SONA, Vanessa Hudgens docu: Paul Soriano’s projects as presidential adviser

November 10, 2023 - 1:31 PM
Paul Soriano
Paul Soriano in this photo on his Instagram on Dec. 1, 2017 (paulsoriano1017/Instagram)

Filmmaker Paul Soriano has let go of his position at the Malacañang.

This was announced more than a year after he was appointed as the presidential adviser on creative communications in October 2022, allowing him to coordinate with the Presidential Communications Office (PCO).

Paul was tasked to assist government departments and agencies, including the chief executive, “on matters that will enhance their information dissemination programs and initiatives,” Malacañang previously said.

When he was sworn in his position, the filmmaker said that among his duties was to make sure the “mission and the vision and the message of the President is clearly communicated to the Filipino people” creatively.

Paul had agreed to take the post with an annual salary of P1.

Fast forward more than twelve months later, a senator revealed that the film director was no longer working under the president.

The revelation came during the Senate plenary deliberations for the proposed P10.6-billion budget of the Office of the President (OP) for the year 2024 on Thursday, November 9.

Senate Minority Leader Koko Pimentel had questioned how much money was spent on the controversial “We Give The World Our Best” campaign overseas.

RELATED: Fact check: ‘We give the world our best’ not final DOT slogan

The country branding campaign was rolled out by the Presidential Adviser on Creative Communication (PACC), which was then headed by Paul.

“Wala na ba siya ngayon? ” Pimentel asked during the deliberation.

“Wala na po,” Sen. Sonny Angara, who sponsored the OP budget, said.

This was confirmed by PCO Secretary Cheloy Garafil on the same day, who said that Paul had submitted his resignation “to prioritize his personal commitments.”

“Presidential Adviser Paul Soriano took a well-deserved break to spend time with his family and newborn daughter,” she said.

Garafil added that there would be no replacement for the position that Paul had vacated “for now.”

The exact date when the filmmaker had stepped down, however, remains unanswered.

Last July, Paul filed leave of absence due to personal matters.

The directing duties for the president’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) at that time were done by Radio Television Malacañang, the Palace’s in-house coverage team, instead.

Paul, the nephew of First Lady Liza Araneta Marcos through her first cousin, director Gines Soriano, was given the presidential adviser role in October 2022.

Paul was credited as the one behind President Ferdinand Marcos Jr‘s campaign advertisements ever since the latter started as a vice governor until the presidency.

The director also supported Marcos’ electoral campaign in the 2022 national elections with his wife, actress-host Toni Gonzaga.

The president and the first lady had served as godparents to the couple during the latter’s wedding.

Paul as presidential adviser 

SONA direction

During Paul’s stint as a presidential adviser, he was responsible for directing the president’s first SONA in July 2022, which gained various comments about how it was presented.

RELATED: How Paul Soriano’s SONA directorial debut was received by Pinoys

Project with Vanessa Hudgens 

In March this year, PTV reported that Filipino-American actress Vanessa Hudgens will film a travel documentary exploring the heritage of her Asian family in the Philippines, which Paul will direct.

Weeks later, Vanessa was named the country’s global tourism ambassador.

The Palace said that the initiative to name Vanessa is part of its move to introduce the Philippines to the global community as among the top destinations for investment and tourism.

READ: What Vanessa Hudgens will do in visit to Philippines | Pinoys pitch other personalities amid Vanessa Hudgens appointment as global tourism ambassador

‘We Give the World Our Best’

Paul’s PACC was also responsible for rolling out the country branding project “We Give the World Our Best” which earned buzz in May 2023.

This involved a bus advertisement in London featuring Filipina-British nurse May Parsons, the nurse who gave the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine, with the slogan: “A Filipina. We Give The World Our Best. The Philippines.”

The campaign earned flak from some Pinoys, including Sen. Nancy Binay, who said it appeared to send a message that the Philippines is a labor-exporting country that “commodifies” its own people.

Paul responded that it was “not solely a tourism campaign” and that it “intends to let the whole world know how good, compassionate, and competent Filipinos are.”

Makabayan lawmakers also said he was involved in the production of the controversial “Love the Philippines” promotional video of the Department of Tourism.

The video, part of a rebranding campaign for Philippine tourism, used images of scenic spots in other countries.

Tourism Undersecretary Ma. Elaine Bathan said Paul was “in the loop” in its production, but the issue was “within the confines” of the DOT.

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Bathan said it was marketing agency DBB Philippines that was responsible for the video under its then-consultancy deal with the DOT at that time.

MORE: What is the role of presidential adviser on creative communications?

A November 10 report by The Philippine Star cited that Paul is busy with his feature directorial comeback “The Fisher” which stars Enchong Dee and Mon Confiado.

The filmmaker also said he is “currently working on three storylines” which he has written and co-written with his peers.