By Joseph B.A. Marzan
Visual artists in Iloilo City closed their ranks to support the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and as of May 20, 2020, they have raised over P 1.8 million from sales proceeds.
The initiative dubbed as Ilonggo Artists Against COVID-19 was started by Mayor Jerry Treñas to fund the production of around 200,000 cloth masks.
These cloth masks are made by the Uswag Sewers, another group of tailors who were also organized by the mayor.
As of May 16, over 34,000 masks have been finished and turned over to barangays.
The project initially kicked off on April 27 when the mayor sent letters to many artists in the city.
The group of 40 artists were able to sell their works during the official launch on May 3.
One of the pioneers, famed Ilonggo artist Rock Drilon, shared how the group came about.
“It was Mayor Jerry’s initiative. I was asked to provide mechanics and timeline and helped in networking with the artists. He gave me his daughter Raisa’s number and we collaborated. It was agreed it would be called ‘Ilonggo Artists Against Covid-19’. Raisa did all the groundwork: following up with the artists, having the works picked up, setting up an online gallery and eventually selling,” Drilon said.
Drilon also said that around 80 artists have contributed since the initiative’s launch.
As to the proceeds, Drilon said that they had been given options whether to donate to the city government 100 percent, 70 percent, or 50 percent of their sales.
The proceeds are then turned over to the Iloilo Festivals Foundation Inc., who has been keeping all monetary donations to the city in COVID-19-related efforts.
“Artists were given options for their donations: 100% (full donation), 70% and 50%. Payments of collectors are made to the Iloilo Festivals Foundation, Inc which likewise releases the funds in the production of facemasks and for the artists’ share which are deposited in their accounts,” he said.
He said that despite the impact of the disease, the contributing artists keep helping the city’s efforts against COVID-19.
“Their sense of humanity in different levels and intensities. Particularly, the Ilonggo artists are passionate in the way they do things as shown in the way they responded to the mayor’s call to help in the fight against COVID-19,” he said.
On a personal level, Drilon said that he was also helping the mayor in new bicycle infrastructure for the city to help people adjust to the “new normal”.
“I’m still on quarantine so it’s mostly just painting, gardening and reading and helping out online. I’m also helping out in another initiative by the mayor to put in place an honest-to-goodness bike infra network for the city in addition to what we already have so Ilonggos opting to bike as a means of mobility in the new normal will be safer and more confident to do so,” he said.
The Ilonggo Artists Against COVID-19’s online exhibition will wrap up on May 30.