Mangagoy, Bislig City – Members of Bislig Massage Therapists Association or BISMASTA has been providing free massage services to senior citizens and persons with disabilities in Barangay Mangagoy, Bislig City during this pandemic. This effort was closely coordinated with the Local Government Unit and the Barangay Health Officials to make sure safety protocols are followed.

BISMASTA was organized in 2011 with only 28 members and in 2019, their membership reached 82. The group has been providing employment opportunities to therapist-members that implements 60-40% sharing of income. The 60% of the income goes to the therapist while 40% goes to the clinic. BISMATA was assisted by the Department of Labor and Employment in 2013 through DOLE Integrated Livelihood Program (DILP) which they have availed an amount of P161,000.00 as their Kabuhayan Formation. In 2015, they availed the Kabuhayan Enhancement amounting to P 267,750.00.

It is a commitment of the organization to give back to the community through the provision of free massage services to the indigent senior citizens and persons with disabilities during BISMASTA’s anniversary, World Teachers’ Day, Brigada Eskwela, Bislig City Charter Day, Araw ng Mangagoy, All Souls and All Saints Day, DOLE’s Labor Day and Bislig City Jobs Fair. However, on the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country      which affected the rural LGUs and barangays, the organization has temporarily suspended their services in their clinic to adhere to the promulgated policies relative to the prevention and control of the virus. After a month of suspension, the organization re-opened their clinic and implemented a skeleton workforce as mandated by the local government and the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF). When the massage services resumed, the organization has resumed providing free massage services to the senior citizens and persons with disabilities, not only in Barangay Mangagoy but also in other barangays. BISMASTA plans to provide services to all barangays in the City in a scheduled manner. Aside from free massage services, the organization initiated to distribute 150 free surgical facemasks to senior citizens and PWDs. At present, the group is on the process of raising 500 washable face masks to be distributed to the same indigent clientele for free to help them protect themselves from the virus.

The efforts of BISMATA did not go unnoticed by the City Government of Bislig City under City Mayor Florencio Garay that requested the City Engineering Office, through SP Resolution No. 2019-737 authored by Hon. Geoffrey G. Cagakit, adopted on November 12, 2019, to delineate the area within the market site of the City for the use of BISMASTA in the construction of its own building-clinic. The said resolution was supported by an approved sketch plan of the site defining an area of 255 sq.m. with an estimated market value of ? 1,275,000.00. This is in preparation for a legislative measure that maybe given or passed by the Council for purposes of awarding the said area to the organization. This sustainability mechanism is a major milestone that the organization was able to achieve through their own efforts and support from the City Government of Bislig.

The DOLE Integrated Livelihood Program (DILP) of the Department of Labor and Employment is a grant assistance for capacity-building on livelihood for the working poor, vulnerable and marginalized workers, either for individual or group livelihood projects/undertakings.