“Some of them resorted to actually going to the streets and begging for money because there’s just no way they can put up food on the table, and it really broke my heart”, Tek Cortez shares the reason why he is currently organizing a fundraiser for jeepney drivers, an online concert he calls Para Po Sa Tsuper.
Scheduled on September 19, 2020 at 6:30 PM, local buskers normally seen in Bonifacio High Street which includes Eloisa Jayloni, JV Bautista, and Prince Valencia, are set to perform together with Jorel Teotico, Kai Atienza, and Cebuano busker Dane Smith.
The idea started when Tek saw a video posted by Manila Bulletin on Facebook about the condition of some jeepney drivers. When public transportation was put on hold because of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) last March, the drivers also lost their source of income. Some of them were even evicted from their homes, one was even shown living with his family inside their jeepney. They make do with one meal a day, sometimes even less.
Initially expecting he might have a problem getting people to perform in the concert, Tek was surprised with the amount of support he received, “When I asked around, `do you want to play for charity?`, nobody pushed back. Everybody was available.”
He even got volunteers to help with the event’s poster.
“I hope during the event, people [will] still find it in their hearts to give a little bit. Not a lot, but at least help out in this cause. Jeepneys are the backbone of our local transportation. It’s really hard for [the drivers right now].”
Tek, who started busking in Bonifacio High Street in 2018, admits his main reason for doing it was jealousy. When he would go jogging in the area after his day job, and he would sometimes see JV and Prince performing. “That’s something I really want to do eventually,” he remembers thinking.
He would later be invited to perform in other places like the Katipunan Weekend Market, Robinson’s Manila, and Shangri-La Plaza, among others.
His most memorable busking experience happened in July 2019 when Pavel Sfera, a Bono Impersonator, joined him and sang With Or Without You. “I know it’s not Bono, but you know the experience of having somebody who sings and looks so much like Bono is so surreal,” Tek recalls.
Tek would repost a one-minute video of that night five months later – the day before U2 had their concert at the Philippine Arena – and to his surprise, the post went viral reaching more than 667,000 views, 21,000 reactions, and 8,800 shares. There were even articles about it published in GMA News, Esquire and Rappler.
“The nice thing [about that going viral] is that it placed busking on the map. I mean it’s not a very well known art form, sometimes even the term “busking” is very foreign to people. Here in the Philippines, we associate busking with people who are [begging], they’re really broke, they need money. We want to change that, we want to promote busking positively.”
Nowadays, while not allowed to go busking because of the pandemic, Tek co-hosts a livestream with Eloisa at the Buskers PH Facebook page every other Wednesday. They talk about busking tips, answer questions, and feature a different busker each episode.
“Lots of really cool stuff in store for that show,” he teases.
// by Francis Abad