August 28, 2021
Unable to work in ECQ, blind massage therapists receive rice, groceries
By Joy Rojas
Representatives from 16 groups of blind massage therapists dropped by the Buddhist Tzu Chi Campus (BTCC) in Sta. Mesa, Manila, to claim relief goods in behalf of their visually challenged members.
A total of 183 beneficiaries from Vibes Quezon City, Vibes Montalban, Vibes Caloocan, Vibes Pasay, Touch With Faith, Vibes Novaliches, Vibes San Lazaro, Zhenti, Vibes Sta. Rosa, AMMMS, UBMA, Vibes Bicutan, Robinsons Place Manila, Good Massager, Doc Wellness, and AVCMT each received 20kgs rice, vegan patis (fish sauce), cooking oil, bihon (rice noodles), brown sugar, salt, detergent, shampoo, body wash, a facemask, and face shield.
Members from this sector of society were yet again deprived of livelihood when the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) placed the National Capital Region under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). The ECQ ran from August 6 to 20, 2021 and was in response to the growing threat of the highly transmissible Delta variant.
This strictest of lockdowns prohibited massage parlors, salons, spas, and barbershops, among other industries, from operating for two weeks. Officials downgraded the lockdown to the less stringent Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) from August 21 to 31, but those in personal care services, like Noel Español and Marilyn Cardinal, are still not allowed to work.
“It’s very hard because we have no clients,” says Español of Good Massager, who makes do by stretching whatever resources he has left to the limits.
“I have no choice but to ask help from my siblings,” says Zhenti blind massage therapist Cardinal.
“The government hasn’t offered any assistance. These goods from Tzu Chi are the only help they received [during this ECQ],” laments Vibes San Lazaro General Manager Ma. Ruby Solidor.
“Many just tighten their purse strings,” adds Vibes San Lazaro Operations Manager Geralin Angeles. Solidor admits to sharing her personal resources so that others can buy basic necessities.
As recipients of Tzu Chi’s generosity in past lockdowns, the blind massage therapists knew there was still one name they could rely on. “As soon as they learned the IATF was going to put Metro Manila under ECQ, they said, ‘When do you think Tzu Chi will help us?’” says Angeles. “Your relief has really been such a big help to them.”