CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews/ 31 August) — Everyday, a group of young R&B musicians and folksingers perform at the small park beside the City Hall here.
A sign displayed on one side reads, “ I am a musician affected by the pandemic. I have no other means of income but gigs and events. Please help me put food on my table.”
On their feet is another sign that reads,” Your donation is highly appreciated. Thank you!!!.”
The musicians are busking or doing street performances in exchange for money and food donations.
They also set up a small booth at the small park where they sell food baked or cooked by the musicians themselves.
Singer Gina Morales said musicians earn from P500 to P1,000 a day singing and selling food to customers who are mostly employees of the Cagayan de Oro city government
Morales said Mayor Oscar Moreno allowed their group to use the small park beside City Hall “so we can earn some decent money during the pandemic.”
She said they decided to go busking after one of the city’s folksingers, George Bagsic, 54, suffered a fatal heart attack last June.
Guitarist and folksinger Ian Cornilius Collanta narrated Bagsic was depressed that bars and pubs were not allowed to operate when lockdowns were imposed starting March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Left with no other skill, Callanta said Bagsic was among those badly affected by the loss of their gigs when the bars and pubs closed down.
“Bagsic came to me the day before he had the fatal heart attack asking for rice and some money I can spare,” the 45-year-old Callanta, father of two, said.
The National Economic Development Authority in Northern Mindanao said more than 224 establishments, mostly in the tourism sectors like restaurants and hotels, in Region 10 had close shop as of August 17, 2020.
At least 2,807 workers have lost their jobs across Northern Mindanao, it said.
Morales said musicians have to find new skills and new media platforms to survive the pandemic.
“I now sell garden plants in order to survive,” she said.
Callanta said he is offering online guitar lessons to interested youngsters who want to learn how to play the instrument.
“The pay is much lower but it brings food to our table,” he said.
While younger musicians like Morales and Callanta are coping with the economic fallout, jazz musicians who are mostly senior citizens are facing the worst.
Hipolito “Jun Greg” Gregorio, a jazz pianist said they used to earn 1,000 to 1,500 pesos a night performing at the city’s hotels and upscale restaurants.
He said when they need the extra money, it was easy for them to go abroad and play at the hotels around Asia where the pay is higher.
Gregorio explained that since travel is no longer an option, older musicians like him are left with no choice but to stay home and try to survive.
“We are now in our senior years and we are scared to go out because we are vulnerable to the virus,” the 67-year-old Gregorio said.
Gregorio narrated that he is trying to earn money by launching his song “Uwan, Uwan, Uwan Silingan ” with his singing partner, Joseph Lansang on the Youtube Channel.
“I pity other elder musicians because they are stuck to the old platform of performing in bars and pubs,” Gregorio said. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)