From greeting cards to abaca face masks, local company joins COVID-19 fight

Aileen Cerrudo

In response to the limited supply of personal protective equipment (PPEs), a local company in Misamis Oriental decided to make face masks out of abaca.

The transition has not been easy, according to Neil Rafisura, president of Salay Handmade Products Industry, Inc.

It takes numerous and tedious process in order to create a face mask out of abaca. This is a challenge for Neil especially with the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

They are used to creating greeting cards and other similar products. It never crossed their minds before that their company would make any PPEs such as face masks. However, that did not stop them from helping the country’s frontliners in their fight against the COVID-19 virus.

“At first it’s very challenging because ang skills namin ay hindi ready (our skills were not ready), it involved a lot of sewing but then there are a few workers who know how to sew, so tinawag ko sila at nag-experiment kami, (so I called them and we did an experiment),” he said.

Based on initial research abaca face masks are seven times better than cloth face masks. Even though it will not surpass surgical and N95 face masks yet, Neil is optimistic that the abaca face masks would help frontliners and even ordinary citizens against the virus.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Region 10 said this is a great start for further research. They are also encouraging experts to look into the potential of abaca face massks.

“We are calling researchers kung gusto niyo mag-research about mask (if you want to research about mask) why not study with abaca face mask kasi mayroon na siyang initial study baka maging potential talaga at effective na face mask itong abaca, (because there is already an initial study and abaca face mask might have a potential and might be more effective)” according to DOST-10 Science Research Specialist 1 Julie Ann Baculio.

The abaca face masks is environmental-friendly, reusable and can be hand-washed. It is sold for P90 apiece. AAC (with reports from Weng Fernandez)

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