A helping hand for entertainment writers
- Leah C. Salterio () - April 19, 2007 - 12:00am
Not too long ago, a movie writer who was confined in a hospital approached noted hairdresser and civic worker Ricky Reyes for financial help. Due to the accumulated hospital bills of his confinement, the writer could not check out of the hospital that’s why he needed monetary assistance.

Mother Ricky, as he is fondly called, known to always extend a helping hand to all those who are in need, readily helped shoulder the writer’s hospital bills. But more importantly, the deplorable situation prompted Ricky to seek for long-time assistance that will help entertainment writers in times of health crisis.

It is for this reason that he decided to approach President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to relate to her the plight of some entertainment writers who cannot afford to pay for the high cost of illness. Recently, the President distributed PhilHealth cards to members of the entertainment press.

"There are a lot of entertainment writers who cannot afford to pay for their hospitalization and medicines every time they get sick," Ricky reasoned out. "They usually approach showbiz stars or other celebrities to ask for money when this happens. But that is very temporary. Giving them PhilHealth cards will greatly help them. They don’t have to beg for money every time they get sick."

He added that showbiz stars can only give so much dole-outs to the writers. "You cannot approach the stars every time you get sick," Ricky maintained. "They will also run out of financial assistance to give you."

He also disclosed it was not difficult for him to approach the President to ask for assistance for the entertainment writers. "I told her that many entertainment writers don’t have the means to pay for their hospital bills whenever they get sick. So I asked if she could offer them PhilHealth cards for assistance."

However, Ricky pleaded not to give any political color to this latest assistance extended to entertainment journalists, both in the print and broadcast media. "This is election season and with the timing, I’m sure there are some people who will criticize the President on the distribution of the health cards," Ricky explained. "I was the one who asked the President for the health cards. She merely agreed to help."

The distribution of the PhilHealth cards was recently done over dinner hosted by President Arroyo at the Heroes Hall in Malacañang. The journalists welcomed the health card assistance and also had a rare chance to pose for souvenir shots with the President.

Ricky gathered officers and members of two entertainment organizations — Philippine Movie Press Club (PMPC) and the Entertainment Press Society (Enpress) — to attend the dinner reception. Entertainment editors, columnists, movie writers and broadcast were also present.

The noted hairstylist has become not just a favorite "darling of the press," but also an inspiration to most writers. Ricky does not get tired of sharing with the press his rags-to-riches story about how he started as a salon sweeper to become what he is now.

PhilHealth implements the law on universal health coverage as it provides health insurance to defray hospitalization costs. The cards have been a great help to the poor, according to Ricky, and he wanted entertainment journalists to have health insurance coverage. To date, PhilHealth has nearly 16 million members and over 51 million dependents reaching about 77 percent of the population.

Also present in were officers of the Filipino Hairdressers Cooperative (Fil-Hair Coop), the oldest association of hairdressers in the country with thousands of members in 18 chapters nationwide.

Ricky and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Esperanza Cabral also presented their report and accomplishments for the Bangon Bicol project that benefited the victims of Typhoon Reming last year.

Ricky informed that over 2,000 jobs were generated in the livelihood project conducted this year in the provinces of Camarines Sur and Albay, two areas badly hit by the typhoon.

The DSWD and Fil-Hair Coop teamed up in response to the President’s call to hasten the rehabilitation of Bicol after the devastation wrought by Typhoon Reming.

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