Whenever we talk about artists, there is no dispute that the Philippines has a wealth of talent. We only have to look at the long roster of artists of various disciplines who have produced some of the finest works that are recognized internationally.
To name a few we have veteran actor John Arcilla, who won the Coppi Volpi for best actor at the 78th Venice Film Festival; Michael Garcia Villagante, who took home the Lorenzo il Magnifico Award at the Biennale Internazionale Dell’Arte Contemporanea or the Florence Biennale art fair; director Diane Paragas, whose film Yellow Rose won the 2019 Reel Asian Best Feature Film award in the Toronto International Film Festival; Zig Dulay, who was awarded the Golden Cyclo at the 2018 Vesoul International Film Festival of Asian Cinema in France; vocalists Marlon Macabaya and Denise Melanie Du Lagrosa, who won first and second place respectively at the Stars of Albion Grand Prix 2019 in London; and painter Worth Lodriga, who as a seven year-old, won first place at the 2017 Student Mars Art Contest in the United States.
Clearly, the names mentioned here are just samples of the long list of awardees of international festivals and events, all of whom have brought pride and honor to the Philippines. I am certain that a lot more Filipino artists will be able to participate and win international accolades given the proper motivation and support, which is why I filed Senate Bill 2466 or the Artists Incentives Act of 2021. Our proposal is to provide cash incentives to Filipino filmmakers, film production entities, literary writers, artists, and performers in the creative sector who win the highest awards or are honored in international competitions.
For those who bring home the highest awards in international competitions, film festivals or exhibitions determined by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Film Development Council of the Philippines and Cultural Center of the Philippines, a cash grant in the amount of ₱1 million will be provided.
On the other hand, a ₱500,000 cash incentive will go to those who garnered special recognition or any other award that is not considered as the highest award in an international competition or exhibition.
We have so many talented artists here in the country and many of them have yet to showcase their work at a larger stage. By providing these cash incentives we are giving them the motivation to work even harder so that they can reach their full potential and make a name for themselves, not only here, but also in the international arena.
Over the years we have seen many Filipino artists gain recognition in some of the most prestigious events in the world. Their accomplishments coupled with these proposed incentives could serve as an inspiration to our brilliant members of the creatives, entertainment, arts and literary sectors to produce even more award-winning works.
Many of our artists fall under the category of freelancers since they are not bound by the traditional employer-employee relationships or the normal work arrangements. They work freely and are paid on the basis of their results, which usually are short-term or project-based. The Philippines is said to be the fastest growing freelancing countries in the world, with year-on-year revenue growing by nearly 210 percent. But due to the nature of their work, many freelancers become victims of abuse, be it by delayed payments, unfair contracts, or in some cases outright professional “ghosting” (i.e. tinakasan ng kliyente).
As freelancers, they are considered as self-employed, contractual, or even as informal workers. Hence, they are not eligible for any of the wage subsidies or employment assistance provided by the government at the height of the lockdowns due to Covid-19.
It is for this reason that I threw my full support to Senate Bill 1810 or the Freelancers Protection Act, authored and sponsored by our good friend and colleague Sen. Joel Villanueva. Not only will the measure help plug some of the gaps in our social protection systems, but will also provide a solid labor rights foundation for a growing segment of the workforce.
A lot more can be done to support our artists such as providing them with spaces to showcase their work. Government should work with the private sector in coming up with more concert venues, dance studios, galleries, and art houses where the works of our creatives could be showcased and made more accessible to the public. Hopefully, we will soon see more of our artists getting the recognition that they deserve.
Email: [email protected]| Facebook, Twitter & Instagram: @sonnyangara
Senator Sonny Angara has been in public service for 15 years—nine years as Representative of the Lone District of Aurora, and six as Senator. He has authored and sponsored more than 250 laws. He is currently serving his second term in the Senate