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Fashion & Beauty Industry Players Encourage Everyone To #StayMasked By Creating DIY Face Masks

Mask is a must! Protect yourself, protect others, wear a mask. By creating face masks, these creatives are doing what they can to help flatten the curve!

Face masks—they're the new must-have item for every man, woman and child these days. And by "must-have," we actually mean potentially life-saving. 


That's right, new evidence strongly suggests that face masks not only stop the sick from infecting others, but can protect the well from getting infected, too. This two-way mechanism was found to have contributed to helping South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and China control the COVID-19 spread and limit the number of severe cases. Surely, it's a success factor the Philippines could learn from. 




If all it takes is responsibly wearing a small piece of fabric to save hundreds, and even thousands of lives, it's certainly a movement that all Filipinos can and should be a part of—and that's exactly what the men and women of Metro are doing! 


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The likes of Dr. Aivee Teo, Mich Araullo, Jun Escario, Michael Leyva, Rosanna Ocampo, and more are not only doing their part in getting the word around, but more importantly, creating the much-needed masks themselves. As you can imagine, a global surge in demand for face masks has taken a toll on supply, which means Filipinos, like so many others in many different countries, needed to get creative to fill in the gap. Innovation is  born during tough times, and we can always expect the Filipino to step up to the plate. 





See how this group of selfless and compassionate innovators are helping their kababayans get their face mask needs met, and better yet, learn from them and do what you can, too. 


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Rosanna Ocampo, fashion designer 

She's a family woman and a control freak—an unusual combination in ordinary times, but a jackpot in a time of crisis!


As uncertain as everyone is during this open-ended period in, well, world history, Rosanna is keeping her family healthy in all respects: physically (kids have "PE lessons," while mom and dad have YouTube workout videos), emotionally and spiritually (prayer, never forget prayer), and mentally, too (the quarantine is not a vacation—routines are even more important these days). 


You could say that Rosanna's immense love and care for her family is what extended her thoughts to other Filipinos families. Not everyone can afford to live "comfortably" during this time (or at least as comfortably as circumstances permit), so what can the capable do to extend a helping hand?


As a fashion designer, she turned to her craft. She has assembled face masks and got her entire family on board, including her head beader who lives with her in her home. Finished products have since been donated to selected hospitals. 



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Aivee Teo, dermatologist and entrepreneur 

"Now more than ever, we have to reassess our lives, reflect on what we invest our time and energy on. Truly, everything can be taken away from us, just like that," says Dr. Aivee.


It's a sentiment that many working mothers (and fathers) share with her. For the first time in months, and maybe years for ultra-busy parents, they're spending time with their children and spouses without meetings, calls, Viber messages, and other obligations hovering over their heads, dividing their attention. It's unsettling to realize how much time they've spent away form the things that count most in life, and really, it has made Dr. Aivee reflect; many Filipinos now have the luxury of uninterrupted family time, but what about those who haven't been blessed the same way?


Think of hospital staff, and other frontliners like security guards, policemen, grocery personnel, and more. Work not only takes them away from their families, but their work now has added threat: if they catch the virus, mom and dad might not even get to come home. 


To do her part in easing this unproportionately heavy burden that frontliners must endure for the good of their country, she and her Aivee Clinic staff are doing what they can: cooking, packing and distributing healthy meals, assembling self-care kits, making face shields, and donating PPEs. 50 Metro Manila and provincial hospitals have so far benefited from their efforts. 


But in the end, Dr. Aivee and her husband Dr. Z are making a promise: "My husband and I will certainly make a conscious decision to recalibrate our life and have more time with family and loved ones."



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Anya Lim, social entrepreneur and Anthill co-founder

Helping others comes naturally to Anya. In her line of work, she has met and partnered with many women throughout the country, giving them a means of livelihood that not only serves their financial needs, but also instills pride, dignity, and ownership in them. Anya knows what it means to be able to help people help themselves; "help" to her is not doling out, but rather, empowerment and encouragement. 


That doesn't change even if circumstances have. These values have become even more important for her to uphold. In the process, she has continued working with her valued staff and through the products they make (face masks that make use of scrap fabrics for a zero waste result), they help others, too. It's the kind of domino effect we want to see more of!


And when this has all blown over, she has got plans for her staff, too. It's not all work, work, work with Anya.


She's thinking of having a "breakfast meeting with the team and go to the beach or do a waterfall trek and be one with nature." Sounds like the perfect plan to us. 



