Late 1996 and the whole of 1997 saw an interesting team working together for the then First Lady Amelita M. Ramos’ various civic projects: the Pasig River, the Clean & Green program, the Helping Foundation, the OFW’s, Women’s charity groups and support groups for the disabled.
What was interesting about this team effort was that it involved a musical core group led by the First Lady herself! It did not aim to boast about its various famous name talents like Martin & Pops Nievera, Geneva & Sheryl Cruz, Tots Tolentino, John Lesaca, Jong Cuenco, Francis Magalona etc. Neither did it seek to brag about the outstanding work done by the session musicians and the featured performers.
Rather, it showcased the very best of the Filipino Artist as a human being: the ability to work side by side for a worthy cause. The ability to forget showbiz egos to cheer up our hardworking OCW’s. The willingness to give up huge potential professional fees in favor of modest honorariums to be united with the First Lady’s desire to remind our countrymen, here and overseas, that the first step in a nation’s progress is to work together despite professional differences.
Working on those musical projects led to discussions about the plight of the local instrumentalist. Gradually emerging was the realization that of all elements of Philippine Culture, none were more needy than the musicians who became silent victims of socio-economic ills. There were those who suffered a fate sometimes worse than animals, writhing in pain until death delivered them unto a state of grace.
And yet, these men and women stood holding their heads up high in dignity, albeit in poverty, never ashamed to declare that what they would leave behind was a good name and the continuity of their talent. It was time to do something.
Through the encouragement of the First Lady, a core group was created to gather information and data about particular situations affecting the instrumentalist: life & medical insurance coverage, pension plans, unscrupulous promoters and agents, government & private support. There was borne a movement to standardize and professionalize everything that involved the instrumentalist.