As lockdowns begin, freelance musicians scramble to make ends meet

Allan Nawal
As lockdowns begin, freelance musicians scramble to make ends meet
The live gigs have stopped – but the expenses do not

DAVAO CITY – As a musician, Romy, 35, depended on his regular gigs to feed his family of 6.

His youngest child is 3 and still needed supplementary milk formula thrice a day.

“We stopped giving him the more expensive Lactum. We shifted to Bear Brand and it’s good, he likes it,” Romy said. A 1.3 kilogram of Lactum costs about P700 while a kilogram of Bear Brand is just about P300.

Romy’s predicament started when bars, including those he had gigs in, were shut down because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“I have a motorcycle but I cannot use it to make money. Habal habal is also banned,” he added.

Habal habal is a form of transportation in rural areas and the outskirts of the city. These are considered illegal by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) but they persist because of the lack of mode of transportation.

Last week, Mayor Sara Duterte prohibited habal habal motorcycles from ferrying passengers after a massive shutdown of non-essential businesses such as bars and entertainment facilities.

Romy said the last talent fee he received had already been depleted.

“I had P3,000 from an out of town gig before the lockdown,” he said, adding that he also pitied fellow musicians who did not have out of town gigs and only depended on their talent fees from their local gigs. Musicians in the city are paid between P500-P1,000 per night, depending on the bar’s capacity to pay.

Boyet, another musician, said his problem doubled when his eldest child got sick.

“I don’t have money now. While Philhealth can cover the hospitalization because of the zero-balance policy of the hospital she was admitted to, my problem is the take home medicines. How can I buy when I do not have money?” Boyet said.

Mayor Sara Duterte recently  announced that the city government would roll out food aid to sectors affected by the quarantine on Monday, March 23.

HELP. Mayor Sara Duterte has rolled out the help for those affected by the lockdown, including the musicians.

She said those who lost their jobs were among the individuals the food aid program targeted.

But for Romy and Boyet, there are also other needs they had to fulfill.

“I understand that the city government is trying to address our most basic needs, such as food. But we also need money,” Boyet said.

The local musicians group, the Samahan ng mga Musikero sa Davao Inc. or Samadhi has urged its members approach their respective barangays for the community assistance that the city government was providing through the City Social Services and Development Office (CSSDO)

“Samadhi Davao is (also) silently (finding) ways to address the concerns of its members. Whatever we may gather, cash or goods then, we will post advisories,” the group added on its Facebook page.

Amid the possibility of a prolonged regional lockdown, the group also urged its members to “continue to pray.” –

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