The Freelance Writers’ Guild of the Philippines (FWGP) is organizing a seminar with the Uni Global Union – Asia and the Pacific about the legal issues concerning freelance writers as well as discussion of the current environment of the freelance writers, i.e., the opportunities and challenges facing the freelance writers of the country. It will be held on Thursday, March 14, 2019 at the University of the Philippines’ School of Labor and Industrial Relations in Diliman, Quezon City.
NOTES FROM FWGP PRESIDENT / FOUNDER:
Sometime in 2011, I traveled to Mindanao for work commissioned by an international humanitarian agency. There was unrest in the area at that time and I had to visit remote barangays to conduct interviews… without insurance coverage. Aside from that, my pay was delayed (nothing new) and my field allowance was given after I had returned from the field.
But it was not my first encounter with freelancer/consultant problems. I had been working as a freelance writer since 1996 and I actually have a full deck of sad/horror stories about the realities of freelancing in the PH. Frankly, I am sick of saying these things over and over, especially in my speaking engagements for the FWGP, an organization that I started right after the above-mentioned trip to Mindanao.
FF to 2019… nothing much has changed. The rates are still depressing, treatment is still shabby, many contracts are still one-sided. Yes, there are more opportunities now but there are way more freelance writers playing the field. Many of them are not even writers. (Sabi nga ni Mike Enriquez, Excuse me po!)
But you know, even this is okay. Live and let live, right? What I hate is the fact that there are just too many of us who take ridiculously low pay for the work. What is it again—pay peanuts, get monkeys? (Excuse me po ulit!) Seriously though, this practice is damaging to the industry.
I would like to believe that the Guild did its best to try and organize the freelance writers here, or at least to educate some of them (on costing, on their rights, etc.). But it’s true that writers are actually one of the most difficult sectors to organize. I don’t know why.
And so with no funding and a huge dose of indifference from the community that it is trying to serve, the Guild eventually slipped into hibernation.
And now, other people are speaking up for us. Lawmakers have filed bills that directly affect our work. Organizations with various business interests are sprouting everywhere trying to make a profit through the writers and our work. That’s not really a problem as long as the freelance writers are paid fairly. But who is going to see to that?
I do wonder though, in all honesty, when we are going to finally care enough about our craft, industry, and livelihood to actually do something FOR it. I mean other than sit around and wait for the next job posting. When are we going to make real efforts to professionalize the practice so that we can finally receive the respect (and the pay) that we rightfully deserve?
We have another opportunity to do this on March 14 at the UNITE! event in UP Solair. The Guild is doing this with the international trade union federation, UNI Global Union-Asia & Pacific. This event is by invitation, but there will be updates (and possibly live streaming) that all concerned freelance writers should watch out for.
There was an effort to work with the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) through the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) back in 2016. But that did not work out. I hope that this time, we will be able to accomplish something good.
FWGP President / Founder