Life Behind the Camera

September 16, 2021

Reine Uy

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Who would have thought that a guard would be TikTok famous? Gene Fernandez, a guard in Cagayan de Oro, has 834,000k followers on TikTok and is known for being a good and positive dancer. He enjoys sharing his upbeat videos that never fail to bring a smile to the faces of Filipinos and citizens all around the world. 

 

He discovered TikTok in March 2020 when Cagayan de Oro was under the enhanced community quarantine. He decided to join after seeing a coworker dancing in front of his phone. Gene laughed at him, but out of curiosity, he also started to make these videos during his free time. He began to notice the positive feedback from his viewers and decided to continue."Not only am I making others smile," he explains, "but it also serves as exercise and a stress reliever for me." We questioned whether his boss was opposed to him producing content at the hotel where he works or during work hours. He merely stated that as long as it did not interfere with or damage his work then it is fine with them. 

 

Gene has had a long history with dance. He said that if he were not a guard at the moment, he would be a dancing instructor. When he was in high school, he was a member of the Davao high school dance team and competed in it. He and his team were named Eat Bulaga champions in 1995. However, after fracturing his leg in a motorcycle accident in 2009, he lost motivation in dancing. He had already considered suicide since he broke his leg. Nevertheless, a passion he thought he had lost due to an unfortunate accident is now one he can share with a wider audience. One that even enables him to bring a smile to others' faces.

He may always be smiling in front of the camera, but life behind the lens is not always as happy as it seems.

 

According to Gene, being a guard is challenging; he works 12 hours a night in the dark, and when his shift was in the morning, it was equally as hard since he would be standing under the scorching heat in the guard uniform. He told us how the pandemic had a severe impact on his career; since the hotel where he works closed temporarily during the pandemic crisis, some of his coworkers were unable to find a job for over three months. He explained that “noong pandemic nag sara po yong hotel na pinagtrabahoan ko naging reliever nalang po ako ng ibat ibang duty ng pwesto po hindi po sya regular post”. (“During the pandemic, the hotel where I worked closed, I was just a reliever of various duties of the position. It was not a regular post”.) He struggled to support his family since his wife couldn't seek work during the beginning of the pandemic. Gene also mentioned that he had not gotten any "ayuda" or relief items from the government since the first reinforced community quarantine.

“Never akong nakakuha ng ayuda, as in wala, kahit frontliner ako as in wala” ("I never got help, as in nothing, even if I am frontliner, as in nothing"). At first he was surprised that he did not receive any but it made him still grateful that he still has a job. He said “at least naitatawid ng konti”. Despite how corrupt and dark the Philippine government is, Gene, like many of our people, remains positive and optimistic. 

He drew motivation from his family to strive harder even if it means putting his life at risk during this pandemic. His family was his source of strength to overcome all the challenges he faced. It is very evident that he is a family-oriented man, he tells us how he dreaded the day when his family could not eat something which pushed him to work harder. There were times when he wanted to give up when he was tired, but he didn't ever give up. Gene said that he did not linger on it since the more you focus on something, the more agitated you become.

Despite the fact that he has faced and continues to face all of these challenges like not having a permanent job during the start of the pandemic or not receiving any help from the government, he still chooses to make people smile to remain positive during this pandemic.

 

Tiktok became a platform for him to express himself and spread happiness at the same time. Gene exhibits one of the most known Filipino traits, staying optimistic. Filipinos have always been lauded for their positive attitude.

Until now, he has continued to put a smile on people’s faces through difficult times. His advice to his fellow Filipinos who are now suffering as a result of the epidemic is to believe in oneself and God, to work diligently despite poor wages, and to think positively.

 

Life Behind the Camera

September 16, 2021

Reine Uy

Translated by Anneliese Tanco

Remini20210915232849723.jpg

Sino ang mag-aakalang isang guwardiya ay magiging sikat sa Tiktok? Si Gene Fernandez, isang guwardiya sa Cagayan de Oro, ay mayroong 834,000k followers sa Tiktok at kilala siya sa pagiging mahusay at positibong mananayaw. Masaya siya sa pagbabahagi ng kanyang mga masigasig na bidyo na hindi nabibigong magbigay ng ngiti sa mukha ng mga Pilipino at sa iba pang mamamayan sa buong mundo.

 

Nadiskubre niya ang TikTok noong Marso 2020 nung ang Cagayan de Oro ay isinailalim sa Enhanced Community Quarantine. Napagpasyahan niyang sumali matapos makita ang isa niyang katrabaho na sumasayaw sa harap ng kanyang telepono. Tinawanan siya ni Gene, ngunit dahil sa pag-usisa, nagsimula rin siyang gumawa ng sarili niyang mga bidyo sa kanyang libreng oras. Nang masimulan niyang mapansin ang positibong feedback mula sa kanyang mga manonood, naging desidido siyang magpatuloy. "Hindi lamang ako nagpapa-ngiti ng iba," paliwanag niya, "ngunit nagsisilbi din ito bilang ehersisyo at pampagaan ng loob para sa akin." Tinanong namin siya kung kumontra ba ang kanyang maneger sa kanyang paggawa ng mga bidyo sa hotel kung saan siya nagtatrabaho o habang nasa oras pa ng trabaho. Sinabi lamang niya na hangga't hindi ito nakakaabala sa kanyang trabaho ay ayos lang sa kanila.