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Avel Bacudio, fashion designer

"Ang dami-dami kong natutunan sa lockdown. Sometimes hindi lang work, or pang-sarili. Na-realize ko kung gaano kahalaga ang health sa atin, and mas marami tayong natutunan hindi lang para sa sarili kundi pati sa ating mga kababayan. Nakita ko rin ang epekto nito sa kalikasan," Avel shares.


His words suggest he's well and happy, but it wasn't always like that. Avel is one of those people who depends heavily on routine and a full day of work for a sense of security and well-being. When the quarantine began and he couldn't go to the gym, his studio, do groceries, and visit family, it was intensely unsettling—torturous, even!


But as the days wore on, he came to a realization: creative people can create out of nothing. And as an artist, what can I do? 


"...Gawin nating kapaki-pakinabang ang nangyaring epidemya sa mundo," he adds. 


The thought led him to dig up spare fabric he had lying around. He remembered he had a sewing kit in his car, too. Putting those things together, he managed to make face masks (that are by no means ordinary!) for those closest to him. He's alone on his own at the moment (no sewers or seamstresses), so the masks were hundred percent made with his own hands, a total labor of love. 



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Bo Parcon, fashion designer

Bo has always been a believer in using your God-given abilities for the greater good. That, and if everyone made that their life's guiding principle, the world would be a much, much better place. People from different countries are learning exactly that as all nations go through this together; unfortunately it took a pandemic to remind many of us of this, but as they say, better late than never. And right now, even when the world is at an all-time low, it still isn't too late. 


Living by his life's creed, Bo has taken it upon himself to sew—sew with a purpose, of course. He was one of the first fashion designers to take up his needle and thread as (peaceful) weapons to fight against COVID-19. By saying that members of the fashion industry could do their part in helping Filipinos at the frontlines, he was able to inspire many designers like him to take on the monumental task of equipping those in need with face masks and PPEs. 


"I also would like to thank my sewers for their efforts and time, and my family members and friends for helping. If we work together, we heal together," Bo says. 


The fight continues for Filipinos—everyone from hospital workers, barangay officers, government officials, and you and me—and Bo continues, too. 




Bryan Peralta, fashion designer and accredited nurse

There's no stopping Bryan from working. In fact, as early as now, he's declaring it; when the quarantine has been lifted, he isn't looking forward to heading out. He's staying in and continuing work with maybe just a one-day break and a wine break in between. Other than that, it's all hands on deck for this nurse turned designer!


In this crisis, he comes from a unique position; he knows exactly what medical professionals in need from firsthand experience, and he's also equipped with the resources, skills, and network to meet some of those needs, especially in the protective gear department. 


Like other designers, he's sewing as many face masks as he humanly can on his own or with an available team (in Bryan's case, it's him, one junior seamstress, and his mother). The difference is, he's putting a ton of thought into the design and going well beyond the basic requirement of sewing a piece of cloth to cover one's nose and mouth.


"I’m using my time working in hospitals and an N95 pattern to make the most effective masks we can. I use a double layer of breathable fabric, with an extra layer of pocket for a removable insert. I wanted it to have maximum coverage but great breathability because people are going to be using them for long hours," he shares. The fact that his studio is just next door has been a huge benefit, too. 


Whoever thought that having a nursing background as a fashion designer would come in handy one day? 



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Iross Cramer, Fashion Institute of the Philippines director and co-founder

No one will tell an expectant mother that she isn't being helpful enough if she chooses to focus on herself an her child instead during these troublesome times—more so if she's pregnant and has a toddler to care for.


But such is not the case for Iross Cramer. Yes, she is a mother to a little one with baby number two on the way, but you can say that she's put those motherly instincts to good use; under quarantine, she's found ways to help. Specifically, she takes care of the coordination of the production of lab gowns and masks to be given to Filipinos in need of them. She's a totally new breed of the multi-hyphenate mom. 


"While the whole world is actually stopping everything, I am appreciating it day by day. I start and end the day with prayer and feeling grateful for the gift of life and family. I occupy myself with making educational activities for my toddler now that school is closed, prepare food for the family, swimming and do outdoor play with the two boys. I also have free time to catch up on my online course about fashion and sustainability at London College of Fashion," she describes—all while doing the coordination. 


And what has this multi-tasking resulted in? 


