I Am Athan



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I Am Athan



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Laguna musicians harmonize amidst COVID-19 pandemic

April 28, 2020 Uncategorized

Amidst the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic, perhaps one of our means to pass our time and somehow enjoy our stay at home is listening to our favorite music.

Whenever we attend parties and celebrate milestones such as birthdays or weddings, we often get entertained by talented bands performing our requested and up-to-date songs.

Music is everywhere. It is diverse. It inspires and triggers emotions. It brings harmony to our lives yet we hardly notice the real people behind them. Except, of course, the popular ones.

One of the sectors hardly recognized in our country is the non-mainstream, band performers community.

We hear their music very so often, but barely listen to their cry for the protection of their rights as part of the informal workers sector.

With the aim to give voice to musicians all over the Philippines and to be acknowledged as a significant sector and industry, the Banda Alyansang Nagkakaisa Dapat Alagaan (BANDA) composed of show band artists in the country was founded.

“Ang layunin talaga ng Banda Alyansa mula 2016 ay ang welfare at protection ng mga banda. Itinutulak namin ang tamang bayad at tamang trato sa mga musikero, local at abroad,” explained Varrie Zantua, Guitarist of Adverb Band in Sta. Rosa City and Laguna Coordinator of Banda Alyansa.

(The main purpose of the Banda Alyansa since 2016 is to ensure the welfare and protection of bands. We are advocating for the right payment and treatment of musicians both local and abroad.)

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Banda Alyansa had already been a staunch advocate of unity among Filipino musicians for their voice to be heard. So, now that this industry was distressed by the crisis, it was Banda Alyansa who first called for assistance in their behalf.

A video of Banda Alyansa Founding Chairman Benjie Sigua persuading the government to pay attention to Filipino musicians, particularly band artists in the non-mainstream industry, who have also lost their jobs amidst the pandemic went viral.

“Nag-viral at napansin naman ang panawagan kung kaya’t nagpaabot ng tulong si Sen. Bong Go sa pamamagitan ng Banda Alyansa Adviser na si Ka Freddie Aguilar.”

(It went viral and our appeal was noticed by Sen. Bong Go who then extended assistance through Banda Alyansa Adviser, Ka Freddie Aguilar.)

The group also stepped up and filed a petition to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to address their concerns and fortunately received favorable response from the Department.

However, while waiting for the action from the government’s part, they have exerted their own efforts to reach out to their fellow band performers all over the Philippines who were affected by the lockdown and in need of augmentation through the Sagip Kabanda Project.

The lack of resources and the crisis being experienced world-wide did not stop the community of these Filipino musicians to lend each other a helping hand. This Sagip Kabanda Project was localized and adopted in the province of Laguna through the coordination of Zantua.

Initiatives of Laguna musicians

Laguna is home to more than 5,000 band performers who have been distressed by the Luzon-wide Enhance Community Quarantine (ECQ) amidst the COVID-19 pandemic like any other ‘no work, no pay’ workers.

Most of them work in gigs at restaurants and bars, while some perform in events which were all disrupted by the need to prohibit mass gatherings.

The silver lining of this obviously unfortunate situation is seeing various groups of musicians in the province supporting their fellow artists.

They heed the call of Banda Alyansa adopting the concept of “Sagip Kabanda” or saving their fellow bands and voluntarily gathered donations to augment the needs of the disadvantaged ones.

“Nagkaroon ng pagkakaisa ang iba’t-ibang samahan at ilang individual katulad ng Samahan ng mga Bokalista ng Laguna, Laguna Musicians Community atbp,” Zantua said.

(Different groups and individuals united like Bokalista ng Laguna, Laguna Musicians Community, etc.)

The Sagip Kabanda Project in the province solicited assistance from Local Government Units (LGUs) and private companies, as well as from private individuals who are willing to share whatever they have.

Zantua affirmed that they practice transparency and are equally dividing the collected donations among beneficiaries.

So far, they were able to extend relief packs and financial assistance to some of the Banda Alyansa members and even non-members but also band performers in Laguna.

“Naniniwala kasi ako na walang dapat piliin sa panahon ngayon,” he stressed.

(I believe we should not choose whom to help in this trying times)

Vincent Lloyd Zaspa, 41-year old Bass Guitarist of Turn One Band from Sta. Rosa City, is one of the recipients of the project who was overwhelmed by the help he received.

He had been working full time as a show band performer since 2004, thus, his source of income was disrupted when COVID-19 broke out.

“Napakalaking tulong po para sa isang gaya ko na pagbabanda po ang tanging pinagkakakitaan na sobrang apektado ng ganitong klase ng kalamidad. Kaya po laking pasalamat ko na may ganitong katatag na samahan ang banda dito sa bansa,” Zaspa expressed with gratitude.

(This is a big help for people like me whose only source of income is band performing which was greatly affected by a crisis like this. I am so grateful that there is a solid association of bands like this in the country.)

There are also other local groups like the Bokalista ng Laguna that stretched their hands beyond their capacity to help out their fellow artists, particularly singers, during this trying times.

“Nakita namin na mas marami sa kapatid na musikero ang nangangailangan ng tulong lalo na at iyong ang pagtugtog lang talaga ang pinagkakakitaan,” said Louisa Marinelle Castillo, 21-year old Vocalist of Old Skul Band and Bokalista ng Laguna – San Pablo City Admin.

(We have seen that many of our fellow musicians need assistance especially those who solely depend on gigs to earn.)

With this, they started out a donation drive. Initially, most of the assistance they have given out came from personal contributions of the group’s Admins. But when the netizens noticed their initiatives in social media, donations started pouring.

Castillo said it was not the first time they reached out among their members because prior to this pandemic, they already used to help each other in times of emergencies like illness and accidents, among others.

The Bokalista ng Laguna began simply as a network of singers to easily find vocalist relievers and gigs, that momentarily transformed into a community of camaraderie and cooperation in times of need.

This proves our Filipino band artists harmonize not only in their music, but also in their sense of “Bayanihan” and generosity despite limited capacity amidst every circumstance including a pandemic. (Joy Gabrido/PIA4A)

source https://pia.gov.ph/news/articles/1040286

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