MANILA -- The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), organizer of the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), has partnered with the Movie Workers Welfare Foundation (Mowelfund) in launching a COVID-19 vaccination program on Friday for movie industry workers.
In a statement, the MMFF said that its program aims 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 overall developmental effort for the country.
“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,” said MMDA and MMFF concurrent chairman Benhur Abalos.
Abalos said that the pandemic, which started last year, greatly affected the MMFF and the local industry.
“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,” Abalos said.
To help maximize the support given to its beneficiaries and the local movie industry as a whole, the MMDA/MMFF and Mowelfund are launching a vaccination program for entertainment industry workers.
"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,” said Abalos.
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 Monday.
“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,” said Abalos.
The MMDA chief also shared his hope 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 and encourage them to get their jabs for the country to achieve herd immunity the soonest time possible,” Abalos explained.
The Mowelfund, meanwhile, thanked the MMDA for their assistance and accommodation in getting their COVID-19 shots on Friday.
“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,” Mowelfund president Rez Cortez said.