Letters to the Editor

Hope from tragedy, one thread, one stitch at a time

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — It has been over seven years since Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) lashed Central Visayas, causing death and damage across a wide swath of our country. Tacloban City, in Leyte province, was particularly hard hit.

On the other hand, it is almost four years since the siege of Marawi City, in Lanao del Sur, a five-month long battle between government troops and Islamic militants.

Both tragedies laid waste to two beautiful cities and wrecked the lives of so many people. But now, tragedy is not the only narrative for the people of Tacloban and Marawi.

Seeking to inspire hope for the future in their communities, Maranao weavers and Tacloban seamstresses have banded together to create a most essential item for our challenging times – face masks.

Partnering with the Pilipinas Shell Foundation and their livelihood programs for the women of Tacloban, we at ECHOsi Foundation have channeled our program for the women of Marawi to an essential item: the Kadasig reusable face mask that helps reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission and infection.

Many in these two communities are still struggling to rebuild their lives. But instead of the tragedies that have come to define them, through Kadasig – which means resilient in Waray – they can once again express their hopes and dreams, one thread and stitch at a time.

Designed based on the guidelines released by the World Health Organization (WHO) for non-medical face masks, the Kadasig face mask is made up of three layers using a combination of absorbent and non-absorbent materials to ensure full protection.

The unique weave on the outer layer was made by the Maranao weavers using a traditional backstrap loom. More than generating needed income, the Maranao women also seek to revive the weaving tradition, which is an important part of their culture.

The Maranao weave, in turn, is used by the seamstresses of Tacloban, who cut, sew and structure the traditional fabric into the final Kadasig face mask.

Amid the challenge of rehabilitation and the obstacles faced due to the ongoing pandemic, these two women’s groups are helping their communities pick themselves up again. We are very proud to be able to offer to the public Kadasig face masks at the ECHOstore website, echostore.ph. – Chit U. Juan, founder/president, ECHOsi Foundation

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