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Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Face Masks Take Over Philippine Fashion

Filipino culture and lifestyle incorporated in the face mask design

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George Buid
George Buidhttp://www.georgebuid.com/
An independent photojournalist of the Philippines capturing life as it passes by. He contributes to different news outlet and press publications.

PHILIPPINES. Manila: Wearing face masks became the new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the conventional surgical mask looks dull and mismatched to a fashionista. Therefore, local designers and artisans have reinvented it to a fashionable look.

These days, everyone wears face masks, both when you are buying groceries or at work. Skillful and inspired designers the world over are making must-wear masks fashion accessories.

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READ ALSO: Medical Face Masks: From Protection To Fashion Statement

Masks as artists’ canvas

Art painted on a canvas is the painter’s expression of a moment. These moments convey the stories and culture of the Filipino people. Bibsisita is a stunning example of the ways masks can become individual works of art.

Artistic face masks on display at Bibsisita’s booth in one of Makati’s shopping mall on 31 Oct / Photo credit: George Buid
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Bibsisita have used Filipino-themed artwork on functional items since 2015. Their products range from clutch bags to canvas bags, pencil cases, shirts, and pillows. Nowadays, they also imprint their themed artwork on the masks.

A tradition of weaving in the creation of face masks

The Yakan tribe of Zamboanga City express the depth and beauty of Filipino culture through their traditional hand weaving skills. They too have used the mandatory masks as an opportunity to share their culture.

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Angelita Pichay Ilul promotes this indigenous practice through her enterprise, Angie’s Yakan Cloth. Their handwoven items display the distinct geometric technicolor pattern of their native Muslim tribe. Their focus shifted to creating weaved face masks because of the pandemic.

Catriona Gray wears Yakan face mask, and Yakan tribe receives relief goods.
Left: Angie with Miss Universe 2018, Catriona Gray, wearing their mask. Right: Yakan tribe receives relief goods from Angie’s friend / Photo Credit: Angelita “Angie” Pichay Ilul

The sale of the face masks is keeping Ilul’s enterprise afloat in these trying times. Eventually, it caught the eye of Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray. In an interview with Transcontinental Times, Ilul said, “We also got orders of 3,000 face masks from Cristanelle International Inc.”

A designer combines local culture and sophisticated design

The face masks went even further into high-class fashion. Ditta Sandico, a fashion designer for 35 years, promotes the new normal or Nuovo lifestyle. She and other designers formed a coalition that empowers Filipino creativity and pride in the Filipino heritage through their marketplace, ZoomistaPH.

Sandico’s collection focuses on her Panuelo wraps or scarves made from indigenous banaca fiber. She combines banana and abaca fiber to create this local material. Then, she matches her wraps with her version of the mask. Furthermore, abaca can filter better against COVID-19 than the surgical face mask or N95.

Ditta Sandico's face masks
Ditta Sandico shows three of her face masks made from banaca fiber / Photo Credit: Ditta Sandico

Sandico said, “It’s a natural fiber that enhances air circulation inside the mask.” Also, she shared her inspiration for its design. “Japanese origami inspired the design. The colored strips show the paper folds to accentuate and give structure to the masks.”

At a time when people around the world are required to wear masks, it’s uplifting to see that each culture is expressing its unique character and beauty through an experience that is connecting us all.


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    An independent photojournalist of the Philippines capturing life as it passes by. He contributes to different news outlet and press publications.

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