Her school's teachers, alumni, students, and partners have all come together by giving donations, creating masks, sourcing fabrics and mother materials for this great cause. Hospital workers, checkpoint personnel, garbage collectors, and school security guards and maintenance staff have all benefited so far.


We've always known moms were capable of doing amazing things, but this? This is a whole new level of supermom. 




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Jearson Demavivas, fashion designer 

It's a frequent problem for Filipinos who live outside of Luzon; aid doesn't always reach them on time, and may not be enough. The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted this once again. But for fashion designer Jearson Demavivas—the creative mind behind some of Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray's memorable looks—he's not letting his beloved province of South Cotabato down. He's under quarantine in his provincial home, and spending his time there wisely. 


"I have my childhood friends living near my house here in my home province, South Cotabato, who are helping me in producing the masks. This is becoming our pastime," he shares. It's definitely hitting two birds with one stone: contributing to COVID-19 relief efforts, and catching up with those closest to him! It's one of those instances where a crisis results in something unanticipatedly positive.


However, Jearson's mini supply chain doesn't stop at creating masks then donating them. He donates some, then sells a portion for P35 a piece. The money is then spent on food to be cooked and prepared for those in the frontlines, in and outside of hospitals. 


Like we said—the Filipino is creative and resourceful enough on an ordinary day. But in extraordinary circumstances, expect the Filipino to exceed, raising the bar for what can be done, when there is a will. 



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Jun Escario, fashion designer 

He would have been Greece-bound this year, but those plans have now been flung out the window.


Maybe next year, he smiles. In this time, letting go and just going with the flow are big lessons that this this fashion designer learned. There are things you can't change and have no control over, so what do you do? Do you pout and get angry and mope and throw tantrums? Or do you get mad, finish there, leave it behind, then move on with your life's next agenda?


The fact that Jun has donated 5,000 reusable face masks since he started getting to work on the project several weeks ago should be more than enough to tell you which path he took!


He's not done, though. He and his team and partners are going to keep creating what needs to be created to help Filipinos in their own capacity. 



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Mich Araullo, fashion designer

If there's anything that this pandemic has made people feel aside from scared, worried, and sad, it's small—small because the problem seems so big, and you, a single person with a limited capacity to help, can only do so much. Even if you're dying to be of service, how do you know that your efforts are even making a dent? Does what you do even count?


Mich Araullo says absolutely.


Alone, yes, our individual actions won't make much of a difference. But imagine if 100 people did little things to help, or 1,000, or 5,000, or 10,000 and beyond! Suddenly, the collective efforts don't feel as small anymore, do they?


"I am currently making these handmade masks for family and friends so we can leave the surgical masks to the frontliners who need it the most. We all need to do our part in flattening the curve, even in our own little way," she says. 


After all, we must remember that our country depends on the small actions of all Filipinos to make it through this. The key is small actions, but done by everybody—and not one single action, done by just a few. In Mich's household, their chosen little action is making masks for loved ones, while limiting time spent in public spaces to reduce the risk of infection. 


Never discount your ability to help—it's exactly what the worlds needs today. 



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Michael Leyva, fashion designer

Michael is no stranger to fame and recognition. He has dressed many big stars, made it to countless red carpets, graced magazine covers, and has a name known both here and abroad. And yet, this crisis has reinforced something he's believed in all his life: at the end of the day, what you have are your family, your faith, and your well-being. Everything else is secondary. 


Humility and simple living—they're what have kept Michael focused with his feet planted firmly on the ground and in these times, what have reminded him that he's been put on this earth for other reasons besides personal success. 


Together with his dedicated team and family who shares the same values as him, they've sewn masks and PPE gear and distributed them to frontliners in Antipolo, where they're based. 


And when it's finally safe to go back outside? Michael has one plan: go to church, and express gratefulness for his blessings and all that he's learned in this experience.  



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Rina Lorilla, model and social media influencer

Rina doesn't exactly have a team to help her out with her face mask project. But so what? A one-man team can certainly help even with just two pairs of hands to do the work! 


She's been at it for a few days now, in fact; face masks have been her main preoccupation aside from meditating, family time, cooking, and crafts, and she's been able to contribute to national efforts to alleviate the supply deficit of medical gear for those who need it most. 


It's a simple thing, really, but it's all hands on deck for all Filipinos these days. You don't need a factory, a big team, or lots and lots of materials. You only need a big heart, and the rest will follow. 



Photos from @draivee @rinaandrafa @micharaullo