The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, organizer of the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), in partnership with the Movie Workers Welfare Foundation (MOWELFUND) rolled out its COVID-19 vaccination program for movie industry workers.

This is in line with the objectives of the MMFF to help and provide incentives to its designated beneficiaries in the local film industry such as the MOWELFUND, in recognition of the value and importance of the Filipino movie industry in the over-all developmental effort for the country, said MMDA and MMFF Concurrent Chairman Benhur Abalos.

“We are doing this in partnership with MOWELFUND as one of the MMFF beneficiaries, artists, different production companies, the movie press, our cinema partners and everyone who cares about the Filipino film industry that is hardly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Abalos said.

Through the years, the MMFF has been part of the Filipinos’ Christmas tradition which has given the Filipino audience a time to enjoy the holidays by watching films together with family and friends at the cinemas.

The annual festival has been successfully conducted and the support it grants to its beneficiaries and stakeholders has helped contribute to the growth and development of the Filipino movie industry.

However, the pandemic which started last year had a substantial impact on the MMFF and the local movie industry as a whole – cinemas and movie theaters have been closed and shooting/ release of films have been delayed and increase in the production costs due to the protocols being observed, but the return of investment has significantly decreased.

As a result, the livelihood of the stakeholders in the film industry is greatly affected.

“The total number of individuals affected stands at 500,000.”

“There are around 300,000 people from the local film industry who are directly affected by the pandemic. These include producers, cinemas, theater employees, ticket sellers, etc. However, if we include other businesses which are dependent on the movie industry, the total number of individuals affected stands at 500,000,” the MMDA chief said.

In order to help maximize the support given to our beneficiaries and the local movie industry as a whole, the MMDA/MMFF and MOWELFUND are launching a vaccination program for the entertainment industry workers who are essential workers and partners in nation building.

“With this vaccination, we have an extra layer of protection not only for us – but for our families and our co-workers and communities. It is an important step to help our lives return to normalcy,” the traffic head stressed.

Movie industry workers are classified as economic frontliners and are included in the A4 category of the country’s vaccination priority list.

The vaccination of the A4 group – private employees required to physically report to work, employees in government agencies, workers in the informal sector, self-employed who may be required to work outside their homes, and private household workers – officially began on June 14.

“We are doing this initiative as we look forward to jumpstarting the film industry and restore it to its former glory and be lively again. It is a move towards self-love, it’s an act of selflessness, responsibility and even nationalism – as we move towards herd immunity,” Abalos stressed.

He also hopes that the government will soon allow the reopening of cinemas so that moviegoers would again have a wonderful movie experience, as long as minimum health standards are observed and strictly followed.

Abalos said actors and actresses can also be influencers who can help the government in raising public awareness about the benefits of the vaccines and educate the public on the elimination of vaccine preferences.

“Through our artists’ influence to the masses, they can help in addressing the public’s vaccine hesitancy.”

“Through our artists’ influence to the masses, they can help in addressing the public’s vaccine hesitancy and encourage them to get their jabs for the country to achieve herd immunity the soonest time possible,” he explained.

The MOWELFUND, meanwhile, thanked the MMDA for their assistance and accommodation in getting their COVID-19 shots.

MOWELFUND president Rez Cortez, for his part, expressed optimism that through the vaccination of actors and actresses, the show business and movie industry will transition and easily adapt to the new normal.

“As the inoculation for our entertainment industry starts, I am certain that we will thrive despite the struggles and look for innovative ways to actively promote local films and TV shows,” Cortez concluded.


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