ILOILO CITY, Philippines – Ilonggo designers are not about to let the coronavirus pandemic dampen their creativity as they design and produce personal protective equipment (PPE) that brings life and color to Iloilo City’s hospitals.
The works of fashion designers Adrian Pe, PJ Arañador, James Roa, and Ram Silva have become viral as they patterned their PPEs after well-loved characters of shows and films such as Teletubbies, Star Wars, Power Rangers, Kung Fu Panda, and the latest Netflix craze, Money Heist.
Adrian Pe: Teletubbies, Star Wars, and Power Rangers PPEs
Adrian Pe, 28, a self-trained fashion designer, has the timely combination of being a nurse and fashion designer. Allowing him to make PPE designs that are both functional and aesthetic.
“The adversity challenged me to bring out the best in what I do. Customizing protective gear has allowed me to combine my knowledge on apparel designs from my background as a fashion designer and on infection control from my background as an OR nurse,” says Pe, an operating room nurse at The Medical City-Iloilo (TMCI).
Pe said that the colorful PPEs inspired by Teletubbies, Star Wars, and Power Rangers “can help lessen the weariness and dread that is filling our hospitals nowadays.”
“If a little color can help make them feel better, then that’s great,” he said.
Pe and his team at TMCI, which he calls Teletubbies and Friends, produce 7 to 10 PPE sets a day, working in one of the hospital’s operating rooms that was turned into a makeshift sewing area. They are assisted by hired tailors who work at the Iloilo Science and Technology University (ISAT-U) and in the districts of Oton, Molo, and Pavia who produce an additional 40 to 50 sets.
(READ: How much PPE do you need to care for COVID-19 patients?)
“We see this as a win-win approach: we can supply PPEs to our health care frontliners and, at the same time, provide opportunities for our tailors to earn a living,” added Pe, an alumnus of the West Visayas State University (WVSU)- College of Nursing.
Representatives from district hospitals would pick up the finished products, while the team sometimes does the delivery.
PJ Arañador: Shower curtains and plastic sheeting
Multi-awarded international lifestyle designer, PJ Arañador, is a product development designer and has the necessary workforce. He knows he can do something to help.
“I have anticipated the shortage in the supply of PPEs. I have seamstresses at my atelier who do hoods, jackets, and pajamas; thus, it was easier for us to adopt the patterns and stitch them into hazmat suits,” Arañador said.
The 58-year-old designer used shower curtains and face masks made from katsa (muslin cloth) and patadyong (traditional wraparound skirt) for the Banana Leaf and Gold Edition PPE.
Arañador had to innovate for local material substitutes in Iloilo, proving once again that when faced with limited resources, Filipinos become more creative.
“The taffeta parachute material ideal for hazmat suits are not available in Iloilo as they are ordered from Manila. With no airfreight in operation, the delivery would take at least one week. However, we have non-permeable, non-woven materials such as shower curtains in our local stores, while plastic sheeting is a good barrier to the [pathogen], too. Even though our materials are not medical-grade, the frontliners will somehow be protected,” Arañador said.
Through social media and the Piso-Piso Para sa Iloilo project conceptualized by beauty titlist Kim Calzado, Arañador was able to raise money for the production of more PPEs.
However, because it is difficult to work with flimsy materials, a seamstress with the aid of other staff who do the cutting, pinning, zipper and garter attachment, and detailing can produce only 4 suits a day.
“By breaking down the process into specialized labor steps instead of hecho derecho (one person doing everything), we speed up productivity and lower production cost. Thus, if we have four mananahi, we can produce at least 16 suits a day,” said Arañador.
Once completed, the PPEs are delivered to health care workers, sanitation workers, and barangay personnel on a first-come, first-served basis.
Arañador also posts instructional materials on how to make face masks at home and the details of his work on his Facebook page.
James Roa: Kung Fu Panda PPEs
Fashion designer and events host James Roa took it as a personal initiative to help in the production of PPEs for health care frontliners, asking friends for monetary donations to fund the cause.
Using non-woven material, the 29-year-old designer shares that each set costs P500, which includes fees for his tailors who produce 10 to 15 sets daily.
Roa’s Kung Fu Panda-inspired PPEs recently became viral on social media. He said that it was borne out of fascination of the movie’s main character.
“Po, who happens to be the main character, is a hero. He was destined to lead, which is why we can associate him with our modern-day heroes — our frontliners,” Roa said. He personally delivers the PPE sets to hospitals.
A graduate of Bachelor in Secondary Education, major in English, Roa worked in a business process outsourcing (BPO) company for 6 years before resigning last year to focus on designing despite having no formal training.
Ram Silva: Money Heist PPEs
In an act of volunteerism, fashion designer, pageant director, and events stylist Ram Silva also gave his personal touch to PPEs for health care frontliners.
“I do not want to sit down and watch people die. I must do something,” said Silva, who owns the Iloilo City-based Ram Couture and Sponsa Coordination.
The 31-year-old alumnus of the Fashion Institute of the Philippines made headlines several times after his Money Heist-inspired PPEs went viral online.
Using microfiber and parachute silver backing, Silva patterned his creation after the red jumpsuit popularized by the Spanish crime-drama series.
“I love watching Money Heist. The characters there are brave and courageous, just like our doctors and nurses,” he said.
Working with 4 seamstresses, Silva produces at least 15 PPE sets daily, which he personally delivers to his contact person, who in turn, distributes them to the frontliners.
Silva uses his personal money as well as donations from friends to fund the initiative. – Rappler.com
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