(19 Jun 1995) English/Nat
A stranded Russian circus troupe is performing tax-free in the Philippines to raise money for their fare back home.
The performers and their animals got stuck in Davao City after a row with their manager.
Now local officials and residents have come to their aid, offering lodging, rent-free show space and waiving amusement taxes.
The local audience has saved the day for the Russian Mini Zoo.
They've been allowed to operate rent-free, and tax free by the city government of Davao in the Philippines.
The idea is to help raise the cash to send the 15 performers and their animals back home.
The group got stranded in Davao after a local promoter who contracted them for the performance failed to pay their fees.
Local officials and residents of Davao City came to the rescue, offering them lodging, rent-free show space and waiving amusement taxes.
They also provided them with much-needed custom, paying 40 U-S cents a time to play with the animals.
The 29-member "All Star Russian Circus" arrived in the Philippines last July for a series of shows.
Trouble began when five of their animals died on tour. Then their Filipino agent failed to pay their fees.
Finally, the group split into three after a row.
Now this group has a site to perform in - for free.
Site owner Charito Lizada wanted to help after seeing a video of the Russians begging along the streets of Toril town in Davao.
"We have to help these people, because I saw the video that was shown to them, they were begging when they were in Toril (town in Davao). Imagine, their monkeys were the ones asking, like a parade, they were
parading themselves with the monkeys with them, and the monkeys were the ones asking, so when I saw the video, I said My Golly, this is too much."
SUPER CAPTION: Charito Lizada, Owner of circus site
Mrs. Lizada and her husband have also booked the Russian circus performers to stage a show outside their restaurant every weekend.
But the Russians need to raise 250-thousand U-S dollars to get themselves and their animals home.
They're grateful for the help they've had in Davao.
They're using the time here to pass on some of their skills, but all they really want to do is go back to Russia.
"You can understand our position, we are foreigners, our family is in Russia, they're waiting (for us) and now, we cannot return, because
we've worked here very much, and we did not get any penny."
SUPER CAPTION: Anatoly Semyonov, Russian circus performer.
It might take some time before the group can raise the money they need.
In the meantime, they hope the Russian embassy in Manila can also help so that young and old performers alike can soon be back with their families.
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