Community sewers adapt to ongoing health crisis to produce face masksLast April, the Philippine government mandated all residents of Luzon to don face mask or facial protective gear when leaving their houses to help #FlattenTheCurve as the country grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic.

To respond to this mandate and help Filipinos in its host communities, Malampaya Foundation Inc. (MFI), the Malampaya JV’s social arm, tapped its trained community sewers to make cloth face masks and help prevent the spreading of the virus.

MFI has several livelihood programs in its program areas in Palawan, Mindoro, Batangas that help and socially-empower communities with trainings in different trade skillsets like sewing, food processing, scaffolding, welding, among others, to supplement their income from fishing.

Among the areas benefitting from the livelihood programs are the municipalities of Baco and Bulalacao in Oriental Mindoro, where trained sewers/tailors added face masks among their products in view of increasing demand and legislations requiring its donning in public spaces.

Corazon Ines, 64 years old and resident of Brgy. Ilag, San Teodoro a member of the community organization Kabisig ng Mangingisda sa Ilag was among those trained in sewing.

Community sewers adapt to ongoing health crisis to produce face masks

Malaki ang ginampanan ko at ang ilan sa mga miyembro. Madami kami nabenta at naipamigay sa mga kasapi ng samahan. Kumita ang samahan at may ilang kasapi ang natulungan. Ang kinita ng samahan ay ibinibili ulit ng tela kung saan gumagawa ulit ng face mask, bedsheet, at punda ng unan.

Amid the COVID-19 situation in the country, the local government of the municipality of Bulalacao sought the help of the Barangay Maasin Marine Protected Area Association and Sewer’s Group to produce cloth face masks for their fellow Mindorenos, especially those in the far-flung areas, amid the shortage of supply of personal protective equipment. The local government ordered 2,500 pieces of cloth masks from the association at Php 20.00 each cloth face mask. Twenty percent of the income will go to the association while the rest will be divided among the actual workers/sewers.

“We are happy to have been an instrument to empower coastal community groups to make a living for themselves and play a role in society. These groups, who have not produced an items like face masks, have become innovators and are resilient enough to adapt to changing times,” stated MFI Executive Director Karen Agabin.

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