Manila Is Apparently One of the Worst Cities in the World for Creatives, According to Report


Any designer, writer, artist, choreographer, or musician will tell you: being a creative can be a bitch sometimes (well, most of the time, really). The hours are hell, the pay is meh, our clients can be crazy, and the feeling of being overexploited is the norm.

If you're a creative in the Philippines, you are likely well-aware of how neglected this industry is (sighs heavily). The eye test confirms it and so do the numbers. In other news, data published by digital marketing company Adventrum and their research arm Business Name Generator showed that Manila is a less than ideal place for creatives. But just how bad is it exactly? Well, we ranked in the bottom five out of 50 cities worldwide. That terrible. Yikes.

With a recorded 14,644 creative roles and a monthly average salary of $470 (roughly P27,000), Manila is one of the worst cities worldwide simply because it fails to foster a safe and supportive environment for creatives. The capital only garnered an abysmal average score of 3.2.

The following range of metrics were considered:

  • Estimated number of "creative" roles available
  • Average yearly salaries advertised for them
  • Cost of living as a single person excluding rent
  • Number of museums and art galleries
  • Number of green spaces
  • Number of classes and workshops
  • Happiness score by country

It also doesn't help that the average rental rate in the city is at $518 (approximately P28,000), based on collected data. Only Tel Aviv in Israel, Johannesburg in South Africa, and Mumbai and New Delhi in India are worse for freelancers and the like. The two Indian cities scored a measly 2.8 overall.

Photo by BNG.


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As for the best cities in the world for creatives, Tokyo, Japan reigns supreme with an average score of 8.0, followed by London, England and Paris, France with 5.4 and 5.1, respectively. Chicago, meanwhile, had itself a respectable 5.0 rating.

San Francisco in California came in first, on the other hand, in terms of the highest-paying cities for creatives. Creative roles here get to rack in as much as $83,000 (about P4,600,000) annually and $7,192 (roughly P395,000) monthly. Wow.

Photo by BNG.
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Photo by BNG.

In the Philippines, House Bill 10107 and Senate Bill 2455 were designed to formalize and protect the creatives economy. In May 2022, the bicameral conference committee report on the two bills was ratified. These said bills will eventually become known as the "Philippine Creatives Industry Development Act." The act should create funding and offer grants for the industry's long-term development.

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. explained in his first State of the Nation Address that his administration would be looking into institutionalizing safeguards to protect creatives, as well.

"The creative industry likewise faces many challenges, including workplace conditions, working hours, intellectual property rights, and the welfare of our beloved freelancers who are left vulnerable during the height of the pandemic," he said during his speech. "We require an institutionalized creative industry that will advance the interest of its stakeholders."

We'll just have to wait and see, we guess. For now, life as a creative in Manila sucks and, as the old saying goes, it is what it is.


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About The Author
Bryle B. Suralta
Assistant Section Editor
Bryle B. Suralta is a Filipino cultural critic, editor, and essayist. He writes about art, books, travel, people, current events, and all the magic in between. His past work in film and media can be found on PeopleAsia Magazine, The Philippine Star, MANILA BULLETIN, and IMDB.
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