Face masks by Binibining Pilipinas designer Domz Ramos (left); Michael Leyva working on a PPE (right, top); PPE prototype and designs by Rajo Laurel (right, bottom)
Domz Ramos via Facebook; Michael Leyva, Rajo Laurel via Instagram, screenshots
Rajo Laurel, Filipino designers design PPEs, masks for COVID-19 front-liners
Maan D' Asis Pamaran (Philstar.com) - March 25, 2020 - 1:02pm

MANILA, Philippines — The call came out from the frontlines: There are not enough protective equipment for Filipino healthcare workers who are risking their lives every day to save the lives of others.

PPEs or Personal Protective Equipment for healthcare workers likely to be exposed to novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients are composed of gowns, masks, eye protection, gloves and shoe covers. 

In the face of this crisis, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, who stood in the middle of the Congress floor with what appears to be a hastily-assembled Manila paper sign to declare that he has done his part by coming to work that day, dismissed the PPE shortage by saying that some posts about the shortages are “fraudulent” and “misleading the public from donating to facilities that actually need it.”

Related: 'Fake' posts not helping real calls for PPE shortages, warns Cayetano

Health talk show host Dr. Gia Sison counters the senator’s statement succinctly, in a tweet that reads, “Palimos ng PPE. The shortage is REAL and was never fake news!”

While her post specifically mentions the Makati Medical Center, it is the same situation in all the other hospitals and health centers across the country. There are facilities that have already resorted to improvising their protective gear: Some crafting face masks out of plastic bottles as in the case of the Red Cross chapter in Palawan; improvised rain suits and shoe covers in use for frontliners in Maasin, Iloilo; or in the case of St. Jude Hospital in Los Banos Laguna, workers literally encasing themselves in plastic bags. 

Related: WHO: DIY COVID-19 protective gear better than nothing

With posts like these circulating on social media, the private sector has stepped in. The Office of the Vice President started an online fundraising campaign for PPEs and care packs that include food for healthcare workers. With donations through OVP’s fundraising partner Ticket2Me reaching P12,001,446.96 as of March 24, along with an additional funds from the vice president’s office and other donors to total more than P23 million, they have already reached out to 38 hospitals and community centers in Metro Manila, Tarlac, Batangas, Camarines Sur, and Quezon province, with health workers receiving 17,100 PPE sets. There are other efforts raised too, between small groups and big companies, all working together to protect those who work in close contact with CCOVID-19 patients.

While these numbers are significant, they will not be enough to cover all the needs of healthcare workers and other frontliners throughout the country. This has led to another group stepping up, and these are the members of the fashion industry, who are using their expertise with fabric and design to provide the necessary covering for the front-liners. 

Abroad, Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga have already started churning out facemasks and gowns from their ateliers.

Related: Gucci, fashion houses to donate millions of surgical masks, medical gowns

On the local fashion front, we have Michael Leyva, who handed out washable facemasks for front liners of Antipolo City together with food donations.

"We are one with this. #teammichaelleyva will be donating PPEs, head covers and masks for our heroes #frontliners. MABUHAY po kayo at Salamat sa dedikasyon at pagmamahal sa ating bayan," the designer said in another post.

Domz Ramos, who is known in the beauty pageant circuit for his swimwear designs, has been crafting colourful face masks; some already distributed to the Philippine General Hospital, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Children’s Hospital and Qualimed Hospital.

helping our frontliners FREE MASK ur always welcome Qualimed Hospital of Sta Rosa .. free mask for our healthcare frontliners #freemask #drswim #bayanihan

Posted by Domz Ramos on Friday, March 20, 2020

In his post that shows his cheery creations, he asks other designers to join in the cause, saying, “let us help our healthcare frontliners, pwede na ang mga sobra nating cotton na fabrics.”  

Rajo Laurel does a holistic approach by designing hazmat suits and sourcing durable materials so that he can manufacture them en masse at his House of Laurel. Along with the sketches of his hazmats, Laurel exclaimed in his Instagram story, “We must help in every possible way!!!”

Rajo Laurel's designs for COVID-19 medical front-liners
Rajo Laurel via Instagram, screenshot by Philstar.com

With designers like Michael, Domz and Rajo pitching in for our dedicated front liners, here’s hoping that helping out especially in a crisis situation will become in fashion.           
 

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