Dingdong Dantes, Alden Richards inject new energy, ideas into 50-year-old MOWELFUND

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
Dingdong Dantes, Alden Richards inject new energy, ideas into 50-year-old MOWELFUND
Dingdong Dantes and Alden Richards are the new board members of the Movie Workers Welfare Foundation, Inc. or MOWELFUND, which has been providing welfare services particularly to the marginalized workers in the Philippine film industry.
STAR / File

The presence of Dingdong Dantes and Alden Richards as new board members has injected new life and energy into the 50-year-old Movie Workers Welfare Foundation, Inc. (MOWELFUND).

MOWELFUND is a non-profit social welfare and industry development organization that features programs and welfare services catering to especially marginalized workers in the Philippine film industry. It was founded in 1974 by then actor/producer and former Philippine President, Joseph “Erap” Estrada.

“We’re very thankful that, you know, despite their very hectic schedule, they make time. Their inputs at our board meetings and our Execom meetings are very, very note-worthy because they’re the ones who are in touch really. They’re on the ground, so to speak,” said MOWELFUND chair Boots Anson Roa-Rodrigo of Dingdong and Alden during an interview with The STAR.

Alden and Dingdong with MOWELFUND chair Boots Anson Roa- Rodrigo during one of their MOWELFUND Sessions.

“They are the ones who work more closely with our film workers and other co-stars, etc., so they really know what is happening in the industry.”

Sharing how involved the two Kapuso stars are in MOWELFUND, she said, “Dingdong is very into welfare projects. Both of us, as board members, are consultants for the welfare department and it was him who was very emphatic that by way of expanding and activating our membership campaign, we should include providing amnesty for MOWELFUND members who are not able to keep up with the P500 year (membership fee).”

“A lot has not been able to keep up so he was suggesting that why don’t we establish a program, maybe an amnesty program to an extent, that it will continue to be viable pa rin naman for MOWELFUND kasi saan nga naman kukunin yung funding for the benefits?”

Another suggestion of Dingdong, Boots said, was that the welfare programs “should not only be parang de rigueur or general or traditional. But it’s about time, na bigyan ng mukha itong welfare program na ito by putting up a medical clinic since our mandate is health and general welfare. That’s one of the things we’re planning now.”

Alden, on the other hand, is helping out with the educational section under the Mowelfund Film Institute.

“He is very into the awareness program for MOWELFUND and promoting it through social media. In fact, he has deployed his Myriad Productions, his events planning and media outfit, to help us with this and so one of the first projects was what we called the MOWELFUND Sessions, where Alden hosts with Dingdong.

“It’s a series of in-depth interviews of the Board Members of the Execom, other stakeholders and prime movers in the industry, and eventually some of the beneficiaries themselves. That’s ongoing.”

Boots said that upcoming major projects will also be done in partnership with Alden’s group.

For an organization whose members are mostly 50 to 60 years old and above, Alden and Dingdong’s participation is like a shot in the arm for the organization, according to Boots.

“This time, we are able to connect more easily and more directly with the active mainstreamers in the industry. People like them who are really busy, and who have yet to be parang educated, inspired, and into whose recognition can be inculcated yung social action — the social conscience that is needed to help the industry work.”

Boots also related to The STAR how Dingdong and Alden readily came onboard MOWELFUND.

“We invited them but very readily, they said yes. Si Dingdong, noon ko pa yan sinasabihan during our projects, tsaka ginamit ko yung yung leverage ko, although as a joke, ‘Dingdong, you’re my student at Ateneo, you have to respect your teacher, please help us.’”

Same with Alden, although it was actress-director Gina Alajar, in one of their taping sessions, who convinced Alden to join them.

Asked about the effect of their presence in the organization’s board, the industry veteran said, “You know, every time they’re there, we’re starstruck and we’re very grateful really.”

But the biggest effect would have to be that organization, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this 2024, now has a “fast and effective” connection with the younger generation of actors and movie workers.

“Kasi ang hirap kunin talaga nitong mga bata maybe because they’re busy and maybe at this point in their lives, hindi lang naiisip na lahat ng karangyaan na ito, lahat ng affluence na dinudulot ng kanilang estado, siguro mahirap para sa kanila ang makita na may katapusan lahat yan and for the predecessors in the industry, for those came ahead of them, natapos na yung mga yan at hindi handa yung mga yun,” said Boots.

“With Dingdong and Alden there, mas madaling mag-resonate dun sa mga mas nakababata and the more active ones the predicament nitong mga nauna ng mga artista, who are no longer active now, who weren’t able to invest, na nahihirapan at nangangailangan ng tulong ng MOWELFUND. The social consciousness that these two young people have, we hope, all the members of the board, are able to infect them with.

“I’m sure many of the younger ones have that. But maybe because of their being very busy, you have to put in their minds that there’s such a thing as paying forward to the industry and not to wait for such paying forward with the time when they are not as busy anymore.”

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