February 5, 2023

A total of 202 families of local musicians in Baguio and Benguet were given assistance through the conduct of online music for-a-cause.

The group, called ‘Isko and Friends,’ raised P454,228.32 (as of May 7) through its fund-raising drive meant for local musicians and their families.

One of its organizers, Cleff Siguaben, said  that out of the total fund raised, they disbursed P358,000 to the musicians and their families.

“There are around 500 musicians based on our surveys. We know that it is nearly impossible to help all of them, hence, we came up with guidelines to properly and carefully identify those who are in need most,” said Siguaben, who is based in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.A.

For transparency, the organizers composed of musicians Isko Macgui-ing, Rhea Antonio, and Ned Micklay posted the amount raised and the list of those who benefited from the fund-drive.

He said the disbursed funds were given personally to the musicians in need through the help of Rogelio Bilibli of the Baguio City Police Office.

Siguaben, a musician himself, who has been performing in the early 2000s in various establishments in the city, said they concluded their fund drive on May 7, as other groups are also starting their own fund drive for musicians.

“We noticed various groups have sprung out doing similar fundraising activities wherein our beneficiaries overlap so we decided to conclude ours. We did this to support the other groups as we understand the so-called ‘donor’s fatigue’. It can be confusing too,” he said.

He said the Isko and Friends Facebook group, where the online music concerts were held, will still continue as a way to keep helping the community.

With this, an online concert for-a-cause was organized for fellow Cordilleran Alex Carling who recently suffered from stroke. The concert will be on May 16 at 7 p.m. through the Isko and Friends Facebook page.

He said the group’s long-term goal is to convince local government unit and legislators come up with laws to protect the labor rights of artists and musicians. 

“We need laws to provide for benefits of Filipino musicians and their families,” he said.

Siguaben earlier said the fund drive was created to help the musicians, especially those working full time.

“There are no regulations in place to ensure their labor rights are protected. As a result, they do not enjoy the same opportunities and benefits extended to regular employees. With the ECQ affecting many businesses, we do understand that a few were able to provide little relief to their regular musicians,” he said. – Ofelia C. Empian