as contributors to growth and progress, it’s high time that we showcase the diverse talents, skills and competencies of more Filipinos.
Indeed, you know us as your excellent and reliable hospitality crew, domestic helpers, office administrators, nurses and engineers. But beyond this, we are also a community of passionate, capable and driven communicators who can better contribute to the region’s creative economy, if only given the right exposure and representation.
To non-Filipinos reading this who may have a connection a Filipino in the field – if you’re his direct superior, inspire and recognise him when it’s due, as he can be your future superstar; if you’re his client, give him challenges that will harness his strategic thinking and over-all creativity; if he’s pitching for your business, give him a fair chance; if you’re his colleague, collaborate with him and let his reliability and passion shine.
To all Filipinos reading this – it’s high time that we develop and nurture outstanding communications practitioners among us and achieve a valuable representation driven by a culture of uncompromising excellence. It’s in our hands now, as it has always been, and the fight is up to us.
Will we keep this as a wake-up call or make this awakening the beginning of a new story crafted around a narrative based on relevance, significance and inclusivity?