On March 17, Arseni was struggling to book a flight back to his native Krasnodar. The Philippines government just announced a total lockdown until April 15 – which they subtly termed as Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) a day before. Immediately, the agency announced in the Group Chat that models will be duly assisted, and had the option to stay and be safe in their respective apartments or take the risk of traveling back to their home countries. Arseni chose to leave, not wanting to remain at home without working for a month.
While Arseni was finally able to get out of Manila, most models opted to stay. International borders and airports were already closing fast, and they didn’t want to be stranded alone and penniless in another foreign country. The agency, of course, had no other alternative but to house them and provide for their basic needs. It was the humane thing to do in this pandemic.
The lockdown meant closing businesses and industries. It meant no work for the models and no ongoing income for the agency. Collections were also halted as offices were closed. To conserve resources, the weekly pocket money for the models was cut into half, considering they were just at home sans travel and other unnecessary expenses. The reserve fund was also activated to provide for the weekly groceries of the models and the monthly salaries of the agency employees.
The coronavirus surely reshaped the modeling industry, not only in the Philippines but in the world. While the uncertainly lingers during the lockdown – extended for another month until May 15, the models and agency employees have to stay at home for their safety.
These days, the models enjoy Netflix and social media at home, making do with whatever is available online to go through the lockdown. Technology connects them with their families and friends halfway around the globe.
While the eventual lifting of the quarantine in the city is greatly anticipated, things will still not be back to normal once the shops and businesses reopen. However, the most important matter in all these is that the agency models and employees are safe and healthy, negative of the virus. And when businesses reopen, it is hoped that the agency and the models will come out stronger, wary and health-conscious from the effects of the lockdown.