The pandemic continues to impact businesses deemed non-essential including the art industry, which had massive lay-offs due to shifting demands of consumers.

Albeit said industry’s significant economic setbacks from COVID-19, the Department of Labor and Employment – National Capital Region (DOLE-NCR) through its MUNTAPARLAS Field Office integrated the 80 vulnerable local artists from Taguig City for a 14-day emergency employment program beginning March 4, 2022 at the Ususan Elementary School, Taguig City.

Beneficiaries were composed of singers, hairdressers, dancers, and circus performers who were hired for an immediate cash-for-work program through DOLE’s Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) program in coordination with the Office of Taguig City Congresswoman Maria Laarni “Lani” Cayetano and Congressman Alan Peter Schramm Cayetano.

To maximize the use of their talents and specialization, the TUPAD beneficiaries were assigned to various creative community projects such as singing at public parks and malls within the area of Bonifacio Global City, offering free haircut services to Taguigeñous, live dance performances at schools, and public events, and circus exhibitions for the Melon Festival on March 17, 2022.

Mrs. Sylvia Altarejos, a 58-year-old hairdresser from Brgy. Central Signal, shared her experience as one of the beneficiaries of the TUPAD program.

“Nag-part time lang ako sa salon para sa manicure-pedicure, at minsan may pa-service na hair color, haircut. Dahil sa pandemic, nawala kita ko,” she said.

She learned about the TUPAD program from a referral from TESDA where she took her hairdressing course. Due to this, she was assigned as a haircutter to one of the barangays for the cash-for-work program.

“Naka-assign ako sa Brgy. Hagonoy. Puro gupit ako [at] halos babae lahat [sila] kasi Women’s Month. Libre naman sa kanila,” she shared.

She adds, “Nakatulong sa akin yung TUPAD, kasi dahil dun nakapagbayad ako ng mga gastusin ko sa bahay… ngayon may sari-sari store na ako at nagtitinda ng meryenda.”

Said beneficiaries received their pay equivalent to NCR’s minimum wage rate of P537.00 per day for their work from March 4 to 18, 2022.

DOLE-NCR MTPLFO Director Leonides P. Castillon Jr. together with the officials of Taguig briefed the beneficiaries on the TUPAD Program as part of their social preparation before deployment to corresponding areas of assignments.

END / Ericka Escalada and Christinne Jeremiah Torrecampo