NCDA chief suggests blind masseurs explore other livelihood opportunities
QUEZON CITY, July 21 (PIA) — National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) Executive Director Emer Rojas, in a forum recently, suggested to blind massage therapist, that while under the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) and Modified GCQ (mGCQ), they should explore alternative ways to earn a livelihood if their present profession is not as attractive as it was before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The blind masseurs are one of the very productive sectors but the COVID-19 pandemic has posed a big challenge due to fear of contracting the disease, said Rojas.
“Either the blind masseurs will get infected by the virus or transfer the virus to the customers,” Rojas pointed out.
“Blind massage therapists are faced with many challenges, not only on how they can work but also how to make it safer for them to go back to work na hindi sila makahawa at hindi din sila mahawa sa COVID-19,” he stressed.
Rojas said that it is important to also talk about what may be done — both long and short term.
“Ang maganda pagisipan ay ang alternative for the future… and [considering] the big risk of physical contact. Ang mga contact na ganyan ay napakalaki… gusto natin makapag trabaho pero ang risk ay napakadami,” he said.
Rojas believes that it is time to take this as an opportunity to think of other means of livelihood.
“Tulad po sa India …halos wala akong nakitang blind masseurs….karamihan po sa kanila nasa call center…karamihan sa kanila [mayroon] iba-ibang trabaho,” Rojas cited.
“Dito naman sa PIlipinas ay may iba’t-ibang trabaho ang mga bulag …meron tayong arkitekto …..si Architect Silva…si Ronnel na isang broadcaster,” he said.
“Marami po tayong pwedeng gawin at wala pong balakid sa atin para hindi po natin magawa ang ika nga ang iba o innovative means of earning our livelihood,” Rojas highlighted.
“Siguro panahon na aside from being a masseur… panahon na po… pwede na mag-isip tayo ng alternative… kung hindi maging masyadong attractive or very successful na maibalik ang ating trabaho,” he stated.
“Yan ay isa kong suggestion sa inyo. Sana maliwanagan tayo sa ganyang pananaw,” Rojas stressed.
Rojas will meet in the next weeks with 2-3 representatives of the massage industry to talk about possible alternative livelihoods.
The government has programs that may be explored such as with the agriculture industry, DTI for MSMEs, PHILCOA for the coconut industry, DSWD and TESDA for trainings for a possible shift of means of livelihood.
There are 8,000 masseurs nationwide. Strict guidelines entail additional expenses such as the purchase of PPEs, hand sanitizes; and, the restrictions on the allowed operating capacity make things difficult for both business owners and their workers.
NCDA will upload, this coming week, a template on their website for those who wish to prepare proposals on sustainable and alternative livelihoods for submission to DSWD — addressed to Ms. Jennifer Garcia and Mr. Ronnel Del Rio for Luzon; Ms. Tess Mendoza for NCR; Mr. Jojo Maraguinot for Visayas and Mindanao. (MCG/PIA-IDPD)