 

Si Gene ay mayroong mahabang kasaysayan sa sayaw. Sinabi niya na kung hindi siya naging isang gwardiya, siya ay magiging isang instruktor ng pagsayaw. Noong siya ay nasa high school pa lamang, siya ay isang miyembro ng Davao High School dance team at sumasali sa paligsahan kasama nito. Siya at ang kanyang groupo ay tinanghal na kampeon sa Eat Bulaga noong 1995. Subalit matapos siyang mabalian ng buto sa kanyang paa noong taong 2009 dahil sa isang aksidente sa motorsiklo, nawalan siya ng gana sa pagsayaw. naisipan niya ang pagpapakamatay mula noong mabali ang kanyang paa. Gayunpaman, ang isang pangarap na inakala niyang nawala dahil sa isang kapus-palad na aksidente ay ngayon kanyang ibinabahagi sa iba. Ito’y nagbibigay-daan upang makapagdulot ng ngiti sa mukha ng mga ibang tao.

Maaaring laging nakangiti sa harap ng kamera, ngunit ang buhay sa likod nito ay hindi laging kasing saya kagaya ng kanyang ipinapakita.

 

Ayon kay Gene, ang pagiging isang guwardiya ay mapanghamon; nagtatrabaho siya ng labing-dalawang oras sa isang gabi, at kapag ang kanyang oras ng trabaho ay nasa umaga, ito ay kasing-hirap din dahil nakatayo siya sa ilalim ng napaka-init na araw habang naka suot ng pang-gwardiyang uniporme. Sinabi niya sa amin ang matinding epekto sa kanyang karera na dala ng pandemya; dahil ang hotel kung saan siya’y nagtatrabaho ay pansamantalang nagsara dahil sa epekto ng pandemya, ang ilan sa kanyang mga katrabaho ay hindi makahanap ng trabaho ng higit na sa tatlong buwan. Ipinaliwanag niya na “Sa panahon ng pandemya, ang hotel kung saan ako’y nag-trabaho ay nagsara, kaya’t naging reliever na lang ako ng iba't ibang mga tungkulin sa posisyon. Hindi ito isang regular na pwesto."  Nahirapan siyang suportahan ang kanyang pamilya dahil ang kanyang asawa ay hindi makahanap ng trabaho sa simula palang ng pandemya. Nabanggit din ni Gene na wala siyang natanggap na anumang ayuda o mga relief items na galing sa gobyerno mula pa noong nagsimula ang community quarantine.

 

"Never akong nakakuha ng ayuda, Ni-isang beses, kahit isa akong frontliner." Noong una, nagulat siya na hindi siya nakatanggap ng kahit anumang ayuda kaya’t nagpasalamat siya na mayroon pa din siyang trabaho. Ang sabi niya “at least naitatawid ng konti”. Sa kabila ng napakaraming korapsyon at problema ng gobyerno ng Pilipinas, si Gene, tulad ng maraming mamamayan, ay nananatiling positibo at umaasa

Humuhugot siya ng lakas ng loob sa kanyang pamilya upang magsikap kahit na nangangahulugan ito ang paglalagay ng kanyang buhay sa peligro sa panahon ng pandemyang ito. Ang kanyang pamilya ang kanyang pinagkukunan ng lakas upang mapagtagumpayan ang lahat ng hamon na kinakaharap niya. Sa pagkakataong ito, makikita ang kanyang dedikasyon sa pamilya. Sinabi niya sa amin kung gaano kasama ang kanyang loob na makitang hindi kumakain ang kanyang pamilya. Ito ang tumulak sa kanya upang magsikap at pagbutihin ang kanyang pagtatrabaho. May mga pagkakataong nais na niya sanang sumuko kapag siya ay napapagod, ngunit hindi siya kailanman sumuko. Sinabi ni Gene na binabalewala nalang niya ang mga ganitong kaisipan dahil baka lalo lang siyang mabaon sa ganitong sitwasyon.

 

Sa kabila ng lahat ng hamon na hinarap at patuloy niyang haharapin tulad ng hindi pagkakaroon ng permanenteng trabaho sa simula palang ng pandemya at sa hindi pagtanggap ng anumang tulong mula sa gobyerno, pinili pa rin niyang maging positibo at maghatid ng mga ngiti sa mukha ng ibang tao.

 

Ginamit niya ang Tiktok upang ma-ibahagi ang kanyang sarili at magdulot ng kaligayahan sa ibang tao. Dahil dito, naipakita ni Gene ang katangi-tanging kaugalian ng mga Pilipino—ang pananatiling optimista sa panahon ng kahirapan. Palaging pinupuri ang mga Pilipino sa kanilang positibong pag-uugali.

 

Hanggang ngayon, patuloy siyang nagdudulot ng saya sa maraming tao sa kabila ng kahirapan ng panahon. Ang payo niya sa kanyang mga kapwa Pilipino na ngayon ay naghihirap ay maniwala sa sarili at sa Diyos, maging masigasig sa pagtatrabaho sa kabila ng maliit sahod, at manatiling positibo.