We’re already three weeks into the Enhanced Community Quarantine. During this period, we’ve witnessed malls and restaurants closed down temporarily, leaving those who earn on a daily basis with nothing but what’s left of their savings. It’s also pretty hard on those who work on a per project basis, like freelancers.
In case you didn’t know, freelancers work as independent contractors that get paid per job done. This means that they have more freedom to take on projects, but compared to people who work under a company, they potentially have more to worry about when it comes to compensation and crisis management. They virtually only rely on themselves. I know some freelancers that don’t have SSS, PhilHealth and PAG-IBIG (some of the contributions employees make for their benefit in the future). They’re also not provided with the same medical benefits as we do.
Personally, I’ve dived into some freelance work when I was in college. It was through this that I was able to connect with others that rely on freelancing as their main source of income. Knowing what it was like in their shoes, I decided to hit some of them up to know how they’re holding up amidst the COVID-19 crisis.
For my friend Jovy Lim (a freelance portrait and lifestyle photographer), all of her shoots were cancelled until the first half of April. “I still am not yet sure if I’ll have projects for the remaining days of April after the lockdown,” she said. And with the looming possibility of the ECQ being extended, there’s not much to look at when it comes to continuing her photography career as of the moment. She also shared how she’s not even sure she’ll be able to resume work after the quarantine is lifted. This is most likely due to the fact that the businesses that closed down during the ECQ would probably still be trying to pick themselves up by then. “With us freelancers, it’s really no work-no pay. So you’re always in this state of anxiety, because the momentum also was lost and it’s jarring because you’re not yet sure how to get back up from it,” she admitted.
Some freelancers, on the other hand, are still making ends meet. Maegan Estuar (a freelance video editor) is still able to search for online opportunities, since most jobs that fit her are home-based. For her, despite having a fallback, their biggest concern is the delayed payment. Being non-regular employees, they’re probably not going to be prioritized when it comes to compensation.
Overall, we’re all concerned about how the ECQ has hit the pause button in all our lives. Let’s not forget, though, the people who are focusing on how they’ll be able to maintain a living despite losing opportunities. As much as others need our help, creative freelancers also need a hand during these trying times. Hopefully, those who can afford it could extend a hand to our creative freelancer friends through small commissioned works. There’s also the aid referrals could offer them, especially if you know people who are in need of their services.
Art by Tricia Guevara
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