Feeling neglected, artists ask govât for aid, free COVID-19 testing
Mural of frontliners is pictured at a hospital in Pasig City on August 2, 2020.
The STAR/Michael Varcas, file

Feeling neglected, artists ask gov’t for aid, free COVID-19 testing

(Philstar.com) - April 17, 2021 - 2:52pm

MANILA, Philippines — Groups of artists are urging the government to provide them aid and free COVID-19 testing as they lament feeling neglected in the country’s response to the pandemic.

Audie Gemora of Philstage said that they feel that actors, performers and other creatives have been left largely to their own devices amid a raging pandemic that has left many of them jobless as venues where they usually perform have been ordered to close.

“Parang walang naaawa sa atin at walang sumusuporta. Kaya ngayon, effort natin on our own na tingnan kung paano tayo matutulungan at paano tayo makakatulong,” said Fernando Josef of Free the Artist Movement (FAM) and Artists Welfare Project Inc. (AWPI)

(It’s like no one takes pity on us and no one supports us. That’s why we’re coming up on our own with ways on how we can be helped and how we can help.)

AWPI reported that of the 5,000 freelance workers registered with them, only 1,000 have received a one-time P5,000 cash aid from the Department of Labor and Employment through its COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program.

As for coronavirus testing, FAM’s Soc Jose said that many of them have to pay from their own pockets to get tested, even if they were getting tested as part of protocols for a shoot.

“Kinukunsidera niyo pala na malaki ‘yong ambag namin, pero pagdating dito sa swab testing, hindi man lang magawang mabigyan kami ng diskwento o kaya gawing libre sa amin,” said Brian Arda from Surian ng Sining.

(You consider that we have great contributions, but when it comes to swab testing, we are not even given a discount or even make it free for us.)

Representatives from artists' groups flash signs calling for free COVID-19 testing, safe and effective vaccines, and cash aid. Philstar.com screenshot

For Josef, the neglect they are experiencing amid the COVID-19 pandemic stems from the underappreciation of artists even before the crisis hit.

“Parang matagal nang hindi nire-recognize ng national government and even the general public and the private sector kung ano talaga yung kahalagahan ng mga artists and cultural workers at mga art educators dito sa gawain sa bayan natin,” he said.

(It’s as if the national government and even the general public and the private sector have long not recognized the value of artists and cultural workers and art educators here in our country.)

Aside from making COVID-19 testing free and giving cash aid to artists and media workers, the groups are also calling on the government to provide free, safe and effective vaccines for artists and journalists as soon as possible.

“Now that we are experiencing difficulties,we don’t think it is too much to ask for help,” the groups said. — Xave Gregorio